Sunday, September 30, 2012

Some Serious Training

I just wanted to let you guys enjoy a couple weightlifting video's that were passed onto me from some close friends.

The first video is a short documentary on the Russian Junior National Weightlifting Team.  It's no wonder that Russian and other former Soviet bloc countries are so dominate in international competitions - they are well funded and take training and their sport VERY seriously.

The second video is of Ilya Ilin, a 94kg Olympic and World Champion weightlifter from Kazakstan, working up to a 240kg (528lbs) clean & jerk.  The big thing to take away here is that the technique and tempo don't really change from "lighter" weight to max weight.  Dialed in!

As an aside, I competed in the Copperhead this past weekend up in North Texas, and did very well.  Stay tuned for some videos and breakdown of how it went.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Maximize What You Can Control

When it comes to training, there are a lot of factors that are in your control which can lead to a great training session, training week and eventually some big PR's.  So, why not maximize those factors that you can control to get the best results?  I'm going to provide you with some guidelines to think about and use.  These will be broken up into three phases: pre-training, training, and post-training.


1) Know what your workout entails.  Knowing this allows you to mentally prepare for what is to come.   If you're maxing out or doing a benchmark workout like Fran, you have to come into the workout focused and ready to hit on all cylinders.  Preparing the mind also prepares the body!

2) Mobilize.  If you're sore, banged up or just don't have good mobility, I hope this is a no brainer.  Just don't mobilize to mobilize though.  Be specific and focus on the areas that will be utilized the most during the workout.  If you don't know what to do for a specific area, ask your coach or check out MobilityWoD.

3) Hydrate. Make sure you drink a lot of water.  I would also try adding lemons and a pinch of sea salt in there, especially if it's really hot out there.

4) Get plenty of sleep the night before.  You need to be fresh when it comes to training.  At least 6-8 hours.  If you're consistently getting less than that, it will catch up to you in some form or fashion.


1) Warm-up properly. Mobilize and do something specific for what you are doing.  Here's a great resource on how to warm-up for the snatch from my coach, Ursula Garza Papandrea.

2) Take the proper rest period if you're doing strength and power work. Typically this will be between 1-3 minutes depending on what exactly you're training and what your coach is trying to have you accomplish.  This allows the body, both physically and neurologically, enough time to recover so you can crush the next set or rep.

3) Simply your focus.  I wrote about this last week, so I'm not going to go into great detail again.  Just don't get your mind distracted and stay focused on what you need to do.

4) Breathe.  If you're in the middle of a metcon and you find yourself breathing fast, STOP.  Once your breathing gets out of control, you're done.  Try and settle yourself so you can control your breathing.  Take slow deep breaths.  If you're resting, try tying your rest to a set number of breaths (about 3-5), then get back to work.  I've found that this relaxes the body and the mind, which makes it easier to keep yourself in the "pain cave".


This will be very similar to that of Pre-Training, but there are a couple tweaks.

1) Mobilize. This acts as a cool-down and stretches the muscle groups your just trained.

2) Hydrate.  Read above.  You need rehydrate the body with fluids after you sweat and use energy.  This time, include some type of electrolytes to your water.

3) Sleep.  Making sure you get the right amount of sleep post-training is crucial when it comes to recovery.  It is when we sleep that we release natural growth hormone to aid in muscle recovery and growth.

4) Nutrition.  Your body needs the right macro-nutrients (proteins, carbs and fats).  Try to keep it to lean meats, leafy greens, some fruit, light starch, nuts and seeds, and healthy oils.

Lastly, I'll leave you with this awesome video of 56kg (123lb) Chinese lifter clean & jerking 160kg (352lbs)!  The video also provides a bar path analysis.  Enjoy!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Simplify Your Focus

If you are continuously failing at a lift, especially at a sub-maximal load, there is a chance that you are over thinking.  Just like a golf swing, if you are thinking about every single step and thing you need to be working on, the outcome will be disastrous.  Thinking about every detail is not focused, but rather distracting.  So here's my advice: SIMPLIFY!

The snatch and the clean & jerk are obviously high skill movements that require lots of practice, skill and focus.  This focus, however, needs to be a narrow focus.  Despite the skill required for these lifts, you'd be surprised how well the body can move correctly when the mind is focused on just one or two things.

For instance, going into a workout with the intention of just "staying over the bar," "finishing hard" or "driving the legs," will give you a clear focus on what to concentrate on for the day.  A couple other things here and there might be off that day, but chances are you performed better on what you were specifically focused on.

If you're training on your own, and you don't know what you should simplify your focus to, seek out a coach with a good eye, so they can provide that focus.

This leads me to my next point - coaches sometimes need to simplify their focus as well.  Trying to change or correct every little thing at once can do more harm than good.  You start creating too many things for your athlete to think about. Give your athletes a limited and simple focus.  Less can definitely be more.  If you know there is one BIG weakness that your athlete has, work on just that one thing for a few sets,  the day or week.  From there, you can move onto the next big issue.

You can break down and analyze your lifts in between sets if you choose, but when it comes time to step up to the bar, simplify and let the body take over.  Have faith in your abilities - you might be surprised how well you can perform when you don't over think.