Saturday 28 February 2009

Saturday's supreme volume training

Today, I have had the hardest weightlifting training day I have ever had. Right now I am beyond tired, but I am satisfied with how the day went.The idea was to progress our training day from two weeks ago and add more volume. We also added the benefits of cryotherapy sessions between and after our sessions. The cryotherapy chambers is -110degrees Celcius and you stay in there for anywhere in between three to five minutes. I did three sessions with 5 minutes in the chamber each time. The idea is that it revitalises the body in a way far outstripping ice baths. I have used cryotherapy on two different occasions and I found it very useful. Click here to see how cryotherapy works. Here are the four sessions I did today:

Session 1: One hour

Overhead Squats--4x5
Drop Snatch--1x3@bar, bar
Power Snatch--1x3@40, 40, 50 1x2@60, 70 1x1@80, 85, 90, 90, 93--This was not a power snatch, but it was smooth. 3x2@75--I did these for extra volume.
Clean Pulls--1x3@60, 90, 110, 130 for six sets--I found these very tiring, particularly this early in the day.
Overhead Press--3x5@40--Very light but used to warm up the shoulders.

30 minutes break

Session 2: One hour

Snatch bar work
Snatch--1x3@40 1x2@40, 50 1x1@60, 70, 80, 85, 90, 95, 100
1x1@102.5--I missed this twice on got it on the third attempt. This is not a particularly hard weight, but locking it in was the hard part. I then missed 105 twice as it was ever so slightly out in front both times. Oh well, not today.

Back Squat to max--1x2@60, 100 1x1@130, 150, 160, 165--I tried to go as heavy as I could but this felt really heavy, which I did not expect. 1x2@145--I did this last set for a spot of volume.

I had my first 5 minute cryotherapy session here. I only had ten minutes between the cryo and the third session and I needed a bit more time to thaw out looking back on things.

Session 3: One hour

Clean and Jerk--1x3@40, 40, 50 1x2@60, 60 1x1@70, 80, 90, 90, 100, 110
1x1@117.5--The cleans started to feel very heavy despite the fact they would usually be an easy power clean.
1x1@125, 130--This clean was really hard and I know it was my max for today. I got the jerk but pressed it out with the right arm. This was a really difficult lift and I was happy to get it.
I then dropped down to 105 for three sets of 2 cleans and 1 jerk.

Snatch Pulls--1x3@60, 80, 100 for four sets

30 minutes break

Session 4: One hour

Power Cleans--1x2@60, 60 1x1@70, 80, 90, 100, 110, 115, 120--This last rep was pulled up to power height but it forced me down.
I then went back down to 100 for two doubles.
Back Squat to max--1x2@60 1x1@100, 120, 130, 140, 150, 160--This buried me twice. I was too spent for it I am afraid.
I then went down for a double on 130 to finish the day's training off.

I am now as tired physically as I have ever been. Well done to Gill, Sami and Laura who all got Snatch pr's. I wanted one too but I was not even able to Snatch 105. Maybe next time. I will post tomorrow to discuss the benefits of the cryotherapy.

Thursday 26 February 2009

Thursday's thankfully light workout

Today was mercifully light and enjoyable also. I did a lot of skill work with the Drop Snatch again and I did a good few supplemental exercises also. Here is what I did:

Overhead Squats--6x5
Band Pull Aparts--3x20
Scap push ups/pull ups--3x8--Since I have been doing these, my right shoulder has not bothered me at all.
Drop Snatch--2x3@bar 2x3@40 2x3@50
Power Snatch--1x2@65, 70, 75, 75, 75
Jerk Skill Work with 60kg
Jerk from the rack--1x2@60, 80 1x1@90, 100, 110 for three singles
Front Squats--1x2@60, 80, 100 1x1@110, 120, 130
Hang leg raises with ankles touching the bar--3x5
Glute Ham Raise--3x3
Behind back band pull aparts--3x12

Wednesday 25 February 2009

Wednesday's white spots

I had a busy day today and I thankfully had another light, technique based session. I was running around with the lads that I coach for 30 minutes or so and this was tiring in itself. When I arrived into the club, I forgot that it is still a building site and there a few new lifters down there also, so the gym was as stuffed as a bag full of frogs. Anyway, I had a short, but enjoyable workout and here is what I did:

Band Pull Aparts--3x20
Overhead Squats--6x5
Drop Snatch--4x3@bar 3x3@40 3x3@50 2x3@60--I did a lot of Snatch skill tonight. Like before, I focused mainly on getting my feet wider in the catch and I was able to do maintain this as the weight went up.
Hang Power Snatch--1x3@60 3x3@70
Clean grip pnf
Cleans--1x2@60, 80 1x1@90, 100, 110
Behind back band pull aparts--3x12

I have another session tomorrow and then a rest day on Friday. This will be followed by the Over reach Russian program of four sessions and two light sessions on the Sunday. I am still pretty tired from last week, but I know I will be up for it on Saturday.

