Saturday 30 May 2009

Saturday's slight Lions' anti-climax

I was not training today as I am getting ready for next week's training camp and work is also very busy. I was really looking forward to watching the Lions but today's game shows just how difficult their task will be to overcome the Springboks. It will be fascinating to watch them hopefully win the series. Logic thankfully does not dominate sport.

Here are a few videos of some lifters whose techniques are very different. Plamen Boev's Clean and Jerk is great and stylistically is very different to Huster's in the post below. His technique relies on quicker speed under the bar and is very similar to Zanev's, who was the famous 77kg Olympic and world champion.

Here is a my video from a side on perspective and you can really see how he has a short dip and drives himself under the bar.

Thursday 28 May 2009

Thursday's tapering treasure

I had a fun session tonight. I played a game of tag rugby this evening beforehand and it is great to see my speed is the same as when I was playing rugby, even though I very rarely sprint now. I actually feel far more powerful coming out of a side step or accelerating through a gap or suddenly changing my angle of running. My speed off the mark feels like it has more power than actual timed speed. Weightlifting and the flexibility associated with it has really helped in this regard. The sprint endurance is not what it was but it is still far better than the random punters that play tag, so the volume training is obviously good in that regard also. Particularly the five reps squats, the triples in the Power Snatch, Power Jerk and the two Cleans and one Jerk. They get the lungs and the nervous system more than the actual muscle groups I find.

In tonight's session, I Snatched up to 80kg for four doubles and then Clean and Jerked up to 110 for a single. I really focused on a quick second pull with the shrug getting me under the bar quicker. With the Jerk I really worked on speed and getting through the window with the Jerk. I Front Squatted up to 120 for three doubles and did a small bit of flexibility and left it at that. I was really happy with tonight's session. Sami and Hugh lifted very well although they kept it light also. I am looking forward to next week's training camp where we will be training twice a day from the Monday to Friday. If anyone is around to train that has not heard about it, leave a comment.

Here is a video of Marc Huster. He has great technique in the Jerk and you have to love his celebrations. He knew he had lost to Dimas in the total, but he broke the Clean and Jerk world record anyway. What a hero. I can learn a lot from his focus and his never say die attitude.

Because I played rugby for so many years and I mentioned it this evening, here is a video of one of my favourite wingers ever. He was a genetic freak that hated to train. He was lazy and a poor team player. But he was an outrageous runner with the ball in hand and whenever I watched him play, he makes the game look simple and beautiful. These are all international class athletes or thereabouts he is playing against, but it looks like he is playing against a bunch of slow fifteen year olds. Here are some highlights:

Monday 25 May 2009

Monday's mid-afternoon double session.

I had a great session today. Because I had a bit more time, I split it in two and felt a bit fresher as a result. Here was the plan for today:

1. Snatch: Work up to 91kg for 4 sets of 2--These were much better than last week and I was happy with them. When I finished the pull they were in a better position. The fourth set was really tough and I did not miss any which is progess from last time.

2. Power Clean: Work up to 100kg for 3 x sets of 3--These were fine. I focused on the speed of my extension and they were tiring, but high and fast. A light weight but that third rep is the one that Ron Burgundy would describe as the "deep burn".

3. Clean Pulls: Work up to 135kg for 3 sets of 2--These were not great today. I was not maintaining my upper back arch and they did not feel as smooth as before.

4. Back Squats: Work up to 140kg for 3 x sets of 5 reps--The weight was fine again, but the five reps are tiring. Gods knows what the 10 rep maxes Pete is doing are like...

5. Weighted Plank: 3 x 60 second holds

The weights in each exercise increased and the only exercise that did not feel great were the Clean Pulls, so I was happy with how the session went. It was supposed to be a lightish session but because I only got four sessions in last week I decided to finish off the program. For the final two sessions this week I will pick two of the sessions and simply do them lighter.
Here are two videos of Tommy Kono, the legendary American lifter, giving a presentation on the Snatch. Like most great things, it is a simple, but deceptively so. I think one can gain a lot from watching it more than once as there are a few great tips that you only fully understand the second time through. Here they are:

Saturday 23 May 2009

Saturday's slog

Today was one of those sessions you have to just get through. I had an ART session this morning down in Port Lois and I got back into town for around 1 or so. I made sure I ate well beforehand and it took two and a bit hours to get through. Here is what I did:

Regular warm up with Clean and Jerks up to 70 and Snatch Pulls up to 60 with some bar work and dynamic flexibility.

