Started from the Bottom. A Year in Weightlifting…

Everyone bombs. In this blog article I will go through a year of training and competitions for one of the more talented girls that I coach. Going from bombing out in record time at the Scottish Seniors in 2015 to the winning the British U23s with a clutch Clean and Jerk on the final lift.

Scottish Seniors 2015

this-is-fine-memeLeading up to the Scottish seniors the training had been pretty standard with a 2 week taper and hitting every opener on the Saturday session going 5/5 Snatch and 3/3 in the Clean and Jerk and opening at her PR double or ~90%. Consistent errors were jumping forward on the Snatch, the bar was drifting away from the center line and an aggressive early extension of the hip.  At the seniors Zoë bombed on the snatch. Some of the lessons learned from this competition were to lower the energy level for the snatch, (2 scoops and shouting is simply not needed. A lot of lifters go through this phase, it doesn’t really help and bleeds you of so much energy come lifting time.) better clock management and it was time to start addressing technical issues if she wanted to progress. The great thing about competing is that it forces you to lift under a microscope. Once the pressure is on, it is more likely you try to muscle the barbell and abandon everything.

Looking at the video you can see most of the problems listed above in action. She was still pretty new to lifting so mistakes were to be expected. The bar drifts around the knee, the vertical speed decreases above the hip (a common problem with an early extension of the hip. This is due to you losing drive from the legs) and an excessive horizontal force is being introduced to the barbell. Bad day at the office for sure.

Training post Seniors

This was the last competition that Zoë lifted as a 63kg/light 69kg, I maintain the goal is being a jacked 120kg with no neck but for now @Shovelhands_69kgs lives in the 69kg class. The next competition she was going to compete in was the BUCS (British University and Colleges Sport) Championships and a lot needed to be worked on before then.

  • Strength
  • Improve speed qualities as a lifter
  • Improve technical mastery

Between the Seniors and BUCS there were 4 months + change to improve these aspects. Using a 3:1 (3 weeks active // 1 Week deload/rest) rotation; her training was broken up into 4 blocks. Hypertrophy / General Strength / Specific Strength / Peak.

During the Hypertrophy block the aim is to add muscle mass. Training involves a wide exercise selection and larger repetition schemes. It is the horrible period of training where you go to the squat rack hating life. It can be harder to motivate the athlete in this phase, the classical lifts might decrease due to the high volume of strength work. Some athletes panic and quickly change program. Motivation is maintained through the exercise selection and the ability to get “default PRs” on random stuff.

zoe-hypertrophy-blockIntensity for exercises was in the 60-70% range with an accumulation of intensity over time. (A total increase of about 7% in intensity from week 1 to week 3). The third week was a hard overreach microcycle. A days training (over 2 sessions) would look similar to:

The exercise selection has her technical flaws in mind and over the 3 week period the stimulus is constantly increasing. I started incorporating the option to do more work if lifters had the energy (before it was implied). The green boxes are there so the lifter has the option to do more work if they feel the energy level is still high. (Technical failure is not acceptable.) Whenever people get to make choices they tend to be more accepting of an outcome. I found this to be a useful change throughout my programming. A potential problem could occur here if an athlete does so much work that the risk of injury increases. For now this risk is acceptable if this moves the lifter closer to her/his maximum recoverable volume.

During the general strength block the main goal is to improve the force production capabilities whilst addressing the individual lifters’ weaker areas. For female lifters it is common to have a weaker upper body compared to male athletes. For Zoë; she has a longer femur compared to total leg length so positional strength when the lever arm is at it’s longest is a concern. (Other sessions included pause squats, stalling lifts or lifts from challenging block heights. A days training (over 2 sessions) looked something like:zoe-str-block

The intensity in this block was within the 70-80% range and increased roughly 6-7% comparing the first and third week.

The sport specific strength block is similar in intensity to the previous but the exercise election is reduced and a greater focus is placed on technical outcomes. This is when technical adjustments are a major factor in performance. You should have an increase in horse power to work with and need to start putting it to use. Video sessions were a greater priority in this block, important for the lifter to get immediate feedback. An average training day looked something like:

zoe-sport-str-block

The intensity in this block was within the 70-85% range and increased roughly 5-10% over the 3 weeks. Snatch variants went slightly higher.
The peaking blocks goal is an increase in competition performance. The volume of the lifts were low and the intensity building towards 90%. Deadlift variations are often removed at this point. An average training days would look something like:zoe-peak

A week before the competition there was a large drop in volume to prepare the lifter for weigh-in, travel and competition.

BUCS Championship

Competition preparation went well, openers were stable. Going into the meet Zoë was working on warming up quicker (to preserve energy) and lifting at a lower arousal level (having been a problem during the seniors). This competition went very well. Going 5/6 and winning the 69kg class.

There were technical improvements across the board and lifted well under pressure. Overall pretty happy with the result of the competition with a result of +17kg in 4 months of training. This is somewhat skewed since the bomb out at the Seniors.

Training Leading up to the Easterns and British U23s

The training followed the same phasic structure with alterations based off of experience working with Zoe. Some minor injuries and holidays slowed down progress. This is to be expected and must be taken into account with program design / workout volume. The summer training was largely uninterrupted only missing about 1 month in total. As mastery level increases speed factors become a more important part of weightlifting. Block work is one of the ways to improve speed under the bar and maintain high volume, this started to take up a larger section of her programming. Accessory work and hypertrophy was important to filling her out as a 69kg lifter.

Easterns and British U23s

Going into the the Eastern districts a two week taper was used and the openers went fairly well, although some sad news had an impact on the energy levels in training.

For some reason I have a nasty habit of not filming the first lift. Zoë went 5/6 and had an increase in competition total of +4kg. On the whole I was satisfied with the competition. The clean and jerk being the weaker of the two lifts. Errors include; the bar crashing down when transitioning under the barbell and the Jerk getting pushed forward a little.

The British U23 Championships followed in three weeks time so there was not much that could be done training wise. Openers were redone and front squats were used to stall out any decline in leg strength / minimize the injury risk of a high average intensity for such a long period of time.

The competition was neck and neck all the way in the British, the stage made for an intimidating experience for a first time lifter. Kudos to British Weightlifting for making the stage similar to international venues. The MC putting the hype levels over 9000.

Zoë was opening the highest on the snatch so she had an opportunity to set the pace of the competition and only lift what she needed to. Going out for her first lift her hands were visibly shaking when going to grip the bar. Deciding to abandon everything she worked on over the past couple of months she did her own thing. It did not go well. An early hip extension and a large horizontal force on the barbell caused it to loop behind. In this situation with a more experienced lifter I would have moved the bar to 71kg. In her current state it would be a dangerous gamble to take. Missing the second lift would put her under enormous pressure and could lead to a bomb out. The lift was repeated and was an easy make. Explaining that a larger jump was needed on her third snatch to remain competitive. I wanted to move the bar to 72kg framing it with carrot of winning, she countered with 73kg (1kg less than the Eastern districts but still a 5kg jump in the snatch which can be a lot for female lifters). The third snatch was spot on and put her 3kg behind going into the Clean and Jerk.

The clean and jerk warm up was a little more jumbled with quite a few misses of other athletes forcing the clock to run long. This meant the timings had to be slowed down and some pulls used to stay warm and conserve energy. To keep her mind off of proceedings I didn’t pay that much attention to her lifting so she wouldn’t be stressing out. After every lift she was asking “what happened / was it good?” Quite funny considering how much lifting she has done. Knowing that she was 3kg behind on the snatch yet the lightest of the girls I wanted to move the bar to 84kg to take first place and force other lifters to “make lifts”. Zoë panicked a little and didn’t want to move the barbell past 83kg. (I cri errytime) This meant the first lift was somewhat of a waste, only securing second (although it meant we used none of our changes). After making the first Clean and Jerk we moved the bar 1kg over the other lifters (to 86kg) to see how they would do. The girl in first place missed her second clean and the lifter in third place moved up into second having made 85kg. Zoë had the chance to move into a large lead with one lift remaining by making the second clean and jerk. She missed. Explaining to her that we want to take the chance to win it on the last lift regardless of the others I moved the bar to 88kg (1kg above the others, knowing that the lifter in second was out of changes). They both missed their last lifts of 87/88 (meaning Zoë would have won with 86kg). She had the opportunity to win it on the final lift, so hype. Luckily she made the lift, (I was feeling the heart flutters) it was an exciting competition performance and luckily it went our way on the day. That made sense to me but no doubt read horribly.

TLDR : Knees weak, arms heavy, mom’s spaghetti. #Anothaone

Going forward,hopefully she learns from the competition. I know I will be altering some parts of training. For example: openers being a higher intensity wave series so people getting less fixated on a number. It was a great return on a years training and I look forward to competition season being over. Next year the goals are to compete at the British and move her total up in the region of 175-180.

Initial total 53/72=125

Final total 73/88= 161

Improvement over 1 year = 36kg.

With training; staying the course and waiting on your body adapting is very difficult. You think micro adjustments are required after one bad session, as long as the work is getting more difficult over time and you are improving your technical mastery you will have a good time. Put your trust in delayed transformation.

Regarding the blog: I find writing super taxing (I am the sort of writer that goes back to the start and constantly frets) but will be trying to write on a more consistent basis, even if it is just to work on finding more dank memes.

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SCOTTISH OPEN – PT 2/3 – 85/77/69 LIFTERS

Second part of the “thrilling” series going over the lifts at the Scottish Open. This is where the aesthetic guys should be hanging their hats and making lifts with great tekkers. Time will tell if that is the case. Same format as last time, lots of pictures of key frames so the format will likely be an eye sore, there is no way around that. I will show my thoughts on the day in a paragraph written in Italics to show how I was thinking “in the moment” and highlighting my thought process. Some lifters were after I had competed on the previous day so there is a change of mindset since some pressure was off, some slang/netspeak involved.

Lifter 1 : Jack Walsh(85)

No concerns for Jack. Seems to respond well to a competition environment. Make sure to keep the warm up slow as he will likely be running on to the platform and not utilizing his full rest, his work capacity is solid though so with these weights it shouldn’t be a problem. Wants me to load 100+kg on his 3rd snatch regardless of the previous, ignore this if he has a mare. On the cleans make sure to get him to focus on finishing his pull and keep a positive mood with telling him about his cray cray jerk.

