Friday 24 December 2010

Friday's fitness buff

This video is far more important than anything I have to say:



I do have a few things to discuss unfortunately, so here it goes:

My week's training has been refreshing, tough and very, very enjoyable. I had a wonderful Christmas Eve workout with Zag and few of our dedicated ECB members. We all trained well and Stephen Kinsella hit a huge pb in the Clean and Jerk; the more impressive part is that he got it after failing twice. Awesome. Zag also trained well and it is great to see him getting his training back on track. Aco is another new member in ECB and the man has an awful lot of potential, as does young Josh who is a beast of a 16 year old. I wish I had trained like that when I was 16.

As for my own training, today I Snatched 94kg for twenty singles in twenty minutes, lifting on every minute, giving me around 40 seconds of recovery. Again, my technique got better every lift and I really enjoyed the challenge. I Clean and Jerked straight after and did my 20 singles with 114kg in twenty minutes, giving me around 35 seconds of recovery between each lift. I followed this up with a max set of 5 reps with 140kg in the box squat. Yes, this is embarrassingly small, but it is better than last week and there is more there. I am aiming to push it more in week three and four.

As for my new program, there are a few points I neglected to make in my previous post. I chose the Box Squat over the regular Back Squat for the following reasons:

1. I am awful at the movement because I have a weak posterior chain and poor--but improving--hip mobility. My first day of doing 5x5 in the Box Squat had my hamstrings about to pop off the bone.

2. Both John Broz, David Spitz, Max Aita and Glenn Pendlay all told me the Box Squat would help me immensely for the above reasons. As well as that, Broz gave out to me in length about how I was Back Squatting like I should Front Squat and that basically, it was embarrassing. The idea is that performing the Box Squat for a few months will help me regroove a proper Back Squat and allow me to focus on a physical imbalance. When I get up to hitting 160 for five reps, I will drop down from a 14 inch box to a 12 inch box and build my numbers up again. Once I get stronger at this height, I know the proper movement pattern will be ingrained and some of my physical areas to work will have been strengthened.

3. I am choosing to do the twenty lifts in twenty minutes for a variety of reasons. Firstly, I got the idea from Glenn Pendlay who has used the program with his beginners with great success. The amount of repetitions helps lifters get a high amount of reps in to learn the movements; but more importantly for me: because there is very little recovery between lifts, rhythm, tempo and technique determine success and it is far more difficult to muscle up weights, which is something I have been very guilty of for a long time. My twentieth rep today with 94kg was far better than my twentieth rep with 90kg a week and a half ago. I was hitting the positions I want to hit far better after all the reps. Usually I would hit higher weights regardless of positioning and go on ingraining negative movement patterns.

Also, the lack of recovery time means that I dwell less on technique and simply focus on controlling my breathing, getting set and lifting the weight overhead. Basically, it gets me to shut up and lift. Another reason I chose this style of training because it is great for off season sport specific conditioning. It is very demanding on the heart and lungs, particularly the Clean and Jerk.

And finally, I actually enjoy the challenge of lifting this way. I have never done anything like it and it is my short term aim to hit twenty reps in twenty minutes with 100/120 within the next four weeks. I know I can do it.

I am really enjoying training again and this makes me happy. The most simple squatting system in the world is making me stronger and I am getting lots of reps in improving weights.

For all of you who love X-Factor, Christmas and comedy:



For people who love to laugh:







Everyone knows weightlifting is the same as bodybuilding, right?



Last one to make you smile. If it doesn't, I never liked you anyway:

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Tuesday's tap it in the hole moment--tappity tapperoo!

I have found my weightlifting mojo again and it feels great. To start off today's post, here is a video of a British sprinter Power Cleaning 170kg weighing around 88kg:



I love watching raw power and passionate lifters.

As for my own training, I am effectively in an off season and I needed to do something different to get my mojo back. Here is the reality of my situation over the last few months:

1. I was not getting stronger.
2. I was not lifting more weight in the classical lifts.
3. My positioning was not improving.
4. Running a gym alongside a full time job pretty much sapped my physical and mental energy.
5. Putting myself under pressure to lift certain weights by a certain time actually made the problems worse because the more wound up I got the worse I lifted.

So, these are the main priorites for my lifting in the next two months:

1. Get stronger: I will focus on the Box Squat and the RDL.
2. Lift only three days a week so that I can recover adequately to work both jobs and lift at the same time. The idea of not recovering as a weightlifter in order to force adaptation does not wash with me in my current life situation.
3. Get lots of reps in with the classical lifts.
4. Chill out and enjoy training again.

So here is my program for the next month. I am a week in and I really love it because I know I will make progress and it is completely different to anything I have done before. I am basically lifting using some of Glenn Pendlay's coaching methods for beginners and it is great for improving strength, rhythm and tempo in the classical lifts, and sport specific weightlifting conditioning. Here it is:

Day One:

Snatch: Work up to a top weight and Snatch it twenty times in twenty minutes; you lift every minute and this generally adds up to around 35 to 40 seconds of recovery. Today I lifted 93kg for 20 singles and I am finding so far that my last ten are the smoothest and fluid lifts.

RDL: Work up to 3x3 with a top set. Each week I will increase the weight slightly and improve the range of movement.

Box Squat (14 inch box): I am following the Texas Squat Method and it is delightfully simple. Day one is the volume day and you work up to 5 sets of 5.

Core work: I neglected this too much in the last two years. Laziness.

Day Two:

Hang Snatch: I work up to 5 triples with a modest weight. This is as much positional reinfocement as it is a warm up for the main act that is the focus as follows:

Clean and Jerk: Work up to 20 singles in 20 minutes. I have only done this once so far and it is tiring, but like the Clean and Jerk, it is doing wonders for my timing and overall feel of the lift. Because there is so little recovery, I cannot muscle up the weights like I have been guilty of in the past. Technique and rhythm and tempo improve as the lifts mount up.

Front Squat: Work up to a medium weight for 3x3. This is effectively a squat recovery.

