Sunday 30 May 2010

Ulster Open opulence

I drove up the night before and after a good night's sleep, I did not feel as drained as I felt all week. I think Jordanstown is the best competition and training venue in the country and all the lifters loved being there. There was space to move about and warm up at your leisure. That morning I had a breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast with a bit of fruit. I had a little under a pint of water and weighed in around half ten at 93kg on the dot. I did not realise I would weigh that light, but I felt pretty good so I didn't mind.

In the first session the two ladies lifted very well. Byrdie got 112 and got called for a pressout with a very smooth looking 114kg. He then Clean and Jerked an impressive 147kg for a 1kg pb. Zag was treating this one as a training session and Murph hit 98/115, narrowly missing 122 in the Jerk twice. Germans hit 117/148 in the 85kg class and Alex hit 117/145. Cillian hit 90/102 and narrowly missed 106 twice. Here's how I did:

I had the luxury of time and space to warm up fully. I had a lovely twenty minute stretch followed by some mobility work and then some bar work. This was followed by a 15 minute rest. Around half an hour later I had another little stretch and got going with the bar again. I worked up to a single with 90 and realised I was warming up too quickly, so I took a break for around 8 minutes. I then went back to 80kg and then I missed 90kg despite the fact that I was feeling awesome. I then Snatched 90 and 95kg and in order to make sure I was finishing my pull, I power Snatched 100 and 105 for a new Power Snatch pb. Even though I was only 93kg, I felt very strong and almost like I was 100kg again.

In the competition I opened up with 110kg in what felt like the easiest 110 I have ever made. 114kg was then a better lift because it was faster. I then went up to 118kg and made it. I felt very strong in the Snatch, but this felt like the most I could get on the day. The catch was the type you feel on a max weight where it wobbles without pressing out. I enjoyed the lifts though and there was a great atmosphere with the rest of the lifters.

I chilled out for ten minutes and got going on the Clean and Jerk warm up. I did a bit of bar work for a few minutes and did two doubles with 70kg. I then did singles with 100, 110, 120, 130 and 135 in the warm up room. None of them felt great, but I got them all anyway. This was the most I have Cleaned in three and a half weeks and I felt a hell of a lot better than over that time period.

I opened up with 140kg which went pretty smoothly. I then went up to 145kg which felt ridiculously heavy and I was happy to get it. Because this was such a struggle--the video makes it look a lot easier than it felt--I went up to 148kg instead of the projected 150kg. Instead of following my regular routine, I psyched myself up and got far more aggressive than I usually would have. I think that because my Cleans have been so bad over the last month or so, I was lacking the confidence I would normally have. I ended up deadlifting the weight and it caught me as much in surprise as it did everyone else. Lesson learned: follow your routine, particularly when you are going heavier than you ever have before!

That was it. I really enjoyed the competition and as always, the venue and organisation was brilliant. It was great watching Byrdie and Neil Dougan hit pb's in the Clean and Jerk and five out of six was not bad for myself considering my state of affairs over the last few weeks. Have a look at the videos and leave any constructive criticisms you may have.






Byrdie's 147

Thursday 27 May 2010

Wednesday's war whoop

I am really enjoying only training twice this week and I know I will be far fresher on Saturday because of it. This is one of my busiest times of year in work and I am also very busy outside work, so the rest is needed for pb's to come. I had a short and sharp workout on Saturday and I followed the plan to a t. Here is what I did:

Snatch--3x3@50 1x2@70, 80 1x1@90, 99kg(85%)

Clean and Jerk--2x2@70 1x1@100, 110

Front Squat--1x2@120 1x1@130, 150

That was it. Zag had a great session also and for the first time in the last five weeks or so has strung together two decent weeks' worth of training. Have a look at the video and leave any feedback you may have.

On a side note, I will be going over to train in California Strength with Glenn Pendlay and his lifters for a week and then I will fly to Vegas to train with John Broz and his lifters for four days. It should be a fun trip. All is booked and ready to go, so bring it on! I will leave you with two hilarious videos that are funny for different reasons:

Monday 24 May 2010

Monday's mandate

This is my download week, as I have a competition on Saturday. I had a weekend in which I was able to recover a bit from my hectic last few weeks. Good food, decent sleep and a lack of excess go a long way towards feeling better. I trained well today after a very sluggish start. It took me longer than usual to warm up properly and feel like I could lift properly. Here is what I did today:

Snatch--3x3@50 1x2@70 1x1@80, 90, 95--These got better each time I lifted.