Snatch 1 91kg – 0:12

Great opener from Jack, controlled the barbell and received early overhead. Argument for a PR power snatch in there somewhere. Balance a little to the rear, probably excited and over cooked it.

Snatch 2 96kg – 0:32

Solid lift from Jack again, had to squat fully to receive the weight, a little more stable – didn’t have to recover to the rear on this lift.

Snatch 3 100kg – 0:54

Great lift from Jack for a healthy PR on the day, jumped forward a little but completed his extension for the most part. The jump was to counter the swing on the barbell as his hips came through a little more than his previous lifts. Good recovery though, damn him and his proportionate upper body strength.

Clean 1 121 – 1:18

Jack - Jerk 1The clean was sooth enough, received the bar early. On the jerk the front foot didn’t step out enough and made for an awkward angle on the recovery, this meant that he had to recover back foot -> front foot and his hips didn’t get to go down as much as they could of. Surprising for Jack since his jerk is money. (Picture to the lefts shoes the front shin angle, he gets away with this since the weight is comfortable for him, but this will punish him with big weights.)

Clean 2 125 – 1:50

Jack - Jerk 2The clean was a little more ropey for the 125, his hips didn’t open quite as much as the previous lift, this cause him to have to move his center of balance a little further onto his toes on the clean recovery. Jack is still getting to grips with the clean readjust and dun goofed, most lifters have had it happen but it is always scary when it does. On the jerk the foot timing was a little off and the front foot was a early, this trapped his hips causing him to press the weight out. The bar was very high so a frustrating miss for him. His charming smile couldn’t swing the judges round to his point of view.

Clean 3 126kg – 2:24

Similar to the 125 clean, hips are a little closed so his upper back is doing a lot of work to recover this clean. The readjust on this lift still gives me the shudders, he lost the pinky on the barbell and for him that is usually a death sentence. The jerk was not too shabby all things considered. The front foot could travel a little more so the shin is coming towards him. Good effort considering the calamity of the readjust, great fight from Jack.

Going forward for his training, he needs to spend more time work his flexibility for the receive position for both lifts and tidying up the footwork a little on the jerk. Incorporating footwork drills in the warm up is an option till the pattern is second nature. His numbers/ratios are good compared to his strength levels so the obvious comment is “just get stronger”.

Lifter 2 : Eirik Mølmshaug(85)

Excited to see him lift, if he moves the bar vertical he will crush. Remind him that the barbell is his friend and he wants to remain on good terms with it. Killing it with his hips doesn’t help him. Up not out. The class is quite full so make sure to move between lifters and keep people on top of the warm ups. He is experienced as a competitor in other sports, should be GGWP.

Snatch 1 88kg – 0:10

For Eirik this was one of his better snatches technically, the bar moved vertically so the lift was up and down. His ankles are a limiting factor for his bottom position, this means that his powers are very high compared to him full lifts.

Snatch 2 93kg – 0:36

Eirik - Snatch 2Decent enough attempt on this snatch, not much went wrong other than the bottom position of the snatch needs to improve. The bar got to the neck height which is well above what is required to make the lift. Unfortunately not aggressive enough on the turnover and got pinged for a pressout. The silver lining being that positionally for Eirik this has come a long way from where he started.

Snatch 3 93kg – 0:54

On this lift he tried to muscle the bar a little too much. He banged the bar too far out, again the bar was high enough to make the lift but if it is out in front you have to have mad shoulder strength and fast feet to save the lift. A cheeky example beings Ilyin’s 3rd snatch at the Worlds where he ran across the platform with 190kg (lolwut).

Clean 1 112kg – 1:14

On this clean the bar came a little too far back and caused him to shift his balance too far towards his heels. This can be a nightmare to recover, luckily Eirik managed to get a foot out and rescue the clean. Eirik is a very good jerker (PR is well above his clean max) so this weight was no concern for him.

Clean 2 117kg – 1:40

Eirik - Clean 2This was his best lift of his 6 on the day, the clean was very smooth. Lovely and vertical, elbow turnover was very fast and had completed by parallel. The jerk was of no concern for this handsome individual.

Clean 3 121kg – 2:04

Eirik - Clean 3Somewhat disappointing lift from Eirik, his hips are moving slightly faster than his shoulders on his first pull. This traps the bar further away from the body for the second pull, meaning that his upper back will have to do more work to save the lift. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case and the clean rolled. The jerk would have been money no doubt.

For the foreseeable future, putting on some body weight and spending as much time stretching as possible is a good option for Eirik. Doing drills like no hip snatches or cleans will help to eliminate his his bang. Training with a camera and looking at the bar path trying to make that S as flat as possible.

Lifter 3 – Joseph Corbin(85)

First competition, try to get him to relax. Make sure he doesn’t care about how the lift looks. A to B for someone in his position. for the warm up make sure to be positive and that he doesn’t do too many lifts. Get warm and get ready, that is all.  He will be lifting at the lower end of the group, so he will likely be following on from himself, make sure that he uses the rest time he will get. Remind him to have fun, aim for 6/6.

Snatch 1 65kg – 0:05

Joseph 1First lift was a little scrappy probably due to nerves. Smacked the bar a little too aggressively with the hips. This meant that there was a lot of swing on the barbell so he had to work hard with the shoulders to save the lift.

Snatch 2 70kg – 0:22

Much better here, still a very high power snatch but the bar doesn’t have any where near as much swing on it. Decent lift from Joseph.

Snatch 3 75kg – 0:38

This is where powering lifts catches up with you. Good pull from Joseph but ducked out of doing a full snatch here, with more time on the barbell this will improve.

Clean 1 85kg – 0:49

Encouraging opener here, slight forward lean on the recovery of the clean but smooth elbow turnover and remained in contrl of the barbell throughout the lift. The Jerk is very robust. Shoulders position is spot on.

Clean 2 90kg – 1:10

Better positioning on the clean recovery, not as much torso lean. Very healthy jerk from the big man.

Clean 3 95kg – 1:32

Not much wrong with this lift either, the weight still looks light for him, he receives the barbell well above parallel. For his first competition he did well.

Moving forward – “forcing” lifts to the proper receive position is a good move for him. This can be done a number of ways. For example doing multiple reps from the hang or blocks can be a good way to move the lifter under a barbell since they tend to get tired towards the last rep and this will cut the pull height down but means they are working at a weight they are comfortable with.

Lifter 4 – Jordan Thomson(85)

Dat snatch brah, he’s so far past the water level roaming about limbo likeabawws. Concentrate on turnover here, won’t need to talk to him much. Make sure his arousal level is appropriate and he doesn’t burn himself out. Try to get him smiling. Once the snatch is over get him focused on the clean, arousal level goes up. Finish the pull and keep the upper back tight, don’t spend too long before the jerk.

Snatch 1 95kg – 0:12

Technically pretty tasty, good opener.

Snatch 2 98kg – 0:26

Very fast, had to use the hips to save the lift but again not much wrong here.

Snatch 3 101kg – 0:51

Pretty smooth technically, the bar is right where it needs to be but his upper body strength let him down a little. Stronger shoulders would save the day here.

Clean 1 130kg – 1:03

Jordan 1Very fast under the bar (audible gasp), Jordan’s speed is a valuable asset to him when he finishes the pull. On the jerk it is a hard to say what went wrong, it looks in the right place. Speaking with him after he said it felt goofy and I understand the difficulty of overcoming a serious injury so I don’t want to drag it out. Foot position looked decent, although the back foot turns out ever so slightly. The bar was over the hips, a lack of pressing strength cost him here.

Clean 2 130kg – 1:32

A little rushed here on his usual pump and rise dynamic start, compared to all the other timings, this one is off slightly. Usually he moves his feet wider. Here his feet get trapped under him and gets spat out. This clean is one that you chalk up as a FUBAR and move on.

Clean 3 130kg – 1:44

Game overThis is the first time Jordan has encountered real pressure in making a lift in Weightlifting so it is a good experience for him. This time slightly forward on the clean so he has to recover the barbell to his throat to make the lift. Too much wobbling about at the top of the the suggests that the midsection probably needs a little work stabilizing the jerk drive. On the Jerk the back foot goes for a long split but not a deep one, the front foot gets caught on the ground and he can’t sink his hips. This means that the arms are caught pressing the barbell and it’s game over man, game over.

This comp came about 4 weeks too soon for Jordan, he has been recovering from a nasty shoulder injury that has prevented any sort of pressing work for about 3 months. Doubly unlucky as the goal for that training block was to improve that area. To his credit Jordan worked hard at what he could (becoming like a pretzel) and it takes a lot of mental effort to do the stuff you need to rather than the stuff you want to. Going forward we will be looking to make up for some lost time and start the beginnings of upper body muscles. Next stop 100 gurls. Addressing his shoulder flexibility is a must as well.

Lifter 5 – Ruaridh Murnoch(77)

Rough deal since I am competing in this class and won’t be able to help him out. I have trust that the people helping him will get the job done, Wish him well.

Snatch 1 50kg – 0:08

Runs and guns a little on this lift, needs to complete his pull to send the bar vertical. Work on extending more rather than bombing.

Snatch 2 55kg – 0:21

Slightly better here. Still pumps the bar a little forward but much more vertical on the finish. Good lift for a beginner.

Snatch 3 60kg – 0:36

You can see he is annoyed here after the lift. Slightly early finish with the pull means the bar loops rather than gets sent vertically. Not going under the barbell means it will have to travel further than is necessary. Deemed a pressout.

Clean 1 85kg – 1:02

Ruaridh 1Similar to the snatch, he needs to finish the pull a little too eager to rush under the barbell. At the top of the pull his shoulders should be behind the barbell rather than over it. the jerk is not too bad although his weighting is on the toes at the bottom of the dip. The foot weighting needs to be about mid foot and finish on the toes.

Clean 2 90kg – 1:22

Decent clean, still quick to go under the barbell and the back starts to round a little at the bottom of the clean. On the jerk the hips need to move down more in order for the arms to lockout. Deemed a pressout.

