Are you teaching the Olympic lifts the wrong way?

Picture the first time you went into a weight room. Maybe it was 10 years ago or 15 or 20 years ago.

The smell of stale sweat, the guy in the too-short, short shorts , and the coach or guru (likely with a sweet mustache) of the gym telling you what you should be doing to get strong.

Got it?  You remember that picture don’t you?

The first time you were introduced to the Olympic lifts, the mustachioed guru told you that the big three lifts were the squat, the bench, and the power clean. Straight from the books of Bigger Faster Stronger.

Pick that weight up and put it to your chest.”

It’s as easy as that.

Since then you have been following the same protocol. Sure you are teaching the goblet squat before the back squat now, and balancing your bench presses with some TRX rows, but the power clean is still the staple of your program.

Well my friends this is the wrong way to do things, and teaching the Olympic lifts in the wrong order is like going to the bathroom before you eat, S#*t’s just no going to get done right.

Here’s the right way to teach the lifts

When you start with the power clean you are asking athletes to fail. Now maybe you like to be a heel and show your athletes how easy something is that you have had years of practice doing. If that’s your thing then skip the rest of this post.

If, on the other hand, you like to help your athletes succeed, and want them coming back eager for more then you need a better place to start than the power clean.

You need a progression of movements that helps athletes build on their skills, helps them improve as an athlete, and lets them see success in being a part of your program.

You need a better order to teach the Olympic lifts. Start here….

Snatch Up these Grip Tips

Grip training used to be the territory of only strongmen and the Sorin family, but no more! To really excel at the Olympic lifts or even as an athlete a strong grip is a vital part of the equation. I am no grip expert, but have learned a ton from a guy that I asked to help us on this issue. 

Today I asked Adam T. Glass (of Industrial Strength Grip and The Movement Minneapolis) to give us some awesome tips on how to improve your grip for the Olympic lifts. Adam is an amazing grip athlete and a seriously strong dude (Check out his youtube channel), but here is proof that we can learn some stuff from Adam. This is an amazing 550 lb deadlift on a 3 inch diameter bar.


RIDICULOUS!

Expand your toolbox: Snatch Variations

Sometimes you just love something and cannot get enough of it. Maybe it’s your dog, I’m sure he is all that. Maybe it’s cookies, who am I to judge? Maybe it’s Lifetime movies of the week, seriously I am not judging. In my life that “something” is the snatch. I love doing the lift, I love coaching the lift, and I love trying all the versions of the lift that I can think of. The snatch is numero uno in my book.

Before we dive into all the variations lets talk about the basics.


Hot Sleddy Action

Using a sled doesn’t suck.

-No One, ever

 The sled does suck, a lot, especially the way it is used in most instances: bent over, head down, puke muscles working in overdrive. I am here to tell you though that there are more uses to the sled than what you likely do everyday.

There is a place for explosive, fast pushing of the sled. We use it all the time for speed training and even in conditioning for our athletes (with tons of rest in between). These should be a part of your program, but just getting down on a low sled and pushing until someone pukes isn’t an effective way to train athletes.

In this post I am going to share with you the novel uses that are going to teach your athletes better locomotion patterns, challenge their entire body,  and help them improve their game.

So sit back and relax while you read it, but get ready to do some serious work as you put these to use! 

Jerk Technique

The jerk (of clean and jerk fame and not Steve Martin fame) is one of the most under utilized lifts we have in our arsenal. At some point having your athletes go to an overhead position got a bad rap and the jerk, sadly enough, went along with it.

Because of the rap sheet that overhead pressing has been saddled with, lots of athletes don’t even know how to jerk, or even where to begin. So I laid it all out on the Internet: exactly how to jerk, exactly how to teach the jerk, and ways to fix your jerk if you are having trouble with the technique.

This post is everything you need to know about how to jerk.

