Tag Archives: clean and jerk

Gambling vs. Investing: Part II My Journey

In Part I, I discussed the importance of investing in yourself by getting a good coach to guide you.  Now, I’d like to expand on the topic with my personal experience.  Let’s go back a bit for some perspective.

When I was a kid, I was active, but rarely trained in a gym. When I was about 18 years old, I hurt my back.  Being young, I dealt with the pain until it went away about a month later.  Four years after that, I was in a great deal of pain related to that injury. After six months of chiropractic care, I was on a better path.  The big takeaway from the doctor was to exercise to strengthen my core to hold my spine in line and to stretch my notoriously tight hamstrings so that they wouldn’t pull my lower back out – everything affects everything else.  Over those first few years, I worked out following what I would read in bodybuilding type books (The Poliquin Principles was priceless).  Eventually, someone at work got me to try Powerlifting.  By that point, I had taught myself decent form between what I read in magazines and some VHS tapes.  Ken Leistner and Louie Simmons were early influences in my development as a powerlifter.  Louie Simmons was a big proponent of variety in training.  That’s what lead me to want to try Olympic Weightlifting.

I knew I stood a better chance at learning weightlifting properly if I had a coach.  This was a far more technical sport.  I was very lucky to be referred to National Coach, Jim Hanlon.  From the beginning of my weightlifting journey, I had a great coach and soon to be friend.  With Jim giving me a proper foundation, I excelled as a weightlifter.  This same foundation has served me well as a coach.  Now, all these years later, I still compete in the Master’s division.  Although, we’re talking about an older crowd, don’t sell them short.  There is some phenomenal talent in the Master’s that includes former Olympians and national team members from many countries.  Your “A” game is required.

I had a break in the action around the time my son was born.  After some years, I saw that my buddy, David Miller broke a couple of Master’s records.  That friendly rivalry got me back in the action.  So here I am years later.  My coaching evolved to starting my own team and moving into a great gym as we’ve expanded (props to our extended family – Locomotive Fitness Co).  As I’ve continued competing, I’ve coached myself.  With nagging little injuries, I found myself in a place where I knew I needed help.  I needed objectivity.  My first step was to go to a great PT.  Again, serendipity has smiled upon me as I’ve worked with Justin Feldman and Ashley Witson of Feldman Physical Therapy. Here they helped me to identify my weaknesses and gave me a path to taking care of that part of my problem.  My next step was to get a coach again.  I had to choose someone else who I could vibe with that I knew would be a remote coach.  This was a really tough decision.  I’m fortunate to know quite a few really good coaches.  Without getting into all of my internal deliberations on the matter, I chose a friend and fellow NY Coach Steve Titus.

I am very happy with my decision.  We have great communication and similar philosophies.  When he points out something, I know deep down, he’s right.  I might have made the same call in the past, or I might have ignored it and pushed forward, sliding backward.  Now, this relationship has renewed my motivation and in a couple of months together, we’re seeing real progress. Sometimes, to get where you want to go, you must recognize that you shouldn’t do it alone.  Get the right support, whether it be a coach, PT, chiropractor, nutritionist… whatever you need to move forward.  Find the support team that works for YOU.  Stop gambling and start investing.

Onward We Tread

This pandemic has thrown everyone into a bizarro world.  There are real concerns on every side with understandable  anxiety and fear for our welfare – physically, mentally, financially and for our friends and families.  One thing weightlifting has taught me is that through stress, we can come out of a situation stronger.  We may take a beating for a time, but we usually  come out of it in a better place mentally and physically.

For a time, we were scared of losing the gym – our sanctuary.  Thankfully, we’re still there. In fact, after some tough losses, we’re starting to grow again.  There is real excitement and a great communal vibe in the air. With reduced capacity, masks, etc., we are not only managing, we are starting to thrive again and it feels great.  I am very excited about our new members and our vets that continue to put in the work and improve regularly.