Clean 3 90kg – 1:44

Same as the previous lift, his winning smile got him the favor of the judges who were generous to award to lift.

A useful showing from Ruaridh in his first competition, with more steady training in the coming year his total will massively improve. To prevent the early pull in both lifts adding in things like slow cleans / slow snatches or going from the hip are also useful. To shift big weights on the lifts require you to finish the pull. He is new to the sport so getting stronger and lifting more often is never a bad thing.

Lifter 6 – Benjamin Greenhough(69)

Make sure to not remind him of the wrist injury. get him to relax and have fun. Stay on top of the warm up and keep him distracted. Have an idea where he is entering the class. After snatch get focus on Clean and jerk, can’t get lifts back. Aim for 6/6, remind him of A to B.

Snatch 1 57kg – 0:16

Opener on the board, felt comfier going for that power snatch like a lot of beginners. Bar swings out a little, rescues the swing with shoulders.

Snatch 2 60kg –  0:39

Clarked this lift, bar is high enough to make. Need to determine what is stopping the transition under.

Snatch 3 60kg –  0:50

A little out in front but massively improved from the previous attempt. Some swing on the bar so had to recover forward.

Clean 1 67kg – 0:58 (quick start)

Finishes with his shoulders over the bar so the pull is a little incomplete, he has to move forward to recover, front squat was for the fans (also known as the Pete). Jerk was a touch forward, front foot not far enough out so the leg was carrying more weight than necessary.

Clean 2 72kg – 1:21

Pretty much identical lift, recovered the jerk with the back leg suggesting the balance is too far forward.

Clean 3 77kg –  1:44

Very good clean from Ben, his shoulders finish behind the bar and he was able to recover well. The jerk is a little rough, the bar doesn’t go high enough for his split depth. Needs to improve a little on the footwork.

Hopefully Ben learned from his first competition, given time he will get smoother transitioning under the barbell. With beginners it is best not to focus on things that are too small. More time with the barbell and more time going from the hang will help his lifts a lot.

Mixed feelings coaching this rabble. I was frustrated having to compete on the same day as some of the lifters, this meant I had my focus split. Looking forward to the U23s for this reason. I also felt that I made some mistakes with allowing lifters to change weights when I should have stuck with the plan. I trusted their feelings but should have planted my foot and gone for what we set out for. The lifters did well and I look forward to some competing at the U23s on May 16th. Next up is Team Girl when I get a chance to write it.

Scottish Open – pt 1/3 – 105/94 Lifters

This will likely be a long series and will follow a somewhat repetitive structure. For each lifter I will put up the video of all their lifts then in italics I will show what I wrote on the day, (my immediate predictions/reactions) then what I think after seeing the video. The formatting of the post will be a little awkward since there will pictures of key frames.

Edinburgh University put forward a lot of lifters which is promising for the future. I am proud of the effort put in by the club. In particular the support given to each other on the day, club culture is a huge benefit to lifters. Some people came to watch all the lifters despite having a busy schedule, for that I am very grateful. A huge thank you to Eirik Mølmshaug for the videos. It is a massive help and greatly appreciated.

Lifter 1 : Ian Paul (105kg)

Easy to predict lift timing since class very small. Concerned about the jump from 95 -> 100kg. Had some trouble in training lately and I think that lift can sometimes get in his head. If he backs his positions he will do well, cue traps. CnJ: I have no concerns about the clean, max near 140kg so the limiting factor is entirely the Jerk. If the back foot lands first and doesn’t try to press the weight he will Jerk well. Since he was late for weigh in, lifting as a guest, allows for a pressure free competition – Good/bad, try reminding him to have fun because of this.

Snatch 1 95kg – 0:07

Good lift, with a heavier weight he will want to avoid rushing out of the bottom position. He was 2-3 scoops deep though so it was easy work for the big man.

Snatch 2 100kg – 0:23

Very smooth again from Ian, shoulders finishing behind the bar at the top of the pull but maintaining a straight bar path which is excellent. The feet position could move a little wider so had to recover forward cause of the torso angle. He had some struggles in training banging the bar away.

Snatch 3 103kg – 0:37

A 3kg PR for Ian, the pull is smooth and finishes close to the hip. His shoulders are finishing further behind the bar compared to the previous lift so he will need time getting comfortable hitting this weight on a regular basis so the lifts look the same every time. He had to recover forward after the lift so the bar probably came away from him. His foot positioning was better on this lift compared to the previous so he was able to hit a deeper position.

Clean 1 117kg – 0:50

Ian - 117kg Bad jerkThe clean is very comfortable for Ian, he has a big excess on this part of the lift. The main focus here will be on the jerk. On the first two lifts the re-adjust was not as smooth as I would like. It is somewhat of a double movement, this costs a little bit of leg power. The arms were a little slow on this lift so the feet had landed and the arms were still going. This caught up with him and was deemed a pressout. The bar positioning was a little too far forward and meant he had to run to try and catch it.  The picture on the right shows the centre of balance a little in front of the hips, elite lifters do this as well, they counter with a crazy amount of shoulder flexibility. A frustrating opener since he would require a big jump on his final lift.

Clean 2 117kg – 1:07

117kg Jerk2 DipFor this lift the bar goes a little forward on the jerk. The main cause for this is the foot weighting on the jerk. His knees are a little beyond his toes and when he reverses his dip and drive he is already moving forward ever so slightly. You have to watch the lift in slow motion to see it. He manages to recover this lift well. (the judges buzzed a little early, probably guilty from the Easts).

Clean 3 125kg – 1:30

Ian - 125kg Good JerkThis was a massive improvement over the two previous weights. The Jerk adjust was much smoother and allowed a faster paced lift. His shoulder positioning was further towards the rear so the weight was over his hips. This made the weight look much easier than the previous attempts despite the large jump in weight. Looking at the picture to the right, you see that there is a more equal distribution of weight. For Ian this was a technically good lift.

Ian - Alarm TrophyFor Ian this was a interesting competition, he was unfortunate to miss the weigh in, this meant that he was lifting as a guest. He would’ve finished first so we prepared a trophy for him so that he wouldn’t sleep in. (made by my gorgeous girlfriend) For his training, more time spent Jerking weights and making sure that he has accurate footwork. Improving his upper body strength with basic movements like bench press, dips or weightlifting specific movements like push press and power variations of the lifts will benefit his lifting. A 11kg total increase from his last competition is a great return from training. His next goal is moving towards the 240kg total mark and moving up the classification of lifters.

Lifter 2 : Mike Kennedy (105kg)

First competition so focus on making lifts, 6/6 is the goal. In the warm up make sure he is relaxed and not wasting too much energy doing a lot of lifts. Get him in a routine. No concerns on the snatch apart from squatting it up (lolwut). On the Clean and jerk aim to remind him to not come onto his toes too early and drive the bar straight. Tell judges about elbow extension.

Snatch 1 82kg – 0:07

Very smooth lift, for a big guy, Mike has a sick bottom position. His chest dips a little on the first pull which is not uncommon on tall lifters. As long as his shoulders rise as well, it’s not as punishing since their torsos get to act as a large “whip”.

Snatch 2 86kg – 0:22

Decent lift from Mike. Had to gather himself at the bottom of the lift but his deep position gives him the margin for error there. His breath at the bottom of the snatch is a concern, odds are he is losing trunk pressure, with heavier weights it will cost him.

Snatch 3 90kg – 0:38

Technically superior to the other lifts, the chest does not drop at all on the first pull. this will allow him to fully use his legs on the second pull, rather than mule kicking the bar when it is out in front. His foot weighting in the bottom position is superior to the previous lift and needed less time to recover this lift. Again he takes a breath at the bottom of the snatch.

Clean 1 105kg – 0:55

Very smooth lift from the man with the sickest singlet going. Very efficient pull, his arms are loose so he completes his elbow turnover fast. On the jerk he is rocking back to his heels a little too much in the future he will want to drive with his whole foot for as long as possible.

Clean 2 110kg – 1:18

Mike - Jerk 2On the jerk, the problem is starting to appear more pronounce. The picture to the left shows him with his toes off the ground.  This is an inefficient position for delivering maximum power to the barbell and will have to be corrected in the future to make heavier weights. It is an odd one since at the bottom of the dip and drive his toes come into contact with the ground then his balance shifts forward and spits the bar to the front.

Clean 3 110kg – 1:41

Similar flaws on this lift but he doesn’t shift his weight as far forward, he drives faster with the arms and makes the lift.

Mike TrophyThere must be something with the big guys that makes them need more sleep. Unfortunately Mike also missed the weigh in so had to lift as a guest. On the day he lifted very well for a first competition. Made 5/6 lifts and his technique was robust on the day. For his training in the future he will want to focus on his strength levels. Being a taller lifter he will take a while to develop but he has made great progress. For his jerking, making sure that in training his entire foot remain in contact with the ground will ensure that his jerk doesn’t lag as much.

Lifter 3 – Michal Martin (94)

On the snatch I want him to receive the bar with his hips rather than using his arms and torso to take the load. Making his opener will set him up well for the other lifts. Hopefully he doesn’t get too pumped for the snatch and tire himself out. Keep a steady pace in the warm up room, quite a large class. Make sure to keep other coaches are on top of the lifter order. Remind him about his upper back on the clean. If that is solid, he makes the lift.

Snatch 1 97kg – 0:09

Michal - Snatch 1For the most part, a solid opener from Michal. His receive position is a too narrow from his back strength. The picture to the left shows how early he had received the barbell. Notice how narrow his feet are during this lift. It forces him to use more upper body than necessary to make this lift.

Snatch 2 102kg – 0:31

Michal - Snatch 2On this attempt the pull is superb, shoulders and hips rising together. He receives the bar early but unfortunately he can’t save the lift since his hips aren’t taking enough of the weight. The bar was received in almost exactly the same position but with the foot positioning it requires huge amounts of upper body strength to save this lift.

Snatch 3 102kg – 0:42

Similar to the previous, just needs to move those feet out to be able to keep that torso upright. Had received the weight early.

