I had a glorious weekend.
What did I do you ask? I spent hours inside an un-airconditioned storage building in the hot Texas summer heat.
Before you start slowly backing away from the crazy lady, let me explain.
I went to Denton, Texas to participate in one of the USA Weightlifting intro level coach’s certification courses. It was held in a well appointed (but not exactly chilly) Crossfit box.
Now this really is my concept of an ideal weekend. I lifted weights all day, got pointers from a national level coach (Chad Vaughn’s coach to be exact), then ate delicious sushi and met up with some friends who live too far away to see often.
The main reason I went was for my own edification. I’m one of the truly obsessed. I could eat, sleep and breathe weightlifting, programming and nutrition all damn day.
But I also went to be a better advisor to the many friends who I am helping encourage (or dragging kicking and screaming depending on your perspective) to start olympic weightlifting. I went so that I can offer constructive advice to other people at the gym where I train who are mainly Crossfitters who only dabble in the “olys”. Maybe even to judge at a competition someday.
I can’t possibly summarize everything I learned, so you’ll just have to take the course yourself (which you should).
But for me personally in my lifting, these were some take home zingers:
1) in the set up, I’ve always retracted my scapulae a bit to “set” my back. This is actually a terrible idea. It kind of freezes the shoulders so they don’t move quickly and limits how much trap shrug you can get at the to of the 2nd pull because traps are already somewhat engaged by the scapular retraction. So I learned to set my back more by holding a tight arch. This was a lot better for force transmission and let my shoulders be a little freer so my arms could just be loose(ish) chains to hold the bar, instead of tight toothpicks. As the manual for the course states: one of the 4 fundamental errors people make is inappropriate tightness in some muscle group.
2) another of the 4 fundamental errors is in what I think of balance, or where your weight is distributed. I discovered that both my snatch and clean set-ups started with weight too far back in the foot (should either be ball of foot or kind of evenly distributed across a flat foot) and that I had my shoulders too far behind the bar. I need to cover the bar more (shoulders forward) and stay there much longer than I was. We were shown a wonderful video of the Polish national team practicing (from back when Zygmunt Smalcerz was still coaching in Poland) and one drill that resonated with me was a long first pull drill. Like a single pull almost to a high hang position, staying over the bar, pulling the bar into your body with your lats, knees back. I think strengthening my posterior chain to do this well is going to revolutionize my otherwise hot-mess of a first pull.
Ok, that’s enough for tonight. More in the next few days. I’m still trying to apply strict rules to recover better such as going to bed early and eating enough post-workout, so it’s bedtime for me 🙂