Clean and Jerk--2x2@50 1x2@70 1x1@100, 110, 120, 127x, 132--I felt normal today for the first time in three weeks with the Clean and Jerk. With 127kg the Clean was easy and I simply did not put enough power or focus into the Jerk. I skipped to 132kg which is 88% of the 150kg that I will lift on Saturday. Aside from slow elbows, the lift felt great. When I am fatigued, my elbows tend to drop a bit and I expect that to improve over the course of the week.

Front Squat--1x2@125 1x1@140, 150--I simply worked up to a single with what I will Clean and Jerk in competition and it felt great.

Mobility squats--4x3@60 and 80kg. I am getting better at these. They are still painful and annoying, but I need to do them. Active flexibility and technical training all rolled into one.

Have a look at the video below and let me know if you have any constructive criticism. With only two days training this week and a better sleeping pattern, I should be firing on all cylinders on Saturday.

Sunday 23 May 2010

Sunny Saturday

I trained with Zag and Germans today and since the weather was so nice, we took some equipment out and trained in the sun. It was lifting in a different stimulis; there was a slight slope and this was slightly off putting, but it was well worth it. We all enjoyed our training and something differrent is always welcome. I let myself get a bit run down over the last few days and this has not happened in a long time. I am far better today than I was yesterday and another good sleep should do the trick. I will only train twice next week, so that come Saturday, I am fresh for the Ulster Open. Here is what I did today:

Snatch--4x2@60 1x2@80, 80, 90 1x1@90, 95, 100, 105x, 105--I missed the first rep to not extending fully. I got the next rep and it felt like the right weight of the day. I was happy to hit 90% in the sun, on a slope and without any stimulants depsite being very fatigued. This spells good things for next weekend. My hips shot up a bit early, but I will fix that.

Clean and Jerk--1x2@60 1x1@90, 100, 110, 120, 130--I missed the Clean the first time, got it the second time and missed the Jerk. Then on the third attempt, I nailed it. The clean was pretty ugly, but I needed to hit it. 88% when I am feeling that rough is an accomplishment in my book. It was not the ideal weight I wanted to be hitting this week, but when you are given lemons, you have to make lemonade.

Concentric band squat--1x3@70, 3x3@100--Zag was doing these so I tried them for something different. They are there to work on your speed and it was nice to try something different without buring myself out.

Front Squat--1x3@70 1x1@100, 120, 130, 140, 150, 160
We went back inside for the squats but I was pretty worn out from lifting in the sun. I was happy to hit 160 and it felt like there was more weight there.

All in all, it was a great day's training. I will train twice next week and both will be light, short and sharp affairs. As David said in a comment from my last post, rest up and lift more weight!

Wednesday 19 May 2010

Weekly wonders

This last few weeks has been exceedingly busy and as a result, my training has taken a bit of a hit. Not to worry though, today was a little better and I think that I have broken the downward spiral. This post is a triple header and as you will see in the video below, there are some awesome lifts from people other than myself. Saturday was a disappointing session and like last week, I was fatigued both mentally and physically this week. However, the rough sessions of this week are now over and I have two days to rest and recuperate as much as possible. Here is what I did this week:


Snatch: 3x3@40 1x2@60, 70 1x1@80, 90 for five singles

Clean and Jerk: 2x2@60 1x1@80, 90, 100, 110, 120 for four singles

Front squat: 1x3@125, 138 for three triples. My left knee was at me at this point so I left it at three triples instead of six. Aside from this, the volume increased from the previous week and even though I was not feeling too hot, I was content enough. Byrdie had a great session Snatching 110 easily and Clean and Jerking 136 like it was not there. Wayne and Germans also had good session with Wayne hitting 102/120 and Germans 120/140


Power Snatch: I was feeling awful at this stage and my body was not co-operating with my mind. Somehow I succeeded with a Power Snatch with 97 and then I hot 102kg to a little above parallel. I will not call it a Power Snatch, but it was as close as 100 the previous week.

