Some Big Snatches.

April 26, 2014

So the team has been getting to work lately on the lifting volume.  We went back to doing doubles on our % days and it seems to be paying off.  I don’t know about you, but doing a double clean and jerk at 85% is pretty much cardio so congrats to the team for pushing through.  We get a short de-load this next week and then I’ll most likely bring back 90%s on our % days in a wave format.

This week was BIG.  Jen snatched 67 and clean and jerked 87, Luke hit a 111 snatch, Lindsay hit a 93 (I think) clean off the blocks, Emelie got an 88 snatch and almost 90 off the blocks and I hit 151 today.  I don’t know how many times I’ve said this lately but I love the group I’m working with right now.  We’re an intense bunch that minimizes cupcaking during practice time.  I’m very proud of all my people.

Here’s my 151 from today.  I cut out the ensuing freak-out but let’s just say Jen and Jose got a front seat view of how crazy their coach is.

Here’s Emelie’s 88.  This was BIG.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t know a whole lot of girls that are throwing weights around like this.

One relatively easy way to differentiate between an actual Olympic Weightlifting coach and someone who likes weightlifting is identifying over-eagerness when giving technical advice.  A true coach respects the fact that actual coaching is a relationship between the lifter/team, the program and the coach.  Experienced coaches (one who’s not assigned to a lifter) more often than not won’t say anything that could potentially interrupt the learning/adaptation process but will instead give general nuggets when asked by a outside trainee.  They key word being “asked.”  Of course, I’m not talking about seminars or anything in which trainees seek out help.  On the contrary, that’s why you go to those things; to gain a different perspective.  One of my long time lifters, Cameron attended a seminar from Don McCauley and my good friend, Jacob Tsypkin.  His lifting has benefitted tremendously.

In short, the coach is the person assigning the lifter/team work which facilitates learning and adaptation.  His or her goal is to guide the lifter through this process and make the weightlifting skill-sets as automatic and repeatable as possible.  He is not the guy taking bar sets for an hour and a half, hanging out on Facebook threads or forums waiting to give generic and often erroneous ques that could possibly be detrimental to this process.  Being a coach myself, I’ll often perform self checks to make sure the technique ques I give are genuinely NEEDED and not masturbatory in nature.  It suffices to say, sometimes you just gotta let ’em work.  My very first weightlifting coach, Kathy, gave me some of the best advice ever: “people are going to say a lot of crap to you regarding technique and training.  Smile.  Be polite but listen to me.”

Invitation.

April 22, 2014

The gang.

The gang.

If you’re in the area and you’re seriously into olympic weightlifting, come hang out on a Friday night and max out with the team.  Or you can max with me on Saturday mornings.  Hit me up beforehand to make sure we’ll actually be there at that time.

 

Recent Competitions.

April 20, 2014

The gang and I have been very busy lately with all the GAINZ and competing that we’ve been partaking in.  Just yesterday I coached eight lifters in one session at Hassle Free Headquarters (Sacramento).  I had to change the system that use while counting attempts for lifters simply because there was too many of us.  It worked out well.  I think I’ll use this new system again whenever I have 4 or more lifters in a session.

It’s really simple.

1) I’ll group lifters together based on the numbers they’re lifting (2 or 3 to a group).  These lifters will then be assigned to a bar/platform.

2)  On one sheet of paper, I’ll write down the warm up sequence of each person in that group with the corresponding number of “attempts out” next to their sequence.

3) I’ll then run back and forth like THIS from the card table to the warm up room shouting how many attempts each lifter is out and leave it up to them to load and lift their weights at the correct time.

The hardest part about this is making sure everyone is on the same page with what this actually means and that they pay attention to the bar drops on the competition platform to keep count.  For instance, if I yell to Dean that he’s 17 out and he takes his next weight at 15 out, then he needs to wait 2 drops on the platform before he lifts his next weight.

Me and a few of my peeps at a contest in Napa.

Me and a few of my peeps at a contest in Napa.

Contest strategies aside, I’m extremely proud of all my lifters.  They’ve been killing it.  Definitely no cupcakes over here.  The progress the’ve been making lately is due to their relentless work ethic and adherence to my program.  No one who pays me for coaching thinks that they’re too cool to follow the program and when there’s an injury or restriction, we’ve been able to work around it.  We’re definitely building up the number of lifters that will come with me to national meets.  But it’s been a fun process lately and I’m proud to be taking part in it.

