Monday 28 September 2009

Monday's momentum

I had enjoyable session with Zag and Wayne Healy today. Wayne is a 69kg lifter and he decided to compete in Cork; he has been training once a week for the last four or five weeks, and as you will see in the video below, his lifting is still quality. His best lifts as a 62kg lifter were 112/137.5kg and he competed in several World and European Championships in the early years of this decade.

I kept it light and fast today and everything went relatively smoothly. I did a glute prehab and some Miyake Pulls to warm up.

Power Snatch--1x2@40, 40, 50, 60, 70 1x1@80, 90, 95--This last lift was caught at parallel. The back felt fine although as the video shows, I still have a bit more to go.

Power Clean and Jerk--1x1@70, 80, 90, 100, 110

I did a few light sets of squats with 110kg to get some blood flowing and keep the legs active. I finished the session off with some hanging ab work and later that evening, I had an ART session which focused on my sore left elbow, my two wrists and my hips. All in all, I feel pretty good today.

Have a look at the video and leave any comments or feedback. There is a bonus feature to tonight's video with some guest lifting from Nat Callaghan over in Scotland, so leave him any feedback that you see fit.

Saturday 26 September 2009

Saturday's slight progress

I had Friday off and my final heavy session before Cork today. All in all, I was reasonably happy with how it went. I have inched up another few kilos and I know, with two sessions and a lot of rest next week, I have a lot more in me. Cathal also lifted well, getting 107/136 and both lifts looked pretty routine. Roy and Cillian trained also and some of their lifts are included also. Roy is coming back from a series of long term hip and shoulder problems and Cillian is doing really well so far in his brief lifting career.

I warmed up with my glute prehab, some overhead squats and my Miyake Pulls to get my back locked in. Then I did the following:

Snatch--1x2@40, 40, 40, 60, 70, 80 1x1@90--I have no idea how, but I missed this twice. I obviously was not focusing properly. 90, 95, 100, 104, 107, 109--I missed 109 three times and they were all very narrow misses. I lacked that final finish of the pull to get the bar into the perfect position. My back was slightly better than Thursday, so once it keeps going in the direction, no matter how small the improvements are, I will be happy.

Clean and Jerk--1x1@60, 60, 80, 90, 100, 110, 120, 127, 132, 137--I could not get this today. My hips were rising way too fast in order for me to get any leverage for the pull and I was also a bit wrecked. I was very happy with my 127 and 132. They were far smoother than during the week when I was repping on 125.

All in all, I was happy with how today's lifting went. I would have been happier if I got 109/137, but you can't have it all your own way. The week before Scotland I was struggling to snatch 90 and I could not Jerk 122. I am really looking forward to Cork. Have a look at the video below and leave any comments that can help.

Here is a bonus video where the lifting is a slightly better standard. What a rivalry and let's hope it pushes both lifters to even greater heights.

Thursday 24 September 2009

Thursday's trouncing of the form book

It was a great session tonight. I had not planned on doing too much, but I was training with Zag and Cathal who is in Dublin for a few days. This gave me the little spur that I needed and I really enjoyed the session. Zag made six pb's tonight and had a huge session, despite it being his second of the day. I was lacking the sharpness and zip in my lifts, but I was able to keep my back locked much better again. Cathal also trained well and made an easy 105/133 without any misses. Zag ended up Snatching 98 and 100 for two pb's, as well as Power CLeaning and Power Jerking 110 and 115 for two mre pb's, and finished it all off with two more pb's of 162.5 and 165kg in the Back Squat. As you will see in the video, he has so much more in him it is not even funny. Here is what I did:

Warm up with glute pre-hab and Miyake Pulls, followed by getting my first pull right with a succession of lowered heights--Thanks for that Murph...

Snatch--1x2@50, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 95, 100--I was not able for this last week, but I was able to get it today, no matter how slow and cumbersome my turnover of the bar was. I followed this with a single of 105 which I was happy to get and I attempted the first pull with 108, but my mind needed powers that were not there tonight in order to lift it.

Power Clean and Power Jerk--I really did not want to do what was on my program so I lifter with Zag.
1x1@60, 60, 80, 100, 110, 115, 120--miss Jerk, 120, 125--I cleaned it but missed the Power Jerk. I hav not Power Cleaned nicely in a while so it was great to get it.

