Not a Bulgarian Olympic Lifting Program

IMG_2884On my travels to the junior national championships several months ago, I ran into one an awesome young man. I spotted him in the Dallas airport on a layover because he was doing snatches with a custodian’s broom (100% serious).

We struck up a conversation and I found out he was self taught and self trained in the Olympic lifts. The kid was rapidly becoming one of my favorite young people when he asked me how many years left I have as a junior (the answer is negative 11 years left). I asked him about his training program he said 3 words that no American weightlifter should say, “Straight Bulgarian homie.”

Uh. Oh.

My favorite, age-mistaking, young Olympic lifter, just made me realize that he didn’t have a hope. Sooner or later, but likely sooner, he was going to break down, or burn out.

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

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.

Special Strength and the Conjugate System: Interview with Martin Bingisser

Martin Bingisser is an awesome dude. While not well known in the strength and fitness world, he is well known in the world of track and field as one of the world’s best hammer throwers and a great ambassador of the sport of track and field.

Coming from the world of hammer throwers myself, I have “known” Martin for longer than I have actually known him. He started and ran some awesome websites (HShammer.com, and collegehammer.com) that promoted the hammer throw to a national audience.  I finally met Martin at the 2006 NCAA championships when we first competed against one another.

Martin is a multiple time Swiss national hammer throw champion, an NCAA All-American and an all-around good guy.

Of most interest to the readers of this site is the fact that Martin has been training for the past several years with renowned coach, Dr. Anatoly Bondarchuk.

Dr. B, as he is known, is the world’s greatest hammer throw coach. How great is he as a coach? Imagine a Bill Belichick, crossed with John Wooden, add in some yoda like wisdom, and throw in an awesome European track suit and you are getting close.

Dozens of Olympic medals have been won and world records have been set under his guidance. Dr. B is also one of the foremost authorities on the topic of special strength.

If you want to familiarize yourself with some of Dr. B’s works, Martin has an awesome piece about training with Dr. B at EliteFTS , and also in Modern Athlete and Coach

I asked Martin to be here today to share a little insight into his training with Dr. B and how it might relate to the training of everyday athletes.

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.)

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.