Clean 1 120kg – 0:55

Very smooth from Michal on this lift, the foot placement on the clean could be a little wider to make it easier on his torso angle but it is a good lift. The Jerk is solid with excellent foot placement.

Clean 2 125kg – 1:14

At the bottom of this clean Michal’s back rounds a little a t the bottom of the clean, when recovering the clean he loses his upper back tightness and has to grind the squat out. He shows a good amount of fight to recover the lift but his legs were gassed for the jerk. Despite this, the jerk is technically sound. The bar simply didn’t go high enough.

Clean 3 125kg – 1:34

Similar error in foot placement for the clean. Since he was tired he cut the pull a little short on this lift. (He had to follow himself). For this attempt he was able to keep his upper back, this made for an easier clean recovery and made the Jerk.

Once Michal is able to correct the small errors in his lifts he will be able to shift far heavier weights. He is in the process of moving up a weight class and that always takes time. If you compare his mass to the lifters at the heavier end of his weight class he has plenty of room to grow. For his training he should be focusing on moving his feet out on both of the lifts and using his flexibility. He is in the unfortunate position of having been unable to squat for the previous few training blocks, hopefully his will be remedied soon and he can fall into more regular programming.

Lifter 4- Ian Mclean-Foreman (94)

Ian - SleepExpect big things from this monster, he has an excess of strength and at the top end of his weight class. Hopefully his small cut didn’t hurt him too much. Impressed by his zoning out the other lifters during the day. Just snorlaxing at the back of the room. On the jerk try to make sure the bar goes up and back and that the lift is leg dominant. Keep an eye out for other lifters’ weights, aim to place but focus on his total first.

Snatch 1 102kg – 0:21

Easy opener, judges made him wait a long time. Had the cheek to say “Are you serious” I liked his comment after the fact that he was embarrassed by this. His arousal level was just sky high.

Snatch 2 107kg – 0:48

Another easy lift for Ian, bar speed on the second pull is very fast,hips and shoulders rising at the correct rate. Very good technically.

Snatch 3 112kg – 1:18

Ian pull completeIan finishVery smooth snatch from Ian here, his finishing position is superb, makes for a very efficient lift. Arms are loose and the bar finishes in the hip. shoulders finish behind the bar and he is aggressive on the turnover. The only downside is that he doesn’t trust his bottom position yet (understandable since his back rounds and the bottom). In time this will improve and he won’t have to pull the bar quite as high. Fantastic effort from Ian here though.

Clean 1 137kg – 1:47

Ian-Jerk Dip 1The clean is effortless here, the concerns are on the jerk. His knee travels far beyond his toes here on heavier weights this will make the lift too quad dominant and will limit the lift. (Also concerns for knee pain). He pushes to early with the arms and ends up shifting his hips back. It is a snap “pushing” you down as opposed to a press on the barbell.

Clean 2 142kg – 2:33

Ian - Jerk2Easy clean, an upper back round is starting to appear, he is very strong and able to easily counter it. The Jerk is a little smoother this time around, his hips still move back slightly so odds are he is still a little arm dominant, he sends the back a little further to the rear and thus is able to make the lift. The foot placement means that the front foot is carrying a large part of the weight. He is strong enough to counter this though.

Clean 3 146kg – 3:20

Ian - Jerk3A huge lift from Ian, we went for this weight to force two other lifters to move up their attempts (was confident in his ability to make the lift where as the other people were struggling to make the clean recovery). The upper back round is a little more pronounce so this would appear near his top end, still an easy clean. The jerk was not bad technically, the errors are consistent. Given time and effort it is easy to fix. The foot placement is a little more favorable this time, this means that the weight is supported by both legs. Big fight to recover the clean, hugely strong. Great lifting.

Awesome performance from him, finishing second in his class. Ian has improved dramatically this year, once his flexibility improves and he gets comfortable hitting bottom positions he will explode weight wise. For his training going forward he doesn’t have to spend that long working on getting stronger, his training is better served on working on his weaknesses. Plenty of Jerk practice and flexibility work. For racking the cleans, exercises like wide grip power cleans are a good way to force that back to be more active recovering a clean. A massive competition from Ian, impressed with all aspects of his lifting, should be an exciting training year.

The big dudes are always an interesting bunch since they tend to shift the most weight, it can be awkward in a competition for them since they are last up. Means they have to wait around all day. It can be a good idea to sleep / leave the arena for a bit since you can be sapped energy wise watching lifting all day.

I enjoyed coaching this competition day, it was more relaxed for me since I competed the previous day and was able to invest myself a little more emotionally. Competing is always fun as it puts your weaknesses under a microscope, pressure is such a great performance driver and I look forward to seeing these guys compete again. Unfortunately it also means back into preparation cycles for these units.

Finding your “Flow” in Weightlifting

What is flow?

It’s always easiest to start with something that someone else said, rather than give my own horrible description that would only serve to confuse people.

In positive psychology, flow, also known as zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does. Named by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the concept has been widely referenced across a variety of fields, though has existed for thousands of years in other guises, notably in some eastern religions (1).

Remembering this definition, what are the requirements of flow and how they relate to Weightlifting?

A Clear Goal. The objectives are clear and not confusing.

This easily relates to Weightlifting. When you give yourself an adequate but not impossible challenge you have the obvious short term goal of lifting the weight. You also have the longer term absolute goals of hitting a certain total or qualifying for a particular challenge.

Immediate feedback. Almost any kind of feedback can be enjoyable if related to your goal. You know whether or not what you are doing is getting you closer to your goal, you can change your course if something unexpected happens. 

The obvious feedback of the miss or make of any given lift, but you also have the feedback of your coach or training partners. The only difference between feedback and criticism is the way that you hear it. Often people have an emotional attachment to a method and have a hard time letting go. That’s why it is often important to ask the person “How does that feel?” “why is that?” instead of “do this, do that”.

Challenges of the activity match the skills of the person. When is a game enjoyable? When your opponent is the same level of the other person. A task beyond your skill level leads to stress and one below your skill level makes you bored and you get distracted. Almost any new skill is hard to learn. But over time it becomes addictive. 

This is where experience and smart programming takes over, you often hear max every day and go hard or go home when it comes to work in the gym. This may work for some personality types. For others it will lead them to getting frustrated and venting at the bar/random chair people around them.  If you smartly and correctly choose the weights, you should feel that momentum when you approach that bar. Anyone who has been involved in high level performance (in any field) will tell you that momentum is a key component.

If a person is struggling with a particular weight or activity, it can help to avoid it for a period of time and focus on what they have a knack for. This may lead to an increased confidence in future sessions. Coaches can switch squats to the end of a particular tricky session so when the person leaves they have that recent memory of doing good work rather than the potential memory of having a rough time with a particular new skill.

A feeling of focus and concentration in what you are doing. Usually your attention is split throughout the day. In flow the split attention is focused into a single beam of attention. That is why you can achieve so much more. 

Once you have some degree of mastery of the sport (or anything else) it becomes quite easy to focus completely on the task at hand. The other factors have to be in place but it is an important aspect of performance. You should be thinking of nothing else. You often find beginners thinking about the lift whilst it is in progress and technique very quickly seems to break down and other errors occur. Weightlifting is a feed-forward motion once you start the lift, it should be an automatic process. The feedback comes later. For coaches this is useful on lighter weights as the lifter can be reminded about various technical cues, but in competition you want to focus them on the moment, not the possibilities that may occur. You will see people in the warm up room looking at X/Y and calculating. The only outcome you can affect is your own.

Consider watching:

to grab an insight in the sheer will and focus required for some sports. I can’t recommend this video enough.

Loss of background noise. You cannot worry about what is going on at home when you in flow. It is a great feeling to be in the present, you have total focus on that moment. Flow is a form of escape from reality.

This aspect of flow is somewhat similar to the previous. When you are on form, the distractions that surround you seem to fade away. A fun example of this being the oft quoted “Invisible gorilla” selective attention task(2):

This is important in all performance sports, if that noise gets to you it will break your focus. From a Weightlifting point of view. A clear example of this focused individual is Ilya Illyin, if you ever get the chance watch:

His mental game is on point. “By the time I step on stage I have already lifted the weight”. This is the attitude that you need when you step up to the bar. You have to be the baddest dude around.

Sense of Control: The most addictive part of the flow is experience is the sense of control or the illusion of control that you have when you precisely and correctly control the difficulty level of the activity.

This ties in with section 3, with smart programming you will have that feeling of control that is so addictive, there are so many forces in life that are beyond your ability to influence. But for that moment on the bar you have control over the outcome if you execute correctly. On the other hand if you are constantly trying to max out and missing you will very rarely have that positive feeling from a session and will kill your momentum.

Loss of Self-Consciousness: Thinking about yourself and what others think about you are a great source of psychic drain. In flow you are so involved that you are no longer aware of peoples’ opinions of you. When you reflect upon your experience you often enriched by it. 

You would have noticed that mid –session, no one cares how you look or what a person is wearing. To be honest most people simply aren’t interested. If they are, odds are they are there for the wrong reasons. 

Personal example: playing in front of a large crowd, the energy flowing around, you are disconnected from it. The beginning of the game I was terrified I would drop the ball or make some sort of mistake and get a rise from the crowd. About 30 seconds into the game that all melts away and you don’t notice anything other than your performance. 

Transformation of Time: In flow hours get condensed into minutes. Or a second gets stretched out for so long – dancer spinning – lasts an instant but often they feel the experience for a long time. 

I think this experience is quite common with people when they work for a purpose they believe in. You look at the watch and all of sudden it is time to pack up and head home. From a personal standpoint I know that when I am lifting and really enjoying a session, it is easy for me to burn through a couple of hours. The same thing applies to coaching lifters and when they are responding well you have that same experience.

How can this help me?

In terms of your own lifting, you can start to see why smart programming is an important factor in the training of the Weightlifter.  Missing weights that you should not be attempting tends form poor motor patterns. The lifts usually are being missed for a specific reason. Identifying that should be your priority, rather than attempting the same weight repeatedly. A recent example of this is the brilliant Tatiana Kashirina (Current +75kg World champion, holds all 3 world records). Quoted as saying:

“Tatiana and her coach could not remember the last time she missed a lift in training.” can you say the same about your training?