I did some hanging ab work but otherwise left it at that. I really enjoyed the training session and the different environment definitely freshened things up. The sense of competition with Zag and Cathal also helped. My back angles are far from perfect, but the fact that it is improving ever so slightly in the last two sessions really encourages me, as does the fact that my weight is done to a mid 95kg.

Have a look at the video below and leave any comments that you think will help.

Wednesday 23 September 2009

Wednesday's withering cns

I arrived to training pretty tired tonight, but I ended up having a good session. I did not follow the session to the letter, but I got my top sets in. I warmed up with my glute and hip activation/ prehab and I performed the Miyake Pulls which Jim Scmitz showed me for 3 sets of 3 with 40kg. This is the same exercise Charlie Hamilton showed me except for there being a High Pull at the end. This helped me get my back locked in and activated those back muscles. I then did:

Power Snatch--1x3@40, 40 1x2@50, 60, 70, 80, 85, 90, 90--My last set was my best. I changed my first pull and also how I went about getting myself into position to initiate the first pull. You will see this in the video.

Clean grip RDL variation I learned in Amsterdam--I did this for three triples with 60kg to activate the lower and mid back muscles.

Clean and Jerk--1x1@60, 60, 80, 90, 100, 110, 120, 125, 125--My Jerk was ropy tonight and I pressed out the last few singles, but I was focusing on my back lock throughout the pull and it got better with each rep.

Front Squat--1x2@110, 130, 140, 150--I adjusted my grip so that it did not hurt my elbow and then it felt fine.

Have a look at the video. It is only the first step in improving my back lock, but it is a step forward. I will work on this tomorrow and Saturday.

Tuesday 22 September 2009

Tuesday's tight hips

Thank you for your comments to my current predicament. I intend on applying most, if not all of your suggestions. I actually started with some of them today.

I did not have time to do my squats yesterday, so I got them in today. I worked up to three doubles with 160kg and I finished off my mini-session with 3 sets of ten reps with a tailored back extension exercise. My lower back was screaming at me even with these, so this is a sure sign that I need to do more of these. I did this few because I want to gradually work in the lower back work and the assistance exercises rather than force everything in on top of the program I am already performing. I also started up yoga again last week. I really enjoy taking yoga classes and it is also good for my flexibility, so it is an all-round winner I think.

I plan on including the Snatch RDL exercise into my warm up and also the modified Clean grip RDL exercise also. Both will be done with light weights and the intension is to activate the muscles and see if I can get them into the act for the classical lifts. I will perform the back extensions at the end of each session and gradually increase the workload rather than work all out straight away.

My hip height is something myself and Harry will look at tomorrow also as well as how I initiate the first pull. He might even try and wedge my back into shape.

Here is a video of a TED talk, which is an organisation that is trying to educate as many people as they can. They always get famous speakers to illustrate what they have learned themselves and it is Tony Robbins in this case. This video is inspiring, interesting and very relevant to weightlifting:

Monday 21 September 2009

Monday's maniacal quest to achieve a flat back

I trained well today and I inched up my lifts again. I am very frustrated about one aspect of my lifting in particular, but it is vitally important that I maintain my perspective and not go on a tirade.

I am still struggling to maintain a back lock in my Snatch and Clean. It is too easy to put it down to fatigue. This is not the case. I was able to maintain a flat back after my week's training in Amsterdam and also in my first week of my trip to California. I am no longer able to achieve this despite trying as hard as I can to flex my lats, my upper, lower and mid back. I am trying to widen my stance, shorten my stance, get my knees out more in the first pull. This is very frustrating, as my pull is not using optimal leverages because my back being not straight, does not transfer power from my hips, legs and lower back. Saying this will come in time is nonsense, as this was not how I got my back lock before. I got it from working hard and waking up the muscles in my back for the first time. I have included some videos and pictures in the video below which illustrate the conundrum. Any feedback you may have would be much appreciated. Here is way I did today:

Snatch--1x3@40, 40, 50 1x2@50, 60, 70, 80 1x1@90, 95, 100, 102.5, 105 for three singles. I got these singles in which was good considering it was the start of the week and I had the last two day's off.

Snatch Pull--3x3@115--Oh so frustrating with these as you will see in the video.