Many pundits were writing off gyms after they were closed for so long and people set up home gyms to keep lifting.  The fact is a home gym is great, but it doesn’t give you the communal vibe that training together does.  We are communal by nature and do better when we’re around others who support us, push us to be better than we sometimes allow ourselves to be.  There is an undeniable energy that’s shared in a good gym.  It’s a great feeling to be training and coaching in a great gym.  We’re not only blessed with our team’s synergy, we also vibe off our extended family – Locomotive Fitness Co.  Come on down and join us. Be part of our renaissance.

Lift With Intent

Lift with intent!

You may have heard this before. Approach your current lift with a commitment and an express decision to successfully complete the lift. This little nugget of wise advice goes far beyond your current rep. As an athlete, that intent needs to go beyond that immediate rep for long term success. You need that same level of commitment for the training session, training block, and so on. But it goes further than that. Are you intentionally preparing yourself for success as an athlete when you’re not in the gym? Are you prioritizing getting enough sleep, proper nutrition, doing what’s necessary for optimal recovery? Persistence is the necessary ingredient here. This is how we build great habits that pave the way to success. 

COACH WITH INTENT! 

Coaches program using immediate, short term & long term goals. I’ve found that coaching to the individual athlete yields far better results than a “cookie cutter” approach. So, from a coach’s perspective, I do my best to focus on what the individual athlete needs to successfully reach their goals. To truly optimize my approach and do the best I can for my athletes, it’s important to also continually educate myself to be a better coach. You can say that I coach with intent. I need to focus on what my athletes need right now with an eye on what seeds I need to plant for future growth. 

LIVE WITH INTENT!

These same principles apply to life in general. Think about what matters and don’t let yourself be distracted by negativity. Intentionally seek out positive, supportive people and focus your efforts on what’s important. Avoid distractions that take you off track and bring the focus back on what matters to you. Educate yourself – never stop learning. Always seek to improve. Re-evaluate where you’re at periodically & redirect yourself as necessary. 

Weightlifting is a process. Life is a journey. Live it with purpose. Live it with intent.

Technique Sunday

Come down to Technique Sunday/Try Weightlifting

 Sunday
11/10/19
12:30pm

Locomotive CrossFit
115 Old Route 9
Fishkill, NY 12524

Come on down and hone your technique on the classic lifts or give weightlifting a try.  Novices are welcome!
This will be a short clinic (1 ½ hours)

We’ll be going over some Theory,
Accessory work, Practical application, and Stretching.

FREE for Locomotive/Cuppa Joe Members!
Only $20 for non members!

Come on down and join us.  Up your game!

Flyer: TechniqueSunday111019

It Starts at the Beginning

Many lifts are lost before they’ve barely begun.  A successful lift starts at the beginning.  You can’t have a solid finish with a bad start.  Lifts are taught from the hang because as the lifter starts with the bar lower and eventually from the floor, the rate of difficulty increases.  Each phase of the lift needs proper technique to maximize efficiency, getting the most out of your strength.  Right now, we’ll focus on starting from the bottom position.

The start position is very important.  A lifter should first learn a static start, meaning, get into a ready position, locked in, with no movement of the bar or body before beginning the lift.  A dynamic start is when a lifter is moving just before starting the lift.  For example, when a lifter ratchets their hips up and then down into their ready position just before lift off.  A static start should be learned before getting into a dynamic start because you want to be consistent in your start position.  If your body isn’t accustomed to starting from the same place and you jump right into a dynamic start, you’re more likely to be starting from different points and being inconsistent with your technique.