The 10 (+1) Best Strength Training Books

I absolutely love it when coaches share the books that have made them who they are today. Whether on facebook or through a blog post, it always gives a good glimpse as to who that coach is, and it ALWAYS gives me some awesome reading material to check out. Some of these books are those that sparked my interest in the field, some have changed everything I do, and some have really taken my coaching to the next level.

This list is absolutely a glimpse of me as a coach (I hope one that sheds a positive light on my thinking, I mean I did leave off the Berenstein Bears.)

Three Advanced Complexes

Let me take you back a few years (15 to be exact) as I walk on the platform for the first time at the Hoosier weightlifting club. My coaches that day introduced me to one of my favorite tools that I use to this day to build stronger athletes.

The Complex.

Back then it was the same everyday. At the end of training, or at the beginning of training the same six exercises for 5 reps each, High pull, muscle snatch, front squat, back squat to press, RDL bent over row. (this one is brutal, particularly so when you go up to  90 kilos as was done on a dare 1 training session).

The same feeling afterwards. Smoked.

The Busted Training Program: 7 Fixable Movements to Train Athletes Better

In the history of man, and of training there have been more than a few training programs that have been passed off as the best thing since sliced bread, and a lot of them have been exposed as bunch of junk as we (coaches and fitness pros) have gotten smarter.

In general training programs are starting to include better and better movements. The general public and athletes alike are shying away from the use of machines and moving towards training on their feet, with free weights and tons of other awesome tools. Unfortunately some great movements are often being done poorly.

When your training program has bad movements in it, your program is broke. When your training program has good movements that are being done poorly, your program is busted.

Even in my gym we have had to break down some of the movements we train regularly and figure out better ways to coach them and teach them. In some situations we have developed a keener eye for the movement itself and in some situations we have taken the advice of smart people and made some corrections to the movements we do.

Lets fix those busted programs.  The next 7 movements are awesome to do, but not when they are done poorly.

The Death of Quickness: Powerful Speed Training

Today I wanted to bring to you a guest post from my friend CJ Easter.  CJ is an awesome young coach out in California, who is just blowing things up by training athletes to get faster and more powerful. Before coaching CJ had the distinction of wearing #12 for the Stanford football team before this year’s number 1 draft pick in the NFL, Andrew Luck, wore it for the Cardinal.

CJ and I share the same viewpoints on how to truly train athletes to get faster and it doesn’t have a lot to do with “quickness”.

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Quickness” has been abused and misused…

And today, I am mercifully allowing it to rest in peace…
In the dictionary, quickness is defined as moving or functioning rapidly. Sounds like a desirable trait for our athletes, right?
And you are right… Quickness does have its place in our sports (especially mental quickness), but think about when we see an athlete move and say, “Wow, he’s quick!” we are most often referring to an athlete’s ability to change direction.

This type of “quickness” is not about how rapidly the arms and legs move. It is a powerful movement that consists of a number of other athletic qualities that we must understand to be able to train our athletes to change direction efficiently.
So let’s break down the athletic qualities that go into changing direction:

Power Clean 2.0

*(NOTE: In an effort to provide the highest quality information, this post was updated on May 13th, 2013. I have learned a lot in the last 11 months and found it necessary to update this post to reflect my current understanding of how to power clean correctly. 

On some points my thinking changed just slightly, but enough that it should be noted, and in other cases I was dead wrong. The good thing is that in my application of some of these new concepts and ideas my lifts have never been better.)

Training for power is undoubtedly one of the most important aspects of becoming a better athlete. Athletes that want to get faster, get stronger, and get bigger need to train to improve their power. Fortunately many programs include the power clean for just that purpose.  Unfortunately though, a lot of people do it incorrectly, get injured, or don’t get any good at the lift and don’t get to reap the benefits.

So whether you are an athlete or a coach of an athlete this post is for you. I have taken everything that I know about the power clean and put it to paper (or cyberspace) for your enjoyment and education.

This is a step by step guide to help your athletes get better, stop missing lifts, and see all the benefits of one of my favorite lifts.  Before I get to all the technical stuff, why should athletes do the power clean in the first place?