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!

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.

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?

Two Lifts You Could be Doing Right Now to Help Your Olympic Lifts

One of the biggest debates regarding the Olympic lifts in training for athletes is the skill involved in Olympic lifting.  There is definitely skill involved but the carryover to the playing field/court is so immense that improving this skill is a must.

Sometimes just repeating the clean and jerk and snatch over and over is just not going to be enough, you must include some accessory lifts that can truly improve the skill required to complete the actual movements.

The two following movements are excellent at improving skill but also at building strength and explosiveness. These are not time wasters, they will immediately improve skill and power, and if you ask me that is a winning combination.

I like these two movements because they tell you where you have weaknesses right away. They require execution, strength and power to complete.

Where to Start? Starting Positions in Hang Olympic Lifts

Recently I posted a link on my facebook page to this video from a Mike Boyle staff training in which he is discussing the starting position for the hang clean.

This is a valuable video because coach Boyle makes points about the quality of the lift being easily assessed through the aesthetics of the lift.  This is something that is very important to learn. The Olympic lifts no matter the weight should always look good, if the looks of the lift are wrong then there is likely too much weight on the bar.

 

Coach Boyle’s discussion of the position themselves led  to several posts on my facebook wall regarding what is the best place to start the lifts when in the hang position.  We all know how it should “Look” when you finish an Olympic lift pull, but  there are a ton of variations to the start position so, I thought it might be valuable to talk about those variations.

Nice Extension