Tuesday 23 June 2009

Tuesday's tenuous technical and physical adjustments

Today was another challenging day's training and focused more on the Clean and Jerk than the Snatch. The first session started at 9 AM and this was a first for me as this is an hour later than Irish time. Here is what myself and Tom's 12 year old son did:

Session 1: 9 AM
General body warm up with various bodyweight drills designed to open up the hips and shoulders, stretch out the back and lock the core areas.
We then did 3 reps on a Muscle Snatch/Overhead Squat/Drop Snatch up to 3 sets of 50kg.

Power Clean from below knees--We focused on getting the back as arched as possible and by rotating my elbows towards my body anti-clockwise. This felt different but it meant that I could rack the bar with my hands on it, not just my fingers. I think this may help with the Jerk. I only worked up to three or four triples with 100, but with the isometric contractions with the back and legs, it was quite tiring.

Good morning to press--I worked up to 3 sets of 8 with 60 kilos. The purpose of these was to get the back used to being locked and working out the hamstrings. The reps were the tiring part, not the weight. There is a video of this exercise below. The idea is to contract the relevant muscles rather than lift massive weights.

Session 2: 7.30 pm

Bodyweight and bar warm up that was surprisingly tiring. Sufak was training in this session and he is an 85kg lifter with 115/145 lifts to his name. He is quick and has efficient technique.

1. Cleans—I worked up to doubles with 120 for two sets and then a single with 130 and then back down to 110 again to work on keeping my lower and upper back and also the shoulders locked throughout the first pull and the transition. This got much better as the session progressed. It means that I can get a much better hip drive in the Clean and I can transfer power better from my lower body.

2. Back Squat—I worked up to a double with 160, but Tom said I was doing plyometric squats, as in I was going down too fast to focus on strength. I went back down to 130 and 120 and really focused on setting that back and sitting in the hole with as locked a back as possible. It was a whole lot slower when I was going down with more control and pausing at the bottom.

3. Jerk from the rack—I worked up to a single with 120. In the beginning we focused on my Dip and controlling it down better and staying on the heels. This really improved. Then we focused on getting through the Jerk by keeping the back locked and getting through with the abdomen. The angle that my elbows were flexed at was wrong and this meant that I was bouncing under the Jerk rather than fixing it. This is the next thing to fix. Maybe I was too tight in the upper body and need to relax more? I missed 130 twice even though it was flying up.
We then finished up with some stretching and that was that. A great day as my Clean and my Jerk dip really improved. My hamstrings and glutes are in pieces now though... Any constructive criticism you have from the video would be great.


GoLift said...

Can you explain the reasoning behind doing slower squats?
Love the blog. Robbie

bigphathar said...

I'm sure that lots of people can give a better, more thorough answer Robbie, but put simply (the only way I can think!) there is a school of thought that says;

"...if you take the stretch-reflex action out of the equation (i.e. the 'bounce' at the bottom of the squat) then you will force the quads, glutes, hamstrings and trunk to work much harder and will get a better strength benefit from the exercise."

It's the same reasoning (as I understand it) behind box-squats, but without the potential for serious injury (especially slipped discs) that comes from compressing both ends of the spine at the same time when squatting onto a box.

Having used dead-stop squats and dead-stop front squats in the past before I'm not a massive fan of them, the reason being that the stretch-reflex action is such a key component of a good clean, as an example there are many examples of Soviet superstars that could Clean more than they could Front Squat. I think Pisarenko, the lean Super-Heavyweight from the mid-80's was one of those (later banned for selling medication illeagally and allegedly man of 'influence' in the post Soviet-era.)

I think that support exercises such as the squat and front squat should be performed as close to the competition lift as possible.

The reason that I think this, is the number of competitions I've been at where lifters get pinned with a Clean that they pull quite easily but can't stand up with, not because they're not strong enough but because they get the timing or 'flow' of the clean wrong. I don't know how many it's been over the last decade, but it's been a lot!

For that reason I'd be very cautious with how often this exercise of technique is used in the Back Squat and I don't think I would ever reccomend it for the Front Squat, but I'll keep an open mind on it.

An interesting and thought provoking article as always, I'm looking forward to the next one Barry!

Barry said...

Harry has nailed it in one. Thanks Coach Leech.

GoLift said...

Stretch relex is something I would not disregard from my training but I do agree with getting stuck on the ctach of my max cleans. I plan to use pause/stop squats in my sessions in the coming months and also introduce chains as I have a few sticking points. Good variation too.
Hopefully you've checked our blog. Cheers Robbie

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