Power Clean and Squat Clean--1x2@70, 70, 90, 100, 110, 115 for three sets. On teh last set I squat cleaned both reps. My left elbow was bothering me on this.

So, another positive session but it is now high time I sorted out my problem as I am close to tearing my hair out. Have a look at the video and see if you can spot anything.

Friday 18 September 2009

Friday's fencing with time

Today's session was grinding as I was tired by the end of the week and my legs were shouting at me because they are not used to all this work. I need a massage or at the very least a whole lot of foam rolling to try and get the legs as fresh as possible. I can also feel the areas around my hips getting more and more tension as the weeks go by, so I may have to try and squeeze in an ART appointment somewhere. I did my squats in the early afternoon and the rest of my session after work. Here is what I did:

Back Squats:1x5@60, 60, 80 1x3@80, 100, 120, 130, 140, 150, 150, 150--I was happy with these as I was only getting doubles with these at the start of the week. Over the next few weeks I have to start getting my squatting poundages up.

Later that day I only had less than an hour to finish my session so I left out the Snatch Pulls and kept the essentials in.

Snatch--I worked up to a single with 100, followed by a miss and then a success with 103 and then three misses with 105. My back lock was a bit better again, but I lacked the hip flexibility in the receiving position and I also lacked that bit of finish in the pull. I was happy enough because it was the end of the week and a bit better than before. I need to continue inching up with each session.

2 Front Squats and 1 Jerk--I only had fifteen minutes for these, so I worked up to three singles with 120kg. Last week I only got one of these so I was happy to get all three. They were tough because I was rushing and also because I had squatted earlier in the day. My final rep was the best because I got the rhythm right in the dip and exploded under the bar quicker to get a better lockout.

I have some videos that I shall put up tomorrow. Next week is massively important. Everything is getting that little bit sharper than it was, and my technique, mental focus, flexibility and power need to continue this return to form.

Thursday's tensions

I split my session into two again and I managed to inch up my lifts again, while still getting my bodyweight down. At mid-day, I did my Clean deadlifts and the timing of my second session had to change so I ended up having to do a different session. I did the following:

Clean deadlift with a shrug--2x5@60 1x3@80, 100, 110 1x2@120, 130, 140, 150 for three doubles. I have included a set of these in the video. My back is getting flatter but my hips were rising a little too early. Let me know what you think.

Session 2:

Snatch--1x2@40, 40, 50, 50, 70, 80, 90, 95, 100--I failed on the second rep twice. I was not too unhally with these misses because I was rushing with little rest in between reps due to time constraints. I will get these next week.

I was supposed to do Jerk behind the neck and Power Cleans, but overhead lifting after seven is not allowed in the Hercs' gym, so I squatted instead. Because my left elbow is still sore, I performed Zombie squats.

Zombie Squats--1x2@70, 100, 110, 130, 140 1x1@150, 155--I failed this twice.

The session was frustrating because of the timing, but it was productive. Sami got a pb Snatch of 97kg which he made in a fatigued state and in his second session of the day. The numbers are going back up again, slowly but surely. Have a look at the video and let me know if you have any constructive criticism.

Wednesday 16 September 2009

Wednesday's wobbly beginning followed by a stronger finish

I had a good workout this evening despite the fact that, upon arriving, I felt as worn out as a Muffin Top's waist band. I did my glute activation with a good few sets of Overhead Squats and I resisted resorting to caffeine to get something out of the session. It was great when Karen came along because I had someone to train with and I could annoy her rather than annoy myself. Here is what I did:

Power Snatch--2x3@40 1x2@50, 50, 60, 70, 80, 85 for four doubles. Last week I was only able for three doubles of 80 so I was happy with these. I was focusing on squeezing and locking that back into place and for some reason, my technique was better in the second rep every time. I think that this was the case because I had to rely on my technique for the second rep more than muscling it up. My third set is in the video so keep the constructive comments coming.

Clean and Jerk--1x2@60, 60 1x1@80, 90, 100, 110, 115, 115, 120, 120--I only did three singles with 110 last week and I was able to push the numbers up a bit again today. My Cleans felt fast but a bit sloppy and the jerks were the same. I was happy to get my singles in and hopefully they will go from strength to strength.

Front Squats--1x2@60, 110, 120, 130, 140, 145 for three doubles. These felt very tough but I was able to grind them out.

I ended up with a quick stretch and even though I felt as empty as the Irish weightlifting budget, I was happy with how the session went. Have a gander at the video and let me know if you spot anything glaring.

I will also leave this short video that seems to embody the advice that someone left me in my last post. Have a look at Aramnau's technique and how he stays on the outside edges of his feet at the beginning of the pull. let me know what you think:

Monday 14 September 2009

Monday's man management

Training went well enough considering I was rusty from two days off and it was a Monday. Once again I did my squats seperately beforehand and my goal for today's training was to ignore where I was and want to be again, and simply to accept where I am and how I can improve each session, bit by bit. This was my epiphany today. it makes no difference where you were two months ago, two years ago, two weeks ago. Focus on where you are right now and what you can do to improve your performance today, inch by inch--queue in the Al Pacino speech from Any Given Sunday:

I Back Squatted today and last week I got one measly double with 150, so I aimed to get three doubles today, feeling that bit fresher than last week. Instead I got four doubles and although I was tempted to go a bit heavier and do a few more sets. But, I tried to keep my discipline and get my lifts up one step at a time. I aimed to do the same for my later session. Due to time constraints, I only had one hour to do the following, which limited my rest. Here is what I did:

Snatch--1x3@40, 40, 50 1x2@60 1x1@70, 80, 90, 95, 100, 100, 100--I missed the third rep because I lost my back arch. I made up for it with the fourth rep. I found these very tough and there was side to my brain telling me not to go under, but I had to get them. Last Monday I did three reps with 90, and in my last session on Friday I did two rep with 95 and two with 97. I need to up this again for my session on Wednesday.

Snatch Pull--3x2@110--My first set was not good, but when I took off my straps, I was able to grip the bar better and this allowed me to get my elbows around and my back far tighter. My first reps tended to be good, but my second reps, not as good.

Power Clean + Squat Clean--1x2@60, 60, 80, 90, 100, 110 for three doubles. I found these tough because my left elbow was still a bit sore from Friday's workout and the rack position was not the most comfortable. Once I got my elbows around faster, both movements went much smoother.

Here is a video of two of my Snatches. They are not pretty and my feet still are not moving, but they are better than they have been over the last three or four weeks. It is a start. By the end of this week, I want to be a closer to where I need to be technically and physically for the competition in Cork on October the 3rd. I weighed in this morning at 96.8kg, so my nutrition habits are paying off, slowly but surely. I have lost around two and a half kilograms of fat in the last three weeks. I need to get down to 96 or slightly lower by the week of the competition so I can make the 94kg class. Have a look at the videos and let me know if you have any points:

Friday 11 September 2009

Friday's fighting lifts

I split up my session again today, doing my squats in the morning and the rest of my session later in the day. I was feeling okay after yesterday's tough session and I wanted to push the weights up a little. Here is what I did:

Front Squat--2x5@60 1x3@ 80, 100, 110, 120, 130, 140 for three triples. These were tough enough, but I ground them out.

Later that day...

Snatch--2x3@40 1x2@50, 60, 70, 80 1x1@90, 95, 100--I missed this. My head was not capable of this on the day, so I went down to 90, back up to 95 again and then I went up to 97kg for two more singles. My back lock felt good and I think by next week I will be lifting a little higher again.

Snatch Pulls--3x2@105--These felt good and I really tried to get as much flexion as possible.

2 Front Squats + 1 Jerk--1x3@70, 70, 90, 100, 110, 120--After doing my squats earlier, my legs were pretty fried. I failed with 120 twice in the Jerk. I then reasoned that I was getting the bar high enough, but I was not getting into position to catch the bar properly. I sorted out my head for the third rep and I ground it out. I had to get pretty low in the catch and it was not pretty, but I got it. I left it there because I was feeling a bit of pain around my left elbow for the first time. I am not sure why this is the case, but over the last two weeks or so, I have felt it coming on. I will monitor this and make sure it does not get worse.

I will leave you with a link to an interview with an American weightlifting coach Glenn Pendlay. It is fascinating and correlates to some of the things Jim Schmitz and Charlie Hamilton told me in their interviews and in the gym. It is pretty long, but it is very interesting, so I would advise you to take the time to listen, particularly if you are a coach.