Clean and Jerk: The proverbial hit the fan here and 120 felt like a criminally heavy weight. I ended up getting 125kg which was better and 130kg, but this was at the very limit of what I could lift. The Jerks felt fine, but the Cleans felt awful and I was happy to hit 130kg considering how I felt. Byrdie hit 107 in the Snatch and missed 110 and 111 a few times each and a few of them were behind and very close. He hit 142kg on his third attempt and the only reason it took three times was that he was a little tired from the previous day.


Snatch: 3x3@50 1x2@70 1x1@80, 90, 95, 100, 105, 108
After a length warm up, I felt far more able to achieve the correct positions and even though I was not at my quickest, I lifted far better today than the previous two days. 108 felt awful, but I was happy to hit 92.5% when this fatigued. Germans hit a 125 and 127kg Snatch from the blocks and both were gutsy and impressive lifts.

Clean and Jerk: 2x2@70 1x1@100, 110, 120
These felt great and for the first time in a week and a half, 120 felt like it should: a light weight that was easily handled.

Back Squat: 1x2@70, 110, 130, 145, 155 for six doubles. Again, an increase in volume from last week and my knees felt great which was encouraging.

All in all, the last week and a half has been trying, but I have come out the far side the better for the struggle. I will train on Saturday and go to the max of the day and then I will have a blessed download week to take me into the Ulster Open in Belfast on Saturday week. Have a look at the videos and leave any constructive criticism.

Sunday 16 May 2010

Saturday's slippery ambitions

I arrived to training in a good state of mind and after stretching dynamically for half an hour to wake myself up, I got started. The plan was to Snatch, Clean and Jerk and then Front Squat to max. This did not turn out as I would have hoped however. Halfway through my Clean and Jerks, me left knee started to hurt after I Power Cleaned 120. This meant I could not generate force through my left knee without pain. Hopefully this will be one of those phantom pains that arise every now and then because my knees have been feeling great lately. Germans Snatched 119kg and Clean and Jerked 140, just missing the 144 Jerk. I was not able to Snatch with him and I missed out because of this. Zag got 97/115 and barely missed the Jerk with 120. He has been ill and overworked for the last three weeks and his training has suffered accordingly, so he is simply getting back into the swing of things. Here is what I did:

Snatch--3x3@50 1x2@70, 80, 90 1x1@100, 105, 100xxx
It was frustrating to keep on missing 110 because the bar was high enough and I was low enough. I kept pushing it out front and one thing the videos showed me was that I was not finishing my extension fully. This may or may not have been the reason, but one positive was that I felt far better yesterday than I did on Wednesday.

Clean and Jerk--1x2@70, 70 1x1@90, 100, 110, 120--My Cleans were feeling sluggish so I power cleaned 120 and in the catch I felt something tug a bit in my left knee. I Cleaned 125kg a few minutes later, but it did not feel right, so I left the Jerk and my goal of hitting 137kg for the day.

Instead of squatting, I did a few pulls off some high blocks made up of weights and then did press triples with 50, 60, 70 and 75kg. I took a video of Sami doing his mobility squats so you can see for yourself why we do them.

Altogether, this week was frustrating in that I did not hit my targets, but I can see why. On top of being very busy outside work and training, my previous weekend drained me far more than I realised it would. I have to accept where I am rather than focus where I think I should be. Next week will be a sharper week. Have a look at the video below and leave any constructive criticism.

Friday 14 May 2010

Wednesday's waiting list

I went training on Wednesday prepared to accept how I felt. I was supposed to Snatch heavy, Power Clean and Jerk as much as I could and then do six doubles with the Back Squat between 80 and 85%. I enjoyed training with Wayne who had his first session in ten days. Here is what I did:

Snatch--4x2@60 1x2@80 1x1@90, 95, 100, 105, 110xx--My 105 was 90% and it was my best Snatch of the day. Before this they all felt quite rough, so I decided to lift as well as I could and simply focus on getting the lift rather than style. 110 was not there on the day, but I feel far more recovered at the end of the week than I did at the start of the week, which is very unusual for me.

