Weightlifting 101: What Everyone Needs To Know Before Competing

Weightlifting 101: What Everyone Needs To Know Before Competing

If this is your first weightlifting meet, I would not worry about making a weight cut.  Instead, go into the competition feeling comfortable and ready to focus your energy on making all of your lifts.  If you are planning a weight cut, make sure to bring plenty of fluids as well as a nutrient dense snack to replenish your body before the competition begins.

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The Squat Jerk: What does it take?

The Squat Jerk: What does it take?

Leg strength, leg strength, leg strength... and great shoulder mobility and terrific overall stability.  These three things are required for anyone who looks to compete in Olympic weightlifting using the Squat Jerk technique. What the Squat Jerk may remove in technical complexity (compared to the more common Split Jerk), it more than makes up for in brute strength and physical requirements.

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A Recap of the 2016 USA National Championships: The California Strength Women's Team

A Recap of the 2016 USA National Championships: The California Strength Women's Team

This year we had the amazing opportunity to send SIX stunning women to compete for and represent California Strength at the 2016 National Championships in Salt Lake City, Utah.  The lineup included a number of individual medalists and one lady in Olympic Trial portion of the meet!  We came together as a team that weekend and learned so much, bringing our friendship closer than ever before.

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5 Plain and Simple Reasons Why Women Should NOT Lift Weights

By Nicole "Littlest" Lim

1.  Get ready for big bones.
That's right ladies. We've all heard the excuse, "I'm not fat, I'm big boned". Guess what? Studies show that resistance training will increase your bone density. Fortunately, increased bone density will help you become more resistant to developing osteoporosis and other bone diseases, something that women are prone to especially with age.

2. You'll get bulky.
To accompany those mammoth bones, weightlifting will increase muscle mass and connective tissue integrity. You might see the number on the scale stay the same or possibly go up as your body composition changes.  That new muscle is heavy, heavier than the fat you've just shredded.

3. Say goodbye to your flattering, expensive wardrobe.
... And say hello to yoga pants and leggings! Your legs will look good, but they will never fit into designer jeans again. At least yoga pants are comfy and functional and totally date approved.. right?

4. Your new strength will have an influence over your other athletic endeavors.
With your new bulk - your speed, agility, and cardio may be affected. Finishing a CrossFit workout will be virtually impossible without your weightlifting skills shining through. Explosiveness, increased motor control and body awareness gained through weightlifting might surprise your CrossFit friends into pure shock.

5. No one wants to date a strong woman.
Let's face it. As soon as he sees you carrying all of your groceries in one trip, he is outta there. Men might be intimidated by your strength as fear that we might overshadow their awesome bro sessions and chest bumping sets in.

The list could go on. So ladies, think long and hard about weightlifting before you drink the cool aid. Then get ready to keep fighting adversity.

Haven't joined the CS Women's program yet? Check out the (+63kg) OR (-63kg) Team today! 

Preparing for the Open with Rachael Stull

Preparing for the Open with Rachael Stull

During my preparation for the 2016 Open, we needed to increase strength while maintaining my metabolic capacity, and the solution was adding The Barbell WOD programming to my training arsenal. The Barbell WOD provided a spotlight focus on my Olympic weightlifting while still allowing me to recover enough to complete my daily Metcons.  The strength that I gained as a result of the programming has had a huge impact on increasing my 1RM's in the Olympic lifts and building CrossFit-specific strength in barbell cycling.

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Olympic Weightlifting: Plateau Not Big Enough for Littlest Lim

Olympic Weightlifting: Plateau Not Big Enough for Littlest Lim

I fell in love with the most impossible, monotonous, soul-destroying sport and I wasn’t going to give up.  I sat down with Dave and discussed what we could do differently to get my heiny off the plateau and back to climbing the Mount Everest of kilos.  With some research, we altered my program to accommodate the physiology of small women.   After three months of testing, I finally PR’d and by a considerable amount.  Just like that, I felt like I was back on track with the rest of the best 48’s in the nation...

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The Coach & Athlete: Working towards a common goal

The Coach & Athlete: Working towards a common goal

When things are going according to plan, PR's are being hit and meets won, it is easier for the athlete to honor this trust.  As the athlete advances in age and PR's become scarce due to advanced training age, this trust is often challenged and might require the coach to allow the athlete to be more involved in their training decisions.  The partnership should shift towards that of a collaborative role between athlete and coach at this junction and may give a positive and welcomed sense of control back to the athlete...

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Building the Barbell WOD Program

BBW Annual Plan.png

 

Knowledge: Scientific and Practical

While our programs are grounded in good science, we also rely heavily on our own evidence based reality.  This is a reality that has been forged from working with athletes across a breadth of various sports with a wide range of training ages and abilities. We take a scientific approach and blend it with this practical knowledge to form the fabric of the Barbell WOD.  While the basis of our program may on the surface look Soviet, there are some very noteworthy departures.  

We use Block Periodization models leveraged from some of the most well known coaches and researchers such as Verkhoshansky, Roman, Medvedyev and Bondarchuk.  We then combine the traditional block methodology with a Percentage + Progressive Overload (PPO) strategy developed here at California Strength.  Using the PPO strategy to drive intensity and training consistency is especially useful when combined with implementing a large range of exercise selection.  