Pressing and Pendlay rows: I need to get stronger and mentally, I need the variety for something different.

Core work

Day Three:


Snatch : 20 singles in twenty minutes.

Clean and Jerk: 20 in 20.

Box Squat: Intensity day of Texas method. Work up to a max set of 5 in the squat. If I cannot progress in this basic squat program, I deserve to be shot. I have every faith in it though. This is my second week and it feels great already.

Core work and fexibility. I will have to stretch every day or else my hips will tighten up and get painful and restrict my movement very negatively. I have been far too lazy with my stretching and doing it two or three times a week is simply not good enough for me. I need to stretch my hips out every day if I am to improve and get my flexibility to any kind of standard for weightlifting. It is currently awful and holding me back; I simply have not worked hard at it enough.

Let me know what you think of the program. I will monitor my progress closely and it it helps me out and I gain from it, it will obviously affect what my following program will look like. 4 weeks on and 1 week download. Let's see how it goes then!

Here is a brilliant lifting video to leave you with:

Wednesday 15 December 2010

Wednesday's whippets

I found missing out on London quite deflating and the anti-climax has temporarily killed my training mojo. I will get it back. Last week I trained once and this week I will get three sessions in. Listen to this song as you read this post because it is beautiful:



Because I have very little to report on my own training, here are some interesting links to cool things to read and watch:

This is directly taken from Vern Gambetta's blog and strikes home:
Knowing & Learning Stuff

There is stuff you know.

There is stuff you think you know.

There is stuff you know you don’t know.

Then there is stuff you don’t know, you don’t know.

It seems to me one of the biggest challenges is moving stuff from the category of you don’t know you don’t know it, to knowing you don’t know it. I know, as I get older I realize that the stuff I know and the stuff I think I know pales in significance in relation to the stuff I know I don’t know. I just want to keep learning, challenging myself and exploring the mysteries of human movement and performance by getting more stuff into the category of stuff I know. I do know it is a process.


This makes me think about the training errors I have made and how I need to evolve.

Next up is an interview with Donny Shankle from my new friend Cedric's website. He is a cool guy and we are bringing Glenn Pendlay over in March next year to perform a weightlifting workshop in both Edinburgh and in Ireland.

Donny also reveals an extract from his new book in this blog post.

Here is an interesting post from a blog I like; it has interesting ideas about how to learn and develop talent.


Here is a video with David Rigert in it. Enough said:



Three lighthearted entries:







Sunday 5 December 2010

Sunday's snickering

Firstly, here is a great video to start the post with:



As for weightlifting, sadly the competition was not able to go ahead because of the weather and it has been postponed till January 8th. A little part of me died inside when David Woodhouse kindly texted me to say the London Open was not going on. We had a fun training session yesterday in ECB, but it was not the same. I have been focusing on this competition for a long time and my next competition will be in February for the UL Open. It gives me more time to train for my 272kg total, so all is not in vain. Gillian, Zag and Dee lifted really well yesterday and it was great seeing each of them improve.



Here is another mood booster:



And one more for good luck:



I am going to have two fun training weeks and see how it goes. I hope everyone is training hard and enjoying it.

Monday 29 November 2010

Monday's miraculous November snowfall

As you may have guessed fromt the title, it is snowing and most people seem to have a smile on their face which is always a plus. The last time it snowed, this happened. The video in this post was a tragic admission to a dependency on a drug known as Trexabol, a weightlifting drug of choice made popular by the legendary coach Konboyevski. What followed the day after was another clear sign of the madness that Trexabol afflicts on its poor victims, so look at the video to see firsthand what happens to drug addicts and how snow can drive us all mad.

Right, now the pain, suffering and massive gains that one can get from designer drugs has been taken care of, we can discuss other matters. I trained well on Saturday considering the conditions. I Snatched up to 100kg the first time up and I was very stiff and not in the groove at all, missing 104 and 105kg. The weights really did not feel heavy so I stretched my hips out for twenty minutes and came back again and Snatched up to 111kg. Here are my attempts with 108 and 111kg.

video

video

I only Clean and Jerked up to 130kg and missed 136. I was pretty tired and cold. I know my Clean and Jerk will be strong for next week and that I will lift better than I have ever lifted before. Before I leave, here is one of Oleg's freinds over in Latvia making 210kg look like an embarrasingly small weight. I love the gym and the old school metal plates. And the fact that he is way stringer than me.

video

Here is another cool weightlifting video:



Klokov pressing 157kg like a joke:



And this comic masterpiece that makes me want to be a better man:

Friday 19 November 2010

Friday's feng shui

Firstly, here is the second part of my interview with Rachel Crass:



Thank you Rachel for giving the time to talk about our sport and for giving your perspective on training and lifting in general. I can speak for all five people who read this blog and say we all appreciate it!

As for my own training, I have had a positive week so far. I feel like I got a bit of momentum from my last competition and it definitely makes training when you are tired that little bit easier. Last night I hit two nice 85% doubles in the Snatch and it felt like it should, which is great. My second double was better than my first and the showed that what I have been working on--maintaining my positions throughout the lift--is beginning to pay off. London is just over two weeks away and it feels nice to build some sort of momentum.

German has been lifting some big weights also, he recently hit 132.5kg in the Snatch and 160kg in the Clean and Jerk weighing around 92kg. I have a higher intensity session tomorrow, so I will see how that goes. Have a nice weekend everyone; train hard and train smart!

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Tuesday's turnpike

I enjoyed the competition up in Belfast on Saturday. As usual, it was very well organised and it was refreshing to have so much space to warm up and relax in. This is by far and away the best venue in the country and I heard that the Irish Seniors will be held there in April, so hopefully that goes ahead.

