Sunday 31 January 2010

Saturday's slip up

I ended up having a decent workout on Saturday despite indulging in some wishful weightlifting. I still had it in my head to get the jump from 100 to 110, but it was not to be in this session. I will get it very soon though...

I warmed up with the Jerk exercises again and I am finding these very beneficial. I do more light Jerks for repetitions more than the assistance exercises themselves, but I find they are getting me more and more comfortable in the Jerk position. I am trying to get how I rack the bar as relaxed as possible. I read in a forum where John Broz said that if you could rack the bar and take your hands away, clap them and then put your hands back onto the bar, you had a proper rack position. I am nowhere near that comfortable yet, but with more time and experimenting, I will get there. Another skill that I am trying to implement is to get my chest through rather than my head. This will keep my chin up and from diving my body through in the catch which is a habit I formed for a while.

I started off the Snatch with three doubles with 40kg getting Harry to try and force my back into position. I did doubles with 60, 80 and then singles with 100 and I missed 110 three times. I was happy to make the jump from 80 to 100 again, but it was not the wisest of moves in retrospect. It was a Saturday morning after a week's work and training the previous evening. But, there are worse traits than being too ambitious; I would rather be that way than the opposite.

I moved on into Power Clean and Jerks. I was supposed to do full Cleans but my calves/achilles/soleus were killing me, particularly my right one. I did 3 singles with 70, then a single with 90, 100, 110, 120 and after an ugly Clean with 130, I went back down to 127. I had to fight against my instinct for this last lift. I wanted to walk away and call it a day. I was tired and irritated with my misses. I had to swallow the pride and go get my 127 which was only a Clean and Jerk. I could not Power Clean the weight, but at least it was smooth.

Front Squats--6x6 @ 50kg. I did these as an active recovery and also a way to try and get my Front squat stance wider in order to open up my hips and get me used to getting my feet out in the catch in the Clean and the Snatch. In the first set, my hips were really stiff and tight, but as I got more reps and sets in, they loosened up and I was able to get deeper than parallel in a stance that is far wider than normal. I am really glad I did these because it shows me I can go wider and this will take the stress off my calves and achilles when I squat.

Friday 29 January 2010

Friday's frightfully painful calves

I arrived into to the gym today with a great sense of energy, but it lasted for around 45 minutes and then it was gone. Abandonment; just when I needed it. It ended up being one of those sessions that you have to grind through and see it out so you can look yourself in the mirror. Sometimes the lighter sessions are the toughest to get through and they require the most mental discipline. I did not have enough of that focus tonight I am afraid.

My calves were particularly sore from the squatting on Wednesday and it was not a muscular DOMS pain, but rather a pain I get because of my leverages and squatting style. When I am squatting a lot, the bottom of my calves get very painful. Every time I cleaned or squatted tonight, it was quite unpleasant.

I still had a good session though; here is what I did:

Jerk, back and bar warm up.

Snatch--1x2@50, 50, 70, 80 1x1@90, 100

Clean into Jerk--1x1@70, 70, 90, 100, 110

Back Squat--1x2@100, 130, 145 6x2@80%
These squats felt harder than the 6 by 6 with the same weight. This shows just how strong--or weak--the mind can be! I had not prepared myself for the squats at all and was in no way as hard on myself as I should have been. I was a bit soft really. I will learn from this and prepare accordingly next week.

Have a look at the video below. Amy, one of the ladies that ag trains is shown lifting with a ridiculous amount of power. If only she took up weightlifting as her full time sport! Herself and the other ladies Zag coaches are fantastic athletes and more importantly, they have a voracious work rate and are incredibly disciplined athletes.

Here is the best tribute I have ever seen on Muhammad Ali. The man was a genius:

Thursday 28 January 2010

Wednesday's whirling sense of perspective

Yesterday's workout was very intense and I really enjoyed it. I was looking forward to the 6 sets of 6 reps part of the Russian squat program and yesterday proved to be the day in question. For some reason I was determined to Power Snatch into Snatch and it ended up biting me in the rear. I was dead set about Power Snatching 100 and then Snatching 110. This proved to be silly as the weight was not the problem--as you will see in the video--but rather I was not getting under the bar quickly enough or shifting my hips properly in the catch poisition.

