Tuesday 30 March 2010

Monday's myriad

I had a nice session on Monday to lead me up to going over to train in Amsterdam on Wednesday. For some reason my legs were still a little tired from Saturday, but I got on with it anyway. Kris Greene trained with myself and Zag again and confirmed once more that he is an outrageously powerful and gifted athlete. Weightlifting is also about the balance between patience and striving to improve and as Dan John says: you have to keep turning up. Consistency is so vital in our sport and every other and I think Kris has the physical and mental goods to go very, very far.

I had a nice Z-health R-phase warm up and I Power Snatched up to 95kg for four reps. They all hovered around parallel, so that they were not really Power Snatches. They felt comfortable and smooth. I went onto Power Clean and Jerks and I worked up to three singles with 110kg. It was a nice weight to focus on technique and speed and my Jerk has felt better since I started reaching up more in the Jerk catch. I finished off by wrking up to a triple with 160 in the Back Squat and then I went back down to 145 for three triples. I did some soft tissue work with the cardboard roller and I felt great afterwards, even though the legs were feeling tired.

Here is a few videos showing Andrei Aramnau, the 105kg World and Olympic champion Snatching 200, 205kg and 210 off blocks. These are training lifts and he is using straps as well as being more than likely over the weightclass; they are still moderately impressive though....

Sunday 28 March 2010

Saturday's steadfast Snatching

Myself and Zag rocked up for an early Saturday morning session and it turned out to be a fruitful one. Harry got in on the act and is gradually training himself back from oblivion. The quality of his movement continues to progress and with more work and planning, his shoulder should get better also.

I had a great warm up using the Z-health joint warm up, the Power plate and also some pre-hab exercises for the glutes, hips and mid back. I followed this with my back mobility stuff and skill work with the bar and then the ball was rolling.

Snatch--3x3@40 1x1@60, 80, 90, 100--This was the first time I have worked up to 100 for a double with my new grip. As you will see in the video below, I needed to focus on locking everything up in the first pull and also on finishing my extension up in the second pull. I still have a lot more extension there to employ.

I then decided to go for the 100 to 110 jump that I was not able to make in January and February. It was more to test my focus and concentration, rather than a logistic need to make the jump. I got the lift and it was far better than either of my 100's. In the video I can see that I still have more at the top of my pull-- I think this may be the reason that I had to take a few steps forward in the catch--so that is an encouraging thing to work on. Zag was working on his technique and the rhythm of his lifts with 90kg.

I then lifted up to 110 in the Clean and Jerk and they felt very sharp and snappy. My cleans felt fluent and my Jerk felt like it should for the first time in around two weeks. I focused on getting the exposive leg drive and also on driving myself under the bar explosively in the catch.

I finished up with some back squats and worked up to 160 for a double and then went back to 140 for three triples to get in a little more work load. My legs have had a six day rest and they were not really used to the heavier loads. My recovery week is now officially over. Myself and Zag are off to Amsterdam to train with Tom Bruijen, so we will train on Monday and have a day off on Tuesday. From Wednesday, we will be training either every day or twice a day unril we get back on Monday morning.

Friday 26 March 2010

Alex's accolade to the gods of flexibility

Another guest article here to whet your appetites and hopefully we can all learn from this. Alex has really helped me with my flexibility training and I think she can help you too. Here is part one of a guest article from Alexandra Craig on flexibility for the weightlifter. She is a professional acrobat and an extremely flexible lady who has took up weightlifting in December. This part of her article deals with the warm up.

How should a weightlifter warm up? That this depends on the weightlifter is a given--everyone is unique--but what remains constant? The movements and positions in which we load our bodies. These movements mean that weightlifters seem to require most flexibility in the shoulders, hips, quads and calves, as well as good spinal mobility.
To prepare the soft tissues we want to get some blood into them to make them pliant enough to avoid injury, and to work out any stiffness which will inhibit good technique. Dynamic stretching is a good way to do this and helps to develop strength in your range, which it can also be used to increase. It involves swinging your limbs in a controlled manner and gradually increasing the amplitude to your maximum range. We also want to mobilise the joints by moving them in all possible directions permitted to increase intra-synovial lubrication.