Consider reading:  http://thehumancircus.hookgrip.com/tatiana-and-the-2015-arnold-part-1-the-seminar/ for the full article.

If you train correctly you should be making weights every session, reviewing what could be improved either on your own or with the help of you coach. Then seeing how this fits in with your current goals for Weightlifting. This process would greatly enhance your experience in the sport. Max out errday may serve your ego occasionally but you will have a difficult time sustaining that momentum. If you miss, consider asking yourself how it felt during the lift, then ask how could this be improved? – If you don’t know that’s where the coach should be.

It is important to develop a routine for setting up so you can achieve the correct arousal state for your best performance. This will allow you to ignore what is occurring around you and focus on performance.

Flow can also loosely be applied to aspects of training that you do not enjoy. Throughout the book “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience – Mihaly Csikszentmihaly” he gives examples of people going through what others may see as mundane tasks. The have a vision of how this can help them and what this task contributes to their current goals. So in the future when you skip out on stretching or assistance work try to see it as part of a process and how it contributes to your goal.

Hopefully you can take something away from this article, more a smattering of thoughts on my part. The “Flow” experience is critical to performance in my opinion.

Some further reading on this subject:

  • Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience – Mihaly Csikszentmihaly
  • Thinking Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman
  • Start with Why – Simon Sinek
  • Legacy – James Kerr
  • Mind Gym: Wake up your Mind
  • Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind – Sunryu Suzuki

References

(1) Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1990). Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

(2) Christopher Chabris (2011). The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuition Deceives Us

Gamification and the Little Things

People who read this may or may not be aware that I am a massive gamer at heart. Like a lot of kids in my days I went through the fun of Unreal Tournament 2003, Warcraft 3, Counter Strike 1.6 and Street Fighter (various). My main passion in games was RPGs (role playing games), it harks back to the days as a kid playing Warhammer 40k or DnD (Dungeons and Dragons). There was something badass about taking a character that started out as a scrub through to being able to take down huge dragons or powerful Liches many hours/days later.189559_4106547994509_1024487809_n

Naturally this leads me to “gamify” aspects of my life wherever I can so that I get on that Dopamine gravy train and start enjoying the process of improving,

Gamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems and increase users’ self contributions.¹

Gamification is everywhere these days, lots of websites get you to register and award you some form of points system or badges based on activity. You have computer games to thank for this.

Applying it in the sporting world is a great fit. When you start out you tend to be pretty useless at most things in the gym or in the sport. Once your mastery level improves you can take on bigger and bigger challenges that on the outset would have been mind-blowing. It is up to coaches to set the right challenge level for the athlete so their skill level improves at the same rate as the challenge, this will trigger that juicy flow state.

Flow, also known as Zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does.²

One of the things I find in Weightlifting is that people get too hung up on the long term goals of a big Snatch, Clean and Jerk or Back Squat. Sometimes setting unreasonable goals without breaking it down and looking what it takes to get there. Using the gaming analogy:

You have to kill a shitload of boars before you can kill a dragon.

This can be referred to short term goals, daily goals or process goals. It can be something as simple as making sure you get adequate sleep. (Much more important than I wish it was). Making sure you eat right for the day/week or if you have a nasty vice that you know holds you back, like spending too much time on websites that do nothing (Facebook) taking steps to limit your use for a couple of days and reading a book or working towards something else instead.

With a mind to Weightlifting once the noob gains stop it can sometime be a very long time in between a Snatch / CnJ PR. You can use things like complexes to add variety and get a boost. Also keeping track of your 2rm / 3rm Snatch / CnJ PR’s can also help give that small boost in the longer preparation cycles. I use good old Google Drive and then set up a couple of graphs to get easy visual feedback that reassures me everything is moving in the right direction. With a background in CS, I fucking love graphs.Graph bicture

The boar quote can also be used to think about weaknesses in your body. To hit those tasty lifts that you want sometimes you have to do some exercises that you really don’t enjoy. You know they are good for you but somehow you find ways to convince yourself that if you keep trying to Max out or stick with what you have been doing something might fall into place and you will get lucky. Denial is powerful. The dreaded assistant exercises are the boars of this equation. Things like good mornings, overhead pressing or single leg squatting if your knees are wobbly. I have had the good fortune to have trained with / been coached by high level athletes / coaches and more often than not the successful people are the ones that take care of the little things and farm that easy xp.

As a Weightlifter you should have no trouble working towards a 2-2.5 times body weight back squat as a male, it should be one of the milestones you aim for early on. Breaking that lift down you will need sufficient Flexibility/mobility/stability to safely assume the position, more often than not people skip this first part and just start racking up the weight. To maintain the active back in the lifts your upper back, lats and erectors must be beastly to progress to the heavy weights without increasing your risk of injury. Back squatting alone is not always the fastest way to progress.

This video is pretty much squat porn, even though all squats are beautiful – fantastic positions. During the dream team seminars the first thing that Zygmunt Smalcerz (gold medal in the 52kg class at the 1972 Olympics now USA head coach) said about the godly Ilya Ilyin: (undefeated weightlifter who has won two Olympic championships and four world championships) one of the reasons he is the best in the world is that he works tirelessly on positioning. He can hit positions that makes other weightlifters envious.

1294590_668820536565018_5083556538838401441_oThis is one of my new favorite pictures of a back squat (thanks to Allthingsgym), I know the lifter has a fantastic body structure for squatting, but the motor control in the upper back is great to see. The arms are pretty loose and the big movers like the quads/glutes/hamstrings are doing the work. A far cry from people who have to get so tight with their arms on the back squat then lead with the hips so the lower back is doing a disproportionate amount of the lift. For Weightlifting this is not useful, legs do the work. It is not chance that took these lifters to the World Championships, taking care of the little things plays a big role for anyone.

When these little things improve, your skill level rises and you are able to assume more difficult tasks. That dopamine release from improving will also increase motivation for the times when things get really difficult. (And they will). The next time you are hitting a plateau and feel like your lifting world is crumbling, try stepping back and think to yourself.

Have you killed your boars today?

¹ Huotari, K., & Hamari, J. (2012). “Defining Gamification – A Service Marketing Perspective”
² Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1990). Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

3 Lifters, 3 Problems

Weightlifting goes through cycles. You try and correct something, a new problem crops up and you are playing a really bad version of whack a mole. You don’t even get tickets to turn in for that sweet furry toy at the end of it all. In this article I am going to go over a single problem each lifter has (why it is a problem) and a simple drill to correct it without having to Drake your whole technique.

Lifter 1 : David (77/85)

This ugly chap has a whole raft of problems, but we are going to focus on the one that is causing the most damage to the lift. (It is more punishing in the snatch, but we are looking at cleans).

Ignoring the Jerk for now, if you notice the movement of the feet during the lift. First up they go backwards which would lead you to conclude that I am finishing with my shoulders behind the bar at the top of the second pull and completing my extension however, they have very little horizontal movement. This means that the base structure of the lift is very poor. The feet are so narrow it means the hips are in quite a closed position. In turn it means that the torso angle leans forward more than it should so the weight has a tendancy to roll down the shoulders.

Dave_ExtExtension

Here you can see the shoulders behind the bar (for my torso length I want to extend as much as possible from the Thorasic region) and the quads in full extension, if all parts of the lift were like this I would be one happy panda. At the elite level some of the long torso lifters finish incrediably far behind the bar, really using all their mass to the fullest. When beginners try to mimic this sometimes it can lead to the head swinging about all over the place. It should be avoided for the most part unless your second name is Dimas.

Dave_RackedFinishing position with bar racked

Here you can see the feet are almost inside the hip structure, the area to balance is so small that I would have to have a mighty strong upper back (I don’t) to make this lift every time. The knees should be outside the feet here so the hips take the load. This is one of the many reasons why my efficiency is rather low (front squat 210 compared to clean max 165). When I write the numbers down like that it hits me right in the feels.

Corrections

The obvious being “get more flexible”. For people who get into Weightlifting at a later age it’s quite rare to get to point where more flexibility doesn’t help. A general guideline for lifters is that you want about 20% more flexibility than you are going to require to make the lifts. So if you can get into the bottom of the snatch with feet about 20% wider than your snatch receive position and be able to maintain an upright torso with arms overhead you are going to shift weights. If I were to ask that question to myself – nope.

To make sure the lifter is moving those feet wider you can also clean off plates as a drill to reinforce that movement pattern. For some people it is a motor control fix. For others you need to develop mobility and stability in that position.

My upper back strength and core strength needs to improve so I can comfortably rack heavier weights, my pulls are very weak compared to my squat and it is something that I am working to improve. Power cleans are a reasonable gauge to see if the pull is strong enough. My power clean Max = 130. Max clean = 165. So the ratio is (130/165) x 100 = 0.7878. This number should be a little higher, again I am working to improve this area of my lifting.

Lifter 2 : Jordan(85)

This physical specimen is ticking on nicely. There is one consistent flaw that is developing when the weights get heavy. Probably a little spooked by the weights he is now shifting, he is lacking a complete extension a the finish of the second pull. His shoulders don’t end behind the bar so the bar gets spat out in front. To counter this he is hopping forward and trying to jump under the weight. Running and gunning like a thug. The downside of this it means that he is not getting his ample leg power into the weights.

If you watch the feet on this lift he bombs forward to try and catch the weight. Ballsy, but usually needs correcting. (Note : some elite lifters do this. These lifters tend to be outliers, it is very hard to mimic these idiosyncrasies, Akkaev is an example).

To correct this problem a couple of things need to be looked at, starting from the bottom up. One cause of this problem can be that off the floor his weight is too far towards his toes. If this isn’t the case you need to another of the key positions, just below the knee. If the hips don’t rotate and send the knees back off the floor you can be trapped too far forward on your feet. Next place to look is the top of the second pull and see if the shoulders finish behind the bar and the quads are fully engaged.

jjLooking at Jordan’s finishing position you can see the main culprit. This finishing position will prevent him from hitting those big juicy weights.

Corrections

To shore up the lifters’ starting position you can clean with your toes off a riser block, this will force the lifter to push through the floor in the mid foot rather than starting all the way at the toes.