Tuesday 24 February 2009

Tuesday's technique to improve your rack position

Here is a partner exercise that we use in order to improve our flexibility in the rack position of the clean or the front squat. Some of you may already do this exercise and some may not like it. It follows the principles of PNF stretching and I find it very helpful. The basic idea is the following:
1. Rack the bar.
2. Have a partner lightly cup the bottom of your elbows.
3. Press down with your elbows for between 5 and 8 seconds with your partner resisting and preventing any actual movement.
4. When finished pressing down, breathe out fully and relax your arms, torso and shoulder girdle.
5. Your partner then elevates your elbows slightly and the process is repeated three or four more times.

I have included a video of the exercise being carried out. The production value is not perfect, but the idea is simple. Let me know what you think of this exercise and if you have any questions or comments please post them. I aim to learn as much as possible for the few readers of this blog

Monday 23 February 2009

Monday's marverlous skill session

I had an excellent skill session tonight. I could feel my left knee before the session and now it is bugging me slightly, so I will stick to power variations tomorrow and jerks from the rack. The plan is a light technique session today, another lightish session tomorrow and a heavier one on Thursday followed by another over-reaching Russian program day on Saturday with an extra session or two on the Sunday. There will be two cryotherapy sessions on the Saturday and the Sunday, I will explain further about cryotherapy during the week. Here is what I did tonight:

Overhead Squats--10x5
Band Pull Aparts--3x12
Scap pull ups/push ups--3x8
Drop Snatch--8x3--I did all these with just a bar because I want to practice getting the movement perfect so that it becomes automatic. I need to practice perferct reps and gradually build up the weight that I can consistently drop snatch perfectly. This should help carry over into my snatch.
Flexibility--I did lots of hip and lower limb flexibilty using static and dynamic stretches.
Jerk skill with 50kg
Jerk from the rack--1x2@70, 3x1@90
Band Pull Aparts--3x20
Dragon Flags--3x3

I finished off with ten minutes on the foam roller for the IT bands and I also used the med ball to rid some of the tension in my hips and glutes. I had a quick stretch in the pool and 5 minutes in the sauna and in the jacuzzi. My left knee is bothering me a bit. This is strange because I could only feel a slight twinge just before training today and not at all before. It should be fine in a day or two hopefully.

Sunday 22 February 2009

Saturday's serenely healed body

I got back from Galway on Thursday afternoon and then promptly headed off for a weekend for two days of relaxation and fun. I have put up the videos of some of Kevin's and my lifts on the last two blog entries so check them out if you are interested.
I was as physically broken by my training as I have ever been when I woke up on Thursday and I still had an intense session to do that morning at half ten. My hands were in pieces and my legs were screaming obscenities at me. This is what I did:

Overhead Squats--5x5
Snatch--1x3@40, 40, 50 1x2@60, 70
1x1@80, 85, 91--I missed this first go and got it second time through--93--Just like 91 I missed it first time and nailed it second time--95, 97, 99--I just missed this due to an ever so slight lack of full extension and I got it second time round. It was great having Kevin there to urge me on for this. It was simply mental weakness that caused me to miss the lifts and he really helped me put appropriate pressure on myself. I locked my back and grip far more securely which made a big difference. I was too relaxed mentally and physically.
Snatch Pulls--1x2@90, 95, 100 for three doubles
Power Cleans--1x2@60, 70 1x1@80, 90, 100, 105 for three singles. These were very light but very tough due to the onset of massive fatigue.
6 minute plank circuit--1 minute front, 1 minute side, 1 minute other side, 1 minute fron, 30 seconds side, 30 seconds side and 1 minute front.

My entire body was very fatigued after these intense but very enjoyable few days. 10 sessions in six days.

