Beginners dive straight into weightlifting, and that is their downfall, says Dmitry Klokov, silver medallist for Russia at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
“The biggest mistake is that people start from the weights, not the information,” he said. “They lift the weights, break their body and then start thinking ‘why?’.”
Klokov, who held classes for weightlifters and CrossFit fans at URSUS Fitness in Sai Ying Pun, said weightlifting was unlike others sports, such as rugby, where players can potentially get injured in almost any way imaginable.
“But weights can injure knees, backs, shoulders and wrists,” he said. “You can imagine what will happen, and prevent it with stretching and recovery.”
“Professionals, chasing medals, are ready to spend their health for their country,” Klokov said. “But for regular people who just love weightlifting and these movements, they can prepare their body and it is safe.”
He said CrossFitters often incorrectly assumed their technique should be the same as traditional weightlifting.
The fitness sport requires a variety of movements and repetitions. Often, a CrossFitter will lift Olympic style movements over and over.
“If you are doing 30 reps, everything you are doing is 100 per cent correct, but not for one rep,” Klokov said. “It’s 100 per cent different, like the difference between Russia and Hong Kong.”
Klokov took up CrossFit for a short period of time, but ultimately his heart was in heavy, traditional weightlifting.
“I like the sport, but it doesn’t work for me,” he said.
“I love strength sports. I am crazy about strength sports.When I see this, for me, it is exotic. It’s like my home. I love how the picture looks,” Klokov said, gesturing at a pile of concrete ‘Atlas’ balls and stacks of weight plates.
Since Klokov competed in the 2008 Olympics, the event has been mired in controversy with allegations of state-sponsored doping.
The Russian team, in particular, has been on the end of retrospective disqualifications and boycotts.
“I understand what happened, but not why it happened,” Klokov said. “What do people want to do to the sport? Sport is very important to the world, and now these people have broken the sport.”
He said fans, wanting to emulate their sporting heros, had their dreams broken by drug scandals.
“Professional sport is professional sport, but this is politics,” he said.
But the scandals should not discourage people from taking up weightlifting or CrossFit.
He said being strong made him feel powerful, even if he never used that power.
“Like a car with 500 horse power, you don’t use it the whole time. You drive slow but you know you have it. It feels comfortable.”
The idea of being big and powerful puts some women off weightlifting.
“They think that if they lift weights they will look like Arnold Schwarzenegger,” Klokov said. “You cannot imagine how many reps of lifting, how many kilos of chicken breast, how many things you need to look a little bit bigger.
“You won’t look like Arnold. He dedicated his life to it.”