You can also do a no hip contact clean, this will make the lifter complete his extension otherwise he will be unable to move the weight. This drill should be in the range of 70-85% of your clean max.

If the lifter has a small jump forward yet still manages to fully engage the quads you can make the lifter clean on a line and then tell them to not cross the line, usually it is enough to correct this error.

The lifter could be getting dragged out of position by the weight due to lack of back strength in which case accessory work and pulls/deadlifts are the order of the day.

The positive note is that when he gets more comfortable working at his top end and finishing his pull, the weights will shoot up.

Lifter 3 : Michal(85/94)

Admiral Trapbar has recently recovered from an injury and the weights are back to where they used to be. At the top end he is developing some technique flaws that will stall his weights.

In both lifts you can see that his upper back is starting to round when standing up with the weight. This causes the lifter to lean too far forward when recovering from the clean and usually this will mean that the legs get wiped before the jerk. A torso lean from the hips is fine, it will allow the lifter to engage the hamstrings. Your upper back should never collapse. His internal shoulder rotation is very impressive, would love to trade for that.

Corrections

Michal is under weight for his size, so the first thing is to bring the mass up to par with his traps. In particular he needs his back strength to improve so on the recovery he doesn’t lose position. Weightlifting is all about straight lines. Positions are paramount to success! Some exercises that are relevant to strength need to remain upright are either Zombie Squats or wide grip power cleans. (Your shoulders must be pretty robust for this exercise to be used, it is very stressful on the shoulder girdle.

Summary

Use videos analysis to see if there are any glaring weaknesses in your lifts. Get comfortable working on technique with heavier weights. Pulling 140kg+ is different to using a barbell or a broomstick, anything less than 70% tends to be a little on the light side, fine to warm up but you want to see what breaks down first when the weights shoot up. To see what is going wrong, best place to look at it the base of the lifter. Keep an eye out for the shoulder position relative to the bar and you will be golden.

Eastern Districts – Medals, Medals, Medals

10670088_818908484815845_1280574980505304127_nThe competition was held at Napier University and went off rather swimmingly, big thanks to them for hosting them competition. Most of the lifters did well, most were sneaking some PRs and some popped their competition cherry so they now have something to aim for. I am going to run down some of the lifters and deliver a compliment sandwich and look at where they went wrong. For the first timers I am happy that they posted a total, other lifters competed but were either carrying injuries (Pete) or back off a long term injury and now has gained a second set of trap muscles (Michal) it would be unfair to comment when they are just back in the hunt. Quadzilla (Alejandro) also competed and went 6/6, glad that he finally stepped on the platform, he won the 69kg class with his openers. (I will edit when I get the videos).

Ian Paul – 105KG Class (1st place)

Went 6/6 going 100/117 so a +17kg Total for Mr All-rounder.

Snatch 1 @ 0:10

Decent Extension and turnover, receives a little in front of center of balance so he has to step on the recovery. Solid enough opener, a common problem for him is that his feet are quite static on the pull under rather than using his flexibility and catching low. He needs to move his feet wider to support bigger weights.

Snatch 2 @ 0:22

Little better with the feet, starting to move slightly wider. Easy to see the difference it makes when the chest is higher up on the catch. Rather than making up for it in the shoulders, the hips and legs take the weight.

Snatch 3 @ 0:32

Spot on First and second pull, back angle remains constant whilst he gets past the knees and the bar is always travelling towards him. His feet are a little static here, so again he has to work on moving those feet wider. A great example below. (Obviously the sport mastery level is off the chart, but you want to draw parallels when you can.) The foot position that he adopts on the catch allows him to receive low.

Some lifters adopt a wider stance on the pull, it’s something that can be played with. Example below (even then, his feet move a little wider, not as dramatic as Liao though)

Clean 1 @ 0:46

Ian Jerk1Easy opener for the big man, his bottom position on the clean still needs a little work. Similar to his snatch, he needs to open the hips up a little more to take the pressure off the ankle. Otherwise on heavier weights that bar will just roll off. The jerk drive is reasonable efficient, although the foot placement afterwards is problematic for him. The hips move back and so the bar is out in front, his strong arms hold the weight. (All dat benching). The front foot lands a little too early, you want either same time or rear foot first.

Front foot hits a little early, combined with the backwards hip movement, the bar is a little out in front. The back foot lands straight and twist out. Somewhere in the chain there is an imbalance causing this twist.

Clean 2 @ 1:08

ian Jerk 2This is the Jerk that keeps on giving, fair play to him for holding it as long as he did! Far too much like Cardio for my liking. The clean was quite similar to the last, although his upper back is starting to take more of a pounding at the bottom position.

Even though the jerk went on for an eternity, the recovery position was actually better on this lift. His hips still move back slightly, not as dramatic in the first lift. The front knee angle is less than 90 degrees so jerk recovery will be very front foot dominant. The back knee angle is allowing Ian to press himself under the bar thus getting his hips lower. Good fight for making that one, probably earned him some star power points with the judges on the next lift.

Clean 3 @ 1:39

Ian Jerk 3Backstage Ian was understandably gassed after the last lift, I made sure to mention to Jerk the weight quicker than usual otherwise his legs would feel wiped. The Clean itself was lovely, no upper back rounding so the transition to the jerk was smooth. Hips still move back a little on this lift but the front leg is a touch more aggressive, resulting in more stable knee angle. (His shin is perpendicular to the floor). Decent enough jerk, awesome work considering how taxing the last lift must have been.

Adjustments

Lifts onto plates to reinforce that motor pattern of moving the feet, plenty of jerk work. Focusing on staying the the same place and moving the hips down.

Jordan Thomson (85kg 3rd Place)

For Jordan, this was a disappointing competition. He had an awkward run up to the competition, no excuses his total should have been higher. 2/6 is never a good day at the office. Weightlifting can be a cruel sport, you train for hours and you only have those 6 attempts to make it count. On the positive side, this has provided the bucket of cold water in the face that he needed to start focusing on the details. (“Master of the Mundane” to quote Travis Mash).

Snatch 1 @ 0:09

Great opening snatch, Jordan has worked hard on his flexibility and it is paying dividends these days. He can hit positions similar to top tier weightlifters, once his shoulders catch up he will be golden. He has a slight hop forward on the lift, so either his start position is a little too far on the toes or he could do with finishing his extension and sending that bar vertical.

Snatch 2 @ 0:16

jordan Snatch 2A very frustrating attempt, the bar is plenty high in order to make the lift. The arms extend rather lazily and he gets spat out. From the position that he hits in the picture to the right, he should make that lift, if he can keep the back tight and step forward. Unfortunately he cannot rescue the lift with his upper body and it’s a miss.

Snatch 3 @ 0:19

A little forward hop on this snatch causes a swing on the bar, this means that he receives the bar a little too far behind his body, his chest dips and that is the end of him. It was a decent attempt. For his part though he was frustrated with the snatches.

Jordan will have to start adjusting his opener and backing himself more in the snatch. His conservative opener of 90 meant that he had a big jump to 97 on the next lift. 7kg is quite a large jump in the snatch for a novice lifter, lots of repetitions to get used to working nearer his maxes will make him more comfortable opening closer to his max.

Clean 1 @ 0:30

Easy opener for Jordan, his changed from 110kg to 115kg, but with his low opener you could see that he wasn’t on his best form. The clean is decent enough, slight rounding in his upper back, something that he is working hard to address. Soon is will be a road map back there. The jerk is reasonable, could do with bearing a little more weight in his read leg, but it was very light for him. His wait time at the top of the clean is a little too long, I would prefer to see him transition faster to preserve the legs.

Clean 2 @ 0:51

Jerk 2Lovely clean, the upper back round is still present but he really caught the bounce of the weight, good timing. The jerk is disappointing, the bar gets driven forward quite far, it is still plenty high but just in the wrong place, Jordon’s upper body isn’t on par with his legs so he can’t afford to make those sorts of mistakes. If the bar was towards the rear by about 2 inches he would make that lift. Again the rear knee angle could also be reduced so that he presses himself under the bar more.

Clean 3 @ 1:12

JerkJ3The clean bottom position is a little on the toes, the bar got away from him slightly but he quickly recovers and transitions to the jerk. The jerk itself is quite good, unfortunately his arms bends slightly and he gets popped for a press out. On the whole the position was more stable than the previous lift but again his upper body let him down slightly. His strict press and push press are lagging when compared to his squats.

Adjustments

Lots of upper body work to bring that up to baseline, from his days of Rugby and American football, Jordan’s shoulders are somewhat busted up so it needs addressing. Since he is making progress through the classifications. His Average Volume Intensity has to increase, so more time spent picking up heavy ass weight.

David Reay (77kg – 1st Place)

10523130_699098283498652_7898943128946695003_nThe run up to the competition was very frustrating for me. I was carrying an Infraspinatus injury that was preventing me from Back squatting or Doing any sort of jerk accessory work and my body weight was quite high compared to where I would’ve wanted it to be after my China trip. So my cut was quite steep to make weight, I look like death in the photo to the left. I had an OK competition compared to what my goals were going into it.

Went 100/107/114 in the Snatch and 155x/155x/155 in the Clean. The Snatches we all pretty reasonable, my usual problem of my terrible hip flexibility means that my snatch is quite limited, it is a work in progress for sure. [114/155 x 100 = 73.55%. This should be up around 80-85% so there is work to do!] The lifts were all pretty conservative so they should be solid makes.

The jerks on the first two cleans were awful, all the lifts had the same mistake. My knees were almost caving on the jerk this leads to my hips were moving away from the center of balance. When driving up I would spit the jerk out forwards.

Above is the final lift, it is immensely frustrating to watch. I spit the bar forward and rely on my shoulders to bail me out of trouble. Fast feet for the save but I should never have been in that situation. Hopefully I can improve in the Scottish Nationals.

As a team we won every male class save for the 85’s. I am proud of the chaps + girl for the performances, looking forward to seeing some meaty totals come the Scottish Open.

