Tuesday 9 June 2009

Tuesday's tenderness

Here is a guest article from Kevin D'Arcy, an Irish 94kg lifter who has lifted 125/160 in competition. Feel free to agree or disagree with Kevin's points:

Functionality before load by Kevin D'Arcy

How many times have we in the strength world heard phrases like, form first, train technique strength will follow. Within weightlifting this is imperative. For high performance a weightlifter must train to have a functional body before applying load to the system. Loading a sub optimal system only results in a strong inefficient system.

The strength and conditioning world has differing schools regarding what the term function means from the guys that do pistols on wobble boards precariously balanced atop a bosu ball while juggling kettlebells to the men that won't consider an exercise worthwhile unless there is 200kg applied through the spine. I believe both ideals have relative merit to a lifter and in particular the beginner.

There tend to be three main areas of dysfunction that tend to hamper weightlifters progress, in this order:

1. Range Of Motion -one needs enough ROM to achieve the positions necessary for optimal technique in particular at lift-off, terminal extension of the pull and in the catch position. Lift off-need ROM to achieve ‘locked, spinal position. Termination of the pull-tight hip flexors result in a lifter terminally extending through spinal extension rather than by hip extension thus not only being an injury concern but also preventing maximum usage of the bodies most powerful muscle, the gluteus maximus at the top of the pull.
2. Stability-one must have adequate stability to stave off injury and allow for transference of power. Areas of interest to lifters include scapular stability to prevent shoulder injuries in overhead position and core stability to allow transference of power from legs to barbell at various stages of the movements.
3. Muscle activation sequences and motor firing patterns-if your muscles don’t work together in the most effective/efficient/optimal manner you don’t lift as much weight-quite simple! Many lifters don’t use their gluteus as effectively as they should as I outlined in Point A. This has correlation to a muscular imbalance that occurs in weightlifting known as Anterior Pelvic Tilt whereby the hip flexors are tight the abs are under trained and weak, spinal erectors have been worked to death and are tight as a…(well, we won't go into that). This results in hip extension never being fully reached and a host of glute power not being transferred--bad for your lifts? Yes!

So how do we avoid the above?

1. Stretch! Well and often!
2. Core stability- Train anti flexion and anti extension exercises respectively the no back flexion squat and the plank with alternate leg raise. Now that we have kept both schools of core training happy lets fix our scapular stability with some IYTWL combos. Happy days!!
3. Get a good coach, practice solid technique, then apply load, repeat!!

Here is what I did today. I was still very tight and grumpy today so I stretched quite a bit and did a glute, hip and core pre-hab warm up along with some partner flexibility before and after the session. This week will be a lot lighter than last week so that I can recover from last week's volume.

1. Power Snatch: Work up to 75kg for 3 x sets of 3--I widened my grip and focused on keeping my back arched with these and they felt far more comfortable this way.

2. 2 Cleans & Jerk: Work up to 110kg for 1 set of 2+1--This was fast and comfortable. I tried to keep my hands in control of the bar in the rack position and also to relax my upper body.

3. Front Squat: Work up to 125 for 1 sets of 3

Myself and Sami stretched for 15 minutes afterwards and my legs and hips feel much better now. Here are two videos that focus on the mental side of this game and they are both very interesting:


Sean Flanagan said...

Very informative article from Kevin, I will have to read it again as I must admit I found it very technical and could not say I fully understood everything. Kevin is a fantastic lifter, strong with solid technique and I am sure I will be able to get something out of this.when and if I can understand it and apply it!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the article Kevin. Sitting at a desk tends to lead to tight hip flexors. Tight hip flexors tends to lead to hamstring injuries. TC

Shaun LC said...

I notice that muscle balance is one of the focuses of your blog. Do you feel that a stick regimen of a small number of exercises eg. snatch related, clean related, squats eventually leads to imbalances in the joints?

Barry said...

I don't believe that the weightlifting exercises can lead to an imbalance, but I have some imbalance and inflexibility issues already that I am trying to improve.
For example, my hips adapted to playing rugby for 16 years and as such, learned to dislike opening up the way weightlifting requires them to. I also used to be limb dominant and it has taken a while for my trunk and back to take over and adapt.
Basically, I feel that it is vital that one should become a good athlete, and not just a good weightlifter. Have I answered your question?

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