I’d like to preface this first with a resounding I don’t care.  I’m not going to add anything to the discussion that you have not heard before.

My people use the high bar squat because they have to train like me. They don’t have the option.  And I’ve been using the high bar squat for 10 years.  I’ve employed different kinds of squats for both myself and the team.  Usually when someone starts suffering from a bad case of patellar tendonitis, I’ll have them substitute for box squats until their symptoms get better.  I also know a few more things about the mechanics of one vs. the other and blah blah blah.  But like I said before, I’m not going to add anything to the discussion that has already polluted the internet for too long.

The ONLY part of the discussion that I actually care about is that I want people to know and understand that there is a difference between the two.  Different lift.  Different training effect.  Different uses.  Different contraindications.  

Understand the difference and use which one is most appropriate to your sport and/or life.  I’m actually glad that people made a big ol’ deal about this one because it means that a significant number of people now understand that there actually is a difference.  That’s a big step forward from 10 years ago BELIEVE ME. Actual strength training was a cold and lonely place; A place for neckbeards who were too good to train for aesthetics or in some cases actual health.

I will say that you don’t get style points for using one over the other.  If I was a functional fitness type, I’d get comfortable with both.  I’ve actually attended a contest where a max back squat was a contested event.  In this situation, the low bar would in most cases be more appropriate though practicing the high bar might translate to other things you have to do on a regular basis.

This one is for the younger coaches out there who are just beginning their journey in building a weightlifting competitive team.

So you’ve developed your training process and ideology of the group.  Good.  This is one of the hardest parts of the job and requires continued analysis (and over-analysis) if your group is going to progress.  Such is the burden of coach;  You do the analyzing so your team doesn’t have to.

Now it’s your job to enforce the group process and ideology.  Give your team reminders of what your interpretation of Olympic weightlifting training is, what your group’s training process should look like and what you all collectively value in regards to Olympic weightlifting.  Don’t be shy about letting them know what things do not have a place in your gym and what Olympic weightlifting should NOT look like.  Do this, and your group is guaranteed to show continued improvement (provided your training process is a good one)!

There used to be this quote on the wall that I didn’t really get or was taken out of context.  But a more applicable version of it might sound like, “you either buy into the collective ideology of the group or you’re not part of it.”

It ain’t easy being coach.  Good luck!

#yamdancers

Here’s one way to start off a clean.  I’d recommend it if you like to keep things simple or if you’re not all that flexible.  It might help you to keep your spine braced and neutral better than if you hung out at the bottom for too long.  Also, if I hang out too long in my starting position before I lift, I’ll start thinking.  As far as my own performance goes, the less I think, the better.  Give it a shot if you’re at a loss for how you should start pulling a clean.  If you’re already solid, then disregard this video and keep doing what you’re doing.

Here’s the second organized barbell warm-up that I make my weightlifters do every Wednesday before clean and jerks.  I also introduced it to my Midtown S&C classes and my CF technique classes with favorable results.  Remember, if you run organized barbell warm-ups with your groups, keep them concise and bull shit free.  The moment the warm-up begins to interfere with the actual workout is the moment when your coaching style becomes masturbatory rather than helpful.  The world doesn’t need another “insert name” complex, the world needs more people proficient in the snatch and clean and jerk.  Also, remember that no matter what you do as a coach, someone before you has tried it.  I do my best to learn from a large pool of weightlifting coaches, most of whom have opposing views on pretty much everything.  Take what is most helpful to your own training situation and leave the stuff that isn’t applicable.

Rant over.  Here’s the warm up.

Benbata Barbell Warm-up #2.

1) Press from the split 1×8.  Ensure that the trainee has a PERFECT split stance and back angle.

2) Jerk with alternating feet 1×8.  Begin with the non-dominant foot.  I picked up this little trick from Jim Shmitz.  Jerking with your non-dominant foot (in many cases) improves the jerk with the dominant foot because of the extra thought needed to properly jerk with the opposite foot. Savvy?

3) Paused jerk 1×5.  Pause at the bottom of the dip drive to ensure that your rack is in a good position as well as your hips.

4) jerk 1×5.  Just jerk.  After all that, you should be feeling pretty good and ready to clean and jerk some monster weights.

All that should’ve taken 3 minutes at the most, leaving you plenty of time to get your actual workout in.