Power Clean and Jerk--1x2@60, 60, 80 1x1@90, 100, 110, 120, 120
I was pulling the bar very high but my speed was not the Mae West, so the weight felt more awkward than it should have.

Back Squat--1x2@60, 110, 123, 133, 143, 153 (83%) for six doubles. The previous week I did 150kg which is not heavy, but I am going for gradual progress rather than simply doing as much as I can resulting in me being wrecked because I am not conditioned enough yet for that level of frequent intensity. Next week I will do 155kg. Again, the weight is not heavy, but I need to stick to the plan. As Dan John says: the goal is to keep the goal the goal. This is particularly prevalent for me as I can be wanton to try too many new things.

I did 1 hour of joint mobility and resistance flexibility on Thursday and Friday something similar except not as much. This week was a mior step back from where I wanted to be, but all in all, I am well set for my goal: to Snatch 118kg and Clean and Jerk 150kg on May 29th up in Belfast. Have a look at this video and enjoy.

Thursday 13 May 2010

Tuesday's taciturn appraisal

The full impact of the previous weekend hit me with a bang on Tuesday and considering the circumstances, I am happy with how the last two days' training has gone. Obviously sitting in a bus/ferry for 18 hours over three days is not good for, but I did not realise how fatiguing it would be for my back. Once I got over my initial disappointment and realised what was happening, I was able to view my training performance with greater clarity.

Aside from, warming up with a mixture of bar work, pre hab movements, calisthenics and dynamlic flexibility, here is what I did on Tuesday:

Power Snatch--3x3@50 1x2@70 1x1@ 80, 90, 96, 100--I caught this just above parallel and it was faster and more accurate than the previous week. At this stage, I was not feeling particularly great, but I just got on with it.

Clean and Jerk: 1x2 @ 60, 60, 90 1x1@ 110, 120, 127, 132x, 132, 136xx
It was my aim to Clean and Jerk 137 this week after getting 135 last week. My 132kg lift was a limit lift and looking back, I should have left it there. Even with the light weights I was struggling to keep any semblance of a locked back and with 132kg it felt like I was completely bowed over. With 136kg, for some reason I could not Clean the bar at all. My body refused to obey my mind. Looking back at the videos, I am really glad of this because it was an injury waiting to happen. I have a lot to thank my central nervous system for as I could not understand why I could not Clean the weight which would usually be so straight forward. I understood why this was happening and was actually happy with my 132kg because it was one of those lifts where your instinct is screaming at you not to go under the weight.

Mobility squats: 3x3@70kg 1x2@ 100
These are still very hard on my hips but for the first time I can feel some progress in the movement. Once I get better at these, I think my squatting will improve nicely as I will be able to get better leverages.

Have a look at this video and love it.

Tuesday 11 May 2010

Monday's Machiavelian increase in volume

I spent more hours on a bus than I care to remember over the weekend. It turned out to be great fun, but when twelve hours are spent sitting in a bus, it means one's flexibility and mobility will take a bit of a nose dive. Yesterday's session went well considering and as the title suggested, I inched up my volume and intensity rather than do my usual and get far too enthusiastic and burn myself out. The only way to improve my weightlifting conditioning is to gradually increase what my body can tolerate. Gradual means reasonable and this is something that John Broz was at pains to tell me.

If a long term plan is in place, you have to teach your body and mind about how to deal with physical stress and the mental demands this places on a person. In my effort to do this, I followed my plan and held back my urge to go as heavy as I could. The Monday workout for me, is simply to get in lifting volume and to set up the body for the heavier days to follow. I tend to lift better on the Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. Therefore, these have been assigned as heavy days where the intensity will be raised. On the Tuesday, I will lift heavier in the Clean and Jerk, the workout after, the Snatch. Then there is an active recovery workout where I work on technique and weak points followed by a max session on the Saturday. This is a very simple template, but I am enjoying it none the less. I need to lift more weight in the classical lifts and I need to squat with more volume and also with higher intensity. I believe I can achieve this and thrive over the next few weeks. Here is what I did yesterady:

Snatch--2x4@40 1x2@60, 70, 80 4x1@90 @75%. Last weiik I did three singles with 90kg.

Clean and Jerk--1x2@60, 60, 80 1x1@100, 110, 120, 120, 120 @80%. Last week I did two singles with 120.

Front Squat--1x3@ 60, 110, 125, 135 fo six triples. Last week I did six triple with 132kg.

Essentially, I am inching up this particular workout that, as you can see, is not heavy at all. The idea is that it will facilitate giong heavier on the three days that I will be going heavier and it also helps me adapt to more volume so that I will be better conditioned. My program is very simple: 3 heavy days, 2 lighter days which will be gradually increased in volume over time.

Have a look at this awesome video from the last World Championships. It is of the 94kg weight class and the guy who won is a power freak athlete.

Thursday 6 May 2010

Thursday's takeover

I had another positive session today and even though I did not go quite so heavy, it was still productive. Germans was not there to spur me on, but Harry and Gillian were excellent training partners! As I will be away the next three days, like yesterday I had to change up the program a bit. Here is what I did:

Snatch--2x3@50 1x2@70, 90 1x1@95, 100, 104 xx--I was only supposed to go up to 100, but I got a little carried away. I had prepared mentally for 100 and as you will see on the video, it was fast enough.

Power Clean and Jerk--I did these instead of full Cleans because my soleus and calf muscles were sore from the last few days of lifting and squatting. I worked up with doubles with 70 and 90 and then singles with 100, 110, 115 and 120kg. They felt fast and powerful and my Jerk technique was far smoother than the last few days.

Front Squat--1x3@70, 1x2@100 1x1@120, 140, 150, 160, 165--This equalled my pb and it felt relatively comfortable. I have not gone heavy in the Front Squat in a long time so I know that pb will be smashed soon enough. More important is getting all the squatting volume in though.I must get stronger!

Have a look at the video and let me know what you think. I will have a full week to get my training in next week, so I am looking forward to setting my base standard and inching things up a little more.

Wednesday's weaponry

This turned out to be exactly the session I needed. I was lifting with Germans and we were both trying to outSnatch the other. I lost in the end, but damn it, it as fun! There was a fast tempo between attmepts and even though I was feeling sloppy at the beginning of the session, I focused on what needed to be done and turned it around. I am away this weekend on a three day tour with work, so I had to condense my week's training a little. I was supposed to only go up to 120 or so in the Clean and Jerk and then go to max on the Saturday, but since I will not be around then, I did it yesterday. Here is what I did:

I mixed in some joint mobility with bar work and dynamic felxibility.

Snatch--2x3@50 1x2@70, 90 1x1@100, 105, 110, 112 x, 112, 114 xx

I missed 112 the first time because I did not quite finish the pull, but I nailed it on the second go. I then missed 114 twice; it simply was not there on the day. Germans got the 114 and then hammered home 116kg to seal the deal.

Clean and Jerk--1x2@70, 70, 90 1x1@100,110 , 120, 125, 130, 135 xx
My Jerk was far better today and I did around 5 minutes of bar work which helped. The lifts felt great, but I missed 135 twice because my ryhthm and tempo were off a bit. I was letting the bar fall down on me in the catch and this caused me to miss the Clean. This can be easily fixed.

Back Squat--1x2@70, 100, 130, 150(83%) for six doubles.

I finished up with around 20 minutes of flexibility and a short sauna. All in all it was a good session. It was the first time I have Snatched over 110 in a regular training session and without any stimulants such as caffeine or guarana. Obviously I plan to inch up my lifts sensibly over the next two and a half weeks so that by the Ulster Open I will be raring to go. Have a look at the video and let me know if you spot anything that will help me.

Tuesday 4 May 2010

Tuesday's torpedo

Yesterday's session proved to be another little stepping stone towards my world domination. It did not go as smoothly as I would have hoped, but all in all it went well. Germans--a Latvian 85kg lifter who is friends with Alex--had a whopper of a day Snatching 118 off blocks and Clean and Jerking 142kg, as well as doing his Clean Pulls with 160 in exemplorary style. He finished off with squats and 155kg on the Jerk behind the neck. Here is what I did:

Power Snatch--3x2@50 1x2@70 1x1@80, 90, 95, 100-- I caught this one just below parallel, but I was happy because it was smooth and fast. I wanted to take it again and Power it up, but the focus was on the Clean and Jerk for the day so I left it there. Here is a video of the 100. I can get a quicker turnover also, but it is a minor detail that I can fix the next day.

