Coach Mark's Notes:
I see it way too often; some guy at the gym doing what he thinks are handstand push ups when he can't even do a single proper push up. Or some woman trying to lift a ton on her overhead squats when she can't even air squat with her heels down. One rep max deadlift attempts with backs rounder than medicine balls and muscle ups that make my joints hurt just watching them. Bad snatches, bad cleans, bad jerks, all being performed at weights that passed by irresponsible yesterday. This needs to stop, it's resulting in way too many unnecessary injuries, not to mention a growing disrespect for CrossFit and the like.
It's a simple reason why this happens, why almost every gym in the world is full of men and women doing things they have no business doing. People will always have a passionate desire to be like the best, which by itself is a very good thing. The toxicity only occurs when that good thing is combined with a lack of guidance and an inability to see long term goals.
This is easily the most predominant problem, so lets start with it. Form and technique isn't just for keeping trainers employed, it has two basic purposes: keep the lifter safe and use the lifter's body to its fullest potential (safety and efficiency). The beautiful thing about weightlifting in any discipline is that the weight can be manipulated to fit the lifter's level. Don't progress to the next increment on any lift unless the previous one was solid. How did it feel? How did it look? Those two questions need to be asked every time you pull or push a bar. Use a trainer or a camera, and listen to what your body is telling you. Don't play Russian Roulette with your lifts, that game can never last long and you will always end up losing. You have your whole life to get to that six hundred pound dead, which brings me to the next issue...
Long Term Goals
You want that six hundred pound deadlift, or that big dirty four plate-a-side back squat? It's yours, you're just going to have to wait for it. When you're setting your goals for weightlifting, you're probably not giving yourself enough time which forces bad habits. Anyone who has followed Wendler 5-3-1 knows what I'm talking about. Google Jim Wendler and read what that man has to say on the subject. In my opinion, no one knows long term goal setting like him. Basically, he preached slow and steady gains over a very long time frame. Six weeks is not long term, six months is. Progress should never stop, only slow down. Do your best to progress at a maintainable rate. Ever hear of the term "newbie gains"? When a person first starts lifting, he/she makes massive increases in personal bests. As the lifter becomes more experienced and less of a newbie, the gain increments diminish and the lifter becomes frustrated. If you're sitting at a 435 deadlift and you want to pull 500 more than anything else, pick a reasonable time frame to do so. The path of constant steady progress and consistent gains feels a whole lot better than the pot-hole filled road of plateaus, weight fluctuation and nagging injuries.
Lack of Guidance
It's a coach's job to push, but not in the wrong direction. If an athlete wants to move on from one movement to a more challenging one from the same family but has no business doing so, the coach needs to say so. Or, if the athlete feels strong and wants to add weight to a brutal looking lift, the coach need to step in and put a stop to it. That being said, all of the burden doesn't rest on the coach, the athlete is equally responsible. Learn from different sources, not just your coach. There's nothing I respect more than an athlete who doesn't just nod and smile, but instead goes home and reads.
How's your push up technique? If it's not perfect, or very close to it, then why are you trying to bust out ring hand stand push ups? You look like you're auditioning for a gig on Sesame Street when the letter C sponsors the show. Don't be too quick to move on to the next movement when the one that your on is lacking. I know it's tempting, but be smart. Especially when it comes to weightlifting. I'll use the overhead squat as an example. Picture this guy, I'm sure you all know at least one of him: a big strong inflexible guy that can surprisingly back squat heavy and with solid form, but couldn't do a decent overhead squat to save his life. He wants to overhead squat like the guys he sees on CF.com, but he's impatient and egotistical. So, he muscles out dirty overheads at too heavy a weight and impresses most people. Sadly, this guy has potential that will never fully develop. What he needs to be doing is bringing up his overhead squat slowly and with good technique. You'll reach your goals, just not in the next hour. Give it some time.
Sit down and ask yourself some important questions. Am I improving like I should be? Are my reps actually good, or am I just shouting with my eyes closed and ears covered to avoid noticing that they're shit? Ignoring the problem won't make it go away. Better form and technique equals stronger, safer lifts and movements. Improving your performance over a longer period of time results in less injury, and more maintainable performance. You probably need to work on your form, I doubt it's as good as it could be. You probably have to drop the weight back in your pursuit to do so, sorry. It sucks, I know, I've experienced it first hand, but the long way is the only way. It may take more time, but in the end it'll get you further. Regression hurts, but you will come back a better, stronger athlete, and you may not be too happy about it now, but you'll thank yourself later. Always remember, learn to walk before you run.