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.

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.

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.

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….

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 Top 10 Movements to Build Explosive Power for Athletes

At the intersection strength and speed lies explosive power. In terms of athletics it is an absolute game changer.  For this reason I have chosen to prioritize making my athletes more explosive over anything else.  To do that, I use a number of tools. Here are my top 10.

 

1. Hang Snatch

The snatch wins my contest for the number 1 explosive movement because it is a pure hip hinge pattern and a long impulse of power is needed to make the movement complete. I chose the hang snatch because the position on the ground in a power snatch can limit some athletes ability to perform the exercise.

Snatching in any form is a great indicator of coming performance.  Athletes that are prepared for an upcoming contest will see their snatch hit all time highs before competition. A particularly useful hang snatch is the hip snatch. This movement is all about finishing the 2nd pull aggressively and punching under the bar.