Last Monday, I went to Barfly, a small sac club that just started doing live music.  I don’t know about where you live, but in Sacramento there seems to be an abundance of bars/clubs/venues that are playfully named things that would suggest they’re places that you wouldn’t want to be.  I think it has something to do with popular culture embracing what is traditionally considered counter-culture.  In any case, I went to Barfly to check out Ghoul, a  throwback thrash group from Oakland.  I haven’t really been into the thrash sound for a while and when I do, I’ll stick to my “meat and potato” groups like slayer.  However I did want to check out Ghoul because having heard a few tracks from them, they seemed like a stand-out over the plethora of other neo-thrash groups.  Having competed in Napa that weekend, I was also in the mood to get out and blow off some steam.  I wasn’t disappointed.  I’d see Ghoul again, if only for the monster shtick and playfully offensive stage antics including but not limited to: a giant foam robot fighting a monster, a voodoo sacrificial ceremony and fake blood being poured into the circle pit.  Abrasive B-movie silliness when taken at face value can be extremely entertaining.

Yes, this is what they look like while performing.

 

But honestly, I was way more into the band that played before them, Iron Reagan.   They had a fun, punk infused thrash sound that made me want to be 16 again; You know, go skateboarding, cause trouble and pretend like being 16 was way cooler than it actually was.  Check these guys out if you’re into hair, fast tempos, gang vocals, and tracks that barely cross the one minute mark.  I picked up their 2013 release, Worse than Dead.  I’d give it a 7/10.

Jon Talk.

April 15, 2014

One of my old training partners, Jon North gave me a quick shout in his PODCAST, Weightlifting Talk.  For the record, I never coached Jon while we were training at Sac State.  However, he is one of the first people who I’d considered a REAL training partner.  I think it was around 2007.  I was snatching like 120 at the time (so I thought I was pretty good.  This was before people uploaded stuff on youtube.  As a matter of fact, I think Jon was the first person whom I can recall uploading a lift on youtube.)  So yeah, I thought I was the shit because I was snatching 120.  I mean, I was THE MAN at the Sac State weight room.  This was before Crossfit blew up so no one had any idea what I was doing besides a small group of 2-3 of us.  I was also REALLY into doing showy and daring pull-up and bodyweight exercises because I was into this thing called “functional fitness.”

I think this is one of the only photos Jon and I have together lol.  But this is from the meet where I first snatched 130.

I think this is one of the only photos Jon and I have together lol. But this is from the meet where I first snatched 130.

In walks Jon North and Jessica West.  And from that moment onward the intensity level was turned to an 11; even more so when we started training more often with the Hassle Free folks.  (Quick side story: I met Donovan Ford in like 05 or 06.  I was all like, “stick with it bro!  Now when he comes home from the OTC, he’s all like “stick with it, bro!”)  One of my favorite meets was one I think that Jon, Jess and I traveled to together.  It was the first time I snatched 130.  Anyways, sometimes all you need to push for progress is a good training partner; someone who will raise the intensity level and make training fun.  I’m glad I had that early on and that Jon was one of those people for me.  I’m glad that he’s been successful not only in our sport but as a businessman as well.

Music and PR’s.

April 11, 2014

I’m not a musician.  I do not pretend to be one.  If someone asks me if I can play an instrument, I say that “I am able to play a guitar.”  That being said, I have a strong appreciation for music and sometimes that means singing or playing along to something.  One of my goals for the year was to do more musical projects and you’re about to hear the first one.  Right meow.

I first came up with this idea simply out of convenience.  I didn’t like youtube making my little projects unavailable to people’s mobile phones since I’m apparently the only one who still uses my laptop to do things.  In any case, I’m glad I put myself out of my comfort zone and showcased something I’m admittedly not very good at.  I think I’m gong to make it a habit.

Also.

IF YOU PLAY DRUMS, LIVE IN THE SACRAMENTO AREA, DON’T MIND PLAYING WITH SOMEONE WHO HAS BEGINNER LEVEL MUSICAL EXPERIENCE AND WOULD LIKE TO PLAY SLOW SABBATH JAMS/DOOMY STUFF, HIT ME UP.  I’m getting the band back together.  No, not really.  But yes, Really I’d like to start playing with other people again.

