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.


CathalByrd said...

Hey Baz. Seems to me that in July when you were snatching better and had better back arch that you started the pull with your hips a little higher, not much higher, maybe only an inch or two but an inch or two in the snatch can make a big difference. By having your hips a little higher the it can stop the lower back from 'tucking' or rounding, which it is doing at the moment. It doesn't seem to only be your lower back though, it's also your mid- and upper back that seem to round a little. Maybe throw a few barbell rows, t-bar rows into your programme from time to time...? Also maybe some back extensions and reverse back extensions for the lower back...?

snatch_pete said...

Some of your lifts look like you are cutting pull a little short in what looks like an attempt to be faster under the bar. Also think this 'sneakiness' is leading to you then having to rush forward in the recovery. 100's and some of the 105s.

As for the back issue my only recommendation is somewhat supported by Cathals above so will keep it short. Start with ass a way up and where it is easy to keep back straight and then lower ass down to starting position. The recent ones you are sitting already in a lower position (rather than lowering ass to start before immediate take off) which I think has a tendency to relax back and make it harder to keep 'stiff'. Hope that makes sense as the more I read it the more confusing it sounds.

Zag said...

Hey Barold,

I was just about to make the same comment as Cathyl in relation to your hips starting slightly lower now as compared to when you came back from the 'Dam. I also think there are another few points that I'll mention to see what everyone else think about it.

1. I think what helped you in holland was that you were put into positions by a physical therapist that you aren't being put through at the mo...this also included ancillary exercise for your posterior chain like back extension & variations. (I can't remember the last time I saw you perform such exercises while we train together)

2. You trained twice per day while over there. This means that you trained for a total of 4 hours max (maybe a little less) and spent the rest of your humble 20 hours resting.

3. When you came home from the 'dam you downloaded for atleast 7-10days as far I can remember (correct me if I'm wrong) and then snatched the 112 & 115kg lift that you are comparing lifts with in your video.

4. When you went off to the "You S of A, I like...." you managed to train with good numbers (your 150kg jerk behind the neck in particular) Again I think you lifted well at the beginning of your holiday because you were surrounded by sunshine, warm weather, great food & wine and offcourse the company of your lovely girlfriend.(you were also training in good gyms with lifter who lifted more and you met coaches who shared some of their philosophies)Your squats only suffered because you were limited in training time and you were also cycling & walking a good bit too.

5. I think after you came home if you downloaded yourself like the 'dam you probably would have lifted well. Except you went over to Scotland to train some more(which I think was a good idea because again you learned alot from another great coach in chick) I can't remember but I think you clean & jerked 140 which again is a new pb this summer for you and you also back squated 180(also a pb)

6. Now my friend you came home from Scotland and you struggled to snatch 90kg nd power clean 100kg at one stage.....and you thought this was strange?????
Part of the reason that you are unable to lock you back like you could previously is because your body is on the verge of overtraining(Although some might agree you already reached that point). This summer you've had 4-5 different training camps in 3 different time zones (1 herc-june, 2 'dam-july, 3 UL-july, 4 scotland, and you also trained in america which could possibly count as a 5th) You've travelled a lot and your body clock has been trying to adjust to 3 different time zones.

Might I also remind both of us that we're still learners (it sounds a lot better that beginners) and that our bodies are still trying to adapt to training so some times when you try to change to many things at the one time it can all catch up.

Anyone reading this might be bored at this stage and infact I don't even have time to read over my comments to see if I've made any spelling mistakes 'cause I'm in a rush, but I do think I've made a few interesting points. Again I stand to be corrected to anything I say but I only made my points to try and help you progress like you help me.

Let me know what you think.

p.s. I've only been speaking english for 11 years so I apologies for any spelling mistakes.


Anonymous said...

murph says

i agree with cathal on the back extensions front i would also think about using the exercise that chick showed us the snatch romanian deadlift off a plate where you lower down to a position similar to your starting position. I also think when training next with your lovely assistant zag you should get zag to push and manipulate you into a proper starting position with lighter weights up to 80 or 90 kg. I am sure zags knee digging into your back and manipulating you into position will work.

Anywho hope can be of use

ps zag dont be gentle with him

Anonymous said...

i also just remembered another good one would be to place the bar at the height that you can arch properly and keep the bar locked and then slowly progressively lower the height. A good progression would be off a 25k plate then 20 k 15k and so on would prob help in the short term more than any the other methods


gentledoc said...


IMHO and sincerely it could be that you are overtraining, given your recent comments about the tightness in your back etc...I deal with this myself, when I am overtrained and it is easy to be that way at 53 y/o lol I notice I do the same thing, I round my back and cut my pull short.

What kind of lifting shoes are you wearing? They remind me of the old adidas from my era.

Barry said...

Fatigue is a distinct possibility, but I think it is a bit more than that. Next week is my download week where I will only train twice and get in as much recovery work as possible.

I just got a new pair of weightlifitng shoes that I tried for the first time that night. They are Risto Sports weightlifting shoes.

Thank you for the suggestions. said...


Take a look at the Tommy Kono series of instructional videos on YouTube, they are excellent and emphasize teaching points relative to the curvature of the low back, shoulders over the bar, lats flared etc...Also, I was having some flexibility difficulty with my low back, so what I did to correct was pointing my toes out more, not a pronounced frog style but definitely more pronounced and it really helped with my starting position, and keeping the bar closer.

Hope it helps! I think it is great that you share your training with the rest of us and you have provided many good and helpful tools for all lifters with your blog. I did find out that I do get to make a trip to Ireland this summer, my oldest will be in Limerick and I will have some work up at Queens in Belfast but hope to get to Clare, where my family is from and will do some training while over there hopefully!

All the best and continued success!!


bigphathar said...

First thoughts: Zag is wiser than his years. Good points man of Zog.

Second: You're over-trained and stressing too much. Light training between now and Saturday.

Third: You're not using the 'get set position' that you were before you got into your starting position in the Snatch (I'll show you later) which you picked up in Amsterdam.

Fourth: Great points from Pete & Cathal.

Bob Takano said...

You may have tight hamstrings which contribute significantly to lower back rounding. Try doing some seated good mornings while keeping the back arched.

Kirksman said...

Many words. I've checked and asked my coach. Here's our idea. First fix these;

- Hips higher.
- Turn OUT your elbows (This automatically flares your lats.)

When this is fixed, we can see other issues and slowly work at them one by one.

Post a Comment