12 Jul Transformational Lessons I Learned From Coach Glenn Pendlay

It was the summer of 2013 when I attended an exceptional weightlifting seminar.

It was July, 2013 and it was taught by the renowned Weightlifting Coach Glenn Pendlay.

First, thank you Glenn for a great seminar.

At the time, I had no idea how great of a coach you were.

Thank you for providing one of the most valuable learning experiences I’ve ever attended.

While I’ve attended many wonderful seminars and workshops in the last 10 years or so, this was certainly one that stands out.

I can still remember sitting in the back of the hot gym down here in South Florida and taking notes while he was presenting the lecture portion of the seminar. 

It was hot, humid, and sticky…and I sat a steel fold up chair taking diligent notes.

Oddly enough, I don’t seem to remember many others taking notes, but I guess I’m a bit nutty when it comes to learning. I always take notes. We were all huddled in the back of a CrossFit gym owned by my friend, Steven Bowser.

Coach Pendlay sat down and just started talking. Dropping his deep wisdom and experiences. And I just started writing and writing.

I’m about to share some powerful knowledge bombs about strength training, no matter what tool you use.

To make this easy, I’ve compartmentalized the topics for you and streamlined the concepts, adding a little bit of my own thoughts and comments.

The topics will be in the order of the notes taken from my journal.

He started his lecture by providing a fascinating overview of the history of the sport of weightlifting, but I won’t digress into that.

I will share the 8 streamlined concepts that I took away from that day.


“The back squat seems to have the most correlation to Olympic Weightlifting strength and power. Not the powerlifting squat, but a full, deep squat.”

Of course this makes sense, but it’s worth pointing out that the squat is the king of all lifts.

We can certainly argue the deadlift, but for weightlifting, it is the squat that helps these lifts the most.

I only point this out because I feel it’s sometimes forgotten that to get big and strong, squatting is usually the solution.


“If you’ve only been weightlifting a year, you’re only scratching the surface of your potential.”

I love this comment because we can say the same about many strength and performance skills.

It takes time to learn how to move and lift properly, it doesn’t happen overnight.

Always remember, it is truly a journey.

When I started weightlifting, I was terrible and my kettlebell skills did not transfer at all (which I was surprised by).

To be a better mover and a better lifter, you have to be in for the long haul, which leads to the next great point.


“The biggest separator with people who do well and those who don’t is that the people who do well don’t quit, they keep training and get better. They don’t quit after a year or less. The people who do well persevere.”

I’m not sure I need to expand on this at all.

I think this is stated so well about the importance of perseverance. 

Keep at it. This is the way to succeed.


“Modern technique is, by far, more efficient. Be good at the movements.”

This point stuck out to me for a couple of reasons.

To me, it says that movement skill and technique are constantly evolving. 

We are always learning about how the human body works and how to move and lift more efficiently and effectively to do more and reduce the risk for injury.

We can look at the statement and say the same thing about kettlebell training and how that has evolved and refined so much in recent years.

A specific example (and since it’s one of my favorite exercises) would be the Turkish Get Up. 

Look at how that exercise was done back in 2006 when Pavel wrote Enter The Kettlebell and compare that to today, then consider the quote above.

Training evolves.


“Different things work in different cultures. What works for them, doesn’t necessarily work for us.”

What he was talking about here was differences between the Bulgarian Weightlifting approach compared to Russia and the United States.

For background, Russian training was more about long-term planning and statistical analysis whereas the Bulgarian system was about training hard, heavy, and often.

These training systems were vastly different and what worked for Russia and Bulgaria does not necessarily apply to the United States.

Cultural differences have a lot to do with approaches to training.

Keep things in context.

Just something to think about.


This point is huge.

I’ll never forget it.

“In Moscow, you can get a PhD in Weightlifting Coaching. You get more respect as a Weightlifting Coach than you do as a Physician (MD).”

I was blown was by that statement, even to this day I still think about it.

Such high respect for the strength coach in Russia and what is interesting is how this is so completely different here in the United States.

Sadly, many top fitness professionals, experts and coaches simply do not get the respect they deserve.


“I much prefer simple programs based around the fundamentals versus complicated, detailed programming. Keep it simple and don’t do too much, too often.”

Is this great training wisdom or what?

There’s a lot I want to say about this, but I’ll let this message resonate in its simplicity and power.

I just applied this philosophy to a kettlebell training program with the Kettlebell Simplicity Strength Plan. It doesn’t get any more simple than that, folks.


“The 3 biggest things that screw up your training are:

1) Stress

2) Lack of sleep

3) Poor nutrition.”

This is so simple and so true.

If you’re training hard, if you’re training good – and not getting the results you want, you’re probably doing really bad in one or more of these 3 things.

Personally, I would also add lack of clarity and bad programming to things that sabotage training (*mostly for the recreational athlete).

While there are many potential things that can sabotage training, the 3 he mentioned here are certainly some of the leading causes.

I hope you’ve found these lessons and insights as valuable as I have.

There was more, but these are the concepts and takeaways in the most concise summary.

It should be noted that this was only the lecture portion of the 2-day seminar.

The full seminar was primarily learning, progressing, and performing the Olympic lifts (the snatch and clean and jerk). And since that seminar, I have taken many other Weightlifting seminars to continue to deepen my own skills and further understand the weightlifting movements.

Once again, a massive thank you to Coach Glenn Pendlay for sharing his insights with myself and the attendees that day.

Now I’ve passed along what I learned – with you.

Thanks Coach for making a difference.

NOTE: It was not long after I wrote this article that I learned that Legendary Coach Glenn Pendlay passed away.

He was only 48 years old at the time of his passing.

Rest-In-Peace Coach…you made a difference in my life and I thank you deeply.

Who can you think of that needs to read this?

Please share it with them on Facebook, Twitter or anywhere you’d like.

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Scott’s background as a strength coach, athlete and former clinician are the basis for his one-of-a-kind approach to teaching strength, human movement, and peak performance. Scott is dedicated to helping serious fitness enthusiasts, athletes, and lifters all over the world, regardless of age, background, or training experience, become the best version of themselves through improved strength and skill development for a lifetime of health, happiness, and high-performance.

Scott is the passionate host of The Rdella Training Podcast, a leading fitness podcast in Apple Podcasts where he interviews the most brilliant minds in the industry. Finally, he is the author of The Edge of Strength, available in Amazon. To learn more about Scott, please visit the About Page.

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