The mobility warm up which I would suggest, having taken into account the weightlifting sport-specific movements, mobility demands and need to maintain tension, is as follows:

To be performed at a good pace:

Ankle circles: 5 each direction, each side
Ankle mobilisations: 10 each side
Knee circles: 10 each side
Hip figure eights: 10 each side
Full ROM lunges, front and side to side: 10 of each, each side
Kicks, front and back: 10 of each, each side
Cats: 5 happy, 5 sad
Wall thoracic spine roll downs: 5
Shoulder shrug circles: 5 forward, 5 backward each side
Arm cicles: 5 forward, 5 backward each side
Shoulder dislocations with band or stick: 2 x 6 progressively narrowing grip
Wrist walk arounds: I don't count but usually will so this for about 45 seconds.

I also advocate the use of activation exercises, particularly for the shoulder and hip stabilisers during warm up, as well sometimes some form of CNS preparation (discussions of the details of which are beyond the scope of this article); I tend to mix the order of all my warm up exercises together to keep things interesting. I also find that most days there will be particular body parts which require more attention or time and it is important that they get it.

Here are two quick videos for the ankle mobilisation and shoulder flexibility exercises. You will need volume so that you can hear Alex's explanations:

In my own training, I trained on Wednesday and Thursday and worked up to 95 in the Power Snatch and some Front Squats with a few Power Clean and Jerks thrown in for good measure. This is my recovery week so I am doing three sessions in total to get ready for training in Amsterdam next Wednesday for five days with Zag.

Tuesday 23 March 2010

Eamonn's experiences

Here is a competition report written by Dr Eamonn Flanagan, who lifted in the Scottish Open on Sunday. He works with the Scottish rugby union as a Strength and Conditioning coach and is based over there. Here is a link to other guest articles from the past year, smoe of which have been written by Eamonn. They have been appreciated by myself and others, so thanks again to the man who helped spread Trexabol throughout our beautiful island.

The 2010 Scottish Open was held in the Glasgow Palace of Art. The Palace has two gyms. A powerlifting and weightlifting gym, home to the Palace of Art Weightlifting Club, was hosting a powerlifting competition. The other gym is a high performance sports gym, run by the Scottish Institute of Sport and home to the Glasgow Warriors Rugby team. It hosted the weightlifting competition. With the two competitions running at the same time there was a lot of lifters and spectators milling about and there was a good buzz about the place. The lifting began with female lifters. The top female lifter was Amy Hamilton, and under 20 lifter from the Palace of Art Weightlifting club who snatched 67kg and clean and jerked 80kg in the 63kg class. Georgi Black from the Kilmarnock Weightlifting Club also impressed with a 73kg snatch and a 93kg clean and jerk to win the 75kg class.

In the lighter men's weight classes there were some impressive performances from young lifters from Kilmarnock Weightlifting Club and the Palace of Art Weightlifting Club. There is alot of young talent in Scottish weightlifting and there should be alot of competition for places at the 2014 Commonwealth Games which will be held in Glasgow. The top lifter in this first men's session was Mark Middleton of Edinburgh University. Middleton, who has competed in Ireland on a few occassions, has recently dropped down to the 62kg class. He opened his account on the day with a 92kg snatch and finished with a very impressive and hard fought clean and jerk at 121kg.

The Kilmarnock Weightlifting Club continued its dominance with victory for Kyle Pearson in the 85kg class. He made all three snatches, each better than the last, to finish on 103kg. He clean and jerked 125kg to seal the win over Palace of Art's Mark Fitzpatrick by 8kg.
Following the men's 85kg class, I began my warm-up. Its not every day one gets to warm up beside a former Olympian and a future Olympian. On the platform to my left was Sydney 2000 Olympian Tommy Yule while to the right was London 2012 hopeful Peter Kirkbride. Tommy snatched 155kg in the 105kg+ class at the games in Sydney. Peter Kirkbride is currently the number 1 ranked British lifter and in the driving seat for a place at the 2012 games. With such lifters in the room it made for a good atmosphere and it was interesting to watch the contrast between both lifters respective warm-up style. Yule began with several sets of muscle snatch making a number of lifts with 70kg and 90kg before dropping back to 70kg to hit quite a few full snatch singles. Kirkbride started his energetic warm-up with a few short, intense bursts of jumping rope and some very explosive empty bar and 60kg hang snatches and power snatches.

Due to some confusion in the timings of the session I was left with a little longer for the warm-up than necessary. I ended up hitting 60kg for 7 or 8 singles as I got a handle on what was happening on the competition platform and how long until I opened. I moved through two singles with 70 and two with 80 before a final warm-up with 90kg. I was then left with very little time to make my way to the platform for my opening attempt at 93kg. I was a little rushed but the weight was routine and I made it fairly easily. I called for 97kg next. It felt light but I let the bar stray too far from my body and I missed it out in front. I took 97kg again and kept it tighter to the body and felt like I made it easily as I received it overhead but perhaps I relaxed a little and it began to drift in front. I chased it a couple of steps forward and held on to complete the lift successfully. I was a bit disappointed with a sub 100kg snatch as I feel I should be hitting 100kg+ more regularly at the moment.

