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….

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.

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:

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.

Coaching Speed Training: Get Faster with Resisted Sprinting

I am coming out and saying it right now. Speed training is not as complex as most people make it out to be.  There isn’t a need for $10,000 pieces of equipment (more power to you if you can afford them), there is a need however to coach the right things, and train the right ways. The right ways of training come down to two things.

When breaking down speed training we break down the training into the two categories we can have the maximal impact: Power and Technique.

meowcheese.com

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.