There are many different cues a coach will use to reinforce good positions and where the focus on the lift should be.  Depending on what the issues are with a given lifter, the cues are meant to direct the lifter’s attention to something specific that will help the lifter complete a successful lift.  Here are some cues for the start:

  • Monkey feet (flat feet) – I’ve used this one to reinforce the focus on keeping the feet flat, heels down. Picture doing a regular push up – your palms are down, fingers out, with full contact with the floor.  In the same fashion, you want your whole foot making contact as you drive the bar by pressing your feet into the platform (not rolling onto your toes).  Drive your feet into the platform with a stiff core to hold your position – don’t let the bar pull you forward/off balance.
  • Brace! – your core should be super tight.
  • Chest up – Pull in your lats/pinch your shoulder blades together, keep a tight neutral spine.
  • Pull yourself down to the bar – remove all slack/tight core

Use specific exercises to build strength from the floor.  Don’t neglect core work – that may be the weak link that doesn’t allow you to keep your form as you transition into the second pull.   There are many options, including unilateral work, to address any weaknesses or imbalances. Here’s a few:

  • Paused Deadlift to knees
  • Deficit work
  • Reverse Hypers
  • Hypers
  • Good mornings
  • 1 leg RDL
  • 1 leg squat
  • Weighted planks

This is only a quick list of good exercises that should be in your repertoire.  Complexes are also good to work the transitions from the start, to the second pull, into the completion of the lift.  The start of the jerk is also very important.  In the same way, it requires flat feet and a tight core to properly drive the bar up, not forward.  The lifts start and end with the feet.  Like roots to a tree, they need to be planted and balanced.

The True Pull

Video analysis is one way to review your lifts to make sure you are pulling efficiently.  Another way that provides immediate feedback is True Pulls.

Tommy Kono was one of the greatest weightlifters of all time.  Aside from his tremendous success on the platform, he was a champion bodybuilder and authored two excellent books.  I learned the concept of the true pull from him (this is what I call it).

Essentially, the point of using this training technique is to make sure you are pulling, whether it be a clean or a snatch, to the proper height to get under the heaviest weights, most efficiently.  It is common for lifters to “cut” the pull and rush to get under the bar. This can work when the weight is manageable, but once the weight becomes more challenging, it is less likely you will make a successful lift.  There are many cues, such as, “be patient,  stand tall” or “finish the pull” that are used to help lifters focus on pulling the bar as high as possible before getting under it.  The True Pull is a way to train your groove so that you instinctually pull correctly every time.

 

Why You Should Consider Becoming an Official

This weekend I tested out to become a USAW National Referee.  Why, you ask?  Well, in case it didn’t occur to you, without officials, there is no sanctioned competition.  I’ve enjoyed competing for many years and it’s important to recognize the efforts of the people who make it happen.

Over the years, I’ve gotten to know many officials and witnessed them working hard to make sure competitions are run right.  A few years ago, I noticed the strain this put on a relatively small group of people.  It sounds cool to be a National or International referee, but it does take a good deal of work to officiate at a competition – especially national competitions.  What makes it harder is the small pool of qualified officials to draw from.  This is what motivated me to step up and get my LWC Referee certification and now the National Referee certification.  Eventually, I hope to get to IWF Category 1 Referee, the highest level – able to officiate at the Olympics.

There are additional benefits to becoming certified.  For instance, having a better understanding of the rules of competition and the ins and outs of how a competition is run is a great benefit as a coach or a lifter.  I’ve seen plenty of coaches’ and lifters’ mistakes hurt the athlete’s performance due to a misunderstanding of the rules and procedures followed in competition.   Becoming a referee also enhances a coach’s eye – or a lifter’s eye. That is a huge benefit to aid in perfecting and maintaining proper technique.

Lastly, it’s important to give back.  This is a great sport and, overall, a very supportive community.  I encourage you – yes, you – to step up and join the ranks of technical officials – an integral piece that keeps the sport going.

Bar Warm Up

It goes without saying that warming up is important (I said it anyway).  I like to start with simple shoulder rotations, forward and backward and then proceed to stick work and some freehand squats, knee kicks, and whatever I may need to loosen any particular tight areas.

Next comes the bar work.  I recommend stringing together movements for a nice superset that gets the blood pumping and heart beating.  Back in the day, We used this type of warm up at weightlifting camp in Gettysburg.  Before every workout, someone would lead us by calling out exercises for a set of ten with the bar.  It was a great warm up that I use to this day.

Here’s an example:

Add this to your toolbox.

Train Hard.

Train Smart.