Fix your Jerk with two movements you haven’t done

I have had a problem since I was a young weightlifter. It’s a regular jerk mystery. I stand up with the clean and making the jerk is a serious question mark. Since I was 15 years old, I have always needed to fix my jerk.

I have done plenty of jerks from the rack, and from the blocks. I have pressed until I am red in the face (literally and figuratively), but until recently the question of whether I would make the jerk or not was like a Scooby Doo mystery.

The 2 movements in this post are different, maybe even odd, but they have each helped me bring my jerk up to the levels of my clean. No more mystery of whether I will nail the jerk or not.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.