1 Power Snatch+1 Squat Snatch--1x2@60, 60, 70, 85, 80, 82 for four doubles. I focused on getting full extension in these. They were tough because I am about as fresh as a crusty two day old Supervalue jam doughnut.

Snatch Pulls--1x2@90, 95, 100, 105, 110 for four doubles. My back was not as locked as normal, but these were ok.

Cleans--1x2@80, 80, 90, 100, 113 for four doubles. I missed the second clean in the first set due to a brief episode of flacid phallus syndrome. These got better because I got a better back lock and my feet went out.

Front Squat--1x3@60, 90, 110, 125, 138 for three sets--I got the first triple, but on the second set I only got a double in the second set because I was lazy at the bottom of the squat and did not get the bounce. The third set was the hardest, but the best quality.

Press--3x5@70--I got all three sets this time and next time I will add a fourth set.

I had a short stretch afterwards. I was wrecked after this session, but these are the tough ones that count I suppose. Because of work I was only able to train four times this week, instead of the planned five sessions. Next week is only three sessions and is a bit of a taper week with the June training camp coming up the following week. Here is a video of Chigishev and Klokov training and there are some fantastic lifts here.

Thursday 21 May 2009

Wednesday's wrecked feeling

Today's session was a tough one. I enjoyed it but it was hard to get through. I was up for the session and looking forward to it, but the finish was not there. Here is what I did today:

1. Snatch--I did a few singes up to 90 and then I went for 96, missed it badly. Then 95 which I missed badly and then 90, with the same result. It was not happening today at all so I left it at this point.

2. Snatch Pull: Work up to 100kg for 4 doubles--These got better as each set progressed.

3. Power Jerk: Work up to 97kg for 3 sets of 3--The weight was fine, but I am still getting used to this exercise. On every set the third rep was the best. This does not say a lot about my concentration.

4. Back Squat: Work up to 140kg for 3 sets of 3--This was hard only because I was knackered. The ten seconds before each set was the toughest bit.

That was it. Unglamorous and warts and all. I was wrecked by the end and had nothing left to squander. Let's hope tomorrow's session has more to offer.

Tuesday 19 May 2009

Tuesday's time efficient training

I had a great session today and it was wrapped up in an hour and forty five minutes. I warmed up with light Clean and Jerks up to 90 and Snatch Pulls up to 90 with stretching in between sets. This set the tone for the session and I did the following:

1. Power Snatch: Work up to 80kg for 3 x sets of 3--These were tough, but I got them all with pretty good quality too.

2. Clean & Jerk: Work up to 113kg for 3 x sets of 2+1--These were tiring, and I worked on gtting my feet out in the clean which allowed my hips to come through. The Jerks were all solid and I was getting under them well.

3. Front Squat: Work up to 135kg for 3 sets of 3

4. Jerk Supports: Work up to 150kg for 2 x sets of 3

5. Push Press: Work up to 2 sets of 80kg for 3 x reps--I am still getting the hang of these but they were better than last week.

I had to rush off because I was busy. Here is a link to Pete Stewart's training blog and a video of his Clean PR of 161kg. He is one strong guy and he is training hard, so I hope he continues to get PR's.

Monday 18 May 2009

Monday's maudlin lesson

Training today was humbling, which is a good thing; if weightlifting is teaching me anything, it is that ego is the enemy. There is ambition, and there is ego. There is what you think you should be doing, and there is what you are doing. Weights that are normally quite light, were quite heavy today and I had to like or lump it. So I liked it. Here is what I did:

1. Snatch: Work up to 91kg for 3 x sets of 2--This is where the ego bit me in the posterior. My Snatch was not firing on all cylinders and I knew it. I got all the reps bar the second rep in the second set, but they were not pretty as I was not extending properly and they were slightly in front. At least I got them though, ugly as they were.

