Sunday 27 February 2011

A week's winter hibernation

This last week off work has allowed some time off and I graciously took it. My shoulder has ached increasingly as the last few months have gone by, so I decided to get my shoulder and hip looked at this last week to try and get both issues sorted as well as I could. I am seeing a different physical therapist at the moment and hopefully he will be able to help me. He has already identified a basic imbalance in my overall structure which explains why I have had problems with my right ankle, hip and shoulder. Hopefully he will be able to help and if he does, I will write a lot more about the process. Until then, I will see what happens. My hip is a problem that has major implications for my future and if I do not fix it now, I know I will regret it in ten years time. I will still be able to train around it and continue getting stronger, but my future as an athlete and more importantly, as person who likes to have basic movement literacy skills, I need to face the music. If it has a positive effect on my weightlifting, it will be a bonus.

I trained twice this week and I kept the intensity in the squatting only. I basically rested a lot and caught up on an outstanding amount of sleep. I feel good and am really looking forward to the next few training weeks because there is a national training squad weekend on the 12/13th of March in ECB which will be the best ever squad session ever in Irish weightlifting.

Here are a few cool videos. David Woodhouse Power Cleans 152kg. His methods of training have clearly helped him develop as a weightlifter. I am really looking forward to seeing him lift 130/160 in competition and I know he will do it very soon.

Here is a young weightlifter from Tralee who is so far ahead of the rest of Irish weightlifting athletically, it is not even funny:

Yes, Clarence is a far better weightlifter than me and yes, he is 17. He is so much more athletic than me I am not even embarrassed, I am actually very happy to have someone like this in Irish weightlifting.

Sunday 20 February 2011

Coolmine Clearwater Revival

Well done to everyone on the weekend. Every member of ECB lifted pr's and we had Richie Pedreschi lifting in his first competition. Here is a video of the competition as a while that Stephen Kinsella (who also lifted pb's of course!)made:

Well, I suppose I ought to start my good news. On Saturday I competed in the Dublin Open in Coolmine and I Snatched 120kg. This lift has been two frustrating years in the making and when I finally got it on the platform having never even attempted it before, the elation and sheer exhiliration was something I have never felt before in this sport that I love so much. I have experienced this in rugby a few times, but never in weightlifting. I am still off the 272kg total I need to qualify for the European Championships, but I know I will Clean and Jerk 150kg soon. I may have gotten my ass handed to me by a 17 year old 79kg lifter in his second competition, but I still enjoyed myself immensely. Clarence is the best talent Irish weightlifting has ever had and I hope to see him progress like the mutant that he is!

First off, here is my third attempt Snatch:

I will start at the beginning. My previous week was one of the hardest I have experienced in a long time. My lower back was still extremely stiff and sore from learning how to contract it for the first time and I had to take a download week to let it heal. This week also proved to be incredibly demanding in both work and also in ECB and by the end of it, I was in an absolute heap.

I still wanted to compete in the Dublin Open so I decided to train on Monday and Wednesday and have two days to rest up before the competition. On the Monday, I Snatched up to a single of 108kg which was really my max for the day. It was strong and decent technically, but very slow because I was still knackered. I went back down to singles with 90, 95 and 100 to get some speed back into my lifting. I then skipped my RDLS's because my back was still recovering and made a 2.5kg increase in my 5x5 squats.

On the Wednesday, I worked up to one triple with 90kg in the Hang Snatch. I would usually do three, but I was still very tired and I needed a bigger single in the Jerk so I went straight onto the Clean and Jerk where I worked up to singles with 130 and 135kg which felt pretty hard, particularly mid week. I only did one triple with 130 in the Front Squat. Three triples is what I would usually do for my recovery squat workout, but I was knackered so I left it at one. My right shoulder was too sore to do my presses so I worked up to five reps with 92.5kg in the Pendlay Row and left it there. I did some soft tissue work on my IT bands and quads in particular and some joint mobility and flexibility work. When I finished up in the gym, I did some hot/cold contrast work in the sauna and cold shower.

By the time Saturday came around I was feeling pretty good. I weighed in at 96.5kg--I was not willing to cut weight for a small competition--after eating quite liberally in the preceding days. I chilled out for a few hours and when I started my warm up, I did an initial 20 minute warm up and then relaxed for fifteen or twenty minutes. I wanted to do this earlier but there was not enough room to do it. I started off some bar work and then with two doubles at 50kg. I did singles with 70, 80, 90 in the Power Snatch and then I Snatched 100 powerfully, but it was not a Power Snatch. I went outside and relaxed for fifteen minutes or so and then came back again. I did two doubles with 50 and did singles with 60, 70, 80, 90, 100 and then 105kg, calling 110 as my opener.

I hit my opener of 110kg quite easily, but for some reason I have a habit of underpulling my first attempts every time. I am not sure if this is simply due to complacency, but it is what it is. All I can do is try and improve it I guess. Wayne called for 115kg for my second attempt and in my mind I knew that if I got this, 120 was on. This was probably my best Snatch of the day technically, or at least it felt like it. It shot up and Wayne asked me if I wanted 118kg (this was my pb) to which I replied "f*%k 118, you know exactly what I want." We called it and I had two minutes to get myself ready. I slowed down my breathing and tried to focus and visualise a solid catch position. I went out, got the lift and went a little mad with sheer relief and joy.