As far as my own performance went, I lifted relatively well and more importantly I enjoyed it. Gillian lifted really well and once she was finished lifting, I was able to relax and chill out for a while. I made sure that I ate foods that would not be too heavy on the stomach and that I had enough energy for the day. My warm up went relatively well and I Snatched up to 100kg and went out to the platform. I deliberately left my warm up as late as possible so that I could use my scant nervous energy in the competition platform. I almost left my warm up too late for the Clean and Jerk, but I woul rather be too rushed than too tired! Here is a video of my lifts. My Snatches were 106kg, 111kg, and 113kg. My Clean and Jerks were 135, 140 and 145kg.


video


I was happy with my performance here because it was another small step up from my last two competitions. I am not exactly where I should be right now, but I have no choice other to to get on with it. I felt strong, but quite slow in general. These are the heaviest weights I have hit since May and I know I am getting back on track. London is in two and a half weeks and I know I will have another step up again. I have an intense week this week followed by a lighter week with a heavy session the week before. The week of the competition will be a get as fresh as possible week so that I rip it up as much as possible in London.

Friday 12 November 2010

Friday's franchise questions

Here is a short video of Rachel Crass, who is a 75kg lifter for the USA:



Here is part one of an interview I had with Rachel, so I hope you enjoy it and any questions that you have, leave a comment below and Rachel might answer them herself. I will have part two of the interview ready for next week.



As for my own training, I have taken a download week to recharge my batteries. Being tired all the time is not fun so I have trained onece this week with a light session and then the following day I did some squatting to make sure my legs did not forget who I was. I have a competition on Saturady in Belfast so I am going to go up and enjoy it. I will be coaching beforehand again, but there is no way I can change this, so get on with it I suppose! Have a nice weekend everyone and train hard!

Monday 8 November 2010

Saturday’s stellar showdown







It was a long, long day and despite the obstacles, we made a success of the first inaugural joint Ireland and Scotland team versus a combined California team. Fun was had by all and it is definitely satisfying being part of something new in the sport of weightlifting. There has never been a competition like this before and it definitely opens up the possibility of greater communication with other weightlifting nations and can undoubtedly help Irish weightlifting.

We had an early start in the morning and after meeting up with the legend that is Charlie Hamilton, we ate breakfast and chilled out for a while. We were lifting at 6pm which is far later than any of us was used to, but all was well. Each lifter in our team had their own particular circumstances: Peter Kirkbride was getting sick all day and had was quite ill—he still lifted though and hit 140/170 and Power Jerked because his lower back was sore. Graeme Kane was a last minute arrival and rocked up after his shift as a fireman. He had less than ten minutes to warm up and he still Snatched 112kg on his third attempt and hit 140kg, also Power Jerking because of a sore back. The Irish boys were a little tired from the flight and long day, but Byrdie Clean and Jerked 150kg which made my day.

Sami ended up Snatching well hitting 95kg, 99kg, narrowly missed 103kg and hit 125kg in the Jerk. Byrdie hit 105kg on his second attempt and missed 108kg, but nailed 150kg in the Jerk. Kevin hit 110kg, missed 115kg and after getting it, Jerked 140kg. I missed my opener with 106kg and then hit it and followed it with 110kg. Craig Carfray hit 95 and 127 and missed 100kg and 130kg. Dale Cree ended up with an awesome 110kg and 132kg. Kyle Pearson ended up with 108kg and 145kg. Like I said earlier, Kirkbride hit 140/170 and Kane 112/140.

My warm up was negligible, because everything that we needed to host our part of the live feed was not there. A lot of time was spent starting up the whole process all over again as I frantically found a different laptop to use and when it was finally done, it was a major relief. We were forced to start a little late, but the crisis was averted and all was ready to go. I knew from my first five minutes with the bar and with 40kg that today would not be my greatest day. I was due to open with 105kg, but had to push it up to 106kg because I needed a bit more time in my warm up because of the rush. I missed my opener, but then got it and was also successful with 110kg on my third attempt. 60kg felt pretty heavy in the Clean and Jerk warm ups and it was only in my first attempt with 135kg that I felt comfortable. I then hit 140kg and missed the Clean with 142kg.

Pretty much everything I have been working on in training went out the window and I had to simply get the weights up overhead. The fact that I can hit 110/140 in this condition is a good sign because a year ago if I was in bad form, I could not have hit those weights. As lifts in themselves, they are very disappointing, but considering the conditions, I have to accept it and be realistic: I actually did ok. Four out of six is not bad.

I have a download week coming up and I need this badly to recover. The strength is there to get what I need and so is the technique. Now I need to be fresh enough so that I can express my proper potential and focus on myself as a lifter, not in any other role.

Thanks so much to Glenn, Dave Corbin and Matt Johnson for setting this competition up and even though it did not go entirely as planned; all the lifters and some of the online viewers really enjoyed the competition.

Friday 5 November 2010

Friday's fringe benefits

Irish weightlifting and East Coast Barbell are going global, ladies and gentlemen. Have a read about the inaugral Ireland/Scotland vs California event on the IWF website; we are the third or fourth story down.

It has taken time and effort for myself, Glenn Pendlay and Matt Johnson from California Strength to set this gig up, but it finally happening tomorrow evening. We have also set up a live feed that will show the competition from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean and here is the link. This is a first in international weightlifting and has hopefully set up new possibilities for cross-cultural links in weightlifting and sporting countries. The idea is to create more awareness of the sport of weightlifting in general and specifically Irish weightlifting. I know East Coast Barbell can help lead this charge and this is one of the main reasons that I am thankful of all the support the IAWA continues to give us and also Colin Buckley for helping us get recognised by the IWF and EWF.

Here is the Irish/Scottish team with their weight class and lifts:

Scotland:
Craig Carfray: 69kg class: 98/128--17 years old
Dale Cree: 85kg class: 105/130--17 years old
Peter Kirkbride: 94kg class: 146/186--23 years old
Kyle Pearson: 105kg class--107/145--19 years old

Ireland:
C. Byrd: 77kg class--114/147--23 years old
Sami Dowling: 85kg class--101/128--23 years old
Kevin D'Arcy begin_of_the_skype_highlighting     end_of_the_skype_highlighting: 94kg class--130/160--25 years old--returning from injury
Barry Kinsella: 105kg class, I will weigh in around 95kg--118/147



Here are the rules of the competition according to the gospel of Pendlay written by the man himself--even if he is a red necked, slack jawed yokel from Kansas:

Rules of Engagement

Other than the following, all normal weightlifting rules apply.

Each team is allowed 8 men of any weight class. Each team lifts as in a normal weightlifting session, with the bar starting at the lightest lift and progressing to the heaviest.

Lifts from each team alternate in the following manner, Team A takes first attempt, Team B takes first attempt, Team A takes second attempt, Team B takes second attempt, Team A takes third attempt, and so on, till all 24 attempts for each team have been taken. Each 1 minute clock will start when the preceding lift from the opposite team has been judged. There will be no 2 minute clocks.

The contest will be scored with 5, 3, 2, and 1 points for places 1st through 4th. Any lifter placing below 4th in a weight class will score no points. Highest score wins. In the case of a tie, the team with the lifter that has the highest sinclair formula wins.

If that doesnt break the tie, then internet viewers of the opposite sex of the lifters will vote on the single most attractive participant, and the team he or she is on will be the winner. That seems fair.



So, I am off to Kilmarnock where we will lift in Charlie Hamilton's gym--some of you may remember the training camp we organised for myself, Byrdie and Andy Murphy last year and all our other Scottish experiences-- tomorrow morning very early. We will lift at 6pm our time and 10am Californian time and I am really looking forward to it. I have this competition, where I know I will improve on the 108/137 in my last competition and then I have the Northern Ireland Open in which I will be a little fresher; then I have the big one in London three weeks after and boy, I am looking forward to that one. Each competition and week's training will build on the last and I know I can get my 272kg total in London. Bring it on!

Saturday 30 October 2010

Satuday's synopsism

Firstly, here is an amazing video that everyone needs to watch. It is four minutes long.



If you do not have the time to watch it, or your computer in work will not allow you to watch it, I hate you and do not want you to read this blog. Now this might lead me to have all of three or four readers, but they will be the three or four readers that will try and regenerate their mids and actually learn something rather than simply regurgitating what they already know. Perspective is everything and everything we do should lead to new insights into ourselves and our environments. I have nowhere near the knowledge I will have this time next year and in five years time, but I will make sure I continue to improve.

Clearly, you wise readers can see where this post is going. Are we connecting with people to learn more and discussing ideas and concepts, or are we arguing our points of view and refusing to budge from our stance no matter what? I hoped this blog would be the latter but most readers tend to observe rather than interact. Here is a post that got scant discussion and it deserves more. David very clearly states his views and there was little to no discussion of them which I think David deserves for formally putting out his views and opening them up for debate. Let your opinion be heard and have your say!

I find the idea of training twice a week to be great if I need to get fresh for a competition and feel rejuvinated, but I do not find it conducive to building skill and refining technique. However, I think that David is right in that too many people try to train like full time professional weightlifters who are on so much juice that they are a walking advertisement for Tropicana OJ. This is the reason I am only training three times a week for the next 8 weeks. I am mind numbingly busy and I try to train more I shall regress completely.

Different systems work for different lifters and I believe programming needs to vary according to one's long term plan and at what stage of the year you are at. That is my view and what I find works best for me. What my body needs, and what Wayne Healy's (he writes my program) is entirely different. My body type and ohysical requirements are entirely seperate from his. I have flexibility and mobility issues and he does not have any, which means my body's ability to perform a program is totally different. He is also a 62kg lifter with very high skill levels while I am a 94kg lifter who has neither the skill nor the physical capacity to maintain positions that he has--I am getting there though, slowly but surely.

Throughout my last four months of lifting we have learned the following:

1. I was as intelligent as this person in not following my program properly. I injured my hip by not having a download week when I needed one and let my ego do the talking, not the program:



2. I am very happy with my current phase of training because I am working on getting stronger as well as increasing the intensity slowly and taking some of the volume out because I have a few competitions coming up. The focus in still on the Europeans next April and we don't feel it would be conducive to have a full competition period of training yet.

3. I need some flexion exercises for my back and also a lot of mobility work for my hips. Most people are able to lift with an arched or flat back and I am not. This requires slightly different programming to most.

4. Now, I need to shut up; prevent over-analysing and be very proactive in how I recover so that my training and lifting will hit levels like never before. Feel free to do this to me if I do not follow through with this action plan:



What are you learning and how do you like to train? Are you going to read this and simply think "this guy is irritating and has an embarrassing lack of knowledge about our sport" or are you going to start up a discussion rather than an argument. How does YOUR body react to training? EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT There are principles of training and there are programs no matter what. What do you follow?

Saturday 23 October 2010

Saturday's sneer at the previous two and a half month's form

I trained well today and for the first time in two or three months, I felt rested and ready to go. I managed to fit in a nap on Friday afternoon and a decent night's sleep that night; sweet sweet bliss as a result. We had a great atmosphere in ECB today and it was great to have Barry Whelan along and he recieved the inimitabley sage advice from Coach Harry Leech. Killer lifted very well and the one and only John McDaid also kicked ass alongside the man who makes me feel small and insecure: Cathal "Big Guns" Byrd.

I started off doing a few box jumps to kick start my cns and they felt great. I hit a conservative 46 inches and left it there. I worked up to a double with 80kg and because my lifting felt about as smooth as Murph's back, I had a quick five minute break and started off with 60kg again with Byrdie. I hit that for a double and then did singles with 80, 90, 100, 104, 107, 109 and 111kg. This is the heaviest I have lifted since the last week of July and I was happy to get it. My 109kg was by far my best Snatch of the day; the other ones were muscled up a bit and about as elegant as any of the Tiger Woods' scandals. Like Tiger though, I said screw it anyway. My days of obsessing over technique are over. I hope.