2. Snatch Pull: Work up to 110kg for 3 sets of 2--These felt brilliant. I have never lifted 110kg in the Snatch position before and I feel stronger and more locked into this exercise every time I perform it. The weight did not feel heavy either. There is a video of my first set below.

3. Power & Squat Clean: Work up to 105kg for 3 sets of 2--Again, a light weight that felt very heavy due to the volume. Humbling to say the least. These got better as they went on and there is a video of the second set below. I focused on keeping a locked back and finishing my extending up, which is what I was not doing with the Snatch.

4. Back Squat: Work up to 140kg for 4 sets of 2--I was pretty fatigued by then and I had to rely on the discipline to get through these. Again, a case of a light weight feeling heavy. The squats got cleaner each set as I became more focused.

Here is a video of my 110 Snatch Pulls, my 105 Power Clean/Squat Clean double and an easy 55kg Clean and Jerk by Gillian who is competing in the women's competition in Austria next weekend. She is looking sharp and ready so I am looking forward to hearing the sound of tumbling records.

Saturday 16 May 2009

Saturday's stampede

I had a good day's training today. A good sleep combined with a spot of cafeine can do wonders for the body and soul. Here was the plan for today:

Snatch: I worked up to four doubles with 89kg. I missed the second rep on the third set due to a brain hiccup and my final set was my best. The Snatch doubles are not as physically draining as some of the other execises, but it just as hard to be successful with the reps because so much more concentration is required.

Power Cleans--It was triples for this exercise. I wored up to 96kg for three triples. The weight was light but it is only the third rep that is tiring. My reps got better towards the end because I focused on getting a whip-like extension rather than thinking about finishing the pull which caused me to overpull and have a slow catch.

Clean Pulls--I worked up to three doubles of 130 on this. My last set was the best because I had my back locked but concentrated on locking my lower abs which in turn improved my back lock and positioning. If I focus on locking my lower abs and back, the movement feels more powerful.

Back Squat--I have never done 5 reps on this before and it just felt wrong. Harry had to help me keep count because I kept losing it after three reps. Have you seen my baseball? I worked up to three sets of five reps of 130. The weight was fine, but I was not used to the amount of reps.

All in all an enjoyable session that went far better than last night's. I will leave the post with two videos. The first is an excellent example of how the Clean and Jerk can be a thing of beauty. The second is priceless comedy.

Friday 15 May 2009

Friday's fetid Snatches

I was tired for today's session but I ground it out and it ended nicely. I left the gym far happier than when I went in, which is always nice. It will take me a while to get used to this whole volume thing again, so I just have to keep going. I am enjoying the process though, and I can feel my technique improving. Here was my day's session:

1. Power + Squat Snatch: Worked up to 80kg for 3 x sets of 2. For some reason my Snatch felt completely out of groove today so I stopped short. I was getting each attempt but they did not feel like they did yesterday in any shape or form. I am sure this is just a spot of fatigue speaking, so I focused on the other exercises in instead.

2. Snatch Pull: Work up to 105kg for 4 x sets of 2--These felt great again. I focused more on keeping my back locked and getting that short fast shrug up at the top.

3. Cleans: Work up to 110 for 4 x sets of 2--These got better each set. Again, we did not go heavier because it was not in me this evening. I focused on keeping my back locked and finishing my extension despite the light weight. I got my feet out also and this is starting to improve. Hopefully this can transfer to the Snatch also.

4. Front Squat: Work up to 130kg for 3 x 3--These got better each set as I used the bounce and kept everything tighter.

5. Press: Work up to 3 sets of 5 reps of 70kg--I missed the last rep on the third set, but otherwise they were pretty solid.

6. 5 minutes flexibility

This ended up being a good session in spite of the conditions and I enjoyed it in the end. After half an hour there was a danger of it all going down the pan. I had to go outside for some fresh air for a minute and move on to a new exercise. It all went far better after that. Maybe Harry is my life coach now...