Clean and Jerk--1x2@70, 70, 90 1x1@110, 120, 130, 135--I missed the Jerk twice and on my third attempt I got it. I kept pushing it out front and I was not getting my usual leverages right. Harry made the point that I was messing up on my Jerk dip, so I will do some skill work with that over the next few days. 90% of what I want for the competition. I wanted to nail it first time, but I got it in the end; next time I simply need to be more accurate.

Mobility squats and flexibility--I do not squat on this day as I will be doing plenty the following sessions. The idea is to help me recover from the heavier Clean and Jerks. I felt like I needed to do more work, but for now I need to shut up and simply follow the program.

Have a look at the videos and leave any constructive criticism you may have:

Monday 3 May 2010

Monday's mythology, weightlifting style

Today's training was a great start to my three week preparation for the Ulster Open on May 29th. Everything I needed to do got done and got done well; the session was primarily to get the ball rolling and to lead me into the heavier workouts of the week. It is a moderate weight day with the lifts and squat volume with 6 triples in the Front Squat with 80%. Tomorrow, I will Clean and Jerk heavier and on the Thursday I will Snatch heavier. Friday is an active recovery day where I will focus on getting a few more reps in and Saturday is the max for the day session. Here is what I did yesterday:

Snatch: I warmed up doing a few pulls with 60kg and I did some basic joint mobility work. I then worked up with doubles with 60, 60, 80 and then three singles with 90kg. It felt smooth and fast.

Clean and Jerk--1x2@60, 60, 80, 90 1x1@100, 110, 120 for two singles

Front Squat--1x3@60, 60, 100, 120, 132 for six triples which is 80% of my Front Squat max. I have not been Front Squatting a lot lately and it will take a little while to get used to them again. Obviously, this will help my Clean and Jerk nicely.

I am looking forward to going heavier in the Power Snatch and Clean and Jerk tomorrow. It should be a fun session and every time I lift over 90% the weights feel better and better. That is the object for the next three weeks. I want 118/150 and I am going to get it.

Have a look at these two videos. The first is possibly the most impressive Clean and Jerk in history. Kakhiashvili needed to Jerk this weight to win the Olympic gold after Alexyeev held him back in the Snatch because he wanted someone else to win. Kakki had to make this to win on bodyweight. The second is a video I jave shown before, but I am going to show it again just because it is awesome.

Saturday's set up

Saturday proved to be an invigorating session that will set myself and Zag up nicely for the next 3 week competitive intensity period in training. The previous day I had off, but I still did a good bit of prehab work on my shoulders and hips as well as some quality flexibility work. On the Saturday, we had a warm up session where we worked on technique and simply waking the body and mind properly. Wayne Healy and Alex were also there along with myself Zag and James Hanley. Alex is a Lativan 105 lifter who got 124/158 in running shoes last weekend and James is a brutally strong powerlifter who has excellent flexibility alongside an intelligent approach towards lifting.

In the second session I went up to 100 in the Snatch for five singles and I missed the second. It took me a good while to get into my stride, but I got there eventually. After a week of recovery and lifting pretty light, it simply took a bit of time to remind the body what it needs to do! I then went up to 120 in the Clean and Jerk for three singles and then did one with 130 because Wayne went up to it. You have to love the competitive edge! My 130 was by far my best Clean and Jerk of the day as was my last Snatch.

Myself and Zag tried Box Squats for a change after that and we are planning to do this movement once a week to help try an kick start our squats and give a new stimulis. They certainly felt different to regular squats and the change of scenery was welcomed with open arms. All that I will be doing for the next month is the classical lifts and squats and lots of them, so a nice variation that can help is always appreciated. I went up to 3 triples with 150 and after controlling the weight down, I stayed on the box for two seconds and then powered up the weight as fast as I could. They hit the legs in a different way to normal.

Have a look at the video below and lt me know what you think. There is a big month coming up for me and I want to get 118/150 in the Ulster Open on May 29th. I will get it once I prepare properly.