Wednesday 18 February 2009

Wednesday's werksan scars

I had another challenging and enjoyable day's training today. My hands are starting to know all about it as are my legs, but both will be up to it, so on we go. Like yesterday, I had a skill session in the morning and a later session with heavier weights finishing with squats. Kevin is one strong boy as well. I have some good videos of some of his lifts and I will put them up with some of my own tomorrow when I get home. Here is what I did today:

Session 1
Overhead Squats--7x3--As before, I am really trying to push the boat with these and Kevin is helping to force my hips through and out.
Scap push ups/pull ups--3x8
Drop Snatch--1x3@bar, 40, 50, 60 1x1@65, 70
Power Snatch--1x1@70, 75, 80 for three singles. I was struggling for speed with these.
Jerk Dips--1x3@50, 60, 70
Jerjk Catch--1x3@70, 80
Split Jerk--1x3@80, 90
10 minutes flexibility
Hanging ab work

Session 2
Overhead Squats--6x5
Scap push ups/pull ups--3x8--My shoulders felt great after doing this for the last few days. I am pleasantly surprised at how effective these were.
Drop Snatch--1x3@bar, 40, 40, 50, 60
Snatch--1x2@70 1x1@75, 80, 90, 93, 95, 98 for four singles. I missed the second and fourth singles out front. I put what I had into them but they out of place and I am still not able to get my hips out in the heavier Snatches. I focused on finishing my pull and controlling the pull under to the locking in of the Snatch. I have also experimented with widening my grip by half an inch on either side and this feels good. Two out of four is not too bad for a weight I have never trained on before.
Jerks from the rack--1x2@60, 70 1x1@80, 90, 100, 110, 120 for four singles. These were fast, but I needed to lock out my elbows better when pushing myself under.
Back Squat--1x2@60, 80, 100 1x3@120, 140, 152--I got buried under the second rep on the 152. I was not focused enough on keeping tight and being sharp enough out of the hole in the squat. I went for it again and had the right state of mind. I nailed it and it showed the value of proper focus. A new 3 rep max in the bag with more to come.
5 minutes flexibilty
Strict sit ups--4x8


Tuesday 17 February 2009

Tuesday's turn to train in Galway

I went across to Galway to train with Kevin D'arcy this morning and trained twice in the Galway City Gym. It was a great change of scene and it was fun training with Kevin--his best competition lifts are 125 in the Snatch and 160 in the Clean and Jerk. Harry gave me the program and it was tough as always. I really worked on stretching the hips with Kevin pushing my hips through. It was pushing on the pain barrier but they were far more flexible than before. My hips were stiff at the start of the second session, but they loosened up somewhat. They are going to have to get used to getting stretched like that and then progress again. Anyway, today I did the following:

Session 1
Overhead Squats--7x3 with lots of dynamic flexibilty
Drop Snatches--1x3@bar, 40, 50, 60
Hang Snatch--1x2@60, 70
Power Snatch--1x1@70, 75, 80 for four singles. I missed the second rep due to paralysis by analysis.
Front Squat--1x3@60, 80, 100 1x1@120 for three singles
Plank with ab vacuum--4x30 on/off

Session 2
Overhead Squats--6x3
Drop Snatch--1x3@bar, 40, 50 1x2@60
Snatch--1x2@65 1x1@70, 80, 85, 90, 92, 94, 95x4--These felt very good but my feet were not going out as you can see on the rep on the video below.
Clean grip pnf x1
Cleans--1x2@70 1x1@90, 100, 110, 120 for five singles. I missed the third and fourth rep because I let people around me distract me. I fixed it afterwards.
Back Squat--1x2@60, 80, 100, 120, 140, 147 for three doubles. These squats were way tougher than I expected them to be.
Incline sit-ups--1x12

This was a tough day's training, but it was fun. The change of scene is great, but tomorrow will be tougher. Here is the video:


Monday 16 February 2009

Monday's malaise

Today I had one of those workouts that was really tough to get through. I had the feeling that if I forced myself through this one, the rest of this week's training will be far more enjoyable. I was pretty fatigued and my hips in particular were stiff and unwelcoming. I feel far better now for finishing the workout properly. This is what I did:

Overhead Squats--6x5--I got my feet out wider than ever before on these sets.
Drop Snatch--1x3@bar, 40, 40, 50--I really focused on a wider base in the catch but it was not happening.
Snatch Combo--1x3@65, 70, 75, 80--These were tough to get through and not very pretty at all.
Drop Snatch--1x1@60, 65, 70, 75, 75, 80--I was able to get these but they were slow and cumbersome. There was no fluidity or width in my catch.
Jerk skill with 40
Power Clean and Jerk--1x1@60, 70, 80, 90, 110x4--These were tough also. I had to really focus on the last one because they felt heavy and slow.
Front Squat--1x3@100, 110, 120, 130
Glute Ham Raise--3x3--I have gotten far stronger on these and can complete full range reps now. My hamstrings have gotten far stronger due to the olympic lifts, rather than doing any isolated hamstring exercises.
Sit ups--4x8--These are still hard without any momentum to help.