Speaking of inspiration, here is a great TED talk that I enjoyed immensely. A random topic at first, but as I am finding out, everything can relate back to weightlifting in some way or another. Maybe.

Thursday 14 May 2009

Thursday's triple treats

I had another enjoyable session this evening and I may have had an epiphany which I shall relate at a later stage in the post.
Harry's volume master plan day 3:

I had a 15 minute flexiblity and bar work warm up with some light Snatches to boot.

1. Snatch: Work up to 85-90% for 4 singles--I did 4 singles at 96. They were all clean and smooth. I focused on staying over the bar and finishing my pull along with keeping my trunk locked throughout the pull and the catch. There is a video below of my second rep. My feet stop going out at a certain point but it is improving as is my flexibility.

2. Snatch Pull: Work up to 90-100% (of best snatch) for 4 doubles. I worked up to doubles of 108 and they feel better each time I do the movement because I am getting a better starting position. My epiphany was a result of a comment from Sami. I was not finishing my pull by shrugging up at all, but by shrugging back a bit. When I practiced the motion of shrugging UP at the top of my pull, it changed the way the bar went up completely. I did not have to pull up with my arms to stop the swing. By shrugging up a small bit, the bar went up naturally. If I can get the timing for this movement and make it smooth rather than contrived, this allied to staying over the bar and extending UP will help get rid of the swing in my Snatch. If you have an opinion or experience in this idea, please comment on it so I can learn if this possible epiphany is a false dawn or not.

3. Power Jerk: Work up to 75-80% (of best Jerk) for 3 sets of 3. I worked up to 110 for a triple and just got it. The second set I missed the second and third reps so I went down to 105. This is so tiring when you are catching the bar. By far the most fatiguing movement of the session. I focused on keeping a tight lower and upper trunk and exploding from the legs. It will take me a while to get used to this movement. Byrdie loves it so it must have some merit.

4. Back Squat: Work up to 85%+ for 4 sets of 2. I worked up to a double of 150 but I struggled to make the second rep so I went back down to 145 for the last three sets. My legs were pretty fried by then.

Before the session Sami took my skin folds using the four point test--bicep, tricep, scapula and waist-- and they are down from 36 to 32. I have been eating really well and cutting down on the amount of starchy carbohydrate. I want to get the skin folds under 30 and maintain my weight which obviously means I am putting on functional muscle.

Wednesday 13 May 2009

Tuesday's terrific second session in the new training phase

Tonight was my second session in our new program. It was so different to my usual workouts and although it was tiring because of both the volume and shorter rest periods, I felt fresher mentally. Here was the plan for tonight:

A comprehensive twenty minutes of bar work, dynamic and partner flexibility, Snatch Pulls and light Power Snatch technique work.

1. Power Snatch: Work up to 77kg for 3 x sets of 3--These were tiring but the more I focused on my extension and keeping the bar close to my body as it travelled up past the hips, the smoother the lifts went.

2. Clean & Jerk: Work up to 110kg for 3 x sets of 2+1--Like the Power Snatch, I focused on finishing my extension in the Clean despite the light weight and making the Clean fluid and smooth with a locked back in the catch. The Jerks got far better as I went on as I was able to get a better lock for the Jerk dip.

3. Front Squat: Work up to 132kg for 3 sets of 3--I really focused on keeping my back and lower abs locked throughout the lift. I realised after my last set that if I look straight ahead, the lock works better than if I look up.

4. Jerk Supports: Work up to 140kg for 3 x sets of 3 one thousand seconds--These are to ensure I keep a locked lower abdomen as I have the tendency to let it go loose at the bottom of my dip on the heavy Jerks.

5. Push Press: Work up to 65kg for 4 x for 3 x reps--I kept this very light because I kept rebending the knees. It will take me a few sessions to get used to these. They were much better when I did them slowly, so I will gradually increase the speed and power output the more I get used to the movement.

Myself and Sami followed this with 20 minutes forced flexibility and some static stretching also. The flexibilty was by far and away better than at the start of the session an continues to improve centimetre by centimetre.

Monday 11 May 2009

Monday's mouth watering initiation into the murky world of volume training

I had a fun session tonight and it was nice to do something different. Myself and Sami will be embarking on a journey whose name in the brochure is called: Get stronger by doing lots and lots and lots of volume. Harry is sending me a mail tomorrow giving precise directions for this journey so I will write about them accordingly.

On a different note, here is an email from a Swedish Masters lifter who I have corresponded with a few times. He gave me some good advise that I think is worth sharing. Below is part of the email and he is referring to Saturday's post and how he sees the areas that I need to improve in.

Morgan: I agree that Suylemanoglu is a fanatastic lifter, but very few lifters are built like him and got the same angles. I think you should seek for inspiration by looking at Yuri Zakharevich( 1988 Olympics) and Urik Vardanian 405 kg total instead. Especially notice the extension of the knee angle in the first pull (simultanously moving pressure towards the back of your feet to keep balance). Then quickly change pressure towards toes in order to release your heels early to get the upright motion and use your jumping power .
I knew Vardanian personally as I was his interpreter during some competitions. Actually he never went over 200 kg in front squats although he managed to clean 230 using his timing and explosive legpower.(He did 215 in high jump just for fun). Also look at the simplicity of his jerks. The name of the game is the straight upward motion and the timing and speed under the bar while catching it !

It is sound advise and here is a video of Urik Vardanian and his 405 total at an 82.5kg weight. Incredible lifting and a style of lifting that I have never seen in a lifter of his calibre. He hardly brushes the bar with his thighs and he has an amazingly shallow split in the Jerk.

My session today was the following:

I warmed up with bar work and dynamic and static flexibility work.
Snatch Pull--Triples up to 50, doubles up to 70 and single on 80 and 90.
Power Snatch--1x3@50, 60, 70, 75 for three triples. This was tiring, but I was working on keeping the bar close after my second pull.
Snatch Pulls--1x2@75,85, 95 for three doubles.
Power Clean and Full Clean combo--3x2@70 1x2@80, 90 3x2@100
Power Clean and Shoulder Press--5x3@70
Front Squat--1x3@100, 110, 120, 125 for three doubles.

I will go into the master plan more over the next week, but the idea is to get me far stronger through a significant increase in volume and I will be improving my technique through these exercises. In no particular order, my priorities are the following :
1. Get far stronger in the legs and back.
2. Continue improving my mobility and flexibilty in my back and hips.
3. Improve my positioning in the Snatch and Clean.


Saturday 9 May 2009

Saturday's Suleymanoglu inspiration

I had a fun day today. I had an early ART appointment down in Portlaoise which made a mockery of my rectus abdominus, glute meds, and psoas muscles, so I knew I would not be that fresh for today's session. I wanted to have a fun session and that I did. It was relatively short and snappy.

I did a light warm up with the bar and 40 kg and went straight into the Snatch to see how it felt. My technique felt very smooth and the bar was close. I Snatched up to 93 and I missed 98. It felt very heavy and I knew I was not up to it today so I left it at that. I might just be learning.... But I doubt it. Maybe I just left it there because Harry was there.

I then Clean and Jerked up to 115 and 120 felt very heavy despite the fact that it is a pretty mellow Power Clean weight when I am fresh. Again, I did not even try and lift it.

I have not done any one arm Snatches in well over a year, so I tried a few of them again. I could only get up to 55 with each hand. 60 was beyond me. Hugh must be feeling smug right now. I enjoyed them regardless and then I went onto Front Squats. I worked up to a double at 150. I tried a triple, but I could not manage the last rep. The video of my squats is below so feel free to criticize.

On a different note, here is a master lifting in arguably the best weightlifting performance of all time. The slow motion replays are fantastic also.

Thursday 7 May 2009

Thursday's tribute to some of the Clean and Jerks from Malta

Like yesterday's video, a few of the top end Clean and Jerks are missing either because I do not have a copy of the lift or the video file won't play nice with my editing software. I am missing Cathal's 143, Sami's 110 and James' 105.

Today myself and Sami did around an hour's worth of partner stretching and massage. The legs and hips feel loose but quite heavy now, almost as if they have been through a workout. My hips are gradually getting more flexible, as are my hamstrings, hip flexors and glutes. I will be training again on Saturday and I will have an ART session beforehand to try and sort out my glute med/hip flexor cramps that won't leave me alone.

