What Charlie Brown Can Teach You About Weightlifting: Look Up!

If you want to get good at weightlifting and take control of your fitness, it might be better to use Charlie Brown as a lesson about what NOT to do.

Charlie Brown just can’t get a break. He can’t kick the football, he can’t get a good Christmas tree, he can’t even control his dog! He walks around with his shoulders slumped, his head down, and is convinced he can’t do anything right. And we love him for that!

As odd as it is, the most endearing thing about the guy is that he’s always depressed and never gets what he wants. He has absolutely NO confidence. He’s the consummate underdog and we find that strangely appealing.

Characters like Charlie Brown are fun to both cheer for and to laugh at. We can all relate to someone who isn’t perfect. That’s the problem with Superman. They had to kill off that Mr. Perfect in the comics because his popularity kept nose-diving. He was too good at everything, he always wins. People get tired of someone who never fails. Where’s the fun in that?

Charlie Brown is still going strong even after his creator, Charles Schultz has passed away. Charlie Brown will endure forever because he’s like us – tragically so.

Unfortunately, for all his popularity, and no matter how much we love him, the poor kid just isn’t much of a role model. If you want to get good at weightlifting and take control of your fitness, it might be better to use Charlie Brown as a lesson about what NOT to do. I’m not saying you need to be like Superman, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to model yourself after Snoopy.

The Fundamental Rule of Failure: Look Down

One of the most instructive quotes Charles Schultz said through the voice of Charlie Brown was the following:

“This is my depressed stance. When you’re depressed, it makes a lot of difference how you stand. The worst thing you can do is straighten up and hold your head high because then you’ll start to feel better. If you’re going to get any joy out of being depressed, you’ve got to stand like this.” 

In my article about How to Manage Depression with Weightlifting, I go over not only my own struggles with depression, but how I overcame (and continue to overcome) them. What I left out was a simple trick that works for everyone, regardless of whether you have depressive tendencies like Charlie Brown or not: Look Up!

If you want to be depressed, to not believe in yourself, to fail at everything you are attempting to do, follow Schultz’s advice. Otherwise …

The Fundamental Rule of Success: Look Up!

Successful people are not born, they are made – self made. They actively take control of their emotional well being with simple tricks like this.

Think of the difference between Charlie Brown and Snoopy – how they stand. Charlie’s massive head is always hanging down, his shoulders are slumped. Snoopy, on the other hand, walks with his head held high and his shoulders back. There is research showing that walking around like Snoopy will result in you feeling more confident and is correlated rather strongly with success.

Everyday my own Olympic weightlifting athletes have to get on the platform, grab the bar, and attempt maximum weights on one of the most complicated movements in all of sport: the Snatch. Underestimating the influence of confidence on their success would be ridiculous! Any false move and they miss.

  • Finish the pull … or miss.
  • Pull yourself under the bar FAST … or miss.
  • Put that bar in the exact right position … or miss.
  • Stay tight and locked out no matter what … or miss.

I see it all the time. Once a lifter loses their faith that they CAN make the lift, they can’t make the lift. But, if they can convince themselves that it is doable – not intellectually, but viscerally – then they make it. It sounds overly simple, but it is not. Confidence is the linchpin to making or missing heavy lifts.

The best athletes – in any sport – are the most confident athletes. They will try harder because they believe their goals ARE reachable. They will endure longer for the same reasons. They will take failure in stride because they recognize it as part of the process, not an end.

If you always straighten up your shoulders, look up, and walk around with your chest up in the air as if you’re showing off at the beach you WILL feel happier and more confident. This level of confidence carries over to all things, not the least of which is weightlifting.

Weightlifting Skills = Life Skills

How cool is it that the EXACT position you should be in when you grab the bar to do a snatch, a clean, or a deadlift will also make you feel better when you are walking around?

When lifting, you know that you can’t slouch, hang your head down, and lift with a rounded back. That would be dangerous! It’s not just about lifting maximum poundage, it’s about protecting yourself from injury.

It is key to my entire philosophy that the skills you learn in weightlifting carry over to the rest of your life. I believe you can do serious harm to your emotional health by walking around as if you’re about to do a horrible deadlift.

If you always stare at the ground when you are walking, if you hang your shoulders at the computer, if you don’t ever smile and laugh, then you are being bad to yourself. You have a choice during every moment of the day – look up or down. It’s totally up to you.

Whether you are grabbing a bar in preparation for a deadlift or you are simply hanging around, do yourself a favor and be less like Charlie Brown and more like Snoopy. Look up, flex your shoulder blades together, chest up, smile. You’ll be happier and stronger at the same time.

You’ll also be more likely to kick the football.

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