A large part of Weightlifting is the mental aspect of the sport, you have to be able to deliver in a very small window. One or two inches is all it takes to change a great training block into a bad result. The sport is unforgiving some times. When you see the top athletes compete, it is hard to take into account how much pressure they are under. Some athletes turn to meditation, others to their music collection and play whatever gets them buzzing. Hitting that optimal arousal state is what is required and it is something every weightlifter needs to learn. Approaching each weight in training the same is key, you have to avoid the mindset of “this is a heavy weight” and “this is a training weight”. Technique should be crisp and everything should look similar.

 

My Chinese Weightlifting Experience – Intro, Programming and Theory

Notes for this series:

Hoping to put down some information in case any people would be interested in what I experienced and learned on my Weightlifting training camp to China. I stayed at BSU, one of many “factories” that produce top class weightlifters (Zhang Guozheng was one of the more famous lifters out ofBSU.) I was training under Coach Ma (From theLindenwood lions website):

Coach Ma

Coach Ma

“Ma was a member of the Chinese National Team from 1978 to 1988 and represented his country at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.  He also won a silver medal and two bronze medals while competing in four World Championships and World Cups. Since competing, Ma has been a coach at a variety of levels for over 23 years, beginning as a Provincial and national Level Coach certified in China.  More recently, he was the head coach of the Seychelles (Africa) National Team and the USA World University National Team from 2003 to 2007.  Ma received an undergraduate degree from Anhui University in China in 1989 and received his master’s degree in exercise science from Xi’an Sports University in China in 2007.”

He was an engaging individual, with a tremendous amount of energy.  He was trying his absolute to ensure everyone learned as much as possible. I am grateful for all his help on the trip.

I have a lot of notes from my trip to China (so will put out a couple of blog posts to try to sort my thoughts, might be a little scattered as there were so many lectures and things to learn so it’s hard to put it down in a well thought out pattern.

Professional Level Programming

I appreciated the honesty of the coaches when it came to how the system was developed. They stole from America in the 50s, Russia in the 70s and Bulgaria in the 80s from there they evolved their own unique style, which they view as the best. They have 10 exercises that they class as “technique” lifts and 10 exercises for “strength”.

Technique exercises included; Hang/Power + Snatch, Hang/Power + Clean, Jerk from the rack, jerk recovery, drop snatch and power jerk.

Strength exercises included; Front/Back Squat, Clean/Snatch Pull, Clean/Snatch DL, Jerk Dip, Half squat, strict press and push press.

These exercises were supposed to fall into certain ratios for the athlete to make sure that he is not lacking in some area that is costing him potential weight on the bar, for example if your military press is 70kg and you jerk 160, odds are your legs are far stronger than your arms and you need to address that weakness.

  • Military Press -> Jerk should be -70kg
  • Push Press -> Jerk should be -35-40kg
  • Power Jerk -> Jerk should be -20kg
  • Rack jerk -> Jerk should be +5kg
  • Front Squat -> Jerk should be +30kg
  • Back Squat -> CNJ should be +50kg
  • Power Clean = Snatch is power clean is greater, strength is higher than technique.

As you would expect life gets hard fast for the budding Chinese weightlifter, it is expected that athletes turn professional at 16. The average workload is about 12 sessions per week. Mon/Wed/Friday [Tues/Thur/Sat]x2 and some morning exercises on some days that incorporate stretching techniques and small muscle training, there isn’t a stone left unturned for a lot of these athletes. Not an ounce of fat is to be found, they also train in high heat without air conditioning to help with flexibility and weight loss (little brosciencey). Any number of bodybuilding exercises are also included in the program, they do not count to the weekly volume for calculations. On average it takes 8-10 years to produce a male Olympic Champion and 5-8 years to produce a female Olympic Champion.

BSU Weightlifting Gym

BSU Weightlifting Gym

In the beginner stage they spend about 60/40 split between technique and strength exercises, intermediate stage they spend about 50/50 between the exercises whilst the advanced lifters lift 40/60. As the sport mastery increases, less time is spent doing the full lifts and more time is spent getting stronger. To them, beginner level is pretty much every Athlete until the start winning National competitions.

The key value in training is intensity, as much time as possible is spent doing as heavy weights as technique allows. By this age, the technique should be second nature and entirely feed forward. The athletes tend to max out on Friday (Big Friday is the Weightlifter equivalent to Chest Mondays). Weights up to 80% are not counted towards weekly volume. The lighter weight classes are expected to do more work than the heavier classes. The limiting factor being the connective tissue of the bigger athletes. They termed them as fragile.

When it comes to program design, the first questions the coach asks are

  • What is the purpose of this cycle
  • What is the target
  • What is the time frame required

Every day tends to have a focus, unlike some designs that does both the classic lifts. So one day might be Power clean + push press, clean fast pull and clean deadlift. This way the athlete should be able to refine the motor pattern more effectively, this is particularly useful for athletes whose technique is sub par. The coaches are there to make sure the accessory lifts are approached in the same way as the lifts, people ducking out of pulls / squats are weeded out.

The programs also include a lot of conditioning, commonplace for the athletes to have long distance runs + sprints in the morning all throughout career. As the athlete nears retirement, the program adapts to suit them. The example used was that Lu Xiaojun has recently become a father and so his training has completely changed. Something like basketball or football is played once a week as a change of stimulus. Every athlete is expected to manage their own program in order to increase its effectiveness. No coach can know an athlete better than himself. The yearly intensity is set to peak around 2/3 competitions a year. They favour the Olympics and Asian games above all else. The World Championships are low on the priorities (despite the strong showing this year).

National Level Athletes

For the top dogs no expense is spared. They are training at the largest and best equipped Weightlifting gym in the world (The NTC). It is jaw dropping in person, with a session in full flow the energy of the building is palpable. Coach Yu Jie mentioned that coaches are viewed as remote controllers and the athletes are National treasures. Anything that would improve the athlete he/she gets. All athletes have their own massage therapist and sports psychology coach (who stays with the athletes to get to know them better). They live on site and have access to a Cyro room, swimming pool, sauna and ice baths. Recovery was something that is drilled into the athletes from the ground up, by this point it is second nature.

The step up in class to the National level is very evident even during simple things like the group warm ups. Compared to the Professional athletes at BSU they are leaner and a lot more flexible. At this point the little things matter an awful lot more. I was gobsmacked when Liao Hui dropped into a pancake stretch with his chest on the ground whilst texting just after walking into the Asian games trials. (He proceeded to lift 165/200, opening on 200kg. Real time lift starts at 1:20).

The psychology differences between the genders was quite evident as well. The men missing a lot more lifts than the females and also joking when missing / recovering a jerk, shouting “light weight”, “my shitty technique” or “easy”.

Youth Coaching and Recruitment.

Athlete identification is the number one priority for the Chinese weightlifting system. With a nation as large as China if they get that right it seems to be half the battle. To get an idea of the wealth of resources available every district in Beijing (16 districts) has at least 1 professional team, each team contains 20 males and 20 females who are full-time weightlifters.

Kids are compared against the usual metrics that determines their potential: vertical, broad jump, motor control in other sports and sprint speed. Coach Ma also made the comment that recruiters look for woman with mustaches and children with bigger balls which raised a few laughs. It was mentioned however that times have moved on and they test the young athletes’ hormone levels now.

Coach Yu Jie (Liao/Lu’s coach) mentioned that above all the athlete’s attitude was the determining factor.  A common practise is to make the youngsters run 2k races to see which athletes start to flag and give up and which ones keep driving on. When you have the kid with the right genetic makeup and the right attitude, you have yourself a future star. More and more they are looking to country boys, since city life is too comfortable to breed champions. A sentiment echoed by the demise of American boxing. Lu Xiaojun is a farmer for instance.

A coach who specifically works with young athletes hosted a QNA and in it he mentioned how important it was to learn the technique early on and staying away from pushing strength too fast. It is viewed as the final piece of the puzzle. Most work is done with sub 60%. (As an older athlete however this would change in priority, risks must be taken). If the athlete learns in the formative years (10-14) it is expected to have great technique in 3 months. (This made me a little sad inside). There have been a few examples of athletes learning later, they usually come from other sports like gymnastics.

This coach also mentioned how important it is to encourage and motivate the younger athletes until they develop that internal drive. Constantly using examples of famous weightlifters who have been in the same place that they were facing the same struggles.

The 10-14yr old athletes train for 6 days a week for 3 hours a day it is expected to take 2 months to adapt to this lifestyle. Whilst the athlete trains at the facility, he is cared for by the state, the family is allowed to send a little extra money if they have it to spare.

For youth level competitions, it is more important to make lifts than the weight on the bar. 6/6 is very encouraging for junior athletes, this leads to a culture of success.

Male and Female Differences

For the male athletes, a higher training intensity is required for progress. They tend to have short rests in between sets and more training sessions. Some personality encourage a daily max. It was described as men being “easily excited” and “quick to fatigue”, whereas woman take longer to get going. Program design is a little more fluid than some other nations. More focus is placed on feeling the weight rather than number crunching. The typical cycle is modelled around 2 weeks at a high intensity and then 3-4 days at a lighter intensity for recovery.

Female athletes tend to operate at a marked higher volume and taking longer rests in between sets. They operate at a working intensity for longer but require a longer recovery period. Typically 3 weeks at high intensity and then 1 week to 10 days on a recovery block. Higher level female athletes also tend to handle one long training session better than the men so program design reflects this.

Mentally men are less susceptible to misses compared to woman, they believe that woman need to build a lot more confidence in the lifts. Compared to the men the woman do more bar work at the end of sessions.

Men tend to focus more on absolute strength at the higher levels, woman spend more time on technique and speed strength. Also the female athlete tends to have stronger legs in proportion to the rest of their body so they need to spend an awful lot of time on bodybuilding work. Paying particular attention to overhead strength. Recovery blocks for both genders tend to be in the 70-80% range and be much shorter sessions.

We were given samples of training programs from both the BSU team and from National level athletes. I don’t think it is really applicable to write a program on a website when you have no idea where you fit into the system. Everything is highly particular to that athlete. Also this is just my short insight into the Chinese model. It is something that I intend to go back to once my Mandarin improves.