As an extra bonus feature, here is a video of Lu Yong, the 85kg class champion in Beijing. His lifting is exemplary, so enjoy:

Thursday 10 September 2009

Thursday's tipping point

Myself and Sami did an hour flexibility session yesterday and I felt a bit loser for it today, where I split my session into two parts. In a quick 30 minute session earlier, I did my Clean Deadlifts and worked up to two triples with 140kg and they were tougher than I thought they would be. I had to train a good bit later than usual this evening because Sami could not train before half seven, so I was really glad I did the pulls earlier in the day.

In the second session, I started with a lot of sets of Overhead Squats focusing on getting those knees out all the way from the top of the movement down to the bottom position. After this I did the following:

Snatch--1x2@ 40, 40, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 for three doubles. I was happy with these because although they are far lighter than I have done in the previous months, I was Snatching somewhat closely to the way I actually lift. I was able to keep my back locked and get comfortable in the bottom position.

Jerk behind the neck--1x2@ 70, 70, 90, 100, 110, 120, 130--I got two doubles with this and then missed the second rep on the third set. I did another set and just about got my double with a pressout. I needed to get my front foot out a bit more on this one.

Power Cleans--1x2@60, 80, 90, 100, 110 for three doubles. Again, I am starting to get back to my normal self with these and it felt good not struggling with such a light weight.

It was my first session in the last few weeks were I have been able to lift like myself. I have been focusing on getting a bit more sleep and the lighter training over the last two weeks has obviously helped. I am hoping for a good session tomorrow and that the two days off can revitalise me all the more so that next week I can start to lift to lift the way I can. Here is a short video that explains why I hate treadmills and why I advise anyone reading this to stay away from them:

Tuesday 8 September 2009

Tuesday's tidy lifting--queue in Murph who says "NOT!" in a Borat accent

I trained today and yesterday also. I was predictably tired, but I wanted to get back into my routine, so that I will be as fresh as possible for the 3rd of October.

Yesterday I squatted in a short 30 minute session that was seperate from the rest of my training. I squatted up to a double with 150 and I then did a single and left it at that. Later that evening, after a good warm up with some flexibility, I Snatched up to ninety for five singles. I missed the first two because I was not switched on, but the rest were pertty straight forward. I then went onto a few sets of Snatch Pulls with 100 in which I focused on keeping a locked back. After this came the Power Clean followed by a squat Clean. I went up to a top set with 110 with tehese and that was that. Light--although it did not feel like it--and enjoyable.

Although I was tired yesterday, today's session was far harder. I started with Power Snatch doubles and I went up to three top sets with 80kg. They felt really heavy even though my Power Snatch pb is 100kg. Harry got me to tense my upper back in a slightly different way than before and it felt good. I then went onto Clean and Jerk singles up to 110kg. I missed the first attempt due to a lack of focus. I then got three hard, grinding singles. Harry made the point that I was in no way finishing my pull, so my last rep ended up being my best. I was supposed to Front Squat afterwards, but my left knee was bothering me for some unknown reason. It hurt a it when I tried some pulls so I left it there and did a bit of flexibility. I have a feeling it was a phantom pain that comes along every now and then and leaves just as mysteriously.

Here is a video of a legendary lifter who also happens to be Jim Schmitz's favourite ever lifter:

Monday 7 September 2009

Saturday’s Scottish showdown

Sami, myself and Cathal all got up at five in the morning so that we could make our flight over to Glasgow in time for the competition. I was feeling better than Wednesday and I was really looking forward to competing. I love the moments of doubt that you have to swallow down so that you are composed and relaxed enough to perform. I find that when I am nervous and even a bit jumpy, my nervous system is telling me that I am primed to go.

I weighed in at 97.5kg when I got up and for the competition, we weighed in at around twenty past nine in the morning. I had a banana and two pears with a bit of water for breakfast; I knew I would not be light enough for the 94kg class. I weighed in at 97.3kg; Sami weighed in at 85.4kg and wisely decided to leave trying to make weight as it was the total he was after, not the sinclair. Cathal weighed in at a light 73kg and Eamonn tipped a solid 88kg. Myself, Sami and Eamonn had to wait until around four to lift, so there was quite a bit of waiting around, but we were able to eat and drink without any undue worries.

