Tag Archives: front squat

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.

 

Paused Chain Front Squats

Paused squats of any kind are great for building strength in your core, along with other stabilizing muscles.  Use a stopwatch for consistency and to really force a good pause.

Chains or bands are often used to help build strength to blow past your sticking points.  As you stand in the squat, more weight is added as the chains come up off the floor (more tension is added with bands).  Combining pauses with chains kicks everything up a level.  Give it a try.

Video demonstration

Change isn’t always bad

We have loved our home at Shelly’s Xtreme Fitness.  Unfortunately, they were forced to close.  While they re-group, our team has found a new place train – Huge thanks to Mandy & family.  We also welcome Mandy to the team!

Our Cuppa Joe singlets are in! Four of our team members will be trying them out at their first meet @ Lost Battalion Hall!

At times of extreme change, it is up to you to decide how to react.  You can let it beat you down, or you can dust yourself off and find another way.  If success was easy, everyone would be successful.  It also wouldn’t be so meaningful.  When you work hard at something and are really challenged, success tastes so much sweeter.

Train hard, train smart.

Shoulder Work

It’s important to keep your shoulders healthy.  Here’s a routine I learned from Dr. Kobrin (Chiropractor) about 20 years ago that is still relevant.  He used this while working with the NY Jets.

He advised doing this routine at a time opposite your workout, on its own.  For instance, if you’re working out in the morning, do this at night for time – 30 seconds to 1 minute per exercise.  This hasn’t worked with my crazy schedule so as an alternative, I do it at the end of a workout for 10 reps per exercise.  It’s a great routine to work your shoulders/rotator cuff.  Remember to keep the weight light – especially if you’re doing the timed version.  There are a lot of small muscles in your shoulders.  This exercise will help with mobility and strengthening the shoulder girdle.

Kobrin Shoulder Routine
Dumbbell laterals
Bent over dumbbell laterals
Hail Caeser’s
Kung Fu – rotate wrists until your knuckles touch
Rotator

 

Greetings

Welcome! This is where I would like to share my passion for weightlifting. The first thing I would like to do is thank everyone who got me started and has supported me through the years.

I guess I should start with Stimpson’s House of Nutrition in Poughkeepsie. They referred me to my Coach and friend, Jim Hanlon over 15 years ago. Jim is a great coach who is the most incredibly generous person I know. He is also a very knowledgeable and skilled coach. My education started with him.

I must also thank:
Tony – a terrific friend, workout buddy and the former Empire State Games Hudson Valley Coach/Weightlifting Chair who turned over those hats to me and continued to support me after I took over. I miss the games.

Leo Totten/East Coast Gold President/Former Olympian – Our team leader and head coach, along with my ECG teammates/Coaches – including Jim Storch & Mike McKenna. Of course, the rock star attached to ECG is Mike Walters – the most amazing masseuse I have ever known!!!

Rob Arroyo – A good friend and Master’s teammate who has joined me for the last few years in competition and supported & inspired me to greater efforts.

Joe Triolo and my friends at Lost Battalion Hall – Joe’s been a great friend and helped me win the 2015 National Master’s Championship.

Additional shout outs to: Dave Miller of Fortius Weightlifting, Osman Manzanares of Nashville Weightlifting Club, Carlos Rivera, and to the next generation of lifters who inspire me to keep going and to share what I’ve learned, like: Nick, Flavia, Jonathon, and Jared Fleming and anyone else I might not have mentioned here.