I had a 20 minute stretch in the pool followed by ten minutes in the sauna afterward. My hips badly needed the stretching and my right shoulder is not feeling as splendid as it should. All in all, I need to do more mid trap and rhomboid activation and more flexibility tension release for the hips. I am going to Galway in the morning to get out of Dublin for a few days and to train with Kevin Darcy who is also a 94kg lifter except he is far stronger and more technically able than myself. Hopefully I will learn something from him!

Saturday's superbonanza

Saturday's session was unlike any I have ever had before. There were four sessions and half an hour in between each session, except for the last one where there was fifteen minutes in between. Harry gave us the sessions and himself and Jimmy Jennings used thier keen eyes to see how we were getting on. Myself, Sami, Laura, Gill, Hans and Cathal Byrd were the test subjects. A number of important factors came to the fore and a few records were set. My legs are still a bit fatigued, but I know that my the battering my cns has taken is not as bad considering the volume training I did last month. Here is what we did:

Session 1: Power Snatch and Clean Pulls--45 minutes
I needed this first session to wake up my nervous system and prepare me for later.
Overhead Squats--4x5
Power Snatch--1x3@40, 50 1x1@60, 70, 80, 85, 90 1x2@75
Clean Pulls--1x3@60, 90 1x2@110, 130

30 minutes rest

Session 2: Snatch to max and Power Cleans--1 hour
Overhead Squat with hip push through--5x3
Snatch--1x2@40 1x1@40, 60, 70, 80, 90, 95, 100, 104, I then missed 107 twice. The bar was high enough both times and I was low enough, but my feet were too narrow to get me into proper position. 106 is my pb and I really wanted to beat it.
Clean grip pnf x1
Power Cleans--1x2@70 1x1@100, 110, 120, 122, 124--These were strong, fast and high.

30 minutes rest

Session 3: Snatch Pulls and Clean and Jerk to max--1 hour/45 minutes
Snatch Pulls--1x2@50, 80, 95, 105--Like the Clean Pulls, this was only my second time doing this exercise so it will take time to get used to it.
Jerk Skill with 50
Clean grip pnf x1
Clean and Jerk--1x1@50, 70, 90, 110, 120, 130, 138--I got this for a new 3kg pb, so I was delighted and relieved after my Snatch frustration.

15 minute break

Session 4: Back Squat to max

Back Squat--1x3@70 1x2@90 1x1@120, 150, 170--I got buried by this because I went up weight to sharply due to trying to be competitive with Cathal. I learned. I went back down to 160, ten 165, then an easy 170 again where I was much tighter and more ready for the weight. I then got 175 for a 5kg pb. I was very happy with this, particularly because of the previous workload.

And that was it. This session was great. It was fun seeing Cathsal squat 200 weighing in around 70kg, and also seeing Gill squat 115. I chose a selection of the many videos I took and put together this little number below. This session revealed that I need to do the following:
1. My skill warm up needs to focus on the Snatch now, not the Jerk.
2. I need to up teh ante with my hip flexibility and mobility work.
3. I need to stay patient. My Snatch is on a plateau at the moment due to skill, not strength. Once I make it automatic for me to get a wider catching stance, my numbers will go up nicely. If anyone spots anything about my technique on the video, please let me know. I am here to learn.

Saturday's superbonanza from Barry K on Vimeo.

Friday 13 February 2009

Creatine supplementation - implications for the competitive weightlifter - Eamonn Flanagan

Here is a guest article by Eamonn Flanagan. He is an excellent lifter himself and his credentials have lots of letters after his name, so you know he must be good!
Below is a summary of his article which was published in the NSCA journal. Here is a link to the full article with references in tow if you wish to read it. He generously condensed it for this blog, so thank you Eamonn.

Eamonn Flanagan, Ph.D., CSCS*D

Creatine is a massively popular nutritional supplement. All muscle contractions are fueled by energy. The first energy source called upon is termed ATP. However, as free ATP stores are very limited they have to be regenerated by other metabolic processes in order to generate and sustain high muscle power output. The secondary source of immediate
energy is phosphocreatine. ATP, augmented by the phosphocreatine energy pathway sustains maximal effort muscular contraction for between 5 to 15 seconds. Approximately 95% of the body's creatine pool is present in skeletal muscle. Creatine supplementation, by the oral administration of the supplement "creatine monohydrate", has been shown to increase the muscular pool of creatine.