Phase 3.

April 11, 2014

I suppose I’m a little bit late on this post considering I posted this video over a week ago.

Earlier this year (17 weeks ago), I implemented a more organized way to include squats into our weightlifting program, called simply “The Midtown Squat Cycle.”  I am very pleased with the results not only from my team but myself as well.  I now plan out squats in 8 week blocks that work in conjunction with our 4 week lifting schedule (after all, this isn’t a squat team, it’s a weightlifting team.)  The program itself is nothing fancy.  I incorporated both “daily max” style workouts and percentage based workouts.  Rep PR’s were emphasized just as much as 1RM PR’s.  One important thing to note is that when I wrote the excel spreadsheet, I borrowed an idea from Jim Wendler and automatically subtracted 10% of the lifter’s absolute max to account for ego and bullshit.  My reasoning is that I wasn’t so much concerned about increasing the squat as much as I was concerned with increasing the quality of the lifts.  This also gave me a little more room for error when I chose the rep schemes.  The last 16 weeks have been more back squat and volume biased.  Now we’ll be shifting towards more of a traditional front squat-centric program.  The majority of my team showed improvement, some more than others.  Jean’s front squat went from 155 to 180 and his back squat went from 180 to 206.  Obviously, he’s relatively new to our training process, whereas Cameron, one of my veteran lifters went from 180/195 and 195/205.  My squats went 225/235 and 270/285.  Honestly, my goal for the year was to back squat 280, so I’m mostly just happy that I made it through my BSQ heavy singles injury free.  I doubt I’ll squat that heavy the rest of the year.  We’ll now be entering phase 3 of our squat schedule that I have given the title of “The Ulfberht.”

I was helping a friend out with his lifting technique though text message the other day (which is an arduous process on both ends.  I wouldn’t recommend it.)  I drew him a few quick sketches to illustrate what I was trying to say.  They looked something like this.

Shoulders in front of the bar.  Shins perpendicular.

Shoulders in front of the bar. Shins perpendicular.

Extend at the hip.  The bar travels towards your center of mass.

Extend at the hip. The bar travels towards your center of mass.

Hips connect.  The combined forces send the bar directly behind your ears (at receiving position).

Hips connect. The combined forces send the bar directly behind your ears (at receiving position).

Cupcake: Cup-cake.  Verb.

Definition: to be unfocused on the task at hand.  Wasting time.  

Example: You would rather cupcake on the foam roller for 45 minutes than make three singles at your 90%.  

I hate to be the guy on the internet that reminisces about high school athletics.  It makes this post seem more tragic than anything else.  But do you remember the guy that was consistently late to football practice?  I mean he knew that he had to be at practice dressed in uniform at 3:29 on the dot.  And he also knew the whole team had to do up-downs (burpees) if he was late.  But even still you would see him chatting up Sally Sue in the hallway at 3:21 as you were jogging your ass to practice on time like a sensible athlete.  That’s cupcaking.

(Edit:  I also coached high school athletics for several years.  Cupcaking was not tolerated.)

Cupcaking is taking a 60 minute workout and stretching it to two hours.  It’s doing a bunch of erroneous stretches and foam rolling every 5 mins because your glute medius is super tight, bro.  Cupcaking is missing your attempts because your more concerned on whatever else is going on that isn’t your workout.  That’s why I’ve got a strict no-cupcaking policy on my team.

MMMM… COOKIE-err… I mean CUPCAKES.

 

I already know what you’re thinking.  It’s supposed to be fun.

I agree.  But do you know what my idea of a good time is?  Making my 90%s.  Having focused and productive workouts.  And that’s the attitude that I like to perpetuate to my team.  There seems to be this opposing attitude where you’re not supposed to take this stuff too seriously.  It’s just working out.  It doesn’t change anything or benefit anyone but yourself.  And while that may be true, it’s also OK TO TAKE YOURSELF SERIOUSLY.  I mean, fitness costs a lot of money and it’s a major time commitment.  Heck, life commitment.  Why not take it seriously?

Relax.  Have fun.  Get excited about training and be silly when it’s appropriate.  But never underestimate the importance of the training environment.  It’s everything.  And for all you coaches out there, it’s up to you to make sure that the training environment is conducive to lifting big weights.