 

 

Here’s a post for the younger crowd who perhaps coaches at a CF and goes to school.  Maybe you want to get into weightlifting coaching.  I was never all that great as a student, but here’s a few classes that have helped me.  

I wouldn’t say that a degree should nessesarily be a requirement of a good weightlifting coach but having studied exercise science in school, I’d say that there are both classes of high value to a WL coach and classes of very little importance.  Here’s my list of top 3 most helpful classes that have improved my weightlifting coaching and understanding:

3) Anatomy and Physiology:  I’m going to group this as one class because it is offered as such at some schools.  This one is really a no brainer.  Any good coach should have a basic understanding of the structures of the human body and how they work.

2) Kinesiology:  More advanced classes like biomechanics are also obviously helpful but I use the more basic knowledge of movement on a daily basis.

1) Motor Learning:  This class has been the MOST helpful to me as a coach.  Teaching people a skill set suddenly became a whole lot easier when I learned the basics of how a person actually learns how to do things.  Highly recommended even if you’re not in college.  Go on Amazon and buy a book on this subject.  Even just a base level understanding will arm you with knowledge on how to guide others through their learning process.

There it is.  I’m not saying I’m perfect (I’m far from it).  I learn something new every day and occasionally I’ll be surprised that I went so long missing out on a particular aspect of coaching.  An open mind is your best tool both in the lab and in the field.  These are just a few classes that have actually carried over to what I do every day.

This one’s straight out of the USAW handbook (I think.  Honestly I haven’t looked at that thing in so long.)  This is my favorite stretch to alleviate mild shoulder impingement.  I’ll superset this one with “hand slides” with my back flat against the wall and shoulder rotations with a wooden stick.

photo 1

"Sup, girl.  You want to alleviate some shoulder impingement?"

“Sup, girl. You want to alleviate some shoulder impingement?”

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.”

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).

Congratulations, sucker!  Now you’re gonna be hooked for life!  WE GOT YOU.  But seriously, thank you for playing our sport.  As someone that’s officially been playing since November of 2005, I mean that from the bottom of my rusted iron heart.  Hopefully by now, you’ve found yourself a reputable weightlifting coach, so this post will be completely unnecessary.  But for those of you out there that are more or less doing this stuff on your own or with others who don’t have a lot of meet experience, here’s a little advice:

1)  Your main objective is to make lifts and to look good while doing it.  I don’t care if your best snatch in the gym is 80kg and you really want to go for that 85 or 90 that you’ve tried time and time again to hit.  Don’t do it.  Don’t.  Do. It.  Go for a PR on your 3rd attempt by no more than 2-3kg, taking reasonable attempts to get there.  And if you miss one of your attempts, don’t go up anyway.  Make lifts.  Why?  Your family, friends and your local weightlifting community are there to watch you lift.  Chances are that most of them will have no frame of reference of what or how much you’re actually lifting, nor will they care.  No one will remember if you made 82 or 87kg.  They’ll just remember how you looked when you lifted it.  So look good.

2)  Find someone to count your attempts.  If you don’t know what that is then ask your coach.  If your coach doesn’t know what that is then chances are your weightlifting coach is not an actual weightlifting coach but rather someone who just likes to lift weights.  This is one of the PRIMARY functions of an actual weightlifting coach.  I don’t care if you can throw a baseball 100mph, it doesn’t make you a pitcher if you don’t know how to play the game.  The same is true for weightlifting so learn and understand the rules of play (or at least pay someone who does).

3)  Have fun.  Chances are if you follow steps one and two, you’ll have a good time.  Even if you don’t or have a bad meet, you’ll still probably have a good time.  Either way, I’d like to welcome you to the club.

Here’s me at my first WL meet.  I had found a coach at that time and went 77/106.  And I’m still playing and enjoying the game today.

I picked up a couple of new lifters recently.  One of them was warming up for clean and jerks last night before I quickly pulled him aside and drew him a quick sketch.

Right=bad.  Left=good.

Right=bad. Left=good.

This represented an exaggerated sketch of what he was doing vs. what I was looking for.  I explained to him my criteria while watching a successfully performed jerk ending the brief lesson with, “I want more stuff stacked on top of stuff.”  Eloquent, I know.  This is true for everybody but especially important for people with lanky body types.  The dude is 6 foot, 75kg. soaking wet in a Dragonball Z gravity chamber so mastering correct posture and footwork is “CROOCHE” (crucial).  For more “rotund” bodies this may not be as big of a deal (but still correct).