This increase in muscle creatine stores enhance work output in the latter stages of exercise which is dependent on the phosphocreatine energy pathway. Such exercise is short duration (1–30 seconds), intermittent, high intensity exercise (2, 3, 22). Fatigue, in this type of high intensity exercise is reduced by creatine supplementation. With more creatine available in the muscles, ATP can be regenerated through the phosphocreatine pathway at a more efficient rate. This leads to a greater energy provision in the latter stages of high intensitty, intermittant exercise. Weightlifting is a prime example of one such activity which can benefit from creatine supplementation.

Both anecdotally and in the published peer-reviewed research, a most popular and effective method of supplementation is to acutely load creatine over a short duration of between 5 and 7 days. This has commonly been achieved by administering 20–25 g/day of creatine monohydrate, divided into 4–5 doses of 5g each, over 5–7 days. Such protocols have
been shown to significantly increase individuals' muscle creatine content and to improve performance in high intensity, intermittent exercise.

In the published research, the only documented side effect of creatine supplementation is an increase in body mass caused by increased water retention within the muscle. There
have been many anecdotal claims that creatine users are more likely to suffer from heat-related cramping and renal dysfunction. However, empirical evidence does not support these claims and has shown that creatine supplementation over prolonged periods, within recommended dosages, is a safe practice.

For weightlifters who may be in the very light weight classes or who maybe well into the superheavyweight class a supplementation protocol standardized to body mass could be followed. The loading dosage can be individualized by supplementing with 0.3 g of creatine monohydrate for each kilogram of the athlete's body weight, per day. This amount can be divided into 4-5 equal doses, each day, for 5 to 7 days. A hypothetical female lifter in the lightest weight class (48 kg) weighing 47 kg would take approximately 14g of creatine monohydrate (47 × 0.3 g) each day in 4 doses of 3.5 g for the duration of the loading period. A hypothetical heavyweight male lifter in the heaviest weight class (105kg) weighing 110 kg would take approximately 33 g of creatine (110 × 0.3 g) each day in 4 doses of approximately 8.25g.

Following the 5-7 day loading protocol, research suggests athletes can maintain their elevated muscular creatine stores with a single daily dose ranging from 1 to 3g (for light to heavy individuals. 5g maintainence dosages are also not uncommon and have been shown to have no adverse affect on renal function and general health.

Weightlifters and their coaches should be aware of how exactly creatine supplementation can be expected to change their performance. Creatine supplementation improves the rate at which energy can be provided during fatiguing exercise but does not the improve the maximum amount of energy that can be provided in the non-fatigued state. For this reason supplementation will not increase the maximal muscular contraction velocity or the peak power production of muscle in the non-fatigued state. Weightlifters should be
aware that supplementation will not suddenly, directly increase their maximum in the snatch or clean and jerk.

However, supplementation will delay fatigue, facilitate recovery, and increase power output in the later stages of training. This will allow the weightlifter to perform a greater workload in each training session, which over time will assist in increasing performance in maximum effort lifts. Consiering the physiology, creatine supplementation is of particular benefit during high-intensity, fatigue-inducing, and high-volume training phases. In weightlifting, the preparation phase, where number of reps per set are higher, total volume is higher, recovery time between sets is lower and number of assistance lifts are higher is an example of this. In a competition phase, where average intensity is elevated but total volume is decreased, where few assistance lifts are performed and where many single effort lifts with long recovery periods are performed the supplement would be much less beneficial.

Another factor that may influence the timing of creatine supplementation within the training cycle is the rapid weight gain associated with loading. Creatine is an osmotically active substance; meaning as creatine is drawn into the muscle cells water is drawn in
with it. This water retention has been associated with acute changes in body mass ranging from 1 to 3 kg following creatine loading phases. Weightlifting is a weight-controlled sport in which many competitors commonly "make weight" prior to competition. Weightlifters bound to maintaining strict body weights prior to competition should exercise caution when introducing a supplement that can induce such a sudden increase in weight.

Weightlifters may not wish to introduce the supplement for the first time in the competition phase of preparation as the associated weight gain may elevate them out of their preferred weight classification for competition. Weightlifters should introduce the supplement early in the training cycle, in the preparation phase, so they are afforded ample opportunity to counterbalance any additional
weight gain caused by supplementation with calorie reduction or other preferred making weight practices prior to competition
weigh-in. Muscle creatine levels which are elevated due to supplementation will return to resting levels after 25-35 days of no supplementation. Lifters can therefore cease supplementation about 1 month before an important competition for which they must make weight. This could reesult in 1-3kg of weight being lost by the lifter without appreciable changes in maximal strength. The lifters fatigue resistance will be reduced but with a proper competition phase (of high intensity and lower volume with longer recovery periods between reps) and a tapering phase (reduced volume prior to competition) this should not be a deleterious effect.


- Weightlifters who wish to introduce a creatine supplement into their nutritional program are advised to choose creatine monohydrate as to date it is the only creatine product that has been extensively researched by the sports and exercise science community and shown to be a legitimate performance enhancer.

- Creatine monohydrate can be hugely beneficial for weightlifters particularly during high volume phases of training that are
characterized by high repetitions and are significantly fatiguing.

- Weightlifters attempting to maintain a specific body weight for competition should introduce the supplement early in the training
cycle, in the preparation phase, so that they are afforded ample opportunity to counteract any additional weight gain caused by supplementation. Creatine supplementation can be withdrawn about 1 month before competition if additional bodyweight needs to be lost.

- Particularly heavy or light weightlifters may wish to implement a creatine loading phase that is individualized to their own body weight.

Eamonn Flanagan, Ph.D., CSCS*D

Thursday 12 February 2009

Thursday's triples

I had an excellent session today. I had a busy day but I was energised from a good coaching session before and I was raring to go. I was short for time so I had to skip the lengthy warm up skill work and get straight into the meat of the session. I did the following:

Overhead Squats--5x5
Hang Power Snatch--1x3@60, 65, 70, 75, 80 for 5 sets. These were fast, but very tiring. I was feeling my legs after this one so I knew I must have been using the right muscles.
Jerk skill with the bar
Jerk from the rack--1x1@70, 70, 70, 80, 90, 100, 110, 115 for 5 singles. I really had to focus on getting these right. I always find Jerks from the rack difficult, so Iput everything I had into these.
Front Squat--1x3@70, 90, 110, 125, 135, 145--These felt good and solid. I had only previously squatted 145 for a double and 150 for a single so I was happy with my final set.

That was it for this evening. Below is a video of my third set of Hang Power Snatches at 80 and one Jerk with 110 and my final set of Squats. As usual, if you have any feedback on my technique I would appreciate the pointers.


Wednesday 11 February 2009

Overhead Squat mobility drill

Today I had a day off training, so I had a wonderful massage and I followed it up with a game of tag rugby which was a lot of fun. Tonight I am posting a video of a drill we do that I got off Eamonn Flanagan and Cathal Byrd. This drill is excellent for improving the bottom position of your Snatch. You need to hold onto the top of the person's hips and push down and through so that you push the hips into the hole. Myself and Sami are doing this a lot in order to help us widen our foot stance in the catch portion of the lift.


Tuesday 10 February 2009

Tuesday's training

My session tonight was more tiring than I thought it would be. On paper it looked easy, but after the weekend and yesterday's session, I am pretty whacked now. I am continuing to work on my skill weak points in the beginning and warm up for each session and my physical weaknesses at the end. I did a lot of work on my bottom position in the Snatch and I am also working on improving my hamstring strength at the end of each session. I also have weak mid-traps and rhomboids, so I ordered a set of Iron Woody bands so that I can do various exercises that I will put up to strengthen the areas in between my shoulder blades. A weakness here is particularly prevalent in the Snatch and heavy cleans where strength and stability in the area is a must for an efficient force application.

Tonight I did the following:

Jerk skill work with the bar
Overhead Squats--6x3--At the bottom of every third rep Sami forced my hips into the bottom position.
Drop Snatch--1x3@bar, 40, 50, 60--Again I focused on getting my feet wider in the catch position.
Snatch Combo (Hang Power Snatch, Power Snatch, Snatch)--1x3@65, 70, 75, 80--This is so tiring!
Clean grip PNF stretch x2
Jerk skill with 50
Clean and Jerk--1x2@60 1x1@70, 80, 90, 100, 110, 115--My positioning and speed were very good on the last lift but my elbows were soft and I pressed out with my right elbow. This shows I was not pressing up enough.
Back Squats--1x2@90, 110, 120, 136x4
Natural Glute Ham Raise--3x3--This will always be sub-maximal.
Sit-Ups--3x8--Old school, but when done properly they murder your upper and lower abs.
Partner groin/hip flexibility exercise x2

Monday 9 February 2009

Monday's magic

I had a good technical session tonight where I was able to work on my weak points. Sami came back from South Africa so I was able to train with him and it was nice for a change in venue and routine. I really worked on getting a wider foot stance in the Snatch and in the Jerk I really focused on driving myself under the bar, despite the light weights. Sami worked on pulling himself under in the Snatch and generating speed in the Jerk I did the following:

Jerk skill with the bar
A very comprehensive warm up with a lot of flexibility and mobility drills.
Overhead Squats--6x3--At the bottom of the last rep in each set, Sami forced my hips down to get a better stretch at the bottom. This will really help me get a better position at the bottom.

1 Drop Snatch/ 1 Hang Snatch/ 1 Full Snatch--1x3@40, 40, 50
Hang Snatch--1x1@60, 70, 80, 85

Jerk Skill work with 60
2 Clean grip PNF's
Power Clean and Jerk--1x1@60, 70, 80, 90
Glute Ham Raise--3x3
Single Leg Extension--3x5--Did this in the glute ham machine. I will video this next time so that everyone can see it. This is excellent for the posterior chain.
Sit-Ups--3x8--Unanchored and without momentum or hip flexor involvement--This is really hard!

I finished with a stretch in the pool and 15 minutes in the steam room and 5 minutes in the jacuzzi to help recover from the weekend. Here is a video of some of our lifts this evening:


Saturday 7 February 2009

Saturday's salient lifting

In today's competition I had a good day, but not a brilliant one. I missed my 108 through lack of skill--it was high enough--but I also got 135 and it felt pretty solid. I need time to reflect on today's lifts and where they show me I need to focus primarily on, so I will say exactly what I did and comment on my technique and next few months over the next day or two. I weighed in at 94kg on the button, third time lucky. Considering I was eating a lot of starchy carbs over the last four weeks and even this week, it shows I can put on a bit more muscle and make weight easily once I cut out the starchy carbs a week or two out.

Overhead Squats--5x3
Drop Snatch--1x3@bar, 40 1x1@50, 60
Snatch--1x2@70, 70 1x1@80--Strangely, I missed the first rep because I was focusing on catching it with wider feet. I power snatched it straight after. 1x1@ 85, 90, 95--Again, I missed the first rep because I did not finish the pull properly. This was very silly and I got it straight after. The fact that I missed two easy warm up weights showed me that despite trying not to, I was over-thinking my technique rather than pulling as viciously as I can.

Competition lifts:
1x1@99--This was smooth and in the groove. I did not pull as fast as I can, but it was a banker.
1x1@104--This was also in the groove, but as above, I needed a faster pull.
1x1@108--I missed this. It was high enough and I was in position to catch it, but I did not finish the pull viciously enough to be locked in. This was annoying but I put it away for a later time of reflection.

Jerk skill work with the bar
Split Jerk--1x3@40, 40
Clean and Jerk--1x2@60 1x1@80, 80, 90, 100, 110, 115, 120- I have never power cleaned this weight quite so high. I was determined to avoid my mistake from the Snatch and just get nasty and aggressive with my second pull.

Competition lifts:
1x1@125--This was fast and easy.
1x1@130--I was really happy with my Jerk in this one.
1x1@135--This was solid even though my right elbow had a slight wobble. I was very happy to get this lift out of my system, it has been bugging me for a while.

Knee to chest ab exercise--3x20

Here is a video of my lifts. I will put up Gillian's two competition pr's tomorrow or over the following day. Well done to Cathal Byrd who Snatched 109. He is a 69kg lifter although he weighed in at a portly 71.4 today. Also well done to Kevin Darcy who Snatched 125 as a 94kf lifter. There were lots of excellent lifts on display.


Friday 6 February 2009

Harry's coaching style

I am about to go for a stretch and a sauna and steam room.I am still too heavy so I had a vegetarian dinner and I will leave the food from now until the weigh in. I will drink some water after the sauna and then I will leave that too.
On a lighter note, I watched this video and I immediately thought of Harry, although in fairness to him, Harry is slightly more subtle than this guy:

Thursday 5 February 2009

Thursday's tapering

Tonight I had my last session before Saturday's competition and it was a good one. Everything was relatively fast and it was nice to feel somewhat fresh. The adrenaline will really kick in also, which should give me an extra burst of speed. I will Snatch 108kg and Clean and Jerk 135kg. Here is what I did today:

A very comprehensive warm up with lots of dynamic and static stretching.
Overhead Squats--6x5
Drop Snatch--1x3@ bar, 40, 50, 60--I was really focusing on getting my feet wider in the catch position. This stops me from needing to step forward in the Snatch because my hips go into the hole rather than tilt back in the catch.

Snatch--1x1@70, 70, 70, 80, 86, 92, 96--These were nice and fast and thankfully uncomplicated. With the heavier Snatches I need to catch the bar with a wider foot stanc and get in the hole.

Clean Grip PNF--2 sets
Split Jerk--2x3@60
Clean and Jerk--1x2@60 1x1@80, 90, 100, 110, 117--Again, these were fast and in the groove. I need to remember to fill up my lungs before the Jerk and also get my front foot further out too.

Back Squat--1x2@90 1x1@110, 120, 130--These were token squats to keep the legs from dying from the shock of such low volume.

Here is a video of two of my Snatches and two of my Clean and Jerks. Please feel free to comment on my technique so that I can get a fresh perspective.


Wednesday 4 February 2009

Wednesday's wanton couch-fiend

I had a massage this evening that focused on my quads, calves, abductors, upper back and pecs. I needed this and I have spent the rest of the evening on the couch which is a rare treat. I need to make sure I sleep well over the next few days and am completely rested for Saturday. It is strange that I am far more wrecked the week after my four weeks of volume than during it. The hard work is done, now I need to perform on the day. I have a session tomorrow where I will be going up to around my last warm up weight, and then it is showtime on Saturday.

Here is a video of part of the Snatch in the 77kg class in the 2004 Olympics. Watch and comment on any lifter in particular whose style you love or loathe:

Tuesday 3 February 2009

Tuesday's trial

I had a good session tonight. I had a very busy day in work and a poor night's sleep, so I was not sure what to expect. Harry gave me the plan and it was mercifully short and sweet. The biggest thing for me tonight was that I focused on my lifts in the way that Harry (click here to see) and Hugh (click here) suggested in their comments. I gave each lift, despite it relatively low weight, all my focus and concentration. This meant that even though they were not pretty, they were fast. Either way, I did not go sailing and give myself a way out. Here is what I did:

Overhead Squats--6x5 with loads of flexibility in between.
Drop Snatch--1x3@bar, bar, bar, 40, 50, 60
Jerk Dips/ Catches/ Split Jerk--1x3@40
Clean and Jerk--1x2@60, 70 1x1@70, 80, 90, 100, 110, 115--It took me a while to get into the groove with pushing myself under the jerk so I did a few extra lighter sets.
Back Squats--1x2@60, 90, 110, 120, 130 for 3 sets
Plank with ab vacuum--4x30 on/off

Harry has me on a low volume week because we have the UL competition on Saturday and also because I am still wrecked from the hardest, but most rewarding four weeks of training in my seven month weightlifting career. I have another session on Thursday and then the competition on Saturday, so I should be fresh by then.

Monday 2 February 2009

Monday's moaner

I had a shocker of a session tonight and the mental aspect of my training was appallingly undisciplined. I arrived full of beans and I was really looking forward to training. Tonight was supposed to be a very light and technique orientated session. I did the following:

Overhead Squats--6x5--Loads of stretching in between.
Drop Snatch--3x3 with the bar
Snatch--1x2@50, 60 1x1@70, 75, 80, 85--I was thinking about my extension point on the Snatch and how I was hitting the bar a little too far out. I was trying to fix this with these light weights and they felt good, if a little slow. I was trying to focusing on letting the scoop happen as I extend up rather than consciously scoop.
Snatch Combo--1x3@70, 75, 75

Jerk Skill with 50 with one Clean grip pnf

Jerk from the rack--1x2@60, 70, 70 1x1@80, 90, 100--I missed the first rep which was quite silly. I was thinking too much about getting through the bar and I forgot that some force was needed. I then got 100 and went to 110 which I then missed because my elbows were not locked. It was at this point that Gill gave me the wise advice of stopping and she also gave me a stern and brief lecture on my indiscipline. I was clearly unfocused and this effected my jerk from the rack massively. They were very light weights, but I still found them far harder than I should have. I don't know why, but I always struggle when I am jerking from the rack. I feel far more comfortable with the Clean or Power Clean and Jerk than taking it from the rack. This is such an important exercise, I need to cop on and just get on with it. Obviously, far more attention and focus is needed for my jerk from the rack from now on. Thank God for having a training partner to kick you in the posterior when you need it.

After this I did a few Power Clean and Jerks with 70.
Back Squats--1x2@70, 70, 100, 120, 130, 130
V-Ups and strict non-momentum sit ups