Weightlifting 101 | Finding the right coach

3 tips for finding a great weightlifting coach

Finding the right weightlifting coach is crucial for beginners. A good coach can not only set you up for success in lifting — keeping you injury-free while helping you get stronger and stronger — they can also instill confidence and self-esteem.

I’ve had a variety of coaches throughout my life. In high school, my swim coach led our team to state championship after state championship. But she did so with a militant approach. Young swimmers — especially new swimmers — were terrified of her. No one wanted to be singled out by her.

Her approach taught me a lot. I learned extreme discipline. I valued my teammates. And I learned to follow through on my commitments. But I learned most of these lessons out of fear and it took me years to realize that this may have not been the healthiest approach.

Here, we list our tips for finding a good coach who can get you the results you want without sending you into a spiral of self-doubt.


This may seem obvious, but your coach should know what they are doing.

Does that mean they need every USAW credential? Not necessarily.

There are plenty of trainers and coaches with weightlifting certifications who can’t explain a proper set-up or know why¬†a certain lift or movement is necessary to lifting success. Run from these people.

A good weightlifting coach should be able to tell you why squats and deadlifts are important (hint: posterior chain) in addition to going over technique, form, and ways to improve mobility.


After my first daughter was born, we moved to a new town. Once we got settled, I sought out a CrossFit gym for weightlifting and met with the owner/head coach. I was 10 weeks postpartum and explained what I wanted out of a lifting program — basically to get as strong as possible and improve my Olympic lifts.

I emailed him my previous one rep maxes and he promised to come up with a lifting program. We met for a one-on-one lesson one morning. And, with my newborn in her carseat just a few feet away, he had me doing three clean and jerks at my 80 percent every minute on the minute for 12 minutes.

Now, I was truly ignorant at the time and I should have gathered up my kiddo and never gone back. But I pushed through even though I had an inkling this was way too much, too soon, after giving birth.

Now I know.

I didn’t continue with this coach and eventually found a much better fit with a different gym.


Your coach should care about your workouts and your eating habits, but they should also be in tune with the realities of your life.

If kids, family, and work demand the majority of your time, a coach shouldn’t be expecting you to make it to the gym five times per week for two or three hours at a time.

Now, this doesn’t mean a coach should let up on pushing you toward your goals. You and your coach just need to be realistic and on the same page.

Be upfront and honest about your goals. Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to lose fat and gain muscle? Are you wanting to learn the lifts and see how strong you can get?

Great. Whatever your goals, your coach should be on board and helping you get there.

Want more? Check out our tips for weight room etiquette.

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