Strength & Conditioning, The Training Geek, Weightlifting, Workout

The Philosophical ABCs of Weightlifting by The Training Geek.

The quintessentials of weightlifting is seldom discussed and personally I feel is related to the coaching philosophy developed by the coach imparted to the athlete. In any sport, the coach has certain ideals and thoughts that they constantly strive to bring about through their lifters and also through their coaching methodology. For example, the Russians have a certain way of teaching and programming the lifts and that’s what makes them Russian. So do the Chinese.

On top of that, everyone likes their lists, everyone loves their numbers, and everyone adores the alphabet. So here’s my little take on the ABCs of weightlifting from the eye of a coach, an athlete, a recreational individual, a modern day coach, a modern day athlete or whatever you want to call me.

A – Appreciation

Appreciation is something that many struggle to get a grasp of. Appreciation comes in many forms within the world of weightlifting. You appreciate the technicality of the movements. You appreciate your coach’s ideas and methods. You appreciate the platform and the competition vibe it brings to you. You appreciate the history and tradition of the sport. You should also appreciate the evolution of the sport. You should also appreciate the people who are working to make the sport more accessible and popular. You should appreciate that you are given a gift when you are involved in the sport and that you should do what you can to share what you know.

Too many people fail to appreciate the right things and only choose to appreciate what they deem fit. Weightlifting is so diverse and there is still so much more for us to explore and discover. Being able to appreciate that helps the sport evolve, not being stuck in your ways thinking you have already attained the highest level of the sport.

B – Benevolence

The community of weightlifting is small and close-knitted to begin with. If you do not have an appreciation for the fact that we should be working with each other to improve the sport or its popularity, we lose the vision of creating a bigger community in the sport. Benevolence is defined as the quality of being well meaning. As a coach, as an athlete, or as an individual involved in the sport, what have you done to mean well for the sport? Have you done all you can to allow people to enjoy the sport or have you constantly belittled people in the sport only because you think you know almost everything?

Even the best coaches with most experience seek to learn more and understand why. Being open to learning allows people to understand that you are constantly improving yourself to help them get better.

C – Character

Also related to the last point, character is something you build up as you grow into the sport of weightlifting. It definitely takes alot to be knocked down by the bar after each failed attempt and coming back to it to make the lift. It also takes alot of character to push through working on your weaknesses to improve a certain aspect of your lift, committing fully to your program and listening to your coach.

Character also refers to the way you approach the sport. Being one who chooses to contribute to the growth of the sport is the direction of growth that weightlifting needs and seems to be heading towards. Always seek to help others improve is what I say and try to do. Regardless of the time and the effort.

 

Well that’s the ABCs from me. I wouldnt do the whole alphabet only because in weightlifting, we don’t go more than 3 reps for the classic lifts.

Stay Strong and Keep Growing the Sport,

Lester a.k.a. The Training Geek.

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

My 3 Tips for the 2015 Crossfit Games Open Workout 15.1.

So the first workout for this year’s Crossfit Games Open involves the two main weightlifting movements. To be attempted one after the other, one for reps and the other for a maximum attempt. 

At first glance, many would suggest to save the grip as the metcon is grip-taxing (with toes-to-bar, deadlifts and snatches) and to pace oneself. But here’s my take on it and three things I would suggest from a weightlifting front. 

1. Use your legs appropriately for the various movements. 

You have all three movements in Workout 15.1 that can easily blow your grip. For guys, chances are you will want to muscle these movements and hope that you have enough juice in the tank for that 1RM clean and jerk. 



So you need to save your grip at the start in order to prevent you from misappropriately using your arms in the clean and jerk. How to do so?

  1. Focus on flexing the hip in the toes-to-bar
  2. Engage the back and posterior chain in the deadlift despite it being a minuscule weight. 
  3. Use the quad punch for the snatches and actually receive the snatch than trying to pull the bar to position. 

Your key in the metcon is to increase the efficiency of your movements by using the correct muscle groups to move the weight or your body. See it as a secondarily warm up for your clean and jerk. 

2. Keep your hookgrip loose. 

The hookgrip is designed to save your grip on heavy loads in the weightlifting movements. If you are capable of using the hookgrip, I would suggest using it not only for 15.1a but also 15.1. 

Letting the weight rest within your hookgrip will ensure that you keep your arms loose and for the first tip to be effective. This will also help in the clean and jerk where a much heavier load is attempted and you risk the tendency to use your arms especially in a fatigued state. 



Saving your arms will also benefit you in the jerk portion as you can still maintain a snappy lockout. 

3. Aim to be technical. 

Although it’s a metcon and your aim is to get as many reps as possible and following that as heavy as possible, but technique will go a lot way for this one. 

Being able to punch with the quads in the snatches will potentiate you for a good punch with the legs in the clean and in the drive for the jerk. 

Using enough legs and allowing momentum to carry the weight up for a power snatch, plus possibly receiving your power snatch lower will ensure a good lockout and save the arms. 



Being technical also means having a good strategy to your clean and jerks. Have a goal of what you want to hit with fatigue in mind. Make calculated attempts within that 6 minutes you are given. Even if you fail an attempt, look to keep to the timing of each attempt. 60-90s per attempt will give you 4-6 attempts so planning them out will be a better idea. 

