Biomechanics, Motor Control, Programming, Strength & Conditioning, Technique, The Training Geek, Weightlifting

What Confucius Would Say About Lifting.

If you have been following me on Instagram, you would have seen that I have began some of my posts with a certain quote that I find relevant to the content I intend to share.

So on the topic of quotes, who better than the man of wisdom himself, “Master Kong”, to give us some thoughts regarding lifting that are relevant to the things he says.


Confucius says <insert stereotypical Chinese accent>..

1. When it is obvious that goals cannot be reached, do not adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.

This is very straightforward when related to lifting. It tells us that it is important to be willing to try different methods if your progress begins to stagnate. Be it more strength work, be it cross training, switch things up to keep the body guessing and even adapting but keep the eventual goal the same.

2. A man who does not think and plan ahead will find trouble right at his door.

This one is specifically to attempting a lift. Many go in with the intention of “grip and rip”, almost becoming mindless. If you do not visualize how the lift is going to be, your body cannot prepare physiologically. The last thing you want is not to be able to remember what you thought of before the lift because then it becomes impossible to put the correct steps in place to repeat it.

3. All good things are difficult to achieve, and all bad things are very easy to get.

When it comes down to lifting technique, it is easier for you to fall into the path of frustration as you keep making mistakes. But the ability to distinguish a good lift is what will allow you to get better if you have the patience for it. Don’t end up doing lift after lift without resetting and reflecting so that you can distinguish the difference. That’s how you build a feel or an awareness for the lift. 

4. The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect [his] work must first sharpen [his] tools.

In order for your lifts to feel right, it’s not just a matter of learning the lifts but putting in the necessary layers upon your movement patterns. This can be mobility, motor control, strength etc. Do the work to improve every aspect of your lifts so that there are no lagging components in your technique.

5. Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace.

I find this one very personal. Working with many individuals at my workshops and seminars, you can see the frustration they have at the start of the day. But giving them the concepts and principles which make sense empowers them with better knowledge of the lifts. So when they hit the hands-on lifting component, they have a completely different perspective on the lifts. More importantly, they end up feeling better about their movements and the desire to improve further now that they have felt the difference can be seen as a takeaway for them and most importantly very rewarding for me.

Of course there are many more truths spoken up the man himself. But I find these ones to resonate really well particularly to lifting and my experiences in the sport. Hope that sheds some light into your lifting journey as you continue to enjoy this sport of self-discovery and achievement.

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Exercise, Strength & Conditioning, Technique, The Mrs, The Training Geek, Weightlifting

Learning Weightlifting is like Having a Haircut.

As of late, I have been making sure that I regularly visit my barber to keep my look fresh. So this got me thinking as I watch Tom from Uncle Rocco’s work his magic and turn me from a mess to looking sharp.

1. Every lifter is different like every head shape is unique.

There may be certain stereotypes of head shaped such as round, oval, flat, high forehead etc. The barber is experienced enough to understand how to match the hairstyle you want to fit the head shape you have.

Lifting technique is no different. With the body, as you hear from many coaches and many times in my articles, everyone has different lever lengths. You may fall in a certain category of body types but knowing how to specifically tailor to your body type is key to learning the technique which will not only make your lifts look smooth but also sexy.

2. It’s about the finer details.

Apart from getting the general look right, the barber also puts the effort into the smaller details such as making sure your hairline is well-kept (i.e. No baby hairs sticking out, keeping the cut even on both sides etc). You can also see him making sure that after styling, another check is done so that nothing is left out to make the look as sharp as it can be.

Again, learning your lifts is no different when it comes to keeping the finer details in check. Small points like how you are holding your hookgrip, or how much your feet should be turned out, where you look etc, all play a part to make sure that you get that smooth lift you are aiming for.

3. It doesn’t matter what style you keep.

Everytime I get to sit down on the barber’s chair, Tom will ask “What can I do for you today?”. The choice is mine to make on what hairstyle I want to have. But at the same time, I also trust him to have a better picture of what suits me.

This goes hand in hand with technique. I always get questions about what technique or style is the best. My answer is always “the one what makes you comfortable and the one that you can keep consistent”. Like a new hairstyle, it may feel foreign at the beginning but the look is something you can get used to if you keep to it. Like lifting technique, some of the changes you make may feel foreign but once you keep them consistent, you will see yourself gradually and naturally moving better with it.

4. Visiting the barber regularly is good for your hair. 

Having a haircut is what will help keep your hairstyle in check. Allowing it to grow out is fine but too long and it will be too much to handle. Things like knots or split ends (and trust me I have experience with this) can easily get out of hand.

Like your lifts, having that constant feedback is key to allowing you to keep your lifts in check. Because of the reasons above, sometimes assessing yourself may not be the greatest idea and it can be good to have a different perspective. Doing so will ensure that you get to maintain the correct habits and movement patterns for smooth and easy lifts.
More importantly, being able to keep you hairstyle sharp and fresh will keep those around you happy as you can see. Like your lifts, it makes everyone including yourself and your coach happy for you to hit an effortless lift.

P.S. If you need a recommendation for a haircut, you won’t go wrong with Uncle Rocco’s in South Melbourne.

Uncle Rocco’s Barber Shop

1 Fennell Street, Port Melbourne, Victoria

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Biomechanics, Exercise, Strength & Conditioning, Technique, The Training Geek, Weightlifting

4 Reasons Why You Cant Use Your Legs.

Legs. Legs. Legs. Everyone knows they need to use their legs when trying to create the drive in the second pull or the drive in their overhead movements. “I don’t feel them engage at all.” or “I can’t tell if I am using them”. These are the common reactions when I ask an individual if they know whether they are using their legs.

quadsWhat are such legs for? #legsmuch?

Let’s talk about 4 possible reasons why you cant feel the strongest muscle group in your body and that is not your back.

1. You are “pulling” off the ground.

Yes, it’s indeed called the first and second pulls within a lift. However, many mistake this action as a pulling action and what happens is that the individual begins pulling the bar off the ground. This results in the use of the back or even the arms to create the initial drive off the floor.

IMG_1363-1Are you using your legs or your back here?

If you are guilty of this, try focusing on feeling your feet as you move the bar off the ground. Feel like you can spread them out and push into the ground. This will help you begin the movement and engagement of the legs right from the beginning. Yes. It becomes a push with your legs off the ground to get the bar moving.

2. You are pushing off the ground too quickly.

Yes. You may be using your legs to overcome inertia and come off the ground. However, you are thinking of hitting it hard right from the ground and realise you don’t really feel the leg drive happening when it comes to the second pull. Try jumping up as high as possible from the bottom of the squat position. In order for you to generate as much force and as much height as possible, you do not do the violent push with the legs till you come up to a certain height. That is where the range of the lower limb joints are at its strongest to create as much joint extension velocity as possible.

If you are guilty of this, try slowing down the initial portion of the lift. It should feel like you have the ability to accelerate once the bar begins reaching mid-thigh level (for the snatch) or above the knees (for the clean). Slowing the first pull of the lift also helps ensure that you are getting into good positions and you are timing the second pull right. When more proficient with this, that’s where you can add more speed to your first pull and still have the acceleration or explosiveness when the second pull begins.

3. You think too much “hips” and too little “knees”.

If you look at the position of the joints within the body, there seems to be a sequence when trying to generate force and transfer that force to an object that you are trying to displace. Take a shot put throw for example. Upon anchoring the support foot onto the ground, the drive is initiated from the legs into the hips and transferred through the torso and shoulders before the arms follow through to drive the shot put into the distance. Very similar to the lifts is this kinematic sequencing of joints. The force is driven into the ground from the feet, through the legs, then the torso and lastly the shoulders to create momentum on the bar. If the sequence is lost in between, that joint can no longer contribute to the summation of force. The contribution of the knees not only help drive more force into the bar but drive the bar in the right direction (i.e. vertical instead of horizontal with just the hips).


rybakou_wr
If done properly, knees should be fully extended as well as the hips come through.

If you are guilty of this, you should try doing some squat jumps with a very short counter movement but still with the intention of generating as much height as possible. The burning sensation you begin to feel in your quads after a decent amount of reps gives you an idea of you properly using your legs which you should be feeling within your lifts.

4. You are knowingly or unknowingly doing too much with your feet.

I know I mentioned that you need to feel your feet when you initiate movement off the ground. The common error with weight distribution is that the individual needs to feel that the weight gets shifted around within the feet (i.e. from the balls of the feet to the heels, back to the balls of the feet before extension). Imagine that combined centre of mass being physically over the base of support. If it is shifting back and forth as much as I have described, what do you think the muscles and structures in the body are doing to maintain that in the center or from hitting the extreme limits of the base of support? All that effort to keep the balance while moving the weight up can be directed more to actually moving the weight up instead of trying to pull the body back centered.

jamie-collins-vertical-jump Gif credit to b-reddy.org

If you are guilty of this, try thinking of your jumping mechanics and feel where you get to put out the most amount of force when going for a vertical jump. Most of the time, it should be on the balls of the feet. How to get this feeling in your regular weightlifting movements? Do the drill that everyone has been on and using to feel your legs. Heels off the edge and do your pulls from there. Nothing new about that.

Conclusion

Learn to engage those springs within your body known as your legs. They are designed to act as hinge joints and in a synergistic manner, easily propel the torso in a vertical direction which is key to force transference to the barbell for the lifts.

Want to learn more? I am running a workshop talking about the second pull and how to transition under the bar at Crossfit 3039 this Saturday at 10.30am (Melbourne Time). At the same time, come down and listen to Anurag from Crossfit 3039 explain and demonstrate how that same transition is applicable to the muscle up.

http://e.mybookingmanager.com/MuscleUp-Snatch-Workshop

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