I worked on the Jerk again during the warm up and did some good mornings into press for a few sets to warm up the back and get it locked. I also did a few light sets of the modified RDL Tom showed me in Amsterdam to get the back locked.

Power Snatch--1x2@40, 40, 60 1x1@80, 90, 100--I brought this down to parallel so it does not count as a Power Snatch.

Snatch--I missed 110 twice and as I had a massive squat session coming up, I had to leave some fuel in the. I really wanted to go for it a third time. I found it very difficult to put the Snatch out of my mind and move on to the Squats, but I did. I literally had to force myself not to talk about the Snatch or focus on it at all.

Back Squat--1x2@126, 135 6x6@144KG--80%
It took me two sets to get my rhythm together, and they were far smoother once I did this. The hardest part was keeping the mind focused after you stood up to do the next set. My legs felt like they were made of jelly and filled with lactic acid at the same time. And then I had to squat again. Great stuff though and I really enjoyed the mental and physical challenge.

Have a look at the video below and see if you have any constructive criticism.

Monday 25 January 2010

Monday's marvels

My session was not very long, but it was very effective. I drove to the gym determined to get a Snatch double with 105kg and I got it for the first time since the end of July when I nailed it in John Broz's gym in Vegas. Except now I weight three kilos lighter and I am in the middle of a Russian squat program. Progress, slowly but surely. Nothing was pretty in my lifting tonight and Zag was in the same boat. He Snatched 98kg again despite his technique being rougher than usual. A 105kg Snatch is just around the corner for Zag and he knows it. Here is what I did:

My usual Jerk warm up and some exercises to warm up the muscles in my lower and mid back.

Snatch--1x2@40, 40, 60, 80, 90, 100, 105 1x1@110, 112 which I just missed. I will nail this later in the week and I am already looking forward to it! I tried a slightly different set up at the start of my pull and I did not spend as much time before initiating the start as usual. I will avoid over-analysing it and see how it feels over the next two weeks or so.

Back Squat--1x2@126, 135 6x2@144--80%
This was my recovery session and I was going through the motions. I am happily anticipating the challenge of the 6 sets of 6 reps at 80% on Wednesday, so I will keep the Snatch beforehand nice and light.

I am really enjoying the basic program of lots of squats, lots of Snatching and a few Clean and Jerks thrown in for good measure. The Jerk skill warm up is going well and I am feeling more and more comfortable all the time and getting my positioning better bit by bit.

David and Pete made some particularly interesting comments on training camps the other day and I agree mainly with what they say. If one uses them as a crutch, they can have a detrimental effect. However, if they are used as an occasional stimulus and lifters learn from them, push themselves that little bit harder and have more fun than training on their own, I believe thay can affect lifters in a very positive manner.

Thursday 21 January 2010

Thursday's trumpet call to arms

We need more training camps. If I, as an Irish weightlifter want to progress to the limit of my athletic potential, I need to go on more training camps. If the rest of the make and female Irish athletes want to lift more weight and go to places Irish weightlifting has not been in a long time, we need to find a way to organise more camps. They can either be abroad or at home, with our own dedicated coaches or with foreign coaches. Either way, we must organise ourselves!

Many lifters are able to continue progressing rapidy without going elsewhere--Charlie Hamilton's lifters and John Broz's lifters come to mind--but they have an environment that pushes them to the wire every session. Firstly, one could argue that we all need to work harder at installing that atmosphere in our own gym and secondly, because Irish lifters are spread all over the country, we have to get together more often and AS A TEAM, push ourselves to places we have never been. You may have seen the thoughts from two weeks ago in a group interview after London where we discuss the benefits of training together and also in a new and stimulating environment. What do you think? Can we organise ourselves more efficiently or am I not understanding or appreciating the reality of the situation? I understand there are severe financial restraints, but is there anything we can do about it?

Last year, a few of us organised training camps in Wexford, Glasgow, and London a few weeks back. I had an additional camp in Amsterdam and when I was in California I was lucky to train with John Broz and Jim Schmitz. I give these examples to show that we are currently doing our best for what we know, but what can we do better? How can we improve our current scenario?

In October 2008 we had an official national squad session and we will have another in this coming March, but as lifters we need to take more responsibility on ourselves. The Irish Weightlifting committe is doing as well as it can considering its resources, and I know all the lifters are very thankful of the effort the men and women on the commitee who voluntarily put their time into our beloved sport. We have some very sharp minds in Irish weightlifting, so what can we do? This post is intended to stimulate thought processes and is no way a criticism of any individual in Irish weightlifting. We all need to work together to achieve more.

Here is a little video showing the lighter side of lifting and why passion goes in hand with the lighter side of the sport:

In my own lifting, here is what I did tonight in training:

Snatch--1x2@40, 40, 60 1x1@80, 95, 105, 110--I tried a different weight jump and it was a nice mental stimulus. I have never Snatched 11o in a regular training session during the week without loads of people around so I was happy with this, particularly because I have just finished week two of the Russian squat program.

Back Squat--1x2@120, 135 6x5@144 which is 80%.
I was on form tonight and I banged out most of my squats one rep straight after the other. My squatting tonight was far better than on Monday when I did six sets of four reps. I am really looking forward to 6 sets of 6 reps next week.
Here is a quick video of two of my Snatches so please leave any constructive criticism you may have.

Wednesday 20 January 2010

Tuesday's thimbleful of pb's

It ended up being a great session and Zag got a pb Snatch of 101kg despite killing himself squatting the previous day. One of the Leinster ladies, Sinead, got a 3kg pb of 65kg in the Clean and Jerk also. I had a good session but not quite so amazing. Here is what I did:

I have been warming up with a lot of Jerk skill work since last week and it is supposed to hlp make my Jerk more automatic, which I think it is.

Snatch--1x2@40, 40, 40, 60 1x1@80, 90, 100, 110--I missed this but I have never made those jumps before and I wanted to go for it. My back was pretty straight in all my Snatches so I was happy enough. I went back down to 95, then 102, then I got 105 for 90% and then I did not have 107 in me. I will get the 100 to 110 jump very soon.

Clean into Jerks--These are in my program because they force me to get everything out of my Jerk drive. I cannot leave anything in the tank and it is a nice movement that also helps make the skill automatic. I did singles with 60, 80, 100, 110 and then 120 to finish off. They are actually quite tiring on the legs.

Back Squat--Today was the recovery day and it is amazing how much easier the doubles of 80% are a week and a half after starting the program.
1x2@ 135, 144 for six doubles.

Thank you everyone for the kind words about the blog. I love writing it and hopefully it will continue to improve into its second year in existence. Have a look at the video below and leave any feedback that you think can help.

Monday 18 January 2010

Monday's march towards a more respectable squat

I had a good training session today; I was tired so when I started to over analyse, the only way I could continue to train was to shut out the mind completely and simply lift as fast as I could. It was day four of the squat program and it started to get interesting. Last week I found it very hard to get six triples with 80% and today I had to get six sets of four reps. It was hard, but I am finding out that the beauty of this Russian squat program is that it forces uses to utilise what strength you do have to a greater extent. The only way I was getting my last few sets today was to generate as much tension as possible and getting my timing, breathing and positioning accurate. These skills are arguably more valuable than the added stength that will come my way. Here is what I did:

Snatch--3x3@40 1x2@60, 80 3x1@90--When I left my mind behind these actually got quite fast and tight. I had to remind myself to keep aware of how flexibile and loose my wrists were throughout the lift as this means my arms are relaxed and that I extend with my hips and not my arms. Thus teh extension is better as is the turnover.

Back Squat--1x2@110, 126, 135 6x4@144 which is 80% of my Back Squat. I have six sets of five reps to look forward to on Thursday and I am actually looking forward to the challenge.

Here is a nice video made by Chris Betancourt. It shows Vardanyan's individual style that is quite different to what is being preached today as the most efficient technique. What do you think:

Also, my blog is now a year old! For anyone who reads it, I hope you are enjoying your training and are enjoying the journey as much as I am. I have a few more guest article in mind and if anyone can suggest a few ways to improve the blog, please let me know. I have also been maintaining original alliterative titles for the last year and I think this is my proudest achievement. How embarassing, as Byrdie would say...

Sunday 17 January 2010

Saturday's stringent time-keeping

Myself and Zag worked out twice on Saturday and it followed the same format that we had with Wayne on Wednesday: Snatch, Clean and Jerk; 25 minute break followed by Snatch again and Russian squat program Back Squats. It ended up being an extremely productive session; Zag Snatched up to 95kg in the second session after a 115kg Clean and Jerk and Snatches in the first session. I ended up with a Power Clean pb when I Power Cleaned and Jerked 133kg. Here is what I did:

Snatch--1x2@40, 40, 40, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100--I missed getting a double with 100 twice and in order to save something for the later session, I left it there. I really should have gotten it.

Power Clean and Jerk--My Clean was feeling ponderous so I started to Power Clean and Jerk instead to get some speed involved. I worked up to singles with 110, 120, 130 and then 133 which is in the video below. I brought it down to parallel but not below it so it counts as a Power Clean to me. I was not particularly fresh so the pb was a welcome addition as I was not able to keep it above parallel in London.

30 minute break

Snatch--1x2@40, 40, 60 1x1@80, 100, I then missed 105 twice and got it the third time. I was actually really happy because I jumped from 80 to 100 for the first time and this is skill in making big jumps is good for confidence and for preserving energy in competitions.

Back Squat--1x2@100, 126, 135, 144 for six doubles. The fun is going to start next week with the squat program. The six doubles on 80% were definitely easier on Saturday than they were on Monday, but tomorrow I will be doing sets of four reps on the same weight. I can't weight...

Here is a video of my 133kg. Do you count this as a Power Clean? Below is also a video of Nicky, a young lifter who has just started to train with myself and Zag; he clearly has a lot of promise as his natural speed and flexibility are outstanding. He has also pressed bodyweight which shows the stength potential is there too. The last video is of Zag Snatching 95kg, but it is reaction that is important...

Friday 15 January 2010

Wednesday's wholesale opinions

I had a short session on Tuesday to work out the stiffness from Monday's session and I did very little. I did a few doubles in the Snatch up to 70 and Clean and Jerk doubles up to 90 and then a single with 100. On Wednesday, I was training with Zag and Wayne and it was a prductive session overall. We Snatched, Clean and Jerked, took a 25 minute break and then Snatched again and ended the session with day 2 of the Russian squat program. Here is what I did:

Snatch--1x2@40, 40, 40, 60, 70, 80, 90, 95 1x1@100
My technique and positioning was as rough as it has ever been. I was far from fresh and I knew it, but I was happy not to miss any Snatches despite the ugliness of my lifting. Today was a day to get the lifts irregardless of form. My catch was solid and reasonably quick and this saved me on the day.

Clean and Jerk--1x2@70, 70, 90 1x1@ 100,110, 120, 130
I only went up to 130 because Sami did 120 and narrowly missed 125. The blessings of competition; it always brings out the best in my lifting. Wayne did a lovely Clean with 120--his shoulder is still preventing him Jerking. In the second session he got 97 in the Snatch also and Front Squatted 140 easily enough.

Snatching in the second session--1x2@40, 40, 60, 80 1x1@90, 100, 105--This was a limit lift on the day and I was happy to get it considering how rough my lifting was. Sami got 94 pretty easily also.

Back Squat--1x3@100, 126, 135, 144 for 6 triples @80%. This was tough and on the sixth set I missed the last rep. I had to do a seventh set so I got on with it and although it took around four seconds, I got through the sticking point on the last rep. This is supposed to be the easy week of the squat program...

A series of interviews with the lads about the trip in London and how it went is soon to follow and is currently being made. We all discuss what we enjoyed about the trip and ways that we thought it could have been improved upon:

Monday 11 January 2010

Monday's mashed up quads

Today was my first day training since London and although I had five days off training, I was really busy at had little relaxation in those days. I was feeling stiff all over and pretty rough at the start of the session. I also started the Russian Squat Program today and since it was my first day back, the squats were tougher than I realised. I kept it light in the classical lifts and did the following:

Snatch--1x3@40, 40, 40 1x2@60 1x1@70, 70, 80, 90, 90

Clean and Jerk--1x2@70, 70, 90, 90 1x1@100, 100, 100

Back Squat--1x3@110 1x2@ (70%)126, (75%)135 6x2@ (80%)144kg
These squats were way harder than I thought they would be due to how rusty I was and also I have not been squatting quite as much in the last six weeks or so. The 6 sets were tough and this is only the first day that is easy. Adapt or go home I guess...

This week myself and Zag are organising our overall program for the next six months and this will be then organised into smaller units, with the Russian squat program dominating the next six weeks. I am looking forward to having all this organised so that I can focus completely on each session and structuring my lifestyle to get the most out of each day in regards to lifting and life in general. For both training and lifetstyle it is imperative that I revamp my timekeeping completely--something tells me the lads will agree with this one--and I will have to have to continue improving my nutrition, my flexibility, my organisation of recovery time and also keep working on improving my focus and concentration while training. Patience and faith in the long, medium and short term objectives. Don't you just love a New Year?

Here is a video that may prove vital to Irish weightlifting and possibly even the rest of the world. The most modern and up to date steroid on the market is revealed with a heartwrenching interview with a man that chronically abuses the substance. As a film maker and an artist, I think this may prove to be my finest work....

Thursday 7 January 2010

Wednesday’s Woking success

Cathal Byrd agreed to shake things up and write the report of the day’s training and he clearly shows the benefits of the love of language. Here it is:

Today was our final session of the London training camp. As expected, after a tough four day, we were all pretty beat up; but nonetheless we decided to go for broke and make the most of the training environment.

Paudie was particularly fatigued as well as being ill for most of the week but he still managed to produce a gutsy snatch of 67.5kg, only 2.5kg off his all-time best snatch. I continued my vein of successfully snatching over 95% with quite a gruelling 105kg. I also went to just over 90% in the clean and jerk with five singles at 130kg, dedicating my power jerks to Lord Murphington. Chris Chea made an outstanding 113kg snatch pb and wasn’t too far away with 115kg. He then clean and jerked 140kg after the jerk gave him trouble on his first few attempts. Chris is looking to lift a total of 260kg @69kg this year to qualify for the 2010 Commonwealth Games for England. Going by the evidence of the last few days, 260kg is very attainable for Chris who is a truly gifted athlete.

Barry snatched 102kg which was very routine. Only for particularly tight hip flexors, most likely caused by the heavy loading over the five days of the camp, Barry would have made the 107kg that he attempted a few times. His pull was strong, but his catch position was a little off. In the clean and jerk Barry made amends with an extremely easy 138kg. There was a bit more there on the day in my opinion, but like all of us Barry was clearly quite fatigued and he made the sensible decision to hold back a little. Like myself, Barry snatched successfully to quite high percentages which is a sign that his consistency and technique is ever-improving.

The most impressive lifting of the day was produced by Sami Dowling. He came very close to a new pb of 103kg in the snatch, just losing it on his way up from the squat position. Sami also attempted 105kg which was not far away at all. 100kg+ snatches will be quite mundane for Sami very soon. In the clean and jerk Sami made an outstanding pb with 130kg, and then also easily cleaned 135kg and fought hard to save the jerk. 2010 should be a very progressive year for Sami if he can keep his current vein of form going.

This was our last day training and there are a few videos to come over the next week. Well done to Zag and bring on the Limerick Open on February 6th!