Peter Kirkbride and Tommy Yule continued through their warm-ups. Both lifters seemed confident and composed in the warm-up room. Kirkbride nailed a solid 135kg snatch (see video) before taking the platform for his first attempt at 140kg. From here Kirkbride began to suffer technically in the snatch. There was impressive power and speed on the bar with each attempt but the bar seemed ever so slightly out of place each time. He missed three attempts at 140kg to finish without a total. He didn't re-appear for the clean and jerk. Kirkbride lifts in the European Championships in a couple of weeks time Although he had an off day here, I know from previous experience how impressive a competitor he is and I am sure such a massive competition will bring out the best in him.

Tommy Yule made 137.5kg in the warm-up room (see video) before a warm-up miss at 140kg. On the competition platform he made no mistake and put the 140kg away confidently. Despite missing his second and third snatch he was still on course to make the 105kg qualification total for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

I timed my clean and jerk warm up much better and was much more economical with the number of lifts I did. I began with some bar work and power clean and jerks at 60 and 80kg with a real emphasis on a complete pull and catching the bar as high as possible while whipping the elbows through as quickly as possible. I then took full clean and jerks with 100, 110 and 120kg before taking 130kg on the competition platform. The clean was routine and the jerk felt much snappier than it has in training. This was just the 2nd time in 2010 I had attempted 130kg. I went to 133kg next as I had set myself a pre-competition target of a 230kg total. I left the clean a little in front and as a result caught it with a slightly rounded, weaken back and struggled more than I should have with the recovery. I pushed through though and the jerked followed. I went to 135kg next and the clean felt much better. I finsihed the pull well and caught it in a nice, stable upright position. My leg strength is not particularly good at the moment so although I was in a good position, the recovery was hard work. I drove the jerk and chased it forward a little but just made the lift.

Tommy Yule secured his qualification with his first clean and jerk at 182kg before two misses at 190kg. His 351 Sinclair points meant he finished the competition as overall best lifter.

Monday 22 March 2010

Squad session shenanigans

The weekend was a successful one for Irish weightlifitng. Not everyone was able to make it, but we still had around eighteen to twenty lifters show up and generally, everyone lifted well. Thanks again to all the coaches involved and all the people who organised the weekend.

Saturday morning had us start off with a talk on warming up and flexibility for weightlifting from Alex and afterwards, we did a short power up session to wake the body and the nervous system. I Snatched up to 70 for two singles and did some skill work with 60kg and the bar for the Jerk. We then had a break and after that, a talk with a lady from the Sports' Council on anti-doping measures and what to avoid in everyday over the counter medicines, psuedoephedrine being the main culprit. We then went into our second session of the day where everyone went to max. Zag got a 1kg pb with 102kg in the Snatch. Cillian hit several pb's with a 3kg jump in the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk. Laura also hit a 1kg in the Jerk as did Murph with his lovely 122kg that did not look like a max at all. Everyone else generally lifted very well, including Kris Greene who is only lifting for the last month and has Power Snatched 85 and Clean and Jerked 112 weighing 71kg! Byrdie Snatched 115 again and narrowly missed 116 a few times. Here is what I did:

Snatch--2x2@50, 70 1x1@80, 90, 100, 105, 109, 113--as you will see in the video I had to go for quite a little run for this one. I then missed 115 twice and got 116kg for a 1kg pb. I missed 117 which was just a bit slow.

Clean and Jerk--Myself and Byrdie were rushing to fit time into our Clean and Jerks so we took big jumps and did not really have that much rest. I worked up to singles with 125, 133 and then 139. I then Cleaned 143 twice but missed the Jerk and I then failed to Clean 144 because although it was very high, I pulled back on it too much and ended up behind the bar. We had to leave it then because we had run out of time for the hall and had to leave.

Sunday morning had us lifting only once and I followed Byrdie with what he was doing generally. I was a little tight and fatigued from the previous day so I Snatched up to 105 and then missed 108. I got it on my second attempt but it was ugly and I was not feeling the Mae West so I left it there. Byrdie worked up to 110 and missed 112 a few times. I then worked up to an easy single with 120kg in the Clean and Jerk and I left it there. Alex then led a stretching session and I felt far better afterwards when it was coupled with some work on the cardboard roller.