Here are some of my lifts. Apologies for how dodgy the video quality is: Harry still is unable to use his iphone properly so that the videos come out straight. It is embarrassing for both of us really.

video

I took five minutes to eat some fruit, relax and stretch the hips out a bit. I felt reasonably sharp in the Clean and Jerk warm ups and started with doubles of 60, 80 and 100kg. I then worked up to singles with 110, 120, 130, 135 and I missed the Clean with 141kg because I did not finish my hip drive in the Clean. I took it again and hammered it home.

I left it there, determined to learn from my mistakes in the past. I have not lifted near these weights since I hurt my hip and now that it is healed again, I will bide my time. What really counts is that I bring everything to the table when I am lifting over in Scotland in two weeks, in the Northern Ireland Open the week after and then in the London Open on the fourth of Decemeber. I will get my 272kg total in London and that is my focus one hundred percent. I know if I can hit anywhere close to 110/140 in training that I can tear up in competition and hit weights I have never even attempted before. Each week, I need to build slowly and stay patient. The only thing that matters is that I qualify for the Senior European Championships and I believe and have complete faith in my ability to do so.

My program now has me lifting three days a week for many of the reasons that David Woodhouse espouses in his article "The System" a few posts back. I have invested a whole lot of time and volume into my training since the end of June and now it is time to reap what I have sowed. I just need to make sure I avoid screwing it up by letting my ego drive my training, which is what I did by not following the program properly in July. Patience and faith. Let's hope that we have all learned this from our mistakes.

Friday 22 October 2010

Friday's fortuitous change in pace

I have reached the end of my phase of training and started my new phase at nine pm last night. Thank God. Volume is being slashed quite a bit and I am only training three times a week so I will recover far better in between sessions. Thank God. No more fifteen doubles in the squat; no more endless doubles in the Classical lifts. Wayne wrote an initial program that would have been too much so he rewrote it and the new one is awesome and I really enjoyed it last night. Here is what I did:

Snatch: 4x2@40 1x3@60, 66, 77 1x2@85, 85, 90, 92

Power Clean: 2x2@60, 80, 91, 105, 110

Back Squat: 1x2@110, 130, 145--I took some of the squats out because it was ten at night and I had done some medium squatting the previous evening.

In my last phase I was box squatting onto a 17 inch soft top bench and for this phase of training I am using a 14 inch wooden box. I started using the box squats because it limited the chance of me re-injuring my hip and it also allowed me to work on my squatting weaknesses. The progression for after the London Open will be to move down to the 12 inch box afterwards as well as getting stronger obviously!

I have not Power Cleaned in ages and I really enjoyed it. I am really happy I will only be training three times a week and I have no doubt that this boost in energy will result in better numbers in training and in competition.

Random funny video:




Some good news to finish on is that a joint invitational Irish and Scottish team will be facing California Strength in a controlled team competition on Saturday, November 6th. The competition will be run via skype and the Irish lifters will travel over to Kilmarnock, Scotland to Charlie Hamilton's gym. Myself, Sami Dowling, Cathal Byrd and Kevin D'Arcy will be joining forces with Peter Kirkbride, Graham Kane, Craig Caffrey and a fourth member. Wayne Healy might possibly be joining us; we have Sky News on the alert for a possible press conference from Wayne's agent. The competition will be very simple: add up the sinclairs of each lifter (there will be teams of 8) and all lifts will be given the yeah or nay by the group as a whole: the honour system will apply. The competition will be run at six pm Scottish time and ten am Californian time. It has taken me months to set this up, so thanks to Glenn Pendlay for the awesome idea and all the lifters for taking part in what should prove to be great fun.

I hipe everyone's training is going well and that we are all continuing to learn from our mistakes and also learning from what has helped us! People tend to forget the latter.

Sunday 17 October 2010

Sunday's statistics

I had my competition yesterday and I enjoyed it immensely. I was not in a great state to compete, but I enjoyed it none-the-less. Looking back, I am pleased with how I did but at the time I was quite embarrassed. I weighed in at 95.6kg after a breakfast and ample feed the night before.

I opened with 105kg in the Snatch and actually missed it, but got it on the second attempt and then hit 108kg in my third attempt and it was by far and away, my best Snatch of the day despite it being quite rough in reality. In the Clean and Jerk, I opened with 132kg and went on to hit 137kg and I then sailed 150kg which we thought we needed to win the Club Championships. I didn't even go under it. Embarrassing. We actually won the Club Championship though, so all is well. Here are some of my lifts:

video

video

video

The day started out well; I was coaching Gillian who lifted really well considering it was her first competition in a year. This meant I was in the venue from 10 in the morning up until when I competed at three in the afternoon, which was not ideal, but what can you do. Ideally I could have gone somewhere and slept after the weigh in but that was not to be. It was worth it though because Gillian hit a 4kg competition pb in her Clean and Jerk.

Zag came out and lifted really well on the spur of the moment because he was not going to lift at all. He is going on holidays today and his training, like mine, has been stuttering because of his double jobbing. He Snatched a competition pb with 101kg and Clean and Jerked 125kg and his 101kg was pretty much a Power Snatch.

By the time I was lifting in the fourth group, I felt pretty drained and found it very hard to get myself going in my warm up. My Snatch warm up was dreadful and after hitting 100 for two singles before going out, I missed 105kg in my opener which was very, very silly. I hit it in my second attempt, but the lift was as ugly as the face of a bulldog chewing on a wasp. Wayne told me that my hips were shooting up far too early and that I needed to get my hips into the pull straight from teh ground and I focused on this. My 108kg was still didgy, but a far better lift and I hit it when I felt as rough as a badger's a%s*. My legs felt drained and very tight and I had that feeling you get when you stay up too late when you are already tired.

After the snatches finished I started to feel more like myself and like I had woken up. My Clean and Jerk warm up went relatively well, so I put up my opener to 132 instead of 130. Very low figures, but I felt very low. I hit 132kg very easily and then hit 137kg nicely also. We waited out to see what I would have to lift, but we were never told by the person in charge. thinking we would need something big, Harry and Sami put 150kg on the bar and I did a nice high pull and completely sailed out of it. At least I know how it feels now and maybe next time I will borrow someone else's balls if mine disappear like that again.

