How to Cross Train for Welding

In this post I share some simple skills to practice that will help you cross train for welding.


I wrote this list out for my apprentice but didn’t send it to him right away. I second guessed myself and thought ‘Some of these are so stupid’ But later it occurred to me this is what I would have LOVED to have had!! And if he only tries a little drawing, then it was worth sharing.

This is the thing about mentoring- the mentor ends up learning just as much as the mentee.

Thank you.

So you’ve finally got up the courage and signed up for that welding course.

Now what?

Waiting for a course or a job to start can be stressful and, while going over technical information or watching videos IS a good idea, practicing and actually working on skills that mimic and hone welding techniques may actually be more beneficial.

The incredible effect here is that some activities on my list may challenge you to try something new. That simple act of opening up and trying makes you more open and receptive to new skills.

THIS incredible article explains that phenomenon much better than I can. It’s called Neuro Plasticity and basically shows the old saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is completely untrue!

The old saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is completely untrue!

How to cross train for welding!

When an athlete trains they repeat over and over the movement their body has to make to create the desired outcome. A golf swing. A hockey shot. All have to be repeated. Repeating those actions creates muscle memory, making each movement easier and easier. Practicing these movements also identifies what needs to become stronger. Muscle? Focus? Technique?

Now we just find the things to practice over and over…

Maybe you are already welder and want to specialize or progress in a certain area and have never thought about training for welding this way. Without an arc. Without being at work.

This list is for you too.

What can you do to hone your craft right now?

This came up while talking to my apprentice over the winter holidays. We were both busy with family and I was feeling guilty I didn’t have more time to work with him.

He had been waiting for months to start his First Year Welding in January and was already altering his sleep schedule in anticipation of early school days.

And I want to support that kind of initiative, so I made him a list of simple things he could do while he waited to help build existing skills and support learning the new skills needed for welding while not actually striking an arc.

I want to share the list with you!

I wrote:

You do not have to do all these things, by any means. Pick one you think you can do,
Then pick another.
Challenge yourself. Welding will be a challenge. Not in a bad way but learning to welcome challenges as a way to grow is a massive lesson in itself. I hope welding challenges you in some way because I hope you get to grow.

Unexpected ways to cross train for welding…

#1 – Draw

Drawing develops hand eye coordination. There is a reason this is #1. I wrote a whole post on Why Aritsts Make Amazing Welders. Just draw. Anything. Any style. Any pencil, pen, felt, charcoal – whatever you have. *Remember to draw what you see and observe, not what you know. Draw. Even if it’s terrible. Just draw!

Draw

#2 – Yoga

This may not be learning something new for everyone but gaining strength to be comfortable in contorted ‘out of position’ spots is priceless. Trust me welding is not all about brawn. It’s about consistency. *Stream a beginner set (or whatever level is appropriate for you)

Yoga

#3 – Eat with your non dominant hand

Like writing with your non-dominant hand, This forces the other side of your brain to learn the task. And eating is something you already have to do.

Eat with your non dominant hand.

#4 – Meditation

If welding is a new skill it can be very frustrating. Start now when you have (relatively) low stress. Starting right now will give you a baseline or tool to use when you get discouraged. *Oprah Magazine has a great list of meditation apps and also has a collaboration with Deepak Chopra, I personally like listening to his voice and they periodically offer free trials.

Meditation

#5 – Knit

New skill + hand strength and dexterity. An instructor once told me to practice moving a chop stick or knitting needle through my hands to mimic a TIG filler rod and I remember thinking, “why not just knit and actually make something?” Start creating some brain pathways (and next years Christmas presents) now even if you make the most god awful scarf the world has ever seen – at least your welds will be gorgeous. Learn How to knit a scarf HERE.

Knit

#6 – Sew with a sewing machine

This may be my best accompanying skill for GTAW or TIG welding. Revisiting this skill set has been so interesting and helpful. It’s skills like this that make you do one thing with your hands and another with your foot that, once I recognized the similarity, locked in my attention and honest curiosity about making beautiful seams because I realized it was helping me make pretty welds also.

Need something to sew? My favourite Welding Beanie/Cap pattern HERE.

Sew with a sewing machine

#7 – Pipe Icing on a Cake

Ha. This is a strange one, but stay with me! Several days from my first welding job stand out, but writing this post has reminded me of a time I zoned right out while Aluminum spool gun welding a smaller water tank. I was doing my thing, using a puddle manipulation technique they called ‘TIG look’ and letting my mind wander and I felt like I was putting the decorative icing on a very large shiny cake. Someone you know would LOVE a cake and it just might help get your mind into verticals or other MIG puddle manipulation designs.

Pipe Icing on a Cake

# 8 – Play Any Instrument

The benefits of playing an instrument are well known and documented. I just saw a SkillShare class Learn Basic Jamming Skills for Guitar. Guitar. Piano. Drums. They all help hand strength and dexterity plus practicing doing two things at once.

Play an instrument

I’m so interested to hear what you think and THEN see if any of these ideas help as you start classes or start specializing.

Was this helpful? I’d truly like to hear your experience and how it helped. Don’t be shy.

Stay awesome,

Lisa

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