Breaking Muscle Video: Bob Takano – Pantomime Lifting

Don't get too excited if you can lift a PVC pipe with perfect form. Learning good technique is just a first stop on the road to weightlifting success, not an end in itself.

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What’s wrong with this lift? Well, the obvious answer is that the weight is too light. The technique is precise, the timing is right. I know the technique is correct because the lifter is Leslie Musser, and I coached her from day one. The reason the weight is so light is because this was taken during a photo shoot for a series of articles I wrote for Iron Man magazine a couple of years ago. When you do any kind of a lifting photo shoot you have to realize that you may have to make lifts repeatedly so it’s best not to go too heavy. Hence, the reason for the lightness. Anyway this was a still photo shoot, so if the weight didn’t move like a heavy one that could be ignored.

This leads me to a phenomenon that I’ve observed quite a bit of lately and that is the concept of Pantomime Lifting. It seems that so many voices for so long have been telling people that the technique of the Olympic lifts is so difficult to learn that just learning it is a monumental task, and that being able to perform the lifts correctly is a reason for great elation.

People need to realize that there is a reason for employing good technique. That reason is that good technique will enable you to lift more weight. The technique is a process to attain a higher goal, which is to lift weights that are heavy enough to require good technique. I’m seeing too many people that are thrilled that they can perform perfect technique with a light weight, a broomstick or even a PVC pipe. I consider them the Marcel Marceaus of lifting.

When you can lift weights that are too heavy to be lifted with poor technique, and can only be lifted with excellent technique, then you have mastered technique. Technique is a functional necessity in weightlifting, not an aesthetic aspect. Learning good technique is just a first stop on the road to weightlifting success, not an end in itself.