You hear phrases like 'don't worry about what the competition is doing, focus on what you're doing' thrown around a lot in competitive sports. By in large it's very accurate, taking time to concern yourself with the minimal context snap shot of people's training you see on Instagram is generally a waste of time. But people still do it. So, I'm going to try and provide some use for your MCMs and your WCWs, some inspos for your fitspos. Sorry, I got nothing for fithoes.
If you're a competitive athlete, for the context of this nonsense let's assume you’re a powerlifter. Which pretty much negates the competitive athlete definition.
Photo Credit: Dave Hoff
Salt aside, doing a needs analysis of your competition lifts and comp day preparation in general is a useful tool. Even if it's just an objective post comp chat about the whole affair with your coach, once all the happy comp day elation has died down. You can sit and talk through what you thought went well, what didn't, why you think that is? It can really help future planning to avoid the same issues arising at future competitions and can go a long way in training structure.
Let's get some hypothetical situations on the go, then we'll circle back to the Instagram carrot I dangled earlier. You're a -72Kg class female lifter, in the senior age class, competing at national level, and you placed 3rd. You hit new personal best lifts at the meet, but the distance between you and the top 2 (and let's assume that means almost certain selection for internationals) is reasonable, and it's disheartening. How can you gauge progress against your betters objectively, what gives them a higher total than you?
Here is where your true insta-stalker self can go hog wild. Essentially, you're looking for as much comparable information as possible. How long have they been lifting? What was their background before lifting? How strong were they when they started? How long have they had a coach?
A lot of these could provide instant rationales as to why they might be better than you. In a sport where gains are almost comparable to compound interest, the longer you've been at it, the better you tend to be. A process that you can optimise and expedite to insane levels, with the amount of amazing information on all topics available through the wonder of the internet. If they've been lifting, and competitive for 5 years more than you, it stands to reason that they'll be better. They've literally had more training sessions, more chicken rice and prayers (brother!)
So, that's all very doom and gloom. How do you overcome a head start? By fully utilising the optimisations and information. Whether that be a coach with the knowledge or doing it off your own research.
The next level down, which can be particularly motivating, is looking at their specific lift videos and seeing how you hold up. The caveat to this is that you must be of similar body type, height, levers. If they are stronger than you, and Jesus lean, water cutting just into the 72s, and your walking around at a soft edged 71.5 that would be the first port of call.
f you are in a similar boat, then we can get back to the lifts. Let's say they out bench you by 10kgs, what do their accessory lifts look like? If there a significant difference in how much you can dumbbell bench compared to them? If so, that could be an avenue to explore. Especially if it holds true with your own needs analysis.
Could you correlate this information sans, Insta stalking? Yes. I'm just giving you a rationalisation if you do it anyway! Like most things, how you use the information is the key here.
'X Person is this much better than me, I may as well not bother, may as well give up, they're probably on drugs.'
This way of thinking is useless, I mean that literally. It has no use.
Whereas ' X person is this much better than me, why? What do they do differently? Are we comparable? Maybe I should try this, because they do something similar?'
This way of thinking, generates questions and ideas. Which are much more useful. Even if most of them are instantly shut down, exploring even a few avenues could lead to a total lightbulb moment. Let me be clear, this isn't a green light to copy exactly what your favourite lifter on the gram is doing. It's meant as a useful method for generating possible progress routes. You still must be objective in your choice of comparison, and even then, take it with a pinch of salt.
As always leave any negative feedback or dank memes in the comments below. @atsapproved on all social media, creepin on your fitspos all day.