Conclusion

It is a test of performance under fatigue. And it is also a test of strategy in the 15 minutes you are given. Going in without a plan will kill you. Be smart and keep both workouts in mind when planning your strategy. From a weightlifting perspective, aim for good technique and be efficient and you should be able to move well for the clean and jerks. All the best for your first Open workout!

Stay Strong and Keep Weightlifting,

Lester aka the Training Geek

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

5 Lessons to Unlearn in Weightlifting.

As weightlifting is a skill that needs to be learnt, sometimes there are some mis-information going around as to what learning the lifts should be. I won’t say I have the best qualifications or experience but there are a few things I can definitely tell you for sure regarding some concepts in weightlifting that are commonly misinterpreted. Here are just five of them:

1. It’s fast from the get-go.

You are told you need to move fast. You are told it’s an explosive movement so explosive means fast. But we all know that pulling fast from the ground contributes nothing but poor positions later in the lift and you will probably struggle to make the lift.

IMG_5512.JPGCredit to Ironmind for the image.

Instead, it is usually a controlled movement off the ground, involving tension in the back and drive through the legs in order to be accurate with the positions you want to achieve. Only until you transition into a good position to develop force, that’s where you can be as fast as you want and in fact you need to be fast. More importantly fast in that transition from an upward direction to a downward direction of your body. This concept is simple. It’s one of tempo. Think of moving controlled then fast. Slow-fast.

2. I need to get under the bar faster.

So you go on to do all your high-hang work, your block work from the hips. Then you realise you still can’t receive the bar fast enough. You always end up having the bar coming down on you and you are still on your way down to meet the bar.

IMG_5315.PNGAt this point, you are heading down. But is the bar following you down? If it is, then you wouldn’t be ready to receive it.

Why so? The concept here is simple. You lost all the momentum of the bar which you tried so hard to develop in your pull. No momentum? What happens next? Bar starts coming down then. It’s not that you are not fast getting down into the bottom of a squat position. You just lack that timing. That transition which I mentioned in the earlier point. You need to let the bar do its work (many call it the weightlessness feeling) and travel up while you take that opportunity to travel down. If you constantly pull pull and pull and even try to pull yourself under, you are not developing momentum on the bar, you are placing it. Of course then, you will be too slow to get under.

3. Hip drive/hip contact.

This is even developed into a cue. Hip bump, bar need to bounce off the hips, the bar needs to be brought into the hips etc. Upon hearing this, you think you just need to feel the contact and everything should fall into place. Or you try really hard to “sweep” that bar into place and end up pulling with your arms. Or worse still, you attempt to hump the bar and end up getting a bruised hip.

IMG_5271.PNGHow the hip and the bar moves following this point is critical to how easily you will receive the bar.

Instead, you should be looking at hip contact as a result of you and the bar moving upwards and meeting (rather than colliding). Also, hip drive should be seen as part of the whole action of using the legs and not just hip extension. Stand up straight and keep your legs straight. Now open and close your hips; it doesn’t go up in any way. It goes back and forth. My point exactly. You want the bar to go up, not back and forth. The hips and the bar are two moving points and should be seen as two moving objects. If they move in the same direction, their speed increases due to momentum but if they collide, speed is lost.

4. I need to feel my weight being distributed in the different areas of my feet.

You are told you need to start with the weight in your mid foot, then you feel it move back probably to the middle of your heels then back forward into your forefoot (some say balls of the feet). All these when pulling. Tough task isn’t it? Try walking and feeling that you are trying to land heel to lateral side of your foot to the medial portion of the ball of your foot everytime you take a step.

IMG_5516.JPGWeight distribution taken too far to the limits not only force you to lose balance but also cause you to work harder than you should to bring your balance back to the centre.

Weight distribution is indicative of how the centre of mass moves over the bass of support which are your feet in this instance. It is not something you actively control by forcing yourself to get weight distributed that way but it’s a result of the actions of keeping yourself centred. More importantly, think of trying to drive force from your toes or only balls of your feet to perform a vertical jump. I do this in my seminars and workshops all the time to introduce the concept of base of support and the number of eyes that you see realising that being flat-footed when jumping makes things a lot easier to get the legs going. Why not the same for your lifts. Forget your feet when pulling. Think of your legs.

5. This is the ‘s way and they have many world champions so I should learn their technique.

You see the Russians, the Chinese, the Armenians lifting a certain way. You see a certain weightlifter lifting that way and getting big numbers overhead. You watch them lift and think I need to do what they do to hit my 100kg snatch. I need to do their program or do whatever exercises they do and I’ll lift like them.

IMG_5517-2.JPGKnow not only what they do but why they do.

I’m sorry but no. The Russians lift loke the Russians because they are Russian. The Chinese lift like the Chinese because they are Chinese. Rather than following the exact technique or learning the exact technique, you need to understand the concept of their lifting. Not the “how they do it” but the “why they do it”. You understand the why and you will understand what works and what doesn’t work for you. Blindly following a certain style may not be the best thing for you. Having a style that suits you allows you to move better. All styles or methods follow the same concepts and should lead to the same point: lifting more weight.

Conclusion

Learning is something that is very important in weightlifting. The desire to expand one’s knowledge is key to getting you understanding the lifts better, building better awareness of the movements and subsequently lifting better. However, there are always going to be sources of information which have been taken out of context. Hopefully, these lessons I have mentioned will help you clarify just the basic concepts related to the weightlifting movements and give you a clearer picture to make a more informed decision to what you should or should not be doing in the lifts.

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