All in all, I am really happy that my current phase of training is now over and that I got my first warm up competition out of the way. Onwards and upwards! These were the heaviest weights I have hit since the end of July when I first got my hip injury. I will get my 272kg total in the London Open on December 4th.

Thursday 14 October 2010

Thursday's takedown

First, I will start off with this piece. I want to be like this coach:



Here is another video that puts things in perspective:



I am competing in Saturday and I can't wait to get out in the platform. I have not competed in ages and the focus is still on London, so hopefully the Hercs team can overturn UL's dominance over Irish weightlifting. Murph is the man to fear and Eamonn Flanagan has been specially flown over from Scotland as a shoo-in. I am not sure if I agree with this tactic, but what can you do? I love those guys anyway.

My program finished last Saturday, and I am trying to get as fresh as possible for the competition. My next program will take me up to London and I am looking forward to the change of pace. I have a few competitions coming up so I will use this first one as a build up to London. Byrdie is lifting really well, so I will be doing well to beat him. My legs are still recovering from the four weeks of doing fifteen doubles in the Back Squat twice a week, so when I did a few singles in the Front Squat today, it felt like a dream. I only worked up to a single with 150kg, but my legs felt a bit better afterwards. I still have to do a quick and light Snatch and Clean and Jerk and then I should be ready to go. Yeahh buudddddy!

Wednesday 6 October 2010

Wednesday's wrath

I only have half a week left in my current program. The squatting is very tough, but I am getting stronger and that is the important thing. I only have one squatting workout left thank God and I will do it on Sunday. 15 doubles is a lot of doubles, but I am getting through it and more importantly, improving my numbers. I trust Wayne and I will continue to go along with his advice. Last week was a lighter week which proved a blessing because I was very busy all week and was taking the Weightlifting Level Two coaching course on Saturday and Sunday.

I have a competition on Saturday week which I am really looking forward to. I love lifting on the platform and I always lift well in competitions. This comp will be used to set me up for London where I will qualify for the European Championships with the needed 272kg total.

Here is the Clean and Jerk companion to last week's post where John Broz gives his advice to Zag for what he needs with his Clean and Jerk. There is also the latet ECB video, so hopefully you will enjoy all of them and you are enjoying your training.

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Friday 1 October 2010

Friday's fruity Snatching.

So. I have made a long term decision. I am now Snatching with a collar to collar grip. Before, it was very narrow and I did not have the flexibility to go wider. I am now more flexible--I still have a ways to go yet-- and I am far more able to get into position. For the first time, I feel like can open up at the start of my pull and although I am not string in the position yet, I will get there.

I worked up to six doubles with 90kg in the Snatch tonight at around 9 in the evening and Murph was there to help me. Without him, I would not have lifted nearly as well. I was too tense at the start of my pull which led to my arms swinging the bar as opposed to pulling myself under the bar. I relaxed completely and then tightened up the scaps while trying to relax everything else. It helped quite a bit. Murph is awesome.

I am also doing my fifteen doubles in the squat twice a week and it is demanding to say the least. Once it gets me stronger, I will be a happy camper. I have another week of my current program left and then I will be on to something different. As I am so busy with my regular job, coaching and alongside Zag, looking after ECB, my training time is limited to say the least. I have to be as productive as I can with the time and cns energy that I have.

Here is something I never published before. This was a present to Sami that I knew he would like. John Broz gave Sami the coaching advice he would offer if he was his coach. Here it is and here is Sami's lift with 105kg that he was looking at.
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Here is the man beast that is Chigishev Snatching 210kg and making it look impossibly fast. I have never seen a save like this before and it shows just how strong the man is. He can lift in East Coast Barbell any day.



Here is another awesome lifter. Klokov. Need I say more?

Wednesday 22 September 2010

David's delivery

My hip has mostly healed and I have been back training for the last week and a half. I am now training four days a week and along with ECB, my regular job and the coaching that goes along with it, I am one busy bee. But, where there is a will, there's a way. I will qualify for the European Championships next April even if I have to sell my soul to Murph himself. In my training program, everything was going swimmingly, and the program itself was great, but I did not take a step back when I should have and I got a minor injury as a result. Lesson learned.

We have another guest article here. David Woodhouse writes about his coaching system and his experiences in the trenches. Here is his youtube channel so you can see some of his lifters go at it. Thank you to David for the submission, and as always, if anyone has anything they would like to write about, let me know and we can publish your thoughts here.


The System: 300+ Sinclair in <5 years

'Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.' - Albert Einstein

I am not suggesting that the System is the only method of improving Olympic lifting performance, or even that it is necessarily the best method. I am simply stating that this program is universally effective in generating consistent improvement in novice/ intermediate lifters. I am perhaps slightly different from most coaches in that I can make a rational and objective argument why we do what we do.

The training frequency employed in the System was determined by simple application of Supercompensation Theory. To summarise the theory, strength decreases immediately following a training stimulus and, over time, the body will first recover and then, if no further training stimulus interrupts the process, adapt. To clarify, a lifter cannot adapt or grow stronger until he has first recovered. The challenge was to arrange training sessions such that they coincide with the peak in super-compensation.

When a lifter trains to and beyond maximum in every session I found that 72 hour period between sessions to be optimal. In reality, due to logistics resulting from the 7 day week, it is generally necessary to have 96 hours after the second session. I do however accept that full time professional lifters who get optimal sleep, a balanced optimal diet, and who take advantage of restorative measures such as massage and hydro therapy, may be able to adapt to a training program that calls for training on alternate days.

Over the last 12 months I have discovered an interesting phenomena. Two to three weeks after one begins the System limit weights will usually jump up significantly. Most likely the lifter is finally expressing the dormant strength which was already present but that was blunted by residual fatigue. Importantly once the lifter begins lifting at his absolute maximum, and not just his training or daily maximum , his need for recovery also increases. To express this differently, lifting at absolute maximum both requires and necessitates more recovery. When training frequency is too high not only will optimal supercompensation fail to occur but the athlete significantly increases his risk of chronic and acute injury. Ironically these injuries often require extended training lay offs to allow the body to heal.

