Tag Archives: olympic weightlifting

Bunch of Cheaters!

ilya

There are a lot of anti-“insert name” people out there who don’t like anything the other side does. When you come from a place where you don’t know how the other half lives, you end up with a very narrow perspective in life.

Many of us were raised in an era where there wasn’t internet or YouTube. All we had were books and magazines. They were called “Muscle & Fitness”, “Flex”, and other descriptive names. They were our Bibles for learning our sports. In bodybuilding, we learned how to do everything strictly. You didn’t cheat your muscles by swinging a dumbbell up with your curls. You wanted continuous tension on the muscle.

Then you had powerlifting, which was often a big part of the bodybuilding discussion. You lowered the bar strictly to your chest in a bench press. You don’t bounce it off your chest or do partial reps. You needed full extension for it to count.

But these know-it-alls who spent all this time with their noses buried in the magazines often weren’t proficient in other sports. And if they didn’t know what they were talking about, they mocked and ridiculed other sports. They still do.

Take Olympic weightlifting for example. It is in compete juxtaposition to powerlifting and bodybuilding (neither of which are Olympic sports). The goal is not to get big muscles or to do an isolated movement in a single range of motion. Actually, there aren’t a lot of rules at all, even though most know that they are technically much more difficult movements. In both the snatch and clean & jerk, the goal is to take the bar from ground to overhead in full extension without pressing it out. That’s about it. Yeah, you can’t touch your knees to elbows or touch a body part to the ground other than your feet. But that’s it. Simple eh?

The truth is, most of these know-it-alls would say that it is a sport for Cheaters! And yes, it is 100% cheating. You use a hook grip, which is a cheat where you wrap your thumb along the bar and wrap your other fingers around. You pull the bar up only as high as it needs to be before pulling your body under. And guess what, they bounce (or oscillate) out of the squat to get to standing. Cheating? Absolutely! But that’s not the end of it. Then you bounce the weight on your shoulders before split squatting under it to get to full extension (the Dip & Drive). Its completely cheating. And this is what the average muscle head thinks when they write comments on YouTube. Yeah, they’re all the experts, haha!!

In other circles, we call it performance. The controversy when the Fosbury Flop first happened in the high jump. Total cheating. When you find ways to reach new heights, sometimes you have to cheat (aka, find better ways to move your body in space).

kip4

In gymnastics, you soon learn how to kip to get above the bar. Its a skill little girls learn early on in their careers. Is it cheating? Yes, it is. But it gets you to where you need to be. Kipping is actually a thang. No, some crazy CrossFit’r didn’t invent it to make the masses of Planet Fitness gurus angry at them. But its the first thing you see in the comments. “That’s not a pull-up”. “They only do that because they are too weak to do a real pull-up”. “You’re turning off the activation in your lats. You’d get much more out of a strict pull-up”. Haha, so they say in the comments.

Yeah, you could do an Olympic clean & jerk strictly. It would look like this:

  1. Slowly deadlift the bar off the ground.
  2. Strictly curl the weight to your shoulders without any excess movement.
  3. Military press to full extension locking it out overhead with no knee bend.

But I guarantee they wouldn’t be lifting 233 kg like Ilya does (512 pounds for the know-it-alls). Instead of a brute force event, it turns into an art of speed and power. It becomes a study in kinesiology (body physics). It adds elastic and kinetic energy instead of just raw strength.

People who bash things like butterfly kipping pullups really aren’t aware of the goal. The goal is performance. If someone says, without any other assistance, hang at full extension and take your chin over the bar as many times as you can in two minutes, does it matter how you do it? The goal is to do it. So you do it as intellectually efficient as you possibly can. Its not done to make the YouTube know-it-all commenter happy. Performance is different from other aspects of sport and fitness.

Yes, you could keep your feet still and throw a discus. But you’re not going to throw it far. If your goal is to be stupid, then do that. I’d rather see Al Oerter spin his way to win an Olympic gold instead.

There is a place for momentum, speed, kinetics, and other cheating to get performance! And cheating is life. A strongman lifts an Atlas stone exactly how a mom would heave a bag of potatoes to a shelf. You’re not looking at strict movement in life. You do what is necessary to get the job done.

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Topside Squats

squat_heavy

My latest ideas come from listening to Mash Mafia podcasts with Travis Mash. They were talking about isometrics for powerlifting. For example, if you had two sets of pins in a power rack, you limit the upward progression like for a bench press. You don’t even need a lot of weight on the bar. You press against the pins and hold for a number of seconds. It simulates a max lift like no other. They were also talking about slow negatives, lowering the bar through a movement at a very heavy weight.

The one they got me to thinking was doing walk-outs on the squat with some astronomical weight. Feeling a very heavy weight on the bar and standing there for 10 or 20 seconds (or more) is quite an overload. Olympic weightlifters do this with jerk recoveries. They rack a bar so you are almost at full extension with arms overhead. You might start in a shallow split squat or power jerk position with your feet. Then you walk to lockout and hold as long as you can. It gets you accustomed to locking out heavy weight.

So here is my plan:
I have a goal weight that I want to squat. I’ll take my safety pins up as high as they will go on my rack. I’ll walk out with my goal weight and squat to the pins and push back up. I’ll probably only drop a few inches into my squat. But it will program my body to know what that kind of weight feels like. Over time, I hope that I can do 5-10 reps at that weight. Once I can do that, I’ll drop the pins another notch and go a little deeper. Eventually, I’ll take it all the way down to full depth and have my goal accomplished.

The hesitance I would have about this, which is why I’ve not done it before, is that your muscle memory would take away from squat depth and overall flexibility. So, to counter this, I’ll always finish with some A2G (ass-to-ground) squats for reps to make sure I don’t lose my depth. And, I’ll only do the topside squats one day a week. I’ll get the neuromuscular trauma and then allow for full recovery. Plus, I’ll still be doing Olympic weightlifting and CrossFit movements anyway, along with lots of yoga. So there is no fear of losing proper squat depth.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Need to Measure my Traps

But I don’t know how.

trap-bar

So here is my update to my new trap bar purchase. I just read an article today about working up to 100 trap bar Deadlifts. It is very insightful. As an Olympic weightlifter and recovering powerlifter, I completely agree that this novel movement can do wonders for your [insert everything here]. I may need to buy bigger shirts here in the next few weeks. If you’d like to read for yourself…

https://www.t-nation.com/workouts/100-rep-trap-bar-workout

 

CrossFit flipped on its head

crossfit hspu

CrossFit programming can be variable from box to box. I have visited several boxes and have a CrossFit Level I trainer certification myself. With slight variation, the programming generally follows:

  • Warm-Up: rowing, jogging, maybe a short bodyweight circuit
  • Mobility: targeted to the workout of the day (WOD). This may involve elastic bands, yoga-type stretches, massage balls or rollers, or PVC pipes.
  • Strength work: usually a characteristic rep scheme, like 5 sets of 5 reps (5×5), and possibly percentages of your 1 rep max for a movement. It may be to get to a 1RM. An EMOM (every minute on the minute) may be tacked on to this as part of strength or as part of the WOD.
  • WOD: This could be any nature of scheme that cranks your heart-rate and may or may not involve heavy weights. It could be an EMOM, AMRAP (as many rounds or reps as possibly in a given time limit), couplet or triplet involving 2 or 3 movements with a set number of rounds, chipper (reps for each movement that you chip away at), or other scheme.
  • Cool-Down: This is similar to a warm-up and may involve a mobility element.

I’m a yoga teacher and have a daily personal yoga practice. So, mobility is not a big concern for me though I still do specific movements associated with the WOD. But, I’ve changed from what may be standard programming and it has been working for me. Ideally, I don’t do Olympic weightlifting movements in a WOD. Not that I feel it is unsafe, but it could develop poor movement patterns. And I focus on Olympic weightlifting anyway, so I don’t need to do it in WODs. So here is my daily programming:

  • WOD buy-in: I’ve heard James Hobart, CF guru, talk about going “Jaguar“. This means with little or no warm-up, which sounds unsafe, but its what I’ve done with success and have yet to be injured doing a WOD. I usually pre-plan my WOD, but sometimes I do it based on feel. I’ll program away from sore muscles. My WODs are mostly couplets and triplets per Chris Spealer recommendations. I’ll do a 21-15-9 or other rep scheme. My time domain is almost always in the 5-10 min range. I realize this is not random nor does it cover all my bases. I feel those bases are covered elsewhere. This provides me with the heart and body work that I need. It is also my warm-up for Olympic lifting. I’ll do a couple reps of each movement and then start right in without much warm-up. My goal is not to get sore; it is to pump up my heart using mostly strength movements.
  • Olympic Weightlifting: This is my strength work. Many times I’ll start with squats (front, back, overhead, other) and end with pulls. Despite there being only two lifts, the snatch and clean & jerk, the combinations are endless. I may just do the lifts as singles and then a few drop sets. I may do complexes getting time under tension. Or I may break apart the lifts and focus on multiple reps, like cleans, hang cleans, snatch balances, or jerks. I do a Max Lift Friday every week, so I don’t usually do singles during the week. But I do Olympic lifts almost every day.
  • Cool-Down buy-out: This is my strictly cardio element. It may be a quarter or half mile run repeat, 1 or 2K row, or similar Ski Erg. I may do intervals or a straight time or distance. I often wear a heart rate monitor and stay in a zone for 5-15 minutes.

I rarely go over an hour for a total workout. Sometimes I will do yoga-related strength work, like arm balances and hand stands, pistols and pushup related movements. Otherwise, I can do this every day if I can. I never feel overtrained or fatigued. But I do get sore. I can always program away from the soreness though and the active recovery is good for healing.

For me, this program enables me to do whatever I want. If I want to do a trail running race, I do a run on the weekend, but that’s the only additional specificity of training I need. I wouldn’t change if I were to enter a CrossFit or Olympic weightlifting competition. Its good for everything.