To the Day Periodization?

IMG_2727Training means having a plan. It actually is part of the definition of the word showing up and doing whatever is called working out, or exercising.

If fitness, athletics, or aesthetics are your goal, there is nothing that should be unexpected.  I don’t think that you have to be ready for “anything” but you do need to be ready for exactly what you want.

Traditionally, planning for your training means periodization. In some form or the other (undulating, conjugate, linear, etc) periodization can help you achieve that goal.

My view on periodization has changed a lot in the last 15 years or so, but so have my views on Brussels sprouts, professional wrestling, and how to get women. While 16 year old me thought that every rep had to be planned out to a T, Brussels sprouts sucked, Goldberg was the pinnacle of man-dom, and chicks liked it when I called them “chicks,” 31 year old me knows that there can be a little wiggle room in the master plan.

Today I have a better understanding of how to REALLY use periodization to get the best out of my program

Two Hard Strength Complexes

Complexes have really morphed for me recently.  Two years ago, I would turn to complexes to work on conditioning, and quite honestly for aesthetic purposes. More work in a little bit of time meant that I was able to stay really lean. Today my complexes are shorter, with no eye on conditioning.

As I have gotten back into weightlifting more and more, the complexes I do today are about strength. Maximum weight for up to few reps. They provide a great opportunity to work on my weak points in the lifts, and on busy days provide the best bang for my buck.

My new strength complex focus should not make it sound like these are easy. They are still extremely hard, but for entirely different reasons than the marathon complexes I used to do.

Recently I put together 2 complexes that fit right in this mold. Strength based, ball busters. Check them out.

My Snatch Technique Changed EVERYTHING

snatch techniqueThis started out as a blog post about the snatch. It may very well end up about the snatch by the end, but while outlining it I realized that this blog post needed to be  about change.

I’ll get to how I fixed my snatch later, but lets examine the idea of “changing”

Changing a blog post about change. Seems fitting.

I thought recently, about how I changed my snatch around to be more efficient, to be better, to lift more weight. I thought about literally “un-learning” 14 years plus of technique to make myself better and realized that this exercise in change was one of the most important things athletes and coaches can do.

Re-inventing yourself, re-tooling yourself is one of the most important things you can do.

Fix your Jerk with two movements you haven’t done

I have had a problem since I was a young weightlifter. It’s a regular jerk mystery. I stand up with the clean and making the jerk is a serious question mark. Since I was 15 years old, I have always needed to fix my jerk.

I have done plenty of jerks from the rack, and from the blocks. I have pressed until I am red in the face (literally and figuratively), but until recently the question of whether I would make the jerk or not was like a Scooby Doo mystery.

The 2 movements in this post are different, maybe even odd, but they have each helped me bring my jerk up to the levels of my clean. No more mystery of whether I will nail the jerk or not.

Too Jacked to Olympic lift: Olympic lifting Mobility

Fixing your  Olympic lifts can happen in one of two ways, typically. Fix your Olympic lifting technique (improving the way to do the movement), or Olympic lifting mobility, improving your ability to do the movement. There are also strength fixes, but they are longer term and we all know how to do those (squat if you can’t stand up with it, deadlift if you can’t pick it up).

There is a game that I play called underrated, overrated, or properly rated. I stole it from Bill Simmons, but I have adopted it as my own game. Having trouble picturing it?

Arnold Schwarzenegger movie: Terminator- Overrated

Arnold Schwarzenegger movie: Commando- Underrated

Arnold Schwarzenegger movie: Twins- Properly rated

When it comes to Olympic lift fixes, mobility fixes are definitely underrated. There are certain problems that most people encounter that cannot be influenced by technique or strength, unless the underlying mobility fix is addressed first.

The Lazy Man’s Guide to Olympic weightlifting

People like the bare minimum. Instinctively we want to know what’s the least we can do to get a result.  Yes there are some that would say “if one ibuprofen is good, then 10 must be better” but those are the same people that end up with liver problems.  It could be laziness, but it’s more than likely intelligence.

Training is no different, we should strive for the minimum effective dose, when delivering it to our athletes or to ourselves. Becoming great at a skill like Olympic weightlifting is a different beast, but for most that is not an issue until after we have tried out the minimum effective dose.

This is the bare minimum Olympic weightlifting program you should be doing to be a good Olympic lifter.

Olympic Lifting 1st Pull: You might be doing this all wrong.

IMG_3072Chances are you have messed up the Olympic lifting first pull in your clean before. The chances are so good, in fact, that I would be willing to bet my collection of rare 70’s weightlifting photos (a stunning collection really), that you have messed up the 1st pull of your clean.

The snatch too, but I don’t want anyone to make anyone feel like they’re inadequate and “do EVERYTHING wrong.”

The first pull is where most errors occur, and a big reason why I teach my athletes to get really good at the hang power clean before we even attempt to move the bar to the floor. I have spent most of my time on the platform working on making a better first pull.

Pull Party: Why you need to be pulling more.

Olympic lifts are renowned for their ability to create more power. I am sure you have heard stories of Olympic lifters with extremely high vertical jumps, short sprint times faster than those of Olympic sprinters. (if not then you are likely hanging out with the wrong people).

You and your athletes aren’t leaping out of the gym and haven’t won a race against an Olympic sprinter in months (or longer), but you’re doing Olympic lifts 1, 2, or 3 days per week. So what gives?

One of the secrets of great Olympic lifting programs is the Olympic lift pull. These movements are the plateau busters, making your technique on point, and forcing you and your athletes to move bigger weights around with perfect form.

Can you Olympic lift without a Coach?

Olympic lifting is highly technical, of that we can be sure.  We can also be sure that Olympic lifting is one of the most beneficial things that you can do to become more athletic and powerful.

The problem with Olympic lifting for most individuals is that it is extremely coaching intensive. Typically you need an eccentric, track suit wearing fellow in the

Ivan 2background, watching each lift, diagnosing your technique and providing you with your next weight on the bar.

But what if you don’t live in a training hall, in Europe, with a plethora of Bulgarian experts? Then what can you do?

Heck what if you don’t even have a guy with any knowledge at all about the Olympic lifts within an hours’ drive?

Can you even still Olympic lift safely, let alone well?

I say you can, but you have to have a plan, and here is the plan that you can use to Olympic lift without the benefit of everyday coaching.

Choosing the right weights in Olympic lifts


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Left to their own devices, athletes can be there own worst enemy. Actually, I am going to expand that statement.

Left to OUR own devices, most people make some really bad decisions in the weight room. Not “bad” like mid 1990’s Mike Tyson, but definitely getting in the ball park. It’s one bad decision after the other. This problem isn’t just one for novice weightlifters, and athletes, I, and you are just as guilty.

Sometimes we have no clue how to pick weights in our Olympic lifts.

If it were up to us we would just work up to a weight, do it, then pick another weight and maybe miss it, maybe make it and then repeat.

Most athletes that I work with for the first time miss weights like it is part of their job description. They have no clue what weight to use to get the effect they need.

I have 3 solutions that I use regularly:

The bodyweight method, for novice and first time lifters.

The work-up method, for everyday use and just past novice lifters.

The percentage method, for some serious training goals.