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.
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.
A strong finish wins the day. Olympic lifts are more than just a show of strength. To become proficient, one must learn proper form, rhythm and timing. Whether an athlete is learning the lifts or trying to keep their “A” game, it’s important to reinforce good technique. To that end, there comes a time in training when it’s beneficial to work the transitional point between the upward leg drive and the active shrugging to pull yourself under the bar. It should flow as one movement. This is where you need to really hit the gas and maintain the effort to actively pull yourself under the bar.
There are many ways to work the transitional points and reinforce your overall groove. High block snatches/cleans are one approach. The blocks, unlike pulling from the hang, don’t allow for a downward dip of the bar to add acceleration at the top. This movement is sort of like Bruce Lee’s one inch punch – a short burst and a big finish.
You could just focus on the clean off the blocks. It depends on what’s going on with your training – listen to your coach. Your coach should break down the lift into manageable bits and then focus on your sticking points. Be patient! If you’re new to the sport, you will be taking your body through new motor patterns that need to be learned and reinforced. High block work is a great way to build confidence on getting under the bar. It’s a great addition to your toolbox.
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.
Yesterday, Three of our athletes competed for the first time. All of them performed great, with many personal records tied and surpassed! All of them are new to the sport. This was a great time to enter a meet. There is always anxiety when performing in this setting. It’s important for an athlete to experience this early on, when there is less pressure on how the athlete will stack up against their competition. At this time, it’s all about feeling what it’s like. This is nothing like training in a gym. The competition setting is a great place to hone your skills in overcoming anxiety, using your nervous adrenaline to your advantage, and to learn to focus when your mind is all over the place – a time to build mental strength.
There are other athletes at different levels of skill doing great and having a bad day. There are many teaching points that can be reviewed after the meet. This is the time where the athlete can learn to appreciate having a coach working with them – counting attempts, talking them through this crazy time and, yes, slapping them silly when needed (you’re welcome, Pete). Even though the lifting is an individual effort, the team’s emotional support can have a great impact on the athlete. All these little things are experienced in competition.
After the competition, celebrate! You trained hard and you put it on the line. No matter how long you are in this sport, immediately after competition, the athlete’s mind is racing with all of the things he/she wants to improve to do better the next time. Don’t be too self-critical! We are always hardest on ourselves. Listen to your coach! This is a great time to evaluate your performance and plan to improve it. Do you feel angry about your performance? Use that energy positively, put in more effort, but in a smart way. Hone your technique. The great lifters, lifting what seemed to be ridiculous weight on that platform, didn’t start yesterday. They put the time in and worked at it. There are no shortcuts; you will have to put the time and effort in also. It is absolutely worth it!
Nick, Heather, and Pete – you all rocked it yesterday. You all fought through the challenge and I couldn’t be prouder as your coach. Your teammates and family were there to support you and felt the same way. Ready for the next one?
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.
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
Bent over dumbbell laterals
Kung Fu – rotate wrists until your knuckles touch