Dave Spitz shares the story behind California Strength and his life’s work, to return the United States back to relevance in Olympic Weightlifting.Read More
In a perfect world, you would be able to train year round as hard as you possibly could and never get hurt but training at the ragged edges of your ability can come at a price. As a result, surgery may be necessary to get you back to baseline or give you another shot at achieving your athletic goals. Here are five strategies you can implement to help you optimize your recovery after surgery.Read More
Snatch what you can, Clean & Jerk what you must. A simple idea that presents the fundamental strategy for how we select openers and competition attempts for our lifters. There’s a reason why California Strength lifters have one of the highest rates of success competition makes in the country! This is a must read if you want to maximize your performance at your next weightlifting competition! (Exact lifting percentages included)Read More
Whether you’re brand new to Olympic weightlifting or are a seasoned veteran training for Nationals, if you have dreams of competing it is critical to know your competition weight class. The International Weightlifting Federation announced the highly anticipated change to the male and female weight classes and for Olympic weightlifters around the world, the decision to go up a weight class or down has been left in question.
In response to our athletes at California Strength being faced with the same question, we came up with a solution. We have analyzed six key parameters to provide you with the weight class category that is best for you. Take this quiz to receive your personalized and detailed Weight Class recommendation from USAW Senior International Coach Dave Spitz himself!Read More
Why do we miss attempts in the Snatch? When we see more than four (4) degrees of horizontal displacement, that is the distance that the bar travels away from the body, the chances of making a successful attempt drop significantly. Two things are likely to happen, either the bar loops away from the body, causing us to miss the lift behind or the bar doesn’t achieve the height and momentum required to pull ourselves underneath, which in turn causes the bar to fall in front.
Read on to discover four technical adjustments that you can right now that will lead to more successful Snatch attempts!Read More
While there are no perfect models to predict how and when athletes will rebound from physical or psychological adversity, if they remain in this sport long enough, the progression will inevitably be cyclical in nature. When telling an athlete to trust the process, it is easier to do so when there is visibility into the journey by those who have traveled the road before them.Read More
For the most part, exercise (like weightlifting) can improve your sleep quality and duration. However, it is common to see your sleep habits disrupted as a result of aggressive exercise and that can impact your recovery. Some studies suggest that excessive or aggressive exercise can overstimulate the bodies natural stress responses and stress hormones, leading to an increased heart rate and alertness. Throw into the mix a pre-workout Fast Twitch RTD and you could have trouble falling asleep missing critical recovery gains as result. We have pulled some tips that you can implement TONIGHT to dramatically change your sleep habits and improve your recovery.Read More
Everyone can Snatch, everyone can Clean but only champions can Jerk. - Ivan Abadjiev
Looking for a sure fire way to determine which Jerk variation is right for you? In this week's Technique Talk, we break down the similarities and differences between the Split, Power and Squat Jerk variations in an all out assault on demystifying one of the most technical movements in Olympic weightlifting.Read More
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...Read More
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
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.Read More
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.
- Grip width in the Snatch is wider than the Clean.
- Relatively speaking, Clean weights are 20 - 25% heavier than Snatch weights.
- The Acceleration of the bar begins more gradually in the Snatch and ends with 10-15% greater Velocity than the Clean.
- 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….Read More
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.Read More
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:
- 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!
Ivan Abadjiev once confided in me, “Anyone can Snatch and Clean, only true Champions can Jerk!”
At the time, I didn’t fully appreciate the complexity of the Split Jerk, but after hitting a wall in my own lifting as a result of my Jerk and after trying to teach athletes how to perform the movement over the last decade and I am now in full agreement.Read More