It took me a while to calm down and relax before warming up for the Clean and Jerks. There was a five minute break so I chilled out for ten minutes maybe. I warmed up with 60kg for a few singles and hit 80, 90, 100, 110, 120, and 130 as my last warm up. I had between ten and fifteen minutes to wait and in retrospect, I probably should have lifted 135 in the warm up and put my opener up.

I opened up with 137kg and I actually felt like I pressed out the Jerk. It was shaky, but I thought I was just a little cold from waiting. I went up to 142kg and this felt pretty rough also. I knew I did not have 150 in me on the day so I asked Wayne to call for 148 which would be a one kg pb but I did not go under the Clean. I rushed it off the ground and completely lost my position. Embarrasing, but I will learn from it and get on with it. I will Clean and Jerk 150kg very soon.

Tuesday 15 February 2011

Tuesday's think tank

Because I have been late with my update, here is something to make up:

I actually had a much longer interview with Donny, but the connection was poor and for whatever reason, the program I was using to record the conversation did not work right and I lost most of it. Annoying, but what can you do?

Another piece of news is that this blog has made another list of the best blogs/sites to look out for. Apparently I am an authority on getting huge, but this list also looks suspiciously like the other one I was included in a few weeks back. Like I said before, I am now officially above the law. I will become this man:

As for my own training, last week I had to take a download week because my lower back would not allow me to train. I still squatted heavy and slightly altered my squatting style by not sending my hips back as much, but after I Snatched on the Wednesday, I stiffened up quite a bit again. So, I decided to take last week as a taper week and this week load up again, even though I have a competiton on Saturday. This is not an important competition so getting my training right is far more important and I feel far better now. My lumbar area is still stiff in the attachment area and no longer the muscle belly. Every day it gets a small bit better, so all I can do is be patient. Because I was able to contract my lumber spine for the first time, I experienced quite severe doms. This is productive pain though, so the key is simply to manage the inflammation and accept it.

Last night, I Snatched for 8 singles and Box Squatted for 5x5; I left out the RDL's for obvious reasons. In the Snatch, I did a single with 90, 100, 105 which I stupidly missed because I did not stay over the bar, but I got it easily on my second attempt. I then hit 108kg, but it was quite slow. I was happy with the technique and positioning, but it was a monotone lift. I then went back to hit 90, 95 and 100kg again but increased the tempo significantly. I found it very difficult to lift with speed because I am very tired at the moment. Work and ECB committments are kicking my ass at the moment, so from that perspective as well as a physical one, a download week was probably in order anyway. My 5x5 in the squat went up another 2.5kg and I hit 142.5kg. Once again, the weight was not heavy, but the third and four reps on the last two sets in particular are real grinders and I am finding that as my numbers rise, the amount of rest I am taking is also rising. I am ok with that and the fact that I did not do the RDL's gave me the time anyway.

So, I have another session on Wednesday where I will do my Hang Snatches, Clean and Jerk singles and light Front Squats. I will then finish with some presses and Pendlay Rows, neither of which I did last week. Over and out.

Saturday 5 February 2011

Saturday's soreness

I trained well today, but my lower back hates me right now. It has been tight all week and after I finished Snatching today, it was even sorer. Not muscle pulling pain, just severe doms--delayed onset muscular soreness. Monday's session was a good one, but after getting more locked in with the first pull with my Snatches, RDL's and Box Squats, my lower back was quite stiff from Tuesday onwards. I read this article from Mark Rippetoe and I have been applying some of his ideas to good effect.

I had another good session on Wednesday and did ten working singles with the Clean and Jerk and started with 115kg and ended with 130kg. Before this, I did three triples in the Hang Snatch with 90kg and after the Jerks, I did three triples with 130kg in the Front Squat which was nice and light. I finished off with presses and Pendlay Rows. On Thursday and Friday again, my lower back and hamstrings were still stiff and sore, but I felt a good bit better for today's workout.

Today I had ten working singles and I started off with 95kg in the Snatch; I then hit 100, 101, 102.5kg--it was supposed to be 102 but I put on a 1.5kg plate on one side instead of a 1kg plate--103, 104, 105, 106, 107 and I wanted the 110kg so I went for it and got it nicely. After my Snatches my lower back was very tight and a little sore. I rested for five minutes and started my Clean and Jerks and worked up to a double with 100 and a single with 110kg but I had to stop because my lower back was inflamed and sore. I can feel it is a bit of overuse, so I am not unduly worried.

Because I could not Clean and Jerk properly, I insisted on doing my Box Squats and simply did not sit back as much. Last week I hit four reps with 150kg and today I hit 5 reps with 152.5kg which was hard, but I got it. I was
sore afterwards, but I really wanted to squat and keep my numbers ticking over. I will do some contrast hot/cold work on my back and go a little mad with fish oil and ginger to help reduce the inflamation.

Have a look at my Snatches below and leave any constructive feedback that you think can help. As a reminder, Glenn Pendlay and Jon North are coming over to ECB on March 23rd to give a Wednesday night seminar on learning the Olympic lifts and also how to improve for intermediate and advanced lifters. There are also five or six places left in the Edinburgh two day seminar that weekend. Email to book your place.