*I will probably edit this at some point, just wanted to clear some notes out*

British Weightlifting Student Championships 2014 – Video Analysis

A great competition for the University lifters to learn and improve. Everyone except Pete was on their second competitions so there was a marker for that person to get past. The stage was a little grander than the underground railway station that was the Scottish Open. I had some butterflies that people would let their nerves get the better of them. Everyone put up a total and PR’ed. Good day out from my POV. Bonus that I didn’t wreck the van driving down to London all goosed up on caffeine.

Lifter 1 : Jordan Thomson

Snatch 1 – 87KG @ 0:00

Steady lift to start the competition off and settle the nerves. Bagging your opener is always reassuring. Fast arm speed in turning over for the snatch, came out of the bottom early so a little unsteady on the receive. Strong enough to power through though.

Snatch 2 – 92KG (Miss) @ 0:09

For Jordan it’s a disappointing lift. Lazy with the arms turning over so the bar is received very late in the lift rather than actively pressing under it. Deemed a pressout. As soon as that extension is reached and all the joints are in a lovely straight line, that is when the magic happens and you have to control the bar and get low fast. He didn’t.

Snatch 3 – 92KG Competition PR @ 0:19

For his technique level/speed/strength is doesn’t really get much better than that for him. The bottom position will improve over time with flexibility, stability and mobility gains. He got very tall on the lift, made it look easy. Highlight reel stuff for him.

Jordan extension

Clean 1 – 120KG @ 0:26

Again he hits a pretty decent opener. The grip is a little too loose so he beats the bar down and it crashes on him, combined with his slightly weak upper back he loses position at the bottom so standing up was harder than it should have been.

The jerk was poorly executed. The rear leg angle is > 160 (straight rear leg) so that means the bar has to go very high to make the lift, rather than moving the hips down fast he got stuck in place. His left hip turns out slightly so the jerk goes off at an angle. Able to make up for the errors with his leg strength.

Clean 2 – 125KG Two slabs of beef. @ 0:49

Much safer clean, elbow turnover is faster so the bar is received early and able to ride it down rather than thumping him at the bottom. Again a weak upper back standing up with the weight but decent fast drive.

The jerk was much better for the second lift. Keeps control of his upper back so his chest doesn’t dip forward. His rear knee bends a little more so he can get his hips a little lower. Decent enough arm speed to drive himself under the bar. Good lift all round.

Clean 3 – 128KG @ 1:12

Good clean again, max front squat is 150KG so it should be a comfy drive up. Fast turnover of the arms so he is able to ride the clean down. Would be good for about 130-135 most likely.

Jerk was pretty poor. Lost control of his upper back (sensing a theme here) so the bar slides down his shoulders. At that point the jerk was always going to miss, punches out quite far in front. With decent drive it would’ve been an easy make. The bar is high enough and the hips drop enough.

Corrections in Programming/Work for Jordan

As much cheeky bodybuilding work as possible on his upper back. Once he is able to maintain that position life will be much simpler. Add in some Jerk supports with some heavy weight so he starts getting used to the bar timing. His pulls are a little off his back squat / front squat so lots of stalls, good mornings and heavy pulls for the next prep cycle.

Lifter 2 : Robin Fourman

Snatch 1 – 95KG @ 0:00

Speaking with him, mentioned a little too relaxed on the lift. A decent amount of swing on the bar so he hops forward and isn’t strong enough on the catch to recover. A little more intensity with the press and it’s an easy make.

Snatch 2 – 95KG @ 0:12

Good correction between the lifts, much more of a press going under the bar. Still a little too much swing for how strong he is but not too bad. Easy enough make.

Snatch 3 – 100KG @ 0:28

Pleased with the setup to the bar, had a history of making PR attempts so different in setup/approach so that it’s hard to get in that self 2 mode of action and the brain will try to over think things. It’s something that you’ve done a thousand times. Grip and rip.

His shoulders and traps don’t do enough work to control the bar after his extension. His hips come through the bar a little so it leaves the centre line.

Robin extension1Robin extension

He has to jump for to try to catch the bar. Decent miss, for him it’s frustrating.

Clean 1 – 115KG @ 0:34

Decent clean, good arm speed. Robin’s max front squat is 130KG so he is very efficient on the clean. Needs a bounce at the bottom to recover the clean ala Norik Vardanian,

Accurate dip on the jerk, hips opening so his chest can stay tall, gets a lovely strong drive. His pause in the dip isn’t that big an issue with these weights but becones a massive problem later on when the bar starts to oscillate.

Shoulder position is solid, the head is through so the shoulder blades can lock. The rear foot of the jerk needs a little work. That habit makes the jerk a harder than it needs to be, his hips don’t move down as quick as they could.

Clean 2 – 120KG @ 0:58

Effective clean,has to double pump at the bottom to catch the bounce.

Solid dip, again a slight pause that won’t be an issue with the lighter weights. The rear foot still needs work. The jerk recovery is a little haphazard but it’s a massive PR for him so it’s to be expected.

Clean 3 – 122kg @ 1:23

Good attempt at the clean, not enough legs to stand up. 122/130KG Front squat would be pretty spicy.

Corrections in Programming/Work for Robin

Try to get him a little more vertical on the snatch with No-feets and no – hips. Stopping that swing will generate more force up rather than losing the force horizontal. A lot of general leg strength work for him to move up the weights. A 130KG front squat needs improved. Great competition for him though.

Lifter 3 : Ian

Snatch 1 – 87kg @ 0:00

Decent first attempt, back stays strong on the pull. Gets tall with the weight but the arm and hip speed on the change of direction is a little lacking. He punches out too early rather than getting the weight behind him. His foot position is a little awkward so that he can’t support the weight.

Snatch 2 – 87kg  @ 0:12

Good correction on the second lift, much faster arms on the turnover and punches out hard to make the weight. For how flexible he is, still a little closed off in the hip in the receive, good lift though.

Snatch 3 – 90KG @ 0:23

Good snatch, much faster than the previous lifts in pulling himself under the barbell. Right ankle caving in, so work to be done on the flexibility.

Clean 1 – 105kg @ 0:36

A little narrow on the receive of the clean, good arm speed on the turnover.

Ian Clean 1Ian Clean 2

The jerk was a little ropey, front foot landed first so the weight is almost always going to tip forward. As shown in the second picture, fast feet can sometimes save the lift but rarely.

Clean 2 – 105KG @ 0:56

Solid clean, fast turnover. The feet land together this time, which is an improvement, but the front knee angle has shifted to beyond 90 degrees so the front leg has so much work to do on the recovery. Luckily he’s a strong chap and recovers the jerk.

Clean 3 – 110KG @ 1:15

Decent clean, the weight is received a little forward so he has to step to recover the lift. the lack of hip rotation is starting to hurt him as the lifts approach his maximum for his current technique.

On his jerk his rear knee angle is too straight so the hips don’t move down and he can’t press the distance.

Ian Clean 3

If the back knee is a little more relaxed then the hips come down and it’s an easy make.

Corrections in Programming/Work for Ian

More time spent jerking to get comfortable dropping the knee down. More flexibility/stability work to improve the receive position on the clean and the snatch. Lots of volume work to put some weight on.

Lifter 4 – Pete

Snatch 1 – 85KG @ 0:00

Slightly different environment for Pete as it is his first competition, so will be a little less critical of his first lift. The less said the better. Very straight pull, the hips are far away from the bar from above the knee. One foot steps forward more than the other which is a problem that he is aware of and trying to correct through mobility drills. I would wager that it’s from his previous sport of rowing. Weak overhead and loses it behind after a monster muscle/power snatch hybrid.

Snatch 2 – 85kg @ 0:18

Same flexibility errors, stronger overhead for an easy make.

Snatch 3 – 90kg @ 0:32

Actually remembers that you can drop under the bar, powerful pull and a strong press under the bar for an easy make. Hips still travel away from the bar since he lacks internal and external rotation.

Clean 1 – 95 @ 0:46

Solid clean, the jerk is not too shabby. For the weight the dip and drive is a little too fast so the bar doesn’t get that much speed.

Pete Jerk 1

His position are pretty solid, both feet land at the same time so the bar stays in place. In time he will step that front foot out.

Clean 2 -100kg @ 1:04

Solid clean, very high receive. Hips still too far from the bar at the bottom of the clean.

The jerk is starting to break down now, the front foot doesn’t step enough, the angle breaks past 90 degrees so he has to rely on strength to save the lift. Would be a miss near his perfect max.

Pete Jerk 2

Note the sexy red singlet in the background. Bringing sexy back.

Clean 3 – 103kg @ 1:20

Lovely clean, could easily rip 120/130kg from the ground. The jerk will be the limiting factor for some time.

The jerk is continuing to break down, saves the lift with pressing back with the shoulders. In training it would be a missed lift probably.

Corrections in Programming/Work for Pete

He is just back from an injury, so lots of strength work. As a tall lifter he will need a lot of back strength and hip flexibility. In time it will come. He is weighing in at 89KG at 6’4″ so a dreamer bulk is required.

Final Thoughts

Plenty to work on for all the lifters, video analysis can be very harsh if you get someone else to do it. Fantastic tool to use to progress though. Next year people will be putting up competitive totals. I may even be a student again. I might have to break out a thesaurus to search for synonyms for solid.

Training Week 24/3/2014 – Drills in the warm up to improve full lifts

This is the training video for the week of 24/3/14. Decent enough week for the University guys. For the people competing at BUCS it’s the last week of a Preparation Cycle before they begin to taper. Peoples’ energy levels are down so Taps Aff training was needed for some. (It’s anabolic).

Notable PRs :

Ian 92.5kg Snatch // 160kg Front Squat – Beginning transformation to legit Freak Beast. Suck it Darwin.

Jordan: 127.5kg Clean PR (no Jerk)

Alejandro : 100kg Clean and money jerk

Nat: 90kg Back Squat

Dave : 205kg Front Squat

Drills help to enforce good habits before moving up to heavier weights. Below is an example of someone with a technical/motor control error and a simple drill to reinforce good behaviour before moving up to 90-100% on the snatch.

The Microphone hasn’t been used since my days of online gaming so no amount of Audacity saved the Audio I’m afraid.

It’s between the Coach and the athlete to find a cue/drill that works in each situation. There is no “one size fits all”.