Over the years we have found that allowing our athletes to achieve continuous success (small and consistent PR’s) in a variety of exercises yields long term interest and helps to drive motivation.  Achieving success during training is imperative to the long-term success of our athletes and with the wide range of exercise selection used in our programming, these PR attempts come often with the implementation of non-competition exercises ranging from hitting a double in the Low Hang Snatch to a 5 Rep Max Back Squat.  Having a wide variation of complementary exercises allows us to consistently operate at the edges of one's ability.  This high degree of varied exercise selection combined with the PPO strategy helps drive skill acquisition while guarding against overuse injuries and neural fatigue.   

Applying this method to the Barbell WOD has shown to not only provide a structured approach for those who may find themselves jumping from program to program in the past, but also the blend of exercise selection and Percentage + Progressive Overload challenges its members while avoiding an inevitable burnout or plateau that comes as a result of unstructured programs.

Anchor Dates and Feedback

Taking into account the principles above, we begin to build the Barbell WOD program by structuring our annual goals and Anchor Dates.  The goals of the Barbell WOD have always been to improve technique and movement through building strength based on structural balance ratios.  Anchor Dates like the CF Open provide the timeline used to structure each Mesocycle in order to be ready when it counts in competition.  

Athlete Feedback is a useful tool for all coaches but tracking this feedback and then applying it to your program can be a challenge. We are able to use the analytics and tracking features in the TrainHeroic App to gather data from the entire Barbell WOD community. Decisions made from this data allows us to combine input from past experiences, past athletes, and past successes and failures to use as cornerstones for improving the Barbell WOD programming with every cycle.  As people continue to join the Barbell WOD, our Feedback data expands and we are able to zero in on exactly what our athletes need in their programming.

A quick look at Dave’s book shelf inside California Strength..

  • Supertraining by Yuri Verkhoshansky and Mel Siff

  • Tapering and Peaking for Optimal Performance by Inigo Mujika

  • The Snatch, The Clean And Jerk by R.A. Roman and M.S. Shakirzyanov

 

Why is Tapering for a Meet so Important?

Being rested and primed to optimize your training through a thoughtful tapering process can offer you the edge over your competitors or mean the difference between a good meet and a great meet!

When implemented correctly, a taper prior to competition can increase strength output by roughly 7-10% (dependent on the individual), through a series of adaptations in the athlete’s body. This does not take into account the psychological benefits from having a clear plan of attack for what your training will consist of in the final weeks before competition and the peace of mind given to an athlete who feels confident that they have done all they can to perform when it counts the most.

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Snatch Pull Vs. Clean Pull

Snatch Pull Vs. Clean Pull
While many of the principles with respect to force production are similar in the Snatch Pull and the Clean Pull there are also some noteworthy difference in how the pulls develop.  Below are factors that influence the differences in the mechanics of the Snatch and Clean Pull.
  1. Grip width in the Snatch is wider than the Clean.
  2. Relatively speaking, Clean weights are 20 - 25% heavier than Snatch weights.
  3. The Acceleration of the bar begins more gradually in the Snatch and ends with 10-15% greater Velocity than the Clean.  
  4. The “fixation” height or the height at which the bar is stabilized in the catch positions is 25-30% higher in the Snatch than in the Clean

Here is how we account for these differences….

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Heavy Weights: Let your speed be the variable

Heavy Weights: Let your speed be the variable

In this article we want to discuss a concept that may seem obvious at first glance and yet it is an area where mistakes are made frequently. The issue we want to address is how an athlete should attack progressively loading heavier weights on a bar in the Snatch and Clean in a given workout. As an athlete loads heavier weight on a barbell, the bar cannot continue to be accelerated using the same force or achieve the same peak velocity. For example, Spencer Moorman cannot pull 160kg with the same speed as he can pull 100kg. Therefore we must have an approach and a strategy to counter this slower bar speed as he makes progressively heavier attempts. 

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How good is YOUR shoulder mobility?

Fig. 1: 2012 Olympic gold medalist aleksey torokhtiy works with robert blackwell

Fig. 1: 2012 Olympic gold medalist aleksey torokhtiy works with robert blackwell

Most people lack sufficient internal and external rotation to truly execute overhead movements effectively. especially among the athletes with longer levers, it's critical that athletes possess good internal shoulder rotation. Here is a drill that we incorporated into The Barbell WOD to address these mobility concerns. 

Aleksey Torokhtiy is pictured left (fig. 1) working with California Strength athlete Robert Blackwell to to develop sufficient internal rotation in a clean grip Sotts press from the front rack. While working to achieve these positiotions it's helpful to have a partner to help you to pull your body into the correct positions. In addition to the partner stretching techniques, employing the static stretch (fig. 2) to free up lats and rhomboids that can help with developing internal/external rotation in the shoulder. 

To perform a correct Clean Grip Sotts Press:

Fig 2: Static stretch demonstration to build internal/external rotation in shoulders

Fig 2: Static stretch demonstration to build internal/external rotation in shoulders

  • Start with grip with that you can overhead squat easily.
  • Once you're in the OHS squat position work to build mobility in that motion.
  • Slowly move the grip in, approximately one finger width at a time until you arrive at your clean grip.

We recommend you do this exercise on recovery days when focusing on creating additional levels of flexibility.  We've programmed this movement into the current mesocycle of The Barbell WOD as an added emphasis on shoulder mobility.

Keep in mind that shoulder mobility is integral to successful completion of any overhead movement. Continuous application to improvement in all planes will ensure that your shoulder mobility is not throttling your progress in locking out those big lifts! For a full synopsis of exercises referred to in this article, please view our technical video overview!