Through my almost 33 years of life on this earth I have realized that there are only 2 kinds of people in this world:
Those that know they will make the jerk, and those that don’t know if they will make the jerk.
Staring at your program and looking at what’s on tap for the day, you’re likely to see one of two things.
Option 1: A hard and fast percentage of your best lift. Written in blood, on a tablet of stone, you have to hit this number or you’re a total loser.
Option 2: Some rep max, and some back off sets at 5% or 10% less than that rep max. This should account for your daily state of rea
Recently the following question was posed to me:
How often should I PR?
Specifically this was a masters lifter, running into some frustration on how he should gauge improvement.
Weightlifting, in the first couple years, can set you up for a royal mind trick down the road. It’s as if everything is going so darn well, and then all of the sudden, it comes to a screeching halt. I’m sure if you’ve been in the sport you know about this as well as I do, but let me give you a scenario.
In my 20 years in weightlifting (first as a junior athlete and progressing to old man weightlifting and coaching) I have spent more time working on my jerk than anything else. It never felt right to me from day 1 over 20 years ago. I tried everything, every technical cue I read from books, everything I picked up from watching national and international meets. I even went so far as to actually switch my lead foot in an effort to re-work my jerk.
A true beginner would be my dream scenario, a young talented athlete that wants to pursue weightlifting, one with very little training, but untapped athleticism. I don’t get many of those. In the US we don’t get many of those at all.
Instead, i get a lot of “technical” beginners. I get athletes and individuals that know what the lifts are, have done them, and have done them with sub-standard technique. That was exactly the stage from which I began weightlifting over 18 years ago. I had done a power clean, but it wasn’t particularly good.
In college I would beg and plead to lift from the blocks. If snatches were listed, I’d figure out a way to get the blocks out and lift. Cleans, same. All this work from the blocks didn’t go without reward, by the time college was out I got really good at it too.
I recently read an article by a performance coach talking about how he coaches the Olympic lifts. His argument was that it is not correct to “jump your feet” in weightlifting. He didn’t go so far as to say it was out and out wrong, but in pretty strong terms he suggested that doing so wasn’t exactly the right thing to do.
Catchy drills miss the point. A lift is like a jump shot, or a really heavy golf swing. While I am certain there are drills to be done with those, true practice comes from, you know, practicing the movement. In basketball this means getting up shots, perfectly 100’s of times. In golf, it is 100’s of balls on the range. It isn’t playing a round of golf, or playing some 3 on 3, it is dedicated practice to the craft.
I’ve received this question dozens if not 100’s of times since Instagram recently debuted their “questions” feature.
“What is the best way to get my squat up?”
I’m of the mind that power is the number one physical characteristic that an athlete and a weightlifter must chase, but strength isn’t too far behind. However, developing a bigger engine to create power can be a game changer, strength is that engine.
Here I am teaching a course on weightlifting looking across the room at a giant poster on the wall with depictions of how the athlete should snatch and clean and jerk. Nothing overtly wrong with it, until I look at the little diagram on the poster of with an infographic of how the athlete should balance their weight during the pull.
Much to my utter horror, this giant poster teaches the athlete to rock back and forth from their heels to their toes throughout the movement. If you asked me to explain it to you, I couldn’t, because it didn’t make any sense.
When I talk about weightlifting or teach weightlifting there are a couple guiding light principles that make everything else function more smoothly.