Have a look at the video below. I did not get that many videos so apologies if people are not showing in it. Hopefully we will be able to have another squad session in the next few months because there was some great work done over the weekend.

Saturday 20 March 2010

Saturday's spinning barbells

It was the first day of our squad session today and it was a sterling success. I will write a post on the full weekend tomorrow or the next day. On Wednesday I worked up to three Power Snatches with 90kg and three reps with 124kg in the Clean and Jerk and a triple with 165kg in the Back Squat. I took a day off on Thursday and had an active recovery workout on Friday.

Here is a guest article from Garret Stack which many people will find interesting:

Training the will to win

While on holidays lately in the States, I was lucky enough to meet and train with Danny Mc Dermott and some of his lifters.

I had emailed Danny a couple of weeks previous to flying out inquiring about a place to lift while on holiday. He let me know that I was more than welcome to come over and to contact him when I was ready to train.

I arrived at the facility located in a large sports training franchise on a Thursday evening, Danny arrived a couple of minutes later. I went over and introduced myself and we went out onto the platforms with Danny’s lifters starting to arrive in shortly after that.

The first thing I noticed was the great rapport Danny had with all his lifters who were all quite young 12- 16 years old. It was great to see how enthusiastic all these young lifters were and how much enjoyment they derived from their training.

If they want to compete Danny’s lifters train 5 days a week Mon –Thurs plus a max day on Sat. His overriding emphasis with his young lifters is on technique, as he says himself ‘’ Technique is forever, strength comes and goes. ‘’

Or to quote Tommy Hayden ‘’ Never sacrifice technique for weight’’.

He is also a proponent of getting the kids to begin weightlifting at a young age (at 12 if not before) and is of the opinion that skill in weightlifting will make any kid a better all round athlete no matter what sport they end up in . After all in what sport does it hurt to be stronger, more explosive, with great flexibility?

It is this point of helping to round out the child’s athletic development that has proven to be a good selling point for parents and how Danny sees the future of weightlifting in the US, not having to convert football players etc at 19-20.

One of the problems facing any underage coach is the unrealistic expectation level of parents, especially those living vicariously through their children. Danny’s belief is that children should be taught that sport like life is all about the journey.

He believes that individual sports like weightlifting encourage focus and honesty in the competitor, if you don’t make the lift you can’t look over your shoulder at teammates and blame them!

He has seen obese children lose weight and become healthier, awkward kids gain co-ordination and shy reserved kids gain a level of confidence from their achievements in weightlifting. He enjoys watching his athletes succeed and gets a lot of satisfaction at having a hand in their achievements. He also feels that for everybody, but especially young kids and teenagers, weightlifting gives much more than it takes.

The benefits of a strong mind and body and aspirations achieved instil confidence and belief in the lifter which they will carry with them wherever they go.

Or as Danny calls it they get ‘’the will to prepare to win’’.

Danny’s method of teaching children is technique first - strength second, with emphasis on full ROM movements and good flexibility. He starts with a general GPP program; chin ups, pull ups, dips, skipping rope, box jumps, handstands and push ups. As he explains if a kid can’t move and manipulate their own body how can they be expected to perform a complex lift with a barbell like the snatch or clean and jerk.

His lifters can expect to compete every 6-8 weeks with the main goal to qualify each lifter for the school age nationals.

In order to prepare his kids for the meets Danny controls the weights they lift very carefully. Every Saturday on Max day their numbers will increase incrementally but with something left in the tank. So every week his kids walk away successful but knowing there was more there. The success breeds confidence, the incremental increases breed hunger for the bigger numbers.

Danny’s son Shaughnessy is a nationally ranked - 105kg lifter in the US and is currently at the weightlifting program in LSU Shreveport under Dr. Kyle Pierce . http://www.lsus.edu/weightlifting

Shaughnessy started weightlifting in high school where Mike Burgener noticed him at a meet and told Danny to keep him weightlifting. Mike then mentored Danny and taught him how to coach weightlifting. As well as making the trip to Mike’s gym pretty regularly Danny set up his own garage gym where he coached Shaughnessy and others. He now operates out of a commercial sports facility where he has 4 platforms and equipment to train around 10 lifters at any given time

Danny Mc Dermott if you haven’t guessed is of Irish extraction and very familiar with Ireland, having been here on numerous trips mostly to accompany his daughter who was a competitive Irish dancer. He is involved in the friends of Ireland organisation and has extended an invitation for any Irish lifter visiting LA/Orange County to come and train with him.

