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.

Did Teen Wolf Olympic Lift?

Some things are just so simple that they all logic says they won’t be awesome. Experience those simple things and you make the discovery that some of these simple things are freaking bad a$$.

The cinematic classic Teen Wolf  fits that description.

Here’s the clif notes version for those that have not watched the movie (shame on you btw).

High school athlete turns into a werewolf when “excited”,  as opposed to normal stress responses, and rather than face almost assured shaming and humiliation, he uses this affliction to become the most popular kid in school and to do impossible dunks.

Simple premise: Werewolf movie.

Interesting twist: He is actually popular instead of being called the “hairy kid.”

It’s weird how things like that happen. All logic would indicate that this movie has too simple a premise and be a waste of time. As anyone that has ever watched Teen Wolf knows. This movie rocks..

Sometimes the most complex problems like movie scripts, require the simplest solutions.

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.


Muscle Snatch: Revisiting an Old Nemesis

For longer than I can remember the muscle snatch was a movement that I did within the context of a warm-up and in complexes.  Exclusively.

To be honest I didn’t have a good relationship with the muscle snatch.  We were not friends. It was a tool that I used to warm-up, before I felt that my neuromuscular system was ready to pull some big weights fast.  Once I felt primed and ready, regular snatching would commence and life would be good again.

Recently however thanks to my good friend Coach Dos,  the muscle snatch has become a friend that shares the same goals as me, and my athletes. I have found that the muscle snatch is a great tool to develop technique, strength, and power.

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