A logical argument: The central nervous cannot generate the frequency of impulses required to activate the highest threshold motor units if it is fatigued. If these motor units are not activated then they will not be trained and, since they are responsible for the highest force outputs, it follows that training to improve strength in a state of neural at fatigue is at best inefficient.

I believe in the application of the SAID principle. In simple terms and applied to weightlifting, this states that the most effective way of improving the snatch and jerk is through maximum efforts on the snatch and jerk! Training frequency in the System is so low that one must be very specific in the exercise choices. I could write a detailed article on the limitations of most accessory exercises including pulls, deadlifts and partial lift variations but will leave that for another day.

It is accepted within Exercise Physiology that to train the largest fast twitch fibres an athlete must either lift a maximal load or lift a sub maximal load to failure. The System takes advantage of both these training methods every single session. A common belief is that training to maximum for prolonged periods can cause overtraining. However, according to Supercompensation Theory, a lifter cannot overtrain providing that sufficient recovery is taken between sessions.

To improve technical aspects of the lifts (an issue when training frequency is so low) I suggest all lifters, and especially novices, do 20 minutes of broom or bar work every day. This should consist of either technical exercises such as snatch balance or rehearsal of movement pattern with minimal load. I have discovered that not only are these abbreviated sessions useful in ‘greasing the groove’ they are also effective as active recovery from the core workouts.

Initially I favoured front squats as the main (only!) assistance exercise as they are more specific to the clean recovery and can be performed safely without the need for spotters. However I was also keen to gain greater benefit from structural adaptation (hypertrophy) and found that repetitions on the front squat were difficult as the upper back generally fatigues before the legs and hips. Since I switched to back squat pulling strength improved with no obvious detriment to clean recoveries.

Originally we also performed both competition lifts every session but I soon realised it was necessary to cut back. With that program my lifters were unable to fully recover within the 72 hour allotted time frame and as a result the quality of the second session suffered. Also when performing three exercises the quality of the cleans, and more significantly, the squats dropped off due to the accumulation of fatigue. By performing only one competition lift per session the lifter can attack his maximum repeatedly and is still sufficiently fresh to maintain the quality on his squats. If a lifter is overly fatigued for squatting the exercise will become a negative training stimulus, i.e. will increase fatigue without promoting any further adaptation.

Carl Johnson, coach of world triple jump champion Jonathan Edwards, once said to me, ‘do the minimal required to illicit an improvement’. That is a simple but revelatory statement. Let’s assume that the minimal acceptable rate of improvement is 1kg per month. That’s a 24kg on the total in 12 months, or 120kg over five years. How many lifters do you know who wouldn’t be satisfied with that? Cynics will say it is impossible to maintain a linear rate of improvement as one approaches his genetic potential. What they overlook however is that the rate of improvement is NOT linear because 1kg constitutes a smaller percentage of maximum as the weights continue to increase (e.g. 1kg is 1% of 100kg but 0.5% of 200kg).

A common attitude taken by athletes is, ‘I improved 24kg last year off two sessions per week. I’ll improve more this year if I do 3 or 4.” However, doing 4 sessions is not just an extra two workouts, it is a 100% increase in workload! Commonly therefore, this change does not increase the rate of progress, it actually stops it. The body cannot recover from training let alone adapt to it. Why would a lifter ever perform five sessions when they can still improve on two?!

So do away with the dogma, put aside everything you think you know about training, and give the System a try... BUT if you are going to do it be warned, you must be aggressive and totally fearless in your pursuit of those extra kilos. Do not think of failures think only of the training effect. Good Luck.




The System

Day 1
Snatch - Singles to 3 attempts at maximum, 3 repetitions at 80%
Squat - Triples to maximum

Day 2
Clean & Jerk - Singles to 3 attempts at maximum
Squat - Triples to maximum


“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results”
- Winston Churchill


Example

Lifter A, PBs: Snatch 100, Squat 160x3

Snatch Squat
50 3x2r 60 3r
60 1r 100 3r
65 1r 121 3r
70 1r 141 3r
75 1r 161 3r
80 1r
85 1r
90 1r
95 1r
98 1r
101 3 Attempts

Wednesday 15 September 2010

Murph's magic

Our esteemed friend, the Reverend Andy Murphy, has written a guest blog that I hope you folks enjoy.

Some people argue about the use of various hang lifts and the usefulness of such exercises. I believe they have their place for a number of factors.

• Allowing lifters to train when injured
• Providing variation in exercise (the whole variation and injury debacle)
• Making it easier for rugby heads to do the lifts
• Skill work transfer i.e certain lifters are unable to get the bar into the correct position when lifting off the floor therefore getting them into the correct position and then working this starting position down lower until you eventually reach the floor (that’s if you believe in teaching down instead of up which I do most of the time )
• Their ability to target and develop specific strength qualities

I believe the final point is one of the main reasons I include hang lifts in my own training and why they should be included in the training of many others weightlifters and non weightlifters. This is something I have pondered for a long time and from watching hours and hours of lifting and reading various texts on weightlifting, power lifting, bodybuilding and other sports and also from seeing the way other coaches programme.

In the lifts the so called second pull/ where the lifter generates some decent speed on the barbell/ or to quote a famous American lifter where you rip the head off the lion is one of the most important areas for the successful performance of the lift. In the lifts from the floor when the bar enters the area of the “second pull” it is already moving and thus making it move faster is not too hard well should not be too hard anyway or so they say. If we can alter the conditions of the barbell at this position we can directly influence the specific strength qualities that we target. With the use of the many different hang lifts we can manipulate the conditions in which this bar is presented for the “second pull”.