Danny’s own background in the strength game started when he was 12 years old. He got a job in Whittier health club, a local gym. He lifted weights to help with Football and Track but by his senior year in High School he had dropped all other sports and just lifted.

He was a successful bodybuilder and powerlifter picking up quite a few titles along the way before injuries to discs in his neck and lower back forced him to retire.

He also had to deal with a heart attack at age 36 which he attributes to his previous steroid use as a bodybuilder and powerlifter . He has quite a lot of information about this on his website


I hope this article is of interest and I hope that I managed to convey a little of my impressions of Danny. I would recommend anyone reading this finding themselves in LA/ Orange County to give him a call and I have no doubt you will receive as warm a welcome as I had .

Thank you for this Garret, I found it very interesting and motivating. Anyone else who would like to write up a training report or a guest article for the blog, leave a comment and your email address; they are always welcome!

Tuesday 16 March 2010

Monday made easy

I was pretty stiff on Sunday and I was not the most energised person in the world, so I had a nice and light session on the Monday. I felt great after the session because I did a very comprehensive warm up and lots of bar work. I worked up to three Snatches with 90kg and two Power Clean and Jerks with 105kg and finished off with three triples with 145kg. All the weights were enough to tax the system but leave feeling energised and fresher afterwards.

I ended up using Colin's cardboard roller for my hips, glutes, IT bands, calves and quads. I also did some stretching with Harry and Zag. I had an ART session this evening in Port Laois to sort out my right shoulder and give me a general tune up. I will train tomorrow morning because I have a bank holiday and then I will train again on Thursday, with Friday being a light active recovery session. This should lead me in nicely for the Irish squad session in Coolmine, Dublin over the weekend. I will be aiming to lift heavier on Saturday than I did in Limerick last Saturday.

Here is a blooper reel video from the Weekend and also a few clips from when we were trapped in Gatwick airport trying to get home from our training camp in Woking. Paudie is the star yet again, but I think the rest of us can deal with that.

Sunday 14 March 2010

Saturday's snarling Snatching

Myself, Zag and Laura went down to Limerick yesterday to train with Murph, Sean O'Sullivan, Paudie Roche and Cathal Byrd. It went swimmingly for all and better than expected for me. We had a very short power up session to begin with--I Snatched up to 60 for two doubles and did plenty of bar work and left it there. We then had a bit of lunch and watched Ireland play Wales in Croke Park and we were all suitably fired up from rugby and double espressoes for our second session.

Zag Snatched 100kg and very narrowly missed 103 and 105 several times, which had a knock on effect on his Clean and Jerks. Laura Snatched up to 96% and got a 3kg pb in the Clean and Jerk. Murph Snatched 97.5 and Cleaned, Front squatted and Jerked 117. Sean Snatched a pb of 110 and got a pb Clean of 142.5kg. Cathal got a 2kg pb with 115kg in the Snatch after missing it nine times. I equalled my Snatch pb which is my best ever training Snatch. Paudie had an injured trap and was never really able to get going and left it after he was not able to Snatch. The atmosphere was fantastic; the lifting was furious and the banter flowed. A great day's training and the best part is we have next week's national squad session to look forward to. Here is what I did:

After my first warm up session, I did my back mobility again and a small bit of bar work and I was ready to go.

Snatch--1x2@40, 40, 40, 60, 80, 90--With my doubles I did a Power Snatch first and a full Snatch second. I then worked up to singles with 100, 105, 110, I missed 112.5 and went straight up to 115kg and got it to match my competition pb. Zag missed out on the video of my 115 but got the pathetic attempt I took with 117.5kg. At least I know what it feels like now. I was happy with this because it was the first time I have gone heavy with my new wider grip and I felt pretty good. After 105, from looking at the videos, my form started to get a bit sloppy. I needed to stay over the bar more and finish my extension up rather than back; they are old habits and my technique work will help get rid of them hopefully.

Clean and Jerk--My right shoulder has been bothering me a bit over the last week so I was unsure whether to do the Jerk or not. I decided to see how it went, but my Jerk has not felt the same since my shoulder has started to pinch on the catch portion of the lift. I ended up feeling fine so I went ahead with it anyway and although my Jerk felt off, I still got 142.5kg which is only 3.5kg below my best. I did some doubles with 60 and then did singles with 90, 110, 120, 130, 137.5 which I missed the Jerk on as I did with the following 142.5kg. I tried it again and got the Jerk with a wobbly right elbow and left it there. I am still feeling a bit awkward with the heavier weights in the Clean and as you can see in the video below, I am dropping quicker than needed and letting the weights fall down on me. The more I work on the Cleans, I will sort this out and get my timing down. I was not worried about the Jerk because it has been great over the last few months and I had a sore shoulder.

Back Squat--I wanted to get five reps with 160kg but I only got four. I will get it next time though....

A great day's training for all and I am really glad we made the effort to go to Limerick. The atmosphere and intensity in these sessions away from home environments cannot be replicated unless there are similar conditions. David Woodhouse was right when he said one has to learn how to train and push oneself to the limits when either alone or in your home gym and I agree; but sometimes sessions like these are a timely boost in adrenaline, energy levels and also what tends to be forgotten: they are fun because of the company and this freshens up our perspective towards training and the sport in general. I am already looking forward to next week. For training over the next few days I will lift with a little less volume because I went heavier than planned; I will keep the intensity as high but will do a few less reps a session. Have a look at the video below and leave any constructive criticism you may have.

Thursday 11 March 2010

Thursday's touting

Today's session went really well and I needed it. It is the first time my back has started to get to a reasonable shape when lifting in my new Snatch grip and this makes me happy! I did my usual warm up with bar work, power plate, z-health joint warm up and back mobility and then I did the following:

Snatch--3x3@40 1x2@60, 80, 90 1x1@97 for four singles and instead of doing 97 again, I did 100kg. I wanted to lift it for the first time with my new grip and it felt great. It is only 87% of my best Snatch of 115kg, but with the technical work and re-adjustments I have been making, it felt nice to get the 100 out of the way. As you will see in the video below, my lifting is getting smoother the more I get used to the grip and my back is also getting used to the new feel of the lift. I know I will have to continue to be patient, but it feels good when you get it right.

Snatch Pulls--1x2@90, 103, 103, 103

Jerk from the rack--I was supposed to work up to three singles with 117kg, but my right shoulder was pinging me a bit so I left it at 110kg.

Back Squat--Zag hit two doubles of 160 yesterday, so I had to one up him. Except I didn't. I did my double with 160 and one my second rep with 170, I failed to get through the sticking point. I will get this next time though....

That was it. I have a light recovery session tomorrow where I will go up to 70 or 80 kilos for a few singles and a few light singles in the Front squat with 130kg. I will do plenty of stretching and recovery work to set me up for training with the boys in Limerick on Saturday. I am looking forward to the lifting and the banter in UL. I am predicting some big numbers for Paudie, Lord Murphington and Byrdie as their training has been going splendidly:

Here is my more feeble lifting that will produce some more significant numbers very shortly!

Wednesday 10 March 2010

Tuesday's torch-light for older athletes

The video in this post has one of the most important feats of strength you will proabably ever see. I am deadly serious here and the last part of the video will prove my point; I am not so sure you will ever see anything like this again.

In my own training, the weights felt heavy, but I made the numbers set in my program. Like before, I am slowly building up the amount of weight I am lifting and this gradual increase is really helping my Snatch. I am feeling a lot smoother in the pull and the catch. In warming up I did my back mobility and it is a little frustrating doing this because at the moment it does not feel like it is helping. I realise that it is important so I will continue to do it. I used the power plate again and did lots of bar work. My flexibilty around the hips is really improving as I have been focusing on relaxing the muscles around the area and I am far more comfortable in a wider stance in the Snatch, Clean and squatting positions.

Power Snatch--3x3@40 1x2@60 1x1@80, 84 for three singles.

Clean and Jerk--1x2@60, 60, 80 1x1@100, 110, 120 for three singles.

Front Squat--1x2@125, 135 for three doubles.

On Saturday, I am going down to Limerick to train with Cathal Byrd, Murph, Paudie Roche and hopefully Sean O'Sullivan. Zag is coming down also, so it should be a fun filled afternoon's lifting. The Irish squad session is on the weekend after, so the next few weeks should be a great stimulis. I have training tomorrow and then a lighter, recovery/technique based session on Friday so I should be relatively fresh for Saturday. Have a look at the video and let me know what you think. The last part will go down in history.

Tuesday 9 March 2010

Monday's mindfulness

I had a great training session with Zag and while it was not very heavy, it was a great learning experience. The bar work is helping me keep the bar close and this session felt more fluid than the last one. I am really starting to get used to the wider grip now and hopefully I can get back to the level of power I am used to and beyond that again. Things did not go quite to plan for Zag, but he got all his lifts and worked through his dodgy session which is all we can do on days like that.Here is what I did:

Snatch work with bar and power plate for 15 minutes.

Snatch--1x2@40, 40, 40, 40, 60 1x1@80, 90, 94 for five singles. A bit more pop is still needed but each session it gets a little better.

Snatch Pull--1x2@90, 100 for three doubles

Power Clean and Jerk--1x2@60, 60, 80 1x1@90, 100, 105 for three singles.

Back Squat--1x3@90, 110, 130, 142, 152 for three doubles.

For me, training five days a week is better for skill development than four days a week because that fifth day allows you to get more reps in and literally build skill. The key I think is to keep the extra sessions light enough so that they work in as active recovery and skill work, rather than simply banging away with as heavy weights as possible. At least, this is what I am thinking right now for me. I need to build skill in weightlifting technique, power and strength. Skill acquisition needs repition and conscious, mindful practise. Then when the skill is built, you learn to lift without consious thought. I need to work consciously on my technique and then leave the overthinking at the door when the weights go past 80%. Then when I am far more skillful and disciplined mentally, I will be able to park my brain outside for training and competitions.

Here are two articles that I found fascinating. The first is by Bob Takano and it is about developing atmosphere in the gym. I think this point is relaly important and this is something that myself and the lads mentioned after our trip to London when we did our star interviews.

The last article that I found fascinating was written by Pierre Roy, a Canadian weightlifting coach that was Charles Poliquin's mentor. It is on developing power for weightlifting and anyone with any interest in power sports needs to read this. It should be interesting to rad peoples' opinions on the man's thoughts.

Sunday 7 March 2010

Saturday's staple lifting

I had a great training session on Saturday. Friday's active recovery session set me up--I worked up to four singles in the Snatch with 80kg and three singles with 130 in the Front Squat--and I was raring to go the following day. After five minutes on the power plate and doing my back mobility drills, I started with my bar work for the Snatch. I am really trying to get the feel for what it is like actively keeping the bar close, and pulling myself under the bar. I am improving and getting more comfortable with the bar, and this helped so much with my Jerk technique that I hope it will do the same for my Snatch. Every time I lift with the wider grip it starts to feel more and more natural. The more comfortable I get, the more power I will be able to get out of my extension. There is no point worrying about my back, so I will continue to work on my back mobility, my overall flexibility and when I get to Amsterdam I will focus entirely on locking out my back. Here is what I did:

Snatch--1x2@40 for four doubles, 60 1x1@80, 90, 95, 97 for three singles. These got better all the time. The wider grip is really helping me in the catch and my feet are consistently getting out in the catch and I am keeping the bar closer than usual also. I need to improve on finishing my extension better, but I think that this will improve when the weights get heavier. My bottom catch position is feeling more accurate and comfortable than ever before.

Clean and Jerk--2x2@60 1x1@80, 90, 100, 110, 120, 127 for three singles. Again, I focused on exploding out of my second pull and this helped me get my feet out in the catch position. The weight was fine, but more importantly, my technique felt good and I felt comfortable in the catch position.

Back Squat--1x5@60, 100, 120, 140--These were not heavy at all, but I squatted with a wider stance than normal which made it seem tougher. This was the end of my first week of my 8 weeks leading into the Nationals and the Small Nations. A light week, and it has done wonders because I feel fresh and I have made some nice improvements in my technique. I have a long way to go, but the next seven weeks should be fun, so bring it on.

Friday 5 March 2010

Thursday's Tommyisms

Yes, I made up the word in the title. But it should be a word because Tommy Hayden is a legend and the dictionary does not do him justice. Tommy was just finished coaching Cathal Twaddle and I asked him to help work on my Snatch technique. The take home points were that I simply need to explode with the second pull faster and that aside from my back, my technique is fine. I was focusing on staying over the bar and keeping it close. Extending up, rather than back. Trajectory wise, I was really happy with how the lifts were going and now, once I get them habitual, I can work on the speed. As my back lock improves, my speed and power will be better translated. I worked up to 5 singles of 95kg. I missed two and got five. I only missed the lifts because of forgetting to simply finish the pull. Over-analysis I am afraid. This would normally be a comfortable Power Snatch, but with the new grip I am still getting used to the feel of the movement.

I then did some pretty unsuccessful Snatch Pulls with 99kg and this was frustrating. It really is a lot more difficult to lock in with the wider grip, but I will have to get used to it. The first few times I used chop sticks I had no idea what to do. It took a while but I adapted. Is the Snatch as easy as chop sticks?

I was supposed to do Jerks from the rack, but it was being used and instead of waiting for ten minutes or changing platforms, I did Power Clean and Jerks, working up to 110 for three singles. My Jerk was not very smooth or efficient last night, but this rarely happens so I have to accept it, move on and follow the program to the letter next time. I then worked up to three doubles with 150 in the Back Squat. Nice and chilled out for the first week.

That was it. I am training again today and tomorrow. Today is an active recovery session where I am Snatching up to 80 for three singles and Front Squatting 120 for three singles. Very light and it should leave me sprightly for Saturday's session.

How is this for a 208kg Snatch:

And Rybakov Snatching 191kg weighing around 90kg or so. What a freak!

Wednesday 3 March 2010

Tuesday's therapy

I had an enjoyable day's training again today. I am enjoying the fact that this week's training is relatively light and that it is forcing me to focus on the feel and rhythm of each lift. Technique, technique, technique. Squats will sort out my strength and my technical rebuilding with my new grip is forcing me to relearn the movements again which I think will help me in the long run. As I get used to the new grip, I can inch up the weights and any technical improvements should be maintained. Should is such a flimsy word though....

I had a nice warm up using the power plate and the Z-health mobility drills. I then did some bar work and some Jerk skill work.

Power Snatch--I did five doubles with 40, a double with 60 and then three singles with 80kg. Very light weights, but I am starting to feel like I am getting used to the new grip now and each lift got better and better. I felt like I could impart more force to my lifts and the Power Snatch movement once a week should help this.

Clean and Jerk-- I worked up to two nice singles with 115kg and I Power Cleaned and Jerked the last rep just to get a bit more pop into the lift. I need to learn to put the same amount of force into a full lift as I would a power lift.

Front Squats--I worked up to five doubles of 130kg. Very comfortable again, but I am still getting used to the movement after doing the Russian squat program which focused on Back Squats exclusively.

I did some recovery work on the power plate again, had a nice 5 minute sauna and finished with a cold shower. I left the gym feeling great and did a yoga class to top it all off. It was an enjoyable training day that is setting me up for the delicious hard work to follow.

Here is a CNS supplementation stack that Dr John Berardi of T-Nation and Precision Nutrition fame recommends for periods of heavy training and/or competition:

80mg caffeine
--CNS stimulation

300mg of green tea extract
--CNS stimulation

3g Tyrosine - (OR 1.5g N-acetyl-L-Tyrosine)
--Epi and Norepi precursor formation (but precursors must form neurotransmitters and these neurotransmitters must be released - the green tea and caffeine assist in NT release)

1g of Lecithin (or Choline) - (OR 100-200mg DMAE)
--AcH precursor formation (but, same as above, these precursors must be released)

15mg Policosanol
--Increases AcH release, decreases AcH breakdown in NM junction, and increases AcH binding affinity (all leading to decreased reaction time)

*10mg Vitamin B6*
--Potentiates the effects of the other ingredients

Also, have a look at this amazing video that Chris Betancort made:

Tuesday 2 March 2010

Monday's mitching off squats

I had an extremely busy day yesterday so I had to fly through my session, leave out my squats in the end and drive down to Cork and back. It is the first week in my new program and it is relatively light to begin with. The focus is on relearning the Snatch with my new wider grip and to avoid overthinking while consciously improving technique. John McDaid was there with Tommy Hayden and they were giving a few pointers as well which always helps.

Snatch--4x2@40 1x2@60, 80 1x1@90 and then five singles with 92kg.

Snatch Pulls--1x2@90 3x2@95--I was doing these to get used to the first part of the pull. It has been months since I have done any pulls and I think they will get me into the right habits again I will them light and use them purely to work on the first half of the lift whilst accruing as little fatigue as possible.

Clean and Jerk--I worked up to three singles with 110 here and they felt great. I was supposed to do something slightly different and I only realised this afterwards.

It is always nice to start a new program and like I said before, I am going to get Zag and Harry's help in writing a more prescriptive program to avoid me doing things I shouldn't. The only way this is possible is to have complete faith in a program. When I am supposed to stay light, work on speed and technique. When I am supposed to go heavy, by God will I go for it.

Here is a brilliant video that Murph alluded to in what must be the best weightlifting blog on the planet. Weightlifting at its finest and a mixture of z list celebrities all rolled into one delightful package: