I had no idea what to expect when I arrived into the gym where Jim Schmitz trains his lifters in San Francisco. The usual training area was being refurbished so it was a makeshift gym in a different part of the gym that I trained in. I met Jim and a few of his lifters that were preparing themselves for a competition in Sacramento on Saturday.
I did a quick warm up with the bar and then I asked Jim what I should do. He got me to Snatch and Clean and Jerk up to a comfortable 90% or so so that he could observe my lifting and take it from there.
Snatch--I began with 2 Power Snatches and one Squat Snatch with 40, 50, 60 and 70kgs. I was then told to Squat Snatch 80 and 90 and then I Snatched 100. None of these felt particularly good, with 100 feeling far heavier than usual. I then missed 105 twice and then missed 100 again. I was not finishing my pull and I felt very flat. The driving up the coast of California was beautiful but it was not particularly conducive to lifting I am afraid. My Snatch has been feeling very fast lately so I was a little annoyed I was not at the races in that regard, although I do realise I am on holidays!
Clean and Jerk--I started off with one Power Clean, one Squat Clean and one Jerk with 60, then 90, then 100 and then 110. Then it was a straight Clean and Jerk with 120, 130 and a solid 135 which was fast, but was what Jim called a "wet bag jerk" meaning that I was too soft in the recieving position. I left it there; the Cleans also felt far heavier than they should have.
An interesting thing that Jim repeated a few times was that when I finish any lift, I need to stabilise the bar at the top of the Snatch or Jerk in order to both create the habit of finishing the lift properly and also to strengthen the stabilising muscles isometrically. Harry has tried to get me to do the same thing but Jim's explanation sounded much cooler.
Miyake High Pulls--This is a Snatch assistance exercise that is used to improve the transition from the first pull to the scooping point. The High Pull added into the end helps put the movement in place. Jim got this exercise from the man it is named after and upon looking at the video below, my back needs a tighter arch throughout the pull. The exercise begins with a Snatch first pull from the ground up to the scoop point, then the bar is brought down below the knees and back up to the scoop point and then the bar is brought back down to below to knee and the lifter extend up into a high pull. I worked up to two sets with 90kg in this exercise.
Front Squats with a Jerk--I began with 5 squats with 60 with a Jerk at the end. Then I went up to 90kg for 4 squat and one Jerk. Then I went to 110kg for 4 squats and one Jerk followed by 125kg for 2 squats and one Jerk. I really enjoyed these and it is a great way to work on the Jerk while getting your lighter squats in. I then went up to 140 for a Front Squat double followed by a very hard 150 for a double. My legs are still feeling a bit weak I am afraid. I would highly recommend adding a Jerk to your Squats because it reinforces skill as well as forcing you to Jerk when your legs may be fatigued.
The Sultan Rakhmanov exercise--This was something I have never seen before and Jim uses it to strengthen the posterior chain as well as to teach the body how to bring the hips through and extend when the hamstrings are stretched like in a lift. The exercise is in the video below and Jim got it from the famous Russian lifter who it is named after. I had no idea how, but I tweaked my hip, so I could not perform the movement the way I wanted to. You position yourself like in a Back Squat and descend into a good morning, and when at the bottom of the good morning, you bring your hips through and scoop under and extend up. It is very interesting and like some of the exercises I learned in Holland, could help me get that back locked.
All in all, it was a great first session. I should have a good interview for the next post and a few videos to boot.