Tuesday’s tricksters

Tuesday was a light session that we all found hard psychologically. Knowing it would be a light session and that we were fatigued already made it even harder. We ended up having a lot of random fun which will be revealed in the blooper reel in a few days. One blooper incident is shown at the end of the video and we actually read that it is a secret Bulgarian training restorative.

We only trained once and we opened up with Clean doubles. Myself and Byrdie went up to 110 in doubles and then did singles with 117 and 125. Paudie and Sami went a bit lighter percentage wise, but also worked on general technical points as you will see in the video.

For the second exercise we did the Snatch and I went up to a few singles with 80 and finished with a Power Snatch of 85. Cathal did 80 for a treble, 85 for a double and 90 for a single. We all went light and were able to have a bit of banter doing so. Chris did some Jerks from the rack with 110 and Koing, after not training for 20 days while away on holiday, came back and Snatched 115 and Clean and Jerked 140, both 95% lifts. He then Cleaned a pb of 151kg so he could have the heaviest Clean in the gym. You have to love that sense of competition!

Have a look at the video below and see if you like the secret Bulgarian techniques.

Tuesday 5 January 2010

Monday's max out

We all had two sessions again on Monday. In the first session it took us all a good while to warm up. I Snatched to max for the day which was 110, as did Paudie, who got 67.5kg. Cathal took it very light as did Zag who was under the weather. David Woodhouse Snatched up to 125 and then missed 127 and 130 in as close a manner as I have ever seen. He missed them on the way up after the catch. He then Power Cleaned and Jerked 135 easily, but he was clearly tired. The man has a very powerful second pull in his Snatch and his Clean and he really maximises his pulling potential.

In the Snatch, I did doubles with 60, 80, 90 and then singles with 100, 105 and 110 and then left it there because I knew Harry and Wayne would have told me to. I also wanted to save a bit for the second session an hour later. Technically, my back was good, but my shoulders were not quite as locked throughout the pull as I needed them to be. I was a bit tired so there was not the dynamism that I would have liked, but that is the most I have ever Snatched in training--I have Snatched 115 in competition--so I was happy to leave it there.

In the second session, Paudie got a 5 kg pb in the Clean. First of all, he equalled his pb of 92.5; then he got 95 and then 97.5kg. 100 was beyond him in the focus department but the strength and technique is clearly there. Cathal Snatched 108 and narrowly lost 110 behind. 108 is the most he has Snatched since last July when his knees were healthy, so he was content enough. Zag went easier again in the lifts, but after Front Squatting 140 in the morning he went up to 160 for an afternoon single in the Back Squat. After Chris Chea got a 120 bench in the morning weighing 71 kg, in his second session after we left, he Snatched 112. You can't beat genetics....

In my second session in the Clean and Jerk, I did a few singles with 70, then a single with 100, 110, 120 and 130 which I Power Cleaned and Jerked. I then went to 140, got it and missed the Clean with 146 which was frustrating. With the 130 Clean I could feel my back giving out a bit and I could not lock it at all. Fatigue always exposes weakness, and I know it is something I have to work on. 110/140 i ssomething I have never done in a training day before; the most was 105/140 around six weeks ago. Very light on Tuesday and then see how things go on Wednesday I suppose.

Sunday 3 January 2010

Sunday's supersetted sessions

We did two sessions today, but we were generally pretty tired. Cathal went to 90% plus in both sessions in the Snatch and did not really push it otherwise. Paudie went up to 90% in the Clean and Jerk and otherwise had a technical day, as did Zag; but Zag got a Back Squat pb at the end of the session.

I had a nice light first session that lasted around an hour and fifteen minutes or so. I took my time warming up--I had stiff hips--and enjoyed the slow pace. I worked up to three doubles with 80 in the Snatch and then did one more single. I was focusing on getting the back and hips as tight as possible at the bottom. I also tried to widen my grip out a finger length and it was harder to maintain a tight position. I finished off the first session with a few single Front Squat singles and went up to 130, 140, 150 and I missed 160. Embarrassing.

We took an hour and a half break and went back for a second session. I went up to a single in the Snatch with 97 and 100, worked up to 120 in the Clean and Jerk for a few singles and then left it there. Byrdie got 104 in the Snatch in the morning and 105kg in the evening and did 5 singles with 127 in the Clean. Paudie went up to 60/85 and Sami went light but Back Squatted a pb of 168kg.

I was pretty tired in general yesterday and felt fresher today. Aside from Cathal, we all went light, as did Chris Chea who has trained with us most days. It is funny that the harder I train, the tougher it is to sleep. I obviously need to wind down a bit more in the late evening. We are still really enjoying ourselves here and the atmosphere is both fun and motivating.

Saturday 2 January 2010

Saturday's snuffly weightlifters in London

I was the only Irish lifter not to have a cold today, which I was thankful for. Myself, Zag, Paudie Roche and Cathal Byrd got up at four in the morning and got a plane to London to train for five days with David Woodhouse and his lifters in Woking Weightlifting Club. We arrived into the gym straight from the airport and we were all pretty stiff, but excited all the same. The idea was to Snatch and see where it took us from there.

There were some great lifts from David, a 90kg lifter and Chris Chea, a 72kg kg lifter. Both of them Cleaned 150kg. Zag got a Clean pr of 130kg, Cathal got a 5x5 Back Squat pb of 150kg. Paudie got a 120kg Front Squat pb as a 62kg lifter.

I started with the Snatch and did three doubles with 40, a double with 60, 70, 80, 90 and then singles with 100, 105 and then I missed 107kg four times. I knew it was there and on David's suggestion, went up to 108kg, got it and left it there. This is the heaviest I have Snatched in training for a long time so I was happy. My back lock was as good as it has ever been and I know I can still get it better in my upper back which sags ever so slightly during my first pull. Considering I was not feeling very fast, I have to be happy with 94% in the Snatch.

I then went on to Clean and Jerks and I worked up to 120kg but my Cleans were feeling out of sync, so I went onto Power Cleans. I did singles in the Power Clean with 120, 125 and then I got a 130kg Power Clean for a 3 kg pb. I tried 133kg, but my catch needed to be faster to keep it above parallel. Next time. I also really have to work on my back arch in the Clean. The Snatch back lock is way better, but the Clean arch must improve. I left it there considering our we are training twice in the next two days, and then once a day for the following two days.

The atmosphere in the gym is infectious and myself and the lads are really enjoying our time so far. Chris Chea's parents have been really kind in feeding us and David's hospitality has been exemplary. Hopefully the rest of the week will be as productive.

Friday 1 January 2010

New Year's yardstick

I had a short 45 minute session yesterday. Wayne Healy was training also and helped me with my Snatch technique which is all I really wanted to work on. As always, I was working on getting my back as flexed as possible and my positioning as conducive to proper alignment as I can. The day before was not as productive as I would have wished so I wanted a short, light session to reinforce technique.

The previous night and that morning, caertain areas were stiff and sore in a way that's more like when I was weight training for rugby, rather than weightlifting. I think the muscles around the hip and back area are simply not used to the different kind of stimulation they are recieving from all the forced partner stretching we are doing. Alex helped me work out the stiffness in my back and I was ready to go after a nice satisfying 25 minute warm up.

Wayne was Snatching for the second time in three months due to a shoulder injury he picked up after the Club Championships in Cork and I could see his technique smoothing out with each rep. I only wanted to work on the Snatch and I went up to three doubles with 80. My back was feeling nice and locked and I actually felt like I was getting some flex in my mid and upper back. The most important aspect of my training, however, was a little observation that Wyne made about when initiating the first pull. He has observed that I have to get my hip area as tight as possible and use this tension to get my glutes, not my back, to initiate the first pull. This physically felt different and helped me achieve rising the hips and the shoulders at the same time. I also think this may help me keep my back locked throughout the pull.

Have a look at the video below and let me know if you have any constructive criticism. I have also included a little tribute at the end of the video that is both interesting and motivating. Don't you just love weightlifting?