Wednesday 6 May 2009

Wednesday's wibbly wobbly wonders

Here are a few of the Snatches from Malta. There are a few I do not have and also some whose format is not recognised by my video editor. Neil has my 108 Snatch and Sami's 88 as well as James' 85. I will put up the Clean and Jerks tomorrow.

I had a fun session today. I Snatched up to 104 and missed 105 a few times. Sami got 90 and missed 92. I was not finishing my pull, so that when I was in the catch position, it was falling down on me with my arms and back too relaxed.

I then front squatted 150 for a single and got buried by 160. Sami got 132. Myself and Sami did around 20 minutes of partner stretching and it was gruelling, but very effective. I am trying to be have the flexiblity and mobility to for a locked back in both the starting position and recieving position of the Snatch.

Here are the things I learned from my experience in Malta:

1. I am still learning how to make weight. It was easy this time because I was eating so well, but I tend to underestimate how much I can lose over a night and a morning of a weigh in.
2. Leaving the warm up room helped keep me focused and relaxed. It also allowed me to eat and keep my sugar levels up.
3. With the Snatch, I focused on staying over the bar and finishing the pull. This worked. My flexibility is a work in progress, but it must continue to improve.
4. With the Clean, I am back on my heels instead of over the bar, as I will show tomorrow. I also need to catch the bar with a locked chest and back position.
5. With the Jerk, I need to improve my Jerk Dip by constantly repeating the proper technique with light weights.
6. Lifting in a competition is far more tiring than in training. I was wrecked for my last Jerk. This means I need to up the intensity in training.

Monday 4 May 2009

Saturday's Small Nations salubrious Snatches

The Irish lifters were seperated into two groups with the first group comprised of myself, Sami, James Small, Neil Dougan, Eamonn Flanagan and Kevin D'Arcy. Our session started at ten, but there were lots of young lifters before us so we actually opened with our Snatches maybe 45 minutes later. Those of us in the first group all got up at six so that our bodies had at least four hours to wake up before the competition started. I was fully awake and ready to go by half ten, so it did not feel like the time made any difference.
James lifted first and got 85/105 as a 16 year old 69kg lifter. Sami lifted 88/110 as an 85. Eamonn lifted 97/137 as an 85. I lifted 108/134 as a 94 and Kevin lifted 123/157 as a 94 also.
In the second group Andy Murphy got 93/115 as a 77, Cathal Byrd got 109/143 as a 77 and Neil Dougan got 90/120 as a 69.
I learned from last week and made sure that I ate a lot in the hours before lifting and also in between the Snatch and the Clean and Jerks. I left the warm up room and all the chaos in there and focused my mind both before I lifted and also in the interval. I think this helped keep me relaxed and focused. In the Snatch I focused purely on staying over the bar and finishing my pull. In the warm up I Snatched up to 100, but I timed it a bit early and I had to repeat an 85 Snatch in order to keep warm.
Competition lifts
1x1@100--My warm up 100 was far better than my lift on the platform. It was my ugliest Snatch, but I got it easily. Like before, my pull was not very controlled and for some reason it was balanced more on the left hand side.
1x1@105--This was far better than the 100 and my best Snatch.
1x1@108--I made this for a competition pb. It flew up and I had to go looking for it in front, but it was solid.
Clean and Jerk
1x1@129--I messed up the Clean and I was lucky to get the Jerk with a few elbow wobbles. My Clean and Jerks were off all day and were home to considerable technical blunders.
1x1@134--I made this but it felt very heavy. It was a far better lift than my first attempt.
1x1@138--This was my best Clean, but I lost in the Jerk in the Jerk Dip. I did not have a locked core and I had a pause at the bottom of the dip.

The A team got second place in the team event and the B team got sixth. This was a brilliant experience and I will soon put up videos of mine and everyone’s lifts. There was some excellent Scottish lifters and Mineacides, the 62kg class bronze winner in the European's was lifting also and I will put up their videos as well.