In the Olympic lifts, there is never a moment when you are not actively pushing or pulling against the bar. You must maintain control of the bar throughout the entirety of the lift.
Typically a disconnect is seen when a lifter is rushing to get to the bottom after initiating the third pull. They pull the bar high but then “fall” under it to catch it. Essentially, they lose connection with the bar during the third pull. This is almost always the reason that the bar crashes on a lifter during a snatch or clean, making it much harder to stabilize and recover in the bottom of the lift.
The movement under the bar needs to remain active throughout. This means aggressively pulling yourself DOWN into position by driving the elbows up, moving the feet, and actively pulling your body underneath the bar until lockout. The third pull requires intention – you're literally tugging yourself down by pulling up on the bar, and there should be no moment of the lift where anything “just happens”.
If you struggle with staying connected, try some tall snatches and tall cleans as a technique primer. The goal is to feel what it's like to “pull down” rather than simply dropping under the bar.
To perform the Tall Snatch: Start from a standing, foot flat and fully extended leg position. Bar in hip crease at snatch grip width. The tricky part is that you do not want to dip the knees at all to initiate the lift. Drive your elbows up, pick up your feet up and pull down into your catch position. Remember : The goal is to pull yourself down actively, not to get the bar high.The same drill can be done with the Clean. Perform with an empty bar or light weight.
Expectation Management in Weightlifting
Weightlifting is a sport that requires dedication, discipline, and determination. One of the most important processes that can make or break an athletes journey and enjoyment in the sport is the management of expectations.
I will frequently see athletes who set an expectation to lift a certain number on a given day. While this is not always a bad thing, it can lead to discouragement and disappointment if the athlete falls short of that number.
A better approach is to go into each session by aiming to do the best you can on THAT given day. It is important to understand that there are many different factors that can directly affect your day to day performance. These can be things like your quality of sleep, your stress level, recovery level, and your accumulated fatigue from training.
Understand That Dips in Performance are Normal
Training involves periods of performance suppression. Because training is a stressor, athletes will experience temporary decreases in performance throughout the training cycle. When the body has time to recover (deload), adaptation occurs. This period of suppression, recovery, and adaption is the basic foundation for long term progress. Periods of suppression can vary in length, and sometimes a lot longer than most of us would like. It is especially important that daily training expectations are managed during this time.
Remember to step back and see the big picture when you're having a tough day. Missing a lift one day doesnt mean youll never make it. The more you stress about specific weights, the more it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy and much harder to overcome.
Be Nice to Yourself
I am going to talk a little about my own experiences and what I have learned from them. I am no stranger to the negative thinking trap and have experienced this often throughout my weightlifting career. Typically this happens after several days or weeks of feeling like I’ve “underperformed”. The mental aspect of weightlifting has been one of my largest challenges and it is something that I am constantly working to improve. Have I perfected it? Absolutely not, but I have better tools to help keep myself in check when I start to feel this way. I remind myself that this sport is SUPPOSED to be hard. If I have an off day, I try my best to put it behind me and move onto the next. After all, if you're training hard, you won’t always feel your best. Learn to cut yourself