Happy Birthday Chad Vaughn
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It Can Be Technique Tuesday Everyday
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Cam Newton's Rowing Technique Needs Work
Feb 3, 2016Cam Newton gets a lot of flak for his touchdown celebrations, his play style, and his pants, but really none of those things matter. The most important thing Cam Newton needs to improve is his rowing technique.
Retaining Balance In The Lift When Increasing Weight
Jan 24, 2015Greg Everett is the coach of the Catalyst Athletics weightlifting team and author of the most popular book on weightlifting, Olympic Weightlifting: A Complete Guide for Athletes & Coaches. In this week's technique focus, Everett talks about the importance of focusing on balance in the first part of the lift, when working up to those heavy weights. A common complaint is that a lifter’s weight feels too far forward in the snatch or clean, but only at heavier weights. Often the balance during the lift is forward at all weights and you simply aren’t aware of it when the weights are light because they’re not heavy enough to influence your position and balance further. That is, with 50% of your bodyweight, you can do just about anything and get away with it—an errant bar is easy to pull back to you later in the lift because your own bodyweight is enough to remain the anchor in the system. As the bar approaches your own weight, it has just as much control over you as you do over it. In this case, the errant bar pulls you out of position and you’re unable to simply muscle it back into place as needed later. Another possibility (which could be occurring together with the previous) is that your mechanics are in fact changing as the weight increases. Most likely, this would be your hips moving up faster than your shoulders as you lift the bar from the floor. This is natural for most people, but in particular those with longer legs or who are posterior-chain dominate—both of these will mean that it will be hard for you to open your knee joint from a small angle because your quads are relatively weak and/or the lever arm is so long. The body will shift the work to whatever is strongest, and in such a case, it does this by opening the knee without opening the hip to create a larger knee angle without moving the weight very much. This then puts the knee at a larger angle that the quads can continue opening under the full load and transfers more of the weight to the stronger hip extensors. This can have two effects that will cause you a lot of trouble and certainly change the feel of the lift: shift your weight forward farther over your feet, and increase the moment arm on the hip. The first makes it impossible to finish your pull properly and forces you to chase the bar forward rather than being able to move it up and yourself down. The second makes the extension of the hips more difficult and consequently slower, making it tougher to get the quick explosion at the top of the pull that you need to have a chance to get under the bar. Perform snatch and clean deadlifts and halting deadlifts with no more weight than what allows you to keep the proper upright posture. Focus on pushing with the legs to move the bar up to the thighs and shifting back to center your weight over the front edge of your heels and staying there all the way to the top. This will not only train you in terms of skill to pull correctly, but will begin to strengthen you in the proper posture. Remember that as the weight increases, your body will always revert to the positions in which it’s strongest. You can also combine halting deadlifts with snatches and cleans in a number of ways. The simplest is to perform 1-3 halting deadlifts followed by a snatch or clean. Another is to perform the halting deadlift and rather than returning to the floor, performing the snatch or clean straight from the paused position. This can work really well, but I will usually have a lifter follow a rep like this with a normal rep from the floor to help prevent them from developing a habit of pausing during a lift or hitching. Finally, more front squats for the clean and overhead squats for the snatch will strengthen the positions and boost your confidence. Related Articles: The First Pull: Make Or Break The Lift Control Dip For Max Power Output Executing The Proper Overhead Snatch Correcting Overextension Of The Hips In Your Snatch Fixing A Slow Turnover In The Snatch And Clean
Focus On Flexibility To Improve Your Lifts
Jan 24, 2015Greg Everett is the coach of the Catalyst Athletics weightlifting team and author of the most popular book on weightlifting, Olympic Weightlifting: A Complete Guide for Athletes & Coaches. In this week's technique focus, Everett emphasizes the importance of joint flexibility in the rack position, so as to ensure a successful, and safe, lift. If you have trouble with the clean or front squat rack position, first play with your hand spacing on the bar and find the position that gets you the closest with your current flexibility. Often this is wider than you feel like you should be gripping. I generally prefer a wider clean grip for a number of reasons, such as a quicker turnover and better positioning during the pull under, but a wider grip also often makes the rack position easier for people. Improving flexibility for the rack position is fairly straightforward, but like any other flexibility limitations, it requires consistency and patience. As a start, front squat a lot and consider the exercise a stretch. Emphasize pushing the shoulders forward and up, the elbows up and the palms up above the fingers. Wrist flexibility is pretty simple: Find ways to push your hand back and hold it. Probably the easiest way to do this is to press your palm against a wall with your arm perpendicular to the wall. Do this both with the fingers pointing up and down. As you loosen up, you can move your arm past perpendicular to close the angle between the hand and forearm further. You can also do this stretch against the floor while in a squat position to combine the two stretches/warm-ups and save time. All the grip work in lifting can make for very tight wrist and finger flexors, so stretch them frequently throughout the day. The elbows really shouldn’t be stretched per se—they primarily just need to become conditioned to the stress of lifting. Spend time warming them up before training by doing elbow circles both directions while rotating your hand to get the ulna and radius moving as much as possible at the elbow. You can also place a bar on your back as you would for a back squat with your hands close to you shoulders, then lift your elbows high in front of you. Gradually move your grip wider as you loose up. Bend at the elbow, raise your arm, and press the underside of your upper arm (near the elbow) against a rack or doorframe. Keeping your trunk tight, lean forward to push the elbow back over the shoulder. This will stretch the muscles that attach under the arm and allow. Finally, you can try loading up a bar in a squat rack a bit lower than what you would use to actually squat from. Get your hands on the bar in the position you would grip for a front squat, walk yourself under the bar in a partial squat position, and pushing your shoulders forward and up and your elbows as high as possible, squat yourself up into the bar. If you have a partner, he or she can assist and lift your elbows further than you can do on your own. Related Articles: The First Pull: Make Or Break The Lift Control Dip For Max Power Output Executing The Proper Overhead Snatch Correcting Overextension Of The Hips In Your Snatch Fixing A Slow Turnover In The Snatch And Clean
Exercise Variation Is A Necessity In Daily Training
Jan 6, 2015Greg Everett is the coach of the Catalyst Athletics weightlifting team and author of the most popular book on weightlifting, Olympic Weightlifting: A Complete Guide for Athletes & Coaches. In this week's technique focus, Everett stresses the importance of varying exercises in your training program, in order to avoid the point in which athlete's bodies grow too accustomed to the exercises, ceasing to build muscle, and thus, fail to improve. When we’re talking about training in more of an athletic vain, it’s rare to train to failure. This is generally considered ineffective and even counterproductive. Whereas with bodybuilding, the basic idea is to create significant damage to the muscle and then allow morphological supercompensation, athletes are interested primarily in qualities like strength, power and speed more than hypertrophy. When hypertrophy is a goal, more bodybuilding-esque training is often included, and this may involve exercises done to failure or nearly so with less frequency. The rest of the training will still remain focused on athletic qualities. You’re able to walk every day, which is a leg exercise, without detriment. Why? Because it’s such a common, frequently performed “exercise” that your body is entirely accommodated to it and it has virtually no effect anymore. This same thing can and does happen with any other exercise to some extent. If an athlete squats the same weight with the same volume every day, eventually (surprisingly quickly, in fact), it will cease to cause soreness or even much fatigue. When you’re training in a way that involves many similar movements frequently, you develop not only this foundation of accommodation, but the ability to recover more rapidly (again, this isn’t taking the same exercise to failure every day, and certainly not with heavy full-body lifts). So if you look at a week for a weightlifter, for example, nearly invariably he or she will squat every day in one way or another; this may be actually doing front or back squats every day, or it will be a combination of exercises that involve a squat such as squats, cleans, snatches, etc. These are all “leg exercises”, but aside from the athlete having the ability to manage frequent training and recover more quickly than an untrained individual (or one used to training by the protocol you describe), the exercises vary in a number of ways, from the actual movement to the loading to the reps to the total volume. It’s this modulation that helps makes it possible to train like this. Related Articles: The First Pull: Make Or Break The Lift Control Dip For Max Power Output Executing The Proper Overhead Snatch Correcting Overextension Of The Hips In Your Snatch Fixing A Slow Turnover In The Snatch And Clean
Success In Your Lift Begins With The First Pull
Jan 6, 2015Greg Everett is the coach of the Catalyst Athletics weightlifting team and author of the most popular book on weightlifting, Olympic Weightlifting: A Complete Guide for Athletes & Coaches. In this week's technique focus, Everett emphasizes the importance of the first pull in a lift. Having trouble elevating the bar? Everett suggests variations and strength improvements to ensure an athlete practices the best technique possible. I can’t think of a time I’ve ever seen a relatively new lifter unable to elevate the bar adequately with the exception of occasional errors. It’s typical for these individuals to be snatching and cleaning fractions of their basic strength numbers, and their pulling strength usually far exceeds their classic lift numbers. If for some reason you genuinely are unable to elevate the bar sufficiently, then pull variations and strength improvement in general is what you need. High-pulls are not intended to get you pulling the bar higher in the snatch and clean—bar height is not achieved by pulling with the arms. They’re intended to do things like train proper bar/body proximity and strengthen the third pull. You can do high-pulls in addition to heavier pulls, but understand that you’re not trying to high-pull the bar when doing the actual lifts. Add more pulls to your program and more variations like pulls from high blocks to emphasize the final explosion. You can also try a complex of a pull + lift, e.g. snatch pull + snatch to both strengthen the pull and also encourage a complete pull when actually lifting. Power snatches and cleans and work from the hang or blocks will also help you develop more force at the top of the pull and consequently more bar height. If bar height isn’t really the problem as I suspect, I would guess the issue is more related to your change of direction after the pull and your pull under the bar not being fast enough. The height of the bar doesn’t matter if you can’t get under it in time. Hang and block lifts are great for improving this. Related Articles: The First Pull: Make Or Break The Lift Control Dip For Max Power Output Executing The Proper Overhead Snatch Correcting Overextension Of The Hips In Your Snatch Fixing A Slow Turnover In The Snatch And Clean
Tailoring Training Programs To The Individual Athlete
Jan 6, 2015Technique Tuesday With Greg Everett. Greg Everett is the coach of the Catalyst Athletics weightlifting team and author of the most popular book on weightlifting, Olympic Weightlifting: A Complete Guide for Athletes & Coaches. In this week's technique focus, Everett discusses the importance of strategizing a training plan designed for the specific individual athlete. I wouldn’t say that weightlifting requires high-volume and frequency training, but certainly it’s a common approach. It’s also important to acknowledge that volume and frequency are relative, and what’s high to one athlete may be moderate or even low for another. Within my own gym I have some lifters who thrive on 400-500 reps per week, while others can handle only 200 or fewer, and this doesn’t always align with age. The snatch, clean and jerk are more complex than the powerlifting squat, bench and deadlift by orders of magnitude; the degrees of technical skill involved in the two pursuits are not even comparable. I don’t say this to disparage powerlifting or powerlifters in any way, but it’s an unavoidable truth, and it plays a role in training differences. This being the case, it’s obvious that in order to master the competitive lifts, far more time and far more quality reps in the competition lifts must be performed by the weightlifter than the powerlifter. Weightlifting is a unique sport in that the lifts inextricably link the motor qualities of precise movement and timing with strength and speed. Powerlifting has a huge strength component, but minimal skill; something like pitching a baseball has a huge skill component, but minimal strength. People are not usually resistant to the idea of a baseball pitcher throwing a lot of balls in a day, week, month or year, because the need to practice the skill is obvious. The skill of weightlifting is not as obvious because most people are viewing it from a perspective largely shaped by history with bodybuilding and powerlifting training. Next, there is an issue of adaptation. Anything you do that is a sudden and significant increase in volume, intensity or frequency is going to hurt. The key is that elite weightlifters didn’t begin training 6 days a week with 600 reps; the best of the best spend years developing in well-designed programs that allowed them to build the conditioning for this volume of work. Do drugs play a role in many cases? It’s inarguable that drug use will allow you to train heavier with more volume and frequency, but being drug free does not mean you can’t adapt to high volume and frequency (just not as high and not as quickly). You’re able to walk every day without a problem. That’s leg training seven days a week; but you’re adapted to that particular intensity and volume level. The same thing can be accomplished with lifting to a great extent. The snatch and clean & jerk are less systemically taxing than squats and deadlifts because they’re smaller percentages of a true total body maximal effort, although in many cases, not that much smaller. This alone means they can be done more frequently by anyone. The classic lifts also overwhelmingly train neurological adaptations rather than morphological ones, which also means you’re not waiting around for tissue remodeling between workouts like a bodybuilder. Also, complete recovery between training sessions is not something that the weightlifter is necessary striving for; instead, you’re looking at blocks of training sessions to create a cumulative effect. Training multiple consecutive days also doesn’t mean that every day is maximal intensity and volume. Day to day volume and intensity should fluctuate to allow some degree of restoration. Even Bulgarian-style purists—including the originator of the system Ivan Abadjiev—use such modulation day to day. Related Articles: The First Pull: Make Or Break The Lift Control Dip For Max Power Output Executing The Proper Overhead Snatch Correcting Overextension Of The Hips In Your Snatch Fixing A Slow Turnover In The Snatch And Clean
Fixing A Slow Turnover In The Snatch Or Clean, The Everett Way
Jan 5, 2015Technique Tuesday With Greg Everett. Greg Everett is the coach of the Catalyst Athletics weightlifting team and author of the most popular book on weightlifting, Olympic Weightlifting: A Complete Guide for Athletes & Coaches. In this week's technique focus, Everett breaks down the snatch, making sure to pinpoint specific factors that ultimately lead an athlete to success, or failure. Your movement under the bar in the snatch or clean can be slow for a few different reasons, and that will affect what exercises help. If it’s truly the pull under the bar that’s slow, it may be a strength issue, a technique issue, or a lack of aggressiveness. I’m going to discuss everything using the snatch, but you’ll be able to apply it to the clean pretty easily. Let’s worry about strength first. You can think of the third pull in three basic parts: the initial pull of the body down toward the bar, the turnover of the bar, and the punch up under the bar. Each of these parts can be strengthened best individually because one usually limits the weights than can be used for others, but can also be trained together with certain exercises. For the initial pull under, it’s an issue of arm, back and shoulder strength—the ability to forcefully pull the elbows up and out. The simplest exercise to strengthen this movement would be a tall snatch high-pull. You won’t be able to use a lot of weight—it’s not a strong movement for anyone—but this is pure upper body strength in exactly the position and movement you want. You may not even be able to use an empty barbell—you may need to use a lighter technique bar or even dumbbells. Stick with 5-6 reps, 3-5 sets. You can also do snatch high-pulls from the mid- or upper-thigh and use the legs and hips to accelerate the bar initially, then use the upper body to finalize the pull to the top position. This will allow you to use more weight as well as better simulate an actual lift. Stay flat-footed if you want to emphasize the upper body more, as this will force you to limit how much hip and leg speed you can put on the bar. To use even more weight, do snatch high-pulls from the floor with maximal speed. To strengthen the turnover of the bar, you’ll need to use a muscle snatch or long pull variation. You can use the same kind of principles described above for the high-pull. To completely isolate the upper body movement, perform a muscle snatch from the tall position, which means you get no leg or hip at all. These will be very light—don’t make the mistake of trying to load it up or you’ll end up changing the movement, which defeats the purpose. You can add more weight by doing the muscle snatch from the hang or floor. Snatch long pulls are another good exercise for turnover strength because they keep more tension on the upper body throughout the movement. Finally, to strengthen the punch up under the bar, use snatch balances or drop snatches. Drop snatches will not allow you to use as much weight, so if you want to load it up, do a snatch balance. These are also great exercises to improve your speed and timing in the very last portion of the third pull (which is really a push). Strength may not be the problem; it may be technique. If you’re not moving yourself and the bar optimally, your pull under will be slower than it should be. Be sure your elbows are rotated to point to the sides throughout the first and second pulls so they will remain properly oriented upon entrance into the third pull. Don’t worry about shrugging under the bar—pull with your arms and the shrug will come along at the right time and to the right degree. Pull the elbows up and out and keep your body and the bar in immediate proximity—the bar should be close enough to smell on your way past it. Continue pulling the elbows up even as your turn the arms over—keep tension on throughout the movement. It’s common to see lifters suddenly get slack in the system at this point, and that only slows them down and increases the chance of an unstable receipt of the bar. As you finish the turnover, flip the hands back into the proper position and punch up under the bar with a relatively loose grip. This entire movement must be fluid and extremely aggressive. You can use tall snatches to work on the entire movement. Focus on keeping your weight back over the feet rather than shifting forward as you initiate the movement. Have someone stand at your side and make sure you’re keeping the bar and your body as close to each other as possible. This leads to the final consideration: that your lack of speed under the bar is actually coming from earlier in the lift. Many athletes are so focused on the upward extension of the pull that they continue pulling long after it’s productive. You have an extremely brief moment when the bar is weightless at the apex of its elevation, and if you’re not already moving under the bar, you’re losing the opportunity. The moment your hips and knees reach their final extended position, you must transition your feet and pull under—the finish and initiation of the pull under should really occur almost simultaneously rather than one after the other. Consider the second and third pull together a single continuous action rather than two consecutive actions. To work on this, you can high-hang snatches or power snatches—this will allow you to better focus on the final extension and change of direction. You can also snatch or power snatch off of high blocks (mid-thigh). Finally, focus on being aggressive throughout the entire lift, every time you lift. You have to develop that mindset every time you train. Related Articles: The First Pull: Make Or Break The Lift Control Dip For Max Power Output Executing The Proper Overhead Snatch