Tag Archives: weightlifting technique

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.

Focus on Technique

When weightlifting, the focus should always be on technique.  It’s a constant challenge to maintain that technique.  So, of course, you have to make a conscious effort to be consistent in your approach.  The only thing that should change as the weight on the bar goes up is your effort.

Use exercises and your coaches eye to fine tune technique.  The exercise below is one approach.

In this video, I’m starting with a below the knee snatch pull followed by a below the knee hang snatch.  The knee is an important transitional point, so this is a good place to work with.  The first lift focuses on you pulling and keeping the bar close.  The hang snatch follows the same groove to reinforce an efficient movement.  The green line in front of the toes is your boundary.  You should be keeping the bar behind that line to maintain better leverage and efficiency of movement.  This is where using video is a great way to check the bar trajectory.

The exercise helps to reinforce the correct groove without having the lifter overthink the movement.  Ideally, the lifter should feel the movement and know when it’s right.  Focus on technique.  It’s an integral part of your making that big PR down the road.

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.

 

Technique Work – The 3 Step

When teaching weightlifting, it is usually broken down into manageable pieces.  This makes it easier for beginning lifters to digest the movement.  While it’s important for the lifter to understand the mechanics of the lift, the body needs to feel the groove and get accustomed to the motor pattern.  Typical starting points will include assessing a lifter’s position in the front squat and overhead squat.  After all, you need to be able to hit a proper catch position for a successful lift.  Moving past that, lifters are taught the movements from the top down.  For instance, hang cleans or snatches are done at different heights (hip, knee) before working from the floor.

 

Weightlifting is an extremely challenging sport.  One of the things that all lifters must do is maintain that sharp edge of proficiency in technique, coupled with the mental strength and confidence to attack a difficult weight.  Advanced lifters sometimes find themselves banging their heads against the wall, thinking, “When did I forget how to lift?”  I’m not talking about a bad day.  I’m talking about a rut.  A good coach will catch when lifters are slipping into a bad groove and work to correct it.  One way to approach it is by going back to the basics and breaking down the lifts.  If a snatch is bouncing away from its vertical path, you need to correct it by using an exercise rather than just telling yourself, “don’t do that.”  For instance, high pulls should help to keep the bar close and focus on finishing that pull.  One of the exercises in our tool belt is the 3 step snatch (or clean & jerk).  I set up blocks at high, mid and floor levels.  The high level is a height that simulates around the top of the pull – the lifter barely has an inch of explosive hip movement before having to pull himself/herself under the bar.  The mid-level is roughly above the knees.  This exercise is just another complex that works the transition from the floor to completion.  We start from the highest point.  This is a tough start, there is no time to think – only do (sound familiar?).   Getting good from this height, builds confidence and a helluva finish.  This could also be its own exercise (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8bK-6VcNc4).

Give it a try.

Train hard.  Train smart.

Finishing

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.

Here’s a video of a high block snatch:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8bK-6VcNc4

Here’s a video of a high block clean and jerk:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dtz6cRTYbto

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.

Train hard.  Train smart.

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

The First Competition

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?