The way we perform the lifts has profound effects on the way we adapt to the lift performed. With the use of various starting conditions we can target specific strength qualities that are required by an athlete or that are lacking. The use of intra- rep pauses in the middle of the lifts whether it is full lifts or pulls or squats to develop starting strength or the use of a quick reflex for lifts from the hang or pulls from the hang to develop speed strength or weightlifting plyometrics.

Intra-rep pauses are where the lifter pauses in the various hang positions either by descending down into this position before pausing or taking the bar from the floor and pausing in this position on the way up before completing the lift the latter I find further shifts the emphasis to building starting strength. It requires a great amount of effort to generate the required force to overcome the less than optimal starting position and complete a successful lift. The repeated use of these techniques enhances the starting strength of the athlete. The use of pauses in the lifts can also further enhance positioning and skill in the lifts as the lifter gets a feel for the correct positions and this is most evident with the use of pause snatches just off the floor or below the knee the lifters becomes familiar and strong in such positions and thus is more likely to hit these correct positions during a full lift. However there are negatives to use of pause such as the development of high amounts of muscular tension in certain positions which may “slow lifters down” and also the worry of lifters breaking the lifts down into two or three phases and pausing in their full lifts. However I believe with the appropriate use of these intra rep pauses in conjunction with bucket loads of full lifts benefits can be gained outweighing the use of bucket loads of full lifts alone.

A further advantage of hang lifts comes in at the other end of the specific strength qualities speed strength. For the optimisation of such qualities it is a requirement that we descend into the hang position and immediately complete the lift utilizing the full benefit of the stretch shortening cycle “plyometric weightlifting” if you may (damn you Poliquin you have written about this before I got to empty my mind. For example you take the bar from the floor with a snatch grip and stand you then descend into a position just below the knee and upon reaching this position immediately perform a full snatch without any pause below the knee. The uses of such techniques are to increase speed of movement. Theoretically practicing at higher speeds should result in the ability to lift or perform at higher speeds. Obviously using a fairly violent reflex at the bottom of the descent or hang is going to put a serious strain/ loading on the lower back but I think if they are done sensibly and introduced slowly can really increase lifting speed without the worry of injury.

Like all assistance lifts I think it is important that they are used as assistance lifts in conjunction with the full lifts and people do not become obsessed with a certain variation that they are very good at it I think if there is a certain variation that you are rubbish at it might be the area you need to address. Obviously there are disadvantages to the use of hang lifts such as lack of specificity (not the same as a full lift in terms of tempo and starting positions), incomplete range motion and many other however I believe with the correct use of hang lifts from various starting positions one can address areas of their lifting and specific strength qualities that are beyond the possibilities with the use of just lifts from the floor.
Note:
Hang = not from the floor it can be from below the knee or at the knee or above each of these have their own merits which I will not touch upon in this waffle
Plyometric= a bastardised term thrown around to mean jumping exercises for the arms and legs


Here is an example of an elite Russian weightlifter working from the hang:



If you have any thoughts on this article or wish to publish some of your own thoughts, please leave a comment below. Thanks again Murph!

Saturday 11 September 2010

Saturday's seasoned return

I am a happy camper. As of last night, I am able to train the classical lifts again and it feels sooo good. I had my second physical therapy session and although my hip felt dodgy the day after the session, it feels better now. Not perfect, but far better. Let's start off with a classic video that many of you should enjoy:



Chris Chea, an English 77kg weightlifter with 121/148 as his all time bests, came over this morning for the next few days. I can't train tomorrow as I am taking the Level two IAWA coaching course and this has to take precedence. There was a great atmosphere in ECB today with Chris, Murph who was up from Limerick, German, Laura, Wayne, Killer, Gillian, Byrdie and myself lifting. It was intense and enjoyable for all except for Byrdie who is still feeling the effects of a brutal three month prep phase. He should be just about right for the World's in Turkey.

As for my own lifting, I wanted to see what I could do on Friday night and Snatching felt good so I worked up to a nice single with 100kg and left it there for the night. The previous day I was not able to do any of the classical lifts, so I did the bench press, as many pull ups as possible in ten minutes and some bench squats. I was definitely stiffer two days after, so lifting today was not as pleasant as last night. After feeling like crap, I eventually hit 105kg in the Snatch and hit 130kg in the Clean and Jerk. Very modest numbers, but I am happy considering how long I was not able to lift properly. Starting next week I will be on the last four weeks of Wayne's program and I have promised myself to be good and to follow teh dictates of the program fully. These four weeks will be focusing on the back squat in particular and it should be quite demanding to say the least. I refuse to let myself give in to temptation and go overboard on the mid week intensity. Patience.....

Sunday 29 August 2010

Sunday's snag list

This week has been a frustrating one, but more importantly than this, it has brought another change in perspective that is needed for me to continue improving in the art of weightlifting.

As Einstein said: “We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

Another favourite quote is: “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”

So, it comes down to this: I did not follow my program properly despite this being the main intention before I started. Emotion and ambition got in the way and even though they were not as prevalent as last time, I still allowed them to kick my ass. Embarrassing. The program was there to help me improve my ability to tolerate a greater work load. As David pointed out in a previous comment, I also increased intensity along with the significant increase in volume. I got away with a slight hip injury that reoccured from the original injury from playing rugby in my last season. Hindsight is always 20/20, but this is another lesson learned along the path of me qualifying for the European Championships. I got an amazing amount of work done in five and a half weeks, but I could have gotten more done in the 8 weeks that were scheduled. I know my training will stick to me, but I also know I should have gotten more out of it. Wayne kept telling me and I kept listening to the emotion and ambition in each session.

I read some of Glenn Pendlay's comments on a forum and I kept thinking of how they related to me and my own training. There are several aspects to training that are mainly ignored when discussing weightlifting and I called Glenn in order to discuss some of his ideas. Most of the 15 readers of this blog are weekend warriors like myself and are in a similar situation, so I thought to myself, why not talk about things that are relevant to us more than professional lifters? Here is the conversation and very many apologies for my fat head being in the picture; I could not edit it out. As always, if you have feedback, leave a comment.