Saturday, August 26, 2023
Looking at me and Venus Weightlifting now, you would not have expected that I actually had a number of injuries that prevented me from lifting weights without pain for over 2 years! We all have a story, and this is mine.
In 2013, at the age of 26, I embarked on my weightlifting journey with a burning passion for the sport. I had a lofty goal in mind - to become a super lifter, capable of lifting awe-inspiring weights. I yearned to impress my peers and perhaps even become a new rising star in the weightlifting world.
Determined to achieve my goal, I set out to find the most professional coaches to train alongside. However, there was a hurdle to overcome. In China, where I was located, there wasn't a weightlifting club readily available. Undeterred, I was willing to go to great lengths to pursue my dreams.
I decided to find the most professional coaches to follow to train alongside. With an unwavering commitment to my goal, I spared no expense in my quest for top-level training.
I embarked on a journey that took me to places one could never imagine. I managed to train with some top-level retired national champions and even world champions. I trained with the pros and was fortunate enough to have the chance to be able to train along with the national team. It was my investment in my relentless pursuit of excellence.
When I started weightlifting, I had clear goals in mind. I wanted to see my lifting numbers skyrocket, going from a shaky 50 KG to a confident 85 KG split jerk in a short period. Everything seemed to be going well, and I was on the path to an extraordinary lifting career. But unfortunately, that's not how my story unfolded.
In my third year, I had established my Venus Weightlifting Club and hired a former national champion as my coach. I dedicated myself completely to my training, immersing myself in a regimen that consumed my life. I followed rigorous programs and pushed myself to the limit under my coach's guidance.
I was determined to make my mark in the weightlifting world.
As I delved deeper into my training, an unwelcome experience emerged - pain.
I sought advice from my coach, who was just as confused as I was. I was doing all the right movements, yet the pain in my left knee intensified with every session. Rest provided temporary relief, but as soon as I resumed training, the pain returned with a vengeance.
The pain became like a haunting ghost, infiltrating my thoughts and eroding my ability to focus. I grew nervous and struggled to concentrate during training sessions. One fateful day, as I attempted to reach a personal record in the Split Jerk, I felt a chilling crack on the side of my left knee. Although I felt fine for the rest of the day, I was greeted with a swollen leg the very next morning, rendering walking an agonizing ordeal. Each step felt like walking on knives, and the entire leg throbbed with pain.
Let’s just say that I could relate to the Little Mermaid's cry for new legs.
After enduring two weeks of excruciating swelling, an MRI scan revealed that I had torn the ligaments around my left knee completely, including the meniscus. It was a devastating blow, forcing me to halt my training indefinitely. For the next two years, the haunting ghost of pain followed me everywhere.
With extreme caution and some rehabilitation, I began to see improvement. I could perform lifts above the knees, like the hang power snatch or hang power clean. However, squatting down became impossible due to the lingering pain in my left knee.
I was desperate for a solution to the pain that plagued me, so I turned to my coach and various physiotherapists for help. Following their instructions, I worked tirelessly on ankle mobility, calf stretching, and hip abduction exercises. Even applying ointment is a desperate bid to ease the pain. It was tedious and overwhelming, but I followed their guidance meticulously, and the exercises provided some relief. I decided to take things cautiously and returned to training with knee sleeves, hoping to avoid any further injuries.
One day, my training hit a major setback. During a front squat with a heavy weight, I heard a startling crack in my left knee. Immediately, my leg swelled up, signalling another frustrating injury. I gazed down at my left knee, feeling defeated and doubtful.
Maybe this is it. Maybe, I don’t belong in the weightlifting world… What’s the point of me owning a weightlifting club coaching yet I can’t squat myself.
It was not until one of my friends suggested I see a Traditional Chinese Physician that I found a path to healing and recovery. He simply asked me to stand, feet together for 30 seconds, and was quickly able to diagnose my issue.
He taught me only one very simple exercise that he asked me to do for just 8 reps a day, without any equipment. I was confused wondering if this simple exercise would ever work, yet I still followed the instruction since I had no better choice.
To my surprise, the pain began to decrease after only one week of following the exercise. By the two-week mark, I was able to train again without feeling constrained or pained. Within a month, I could even squat without pain. I was amazed by the benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine and wanted to learn more.
I approached the physician and asked to learn from him, and fortunately, he accepted me as an apprentice. Thus began my foray into the world of Traditional Chinese Medicine as I followed the master physician in the clinic for two days each week. I saw firsthand how many people came in with pain, only to walk out with a body that felt much better and often looked surprised by the efficacy.
It was like magic.
The physician… let's call him Master Shifu like in Kung Fu Panda. Shifu (师傅), in Chinese literally means teacher or “master”, and that’s what he was to me. Master Shifu told me that pain is merely a surface manifestation of an underlying problem.
Athletes, in particular, need to be attentive to these warning signs, as they indicate that something has gone awry. Instead of solely focusing on the pain, it is essential to see beyond the appearance and thoroughly investigate the body's internal condition to identify and resolve the root cause. Ignoring these signals can exacerbate the issue and hinder progress.
Later I realised that throughout my training journey, I had been indoctrinated with the belief that more training equaled better performance. However, Master Shifu's teachings challenged this notion. He likened it to a derailed train - no matter how powerful the engine, the destination cannot be reached if the train is off its course. I realized that pushing through pain and injuries without addressing the underlying problems only leads to deterioration and setbacks.
As an athlete, the focus of training is often centered on building mobility, strength, and power. However, a crucial element that is often overlooked is the alignment and functionality of the body. A compensated body, one in which there are imbalances and misalignments, will eventually lead to pain and injuries. Only when the body is fully aligned and functioning can athletes reach their full potential.
Many people believe that the only time to seek help in correcting body alignment is when they are already experiencing pain or injuries. However, this approach is reactive rather than proactive. By addressing alignment and functionality, problems can be prevented before they occur. Athletes can train more effectively, move more efficiently, and minimize the risk of injury.
Athletes who train with misalignments and compensations may see short-term gains but at the cost of long-term sustainability. Chronic pain and injuries may occur in as little as three to five years of training, which can hinder progress and lead to unnecessary setbacks. To achieve sustained pain-free training, it is essential to prioritize alignment and functionality in athletic training.
The thing is, most of us aren’t professional athletes. We only start training much later in our years, and want to train for health and longevity.
Realizing the need for a sustainable approach to training, I devoted my time and resources to developing Gaby's Body Alignment Training, which aims to help ordinary people who love lifting and training. My approach considers the individual's unique needs and ensures full-body alignment and functionality. By prioritizing proper alignment, athletes can train more efficiently and effectively for sustained progress and minimize the risk of injuries.
Body Alignment Training Model
Proper body alignment is a crucial element in athletic training that is often neglected. Instead of relying on reactive measures, it is essential to adopt a proactive approach to prevent problems before they occur. With Gaby's Body Alignment Training, athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike can train like a human before training like an athlete, achieving full-body alignment and functionality for sustained progress and pain-free training.
I would love to help those of you who have experienced similar circumstances as me, to go and grow further without the fear of pain.
Train like a human before you train like an athlete.
My Story: Invested $300,000 in Olympic Weightlifting, Only to Gain a Broken Body
Head Coach of Venus Weightlifting
Greetings! I'm Gaby, Head Coach of Venus Weightlifting club, the first of its kind in China. Curious how weightlifting can advance without exhaustive efforts and stiff bodies? I've unraveled this secret by integrating Chinese medical training and my innovative BAT (Body Alignment Training), catapulting thousands to their personal bests.
Ready to get your new PRs without pain? Let's embark on this journey of transformation together!
21-Day Chinese Weightlifting LIFT-LIKE-A-PRO Challenge