Cathal lifted first, and after his 105kg opener in the Snatch, he decided that the knee that was bothering him was a bit much with his other competitions coming up. He decided to leave the rest of his Snatches, and to Power Clean and Power Jerk to his heart's content. Once his knees are not shouting at him, we will see some big lifts.

Sami then opened up with 92 in the Snatch, Squat Snatched 95 and then was startlingly close to 100kg that looked light and fast, but was not locked out. He Clean and Jerked a pb of 121 that looked very easy and then got under 125 but could not rack it properly.

Eamonn was not feeling it in the Snatch and got an easy opener with 93. He had 97 and 98 very high, but he could not quite lock them out. He Clean and Jerked 133 which looked nowhere near a limit lift and considering he has moved over to Edinburugh and his training has been severely interupted, he lifted well.

In the warm up room, my lifts were not feeling as fast and fluid as I would have liked. I was feeling fast, but the weights were falling down on me a bit and my feet were not reacting like they usually do. I had planned on opening up with 105kg, but after warming up with 97.5 and 100, I brought it down to 103. My first Snatch felt fast and comfortable, but my feet were doing weird things as you will see in the video. I had planned to lift 110 as my second attempt, but as I was not on my best form, I changed it to 108. This lift felt wrong in so many ways, but I got it. The video is gruesome viewing and shows that this and my next lift were about as attractive as a bulldog chewing a bee. My back was nowhere near locked; I was swing the bar outrageously; I needed to finish the pull; my feet were nowhere near where they needed to be and I had to do a Usain Bolt both times in order to retrieve the lifts. Basically, the way I learned to lift over the Summer was not in sight or sound. I think this was due to cns fatigue and my hips telling me to get back and improve on the flexibility I had in June.

My Clean and Jerks were pretty similar. Ugly, but brutally effective. My Cleans and Snatches would usually be my strong point, but on Saturday they were my weak points. My Jerk was the strongest it has ever been and that was quite satisfying. I warmed up with 110, 120 and 130. The Cleans never felt smooth, but I felt strong enough and the Jerks were sticking nicely. I opened with a nice 135kg that felt pretty basic. My hips were shooting up too early in the Clean and this changed my pulling trajectory. I was far too relaxed for my second attempt with 140 and I did not finish my pull. My feet also went off on a wander and all these factor meant I missed the weight. I sorted out my head for my third attempt and I got a Clean that was as ugly as sin, and a nice Jerk to follow. This was the first time I have Jerked this weight without a press out, so I was happy to get it.

Overall, I was happy with how I lifted, because I was as poor as I can be technically. My form was wincing to look at in the videos, but after how I felt in the week of, and before, the competition, I was happy for my 250 total which was a pb. I know I have a lot more speed, technique and power left to show and I am hoping the Club Championships in Cork will be the place to show it. We will see. I really enjoyed coming to this competition and it was great to get the ring rust out of the system. The video of our lifts is below, so any comments or pointers are welcome.

Wednesday 2 September 2009

Wednesday's wrap up

I did not know what to expect with tonight's workout, considering what happened with my last two. The plan was to Snatch up to 95 and Clean and Jerk up to 120 or so; basically to lift up to my second last warm up sets.

Harry helped me keep my focus by banning me from speaking. A harsh measure, but one I am sure Murph would concur with. I had a warm up with lots of Overhead Squats and I got going in the Snatch. I got up to 95 and it felt awful. I did it again and it felt slightly better and I asked Harry could I lift it one more time and it was the best; sluggish but it felt like a proper Snatch. For the last two reps I focused as hard as I could on contracting my upper back muscles and this really helped.

I then Clean and Jerked up to 117 and from there to 122 which I cleaned twice and missed the Jerk, even though my Jerk was feeling pretty sharp. I Clean and Jerked 122 again and made it sloppily. I was focusing on one thing and then a few others would go haywire. Not my day but a definite improvement on the last week's training.

I have two days now to rest and get my stretching and active recovery stuff in, so I will use my time well. I am really looking forward to Saturday's competition and if I can't lift what I want or even if I get pb's, either way I just want to enjoy myself. I will leave you with a video some may find amusing: