A while back I asked for A Few Good Men. Now I need a few more. Some of you may be curious about what that original request was all about. It was about an "experimental" program that I am running. I got good candidates in the first group, but now I need to refine the scope of who I am looking for. Narrow it down a little bit.
I do not want people to be able to say this thing works because we had a group of beginners who simply practiced the lifts and got better at them. I want people who are NOT rank beginners, who can snatch more than they can power snatch, and clean more than they can power clean. People who have a training history that is at LEAST 1 year or longer.
If you are accepted you will be training hard. According to the first group you can expect to be sore pretty continuously for at least the first two week, But I strongly believe that after you get over the soreness, you will see increases in your performance. Your lifts will go up.
A nice side effect of how HARD you will be working is that your performance in CrossFit will probably increase right along with your snatch and clean and jerk.
If you are willing to work hard, and you want to give it a shot email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. When I receive your email, I will send you instructions on how to sign up, and how to access the secret facebook group.
I am looking for a few good men, or women. I want to run an 8 week training program that would be centered around lifters at the beginner/intermediate level. Lifters who have developed solid technique in the snatch and clean and jerk and other major barbell exercises but who have not yet qualified for nationals. Those who want to be a part of this program have to be open to accepting coaching on the lifts as well as the strength exercises, and able to communicate daily via phone calls as well as video and emails. If you are interested in being part of something groundbreaking, email me at email@example.com, include your phone number in the email.
handstand pushups 3 sets of AMRAP
1000 meter row
KB snatches, 2 sets of 20 each arm
Many of you know that since i had the stroke I have fallen in love with the rower. Even though I have lost a LOT of weight, I am still around 240lbs and that is just too heavy to be either comfortable running, or rood at running.
On the other hand I don't think it hurts my rowing at all. Since starting on the rower I have struggled to get my 2k time under 10 minutes. A few months later I was struggling to break 9 minutes. I still remember the day I broke the 8 minute mark.
Recently in Oregon I rowed a 2k in 7.29. And now I want to break 7 minutes flat. I imagine going from 7.30 to 7 flat will be way harder than going from 8 flat to 7.30. But I want to do it, and I am going to do it!
With the huge rise in the popularity of weightlifting, there are enough people getting into coaching to give you a choice when it comes to hiring a coach. You can hire someone who is new to the sport but promotes well on the internet. Or you can hire someone who is (or was) a great lifter and has done the type of things you hope to do someday.
Or you can hire a coach. Glenn Pendlay has had success that spans over more than 2 decades, built successful teams from coast to coast, and put lifters on the world team wherever he goes. FIND OUT WHY!
One thing most beginners have in common is a lot of enthusiasm. As a coach I love to see that. It is one of the reasons I still love to coach beginners. Many coaches love to coach advanced lifters and almost every coach with a team of beginners can’t wait till they improve and get on that long and hard road that leads to things like making international teams and winning big meets. But having worked with a lot of world team members over the last 20 years I have to say that in many ways I have a way better time being in the gym with a bunch of lifters preparing for their first competition!
Guys (and gals) in their first year of lifting are making steady progress and the PR’s fall day after day. They have a love of the sport that is infectious. They are just fun to be around! And both their programming and technical cues are not as exacting. They can use a little too much volume and still progress. Their technical faults are move obvious and easier to see. In general a coaches job is way for forgiving. But oven so, that does not mean it is impossible to screw it up!
One of the easiest ways you can do this is to constantly give in to the athletes desire to do one more lift on the snatch. Sometimes it is hard to put your foot down. No one wants to be a killjoy when faced with lifters who want to work hard and fight to hit big weights. But for the athletes own good sometimes you HAVE to do it. I know this is one of the hardest things for me personally to do, because I really WANT them to give that PR snatch and their is always a little part of me that actually believes if i give them just ONE MORE chance they will make it. But one more chance turns into 2 more, and that turns into 3 more, etc. And eventually one more snatch turns into one more clean and jerk, etc. And soon you realize that you have been training for 3 hours, and you have not even squatted yet. And if this happens too often you will ruin not just a training session, but a training cycle.
What is worse is that if this becomes a habit you will end up with a team athletes who are terrible squatters. They will probably have snatch numbers that are way out of proportion to their clean and jerk numbers, and they will not be able to make a heavy jerk to save their lives. In weightlifting the clean and jerk counts for more than half the total, and although a weak squat doesn’t affect the snatch all that much, it is impossible to be a great clean and jerker without a big squat.
You can combat this simply by knowing when enough is enough. I will never be one of those coaches who require athletes to stick to the EXACT program. I believe that there will always be days when you are on fire and you SHOULD release the reins a little bit, have fun and go for it. Just make sure you don’t do it every day. One of the best ways to make sure you arent doing this it to keep a training log. No one can think back to workouts that they did a week or two ago and remember everything perfectly. But the training log doesn’t lie. It can be very instructive to look over the last few weeks of training and count up the number of snatches you attempted, and the number of clean and jerks you attempted. It is normal to attempt a few more snatches than clean and jerks, but if your snatch attempts are double your clean and jerk attempts you might have a problem. It that is the case I am willing to bet you are not giving your squats enough attention either.
Head into your next week of training determined make clean and jerk and squat PR’s just as important as snatch PR’s and I guarantee you will be rewarded with a new PR total soon!
I have spent the last week in Oregon at CrossFit Oregon City, and it has been a great week! I came to visit with Jon North but while I have been here I feel like I have already become good friends with the owners of the gym, Jen and Scott Cereghino. The atmosphere in the gym, from the CrossFitters to the weightlifters, is spectacular with EVERYONE working hard to improve.
One of the lifters who is improving fast is Ben Sawyer. Ben is a Team DO athlete and is coached by Jon North. He is qualified for nationals in the 94kg class and is set to make a splash in the world of weightlifting. The snatch is his better lift, and Ben has hit 137kg in that lift. His clean and jerk lags a little with him having hit only 161kg in that lift.
Unlike some who have problems on the clean and jerk Ben is a great jerker, his lift lags for only one reason, a lack of leg strength. This is not uncommon for young lifters who are new to the sport and Ben is working hard to bring the leg strength up.
Based on the work ethic he displayed over this past week, I predict he WILL get the leg strength up and will be of our top male lifters in the next few years. While I was there I got a great picture of him hitting a new PR of 161kg on the clean and jerk and that pic has to be one of the best pics I have ever managed to take of a lifter!
Look for his name on the World team in the next couple of years.
There are not too many things in weightlifting that you can count on. But coaches acting as though if one cue is good, 2 are better is one of them. Everyone is tempted to do this, because we all want the athletes we are coaching to win. We want that badly, sometimes TOO badly! And we all have a certain amount of ego so we are prone to think that success or failure on a lift depends on us giving the right cue at the right time. In actuality, it probably doesn’t, and in fact a whole bunch of cues right before a lifter steps onto the platform will probably do more harm than good. The fact is, one cue is a about all most lifters can process at a time, especially in competition. So coaches who give 5 or 6 are just wasting their time confusing the lifter. If they are lucky, a litter will just tone the coach out. Now every lifter is different and some can process a bit more, and some a bit less.
Travis Cooper likes to talk about the upcoming lift and any advice I might have the night before a competition, but not on competition day, and certainly no long conversations on his way to the platform. James Tatum doesn’t really want me to tell him ANYTHING I haven’t already discussed with him in training extensively, and definitely nothing more than very short cues, usually 1 word, when he is headed to the platform. Keep in mind that James and Travis are experienced competitors, so if they can’t process complicated advice or too much advice right before a lift imagine how confusing it would be to an inexperienced lifter in his first meet!
No matter what your lifters individual temperament or experience level, you should not be introducing anything new during competition. Keep it simple, stupid! I also find that cues that are positive work better than cues that are negative. You should not tell a lifter to NOT do something, that rarely works. If you tell a lifter “ don’t jump forward” you have not told them anything useful, like how to not jump forward. In fact you might have made it more likely that they will jump forward because now they are focusing on it. Better to give a simple one word positive cue like HEELS. If you have explained what this means, and that you want them to make sure as the bar rises the weight moves back on the foot towards the heel, this can be a great cue. Even though this blog and this advice is meant to be applied in competition, I feel that even in training some coaches a tendency to talk too much! I find that the longer I coach the less I talk during any given training session. The fact is, when a coach learns how to shut up, often what they do say is taken that much more seriously!
So as coaches we should limit the amount of cues we give to a lifter and make them very short and one word if possible. We also need to make sure that that any cues we give in competition have been given in training and thoroughly explained.
Presses from the split are a great exercise for beginning lifters, and there are more than a few that arent really beginners anymore who could really benefit from them too. The key to this lift is to pay very close attention to the geometry of your legs in the split. The front shin should be vertical, with the toe turned slightly inward and the back thigh should be as close to vertical as possible with the heel up and the toe in on that foot also. For a few lucky souls this will be an easy position to hold, but most of us mortals will really have to struggle to hold that position as we press the bar. Use a light weight. Keep in mind that this is more of a lower body exercise than an arm exercise. A few freaks like Donny Shankle can use over 300lbs but most of us will struggle to use more than 30 or 40 kilos.
These should really help you get stronger in the correct split position. I usually try to get lifters to work both legs equally, in other words do a set with your right leg split in front then immediately go to your left leg in front. Some lifters find that all the practice in the jerk leads to unequal development of the legs which can predispose them to hip problems. Presses from the split can go a long way towards combating that. I like 3 sets of 10 reps alternating legs.
When Def Leppard wrote the song "women" I don't think they had weightlifting in mind. But considering the way the records have been falling for the last few years, they could have.
The women’s world records in weightlifting have been improving much faster than the mens records. Not surprising considering the length of time that women have been competing in the sport. The first women’s world championship wasn’t until the 1980’s, and women’s weightlifting did not become an olympic sport till 2000. Before it became an Olympic sport it was mostly western democracies that sent women to compete at the world’s, but with the advent of women being included in the olympic event even traditional weightlifting powerhouses like China and Russia became involved.
Compare that to the Mens sport, which has been around for over a hundred years, and in pretty much it’s present form since the 1940’s. Considering the length of time the women have had to improve verses the time for the men it is no wonder the mens records are increasing at a snails pace and the women are still improving fairly rapidly, Throw in the fact that culturally women are just not as likely to want to compete in weightlifting, or even be able to compete in some countries. In many ways our world is modern, but often not when it comes to what it is culturally acceptable for women. Here in the USA we are not all that far removed from when many people, even some doctors thought that lifting anything heavy might make it impossible for a woman to bear children.
That these attitudes continue to some extent is a shame, because women might be even better suited for weightlifting than men.
To start with, women are typically more flexible than men. Flexibility is generally an advantage in weightlifting because it can allow you to get in more ideal positions. Even the catch position in the clean and snatch can be lower for a flexible female compared to a male lifter. Catching lower means you usually don’t have to lift the bar as high, allowing more weight to be lifted.
Women tend to have a higher percentage of their mass in their lower bodies than men. The leg strength of female athletes is virtually identical to men when the amount of muscle mass is equalized. With modern lifting technique, the legs and hips supply most of the force needed to lift the weight while the upper bodies and particularly the arms supply very little. Women are much closer to men in lower body strength than upper body strength.
Men tend to have an advantage in upper body strength but in weightlifting this can actually be a disadvantage. As Bud Charniga puts it, “when you have a cannon its hard to keep from firing it.” So all the upper body and arm strength might not help men at all!
Women also tend to be able to work harder than men, and achieve higher training loads. This has been observed in so many places and so many countries that at this point it is a fact as far as I am concerned. Women seem to be able to tap deeper into the reserves their body has in order to continue to adapt when under extreme stress. I believe this might have something to do with women’s ability to bear children. It is hard to believe there could be any more stressful event than pregnancy and the birth of a child. It seems likely that the adaptation that enables women to deal with pregnancy might also make them better able to deal with other high stress situations and leave them with an greater ability to overcome extreme stress compared to men.
Women also tend to be easier to coach than men. Anyone who has coached young men, especially during their late teen years knows exactly what I am talking about. Too much testosterone and an ego that is often too big make the average 17 year old male very hard to coach. There is a time limit when it comes to participation in elite athletics. If several years are wasted because an athlete is un-coachable, you never get those years back.
Will the women’s world records keep climbing till they are even with the mens? Or might they climb even higher than the mens records records in some weight classes? I don’t think so. But a few years ago if someone had asked me if a woman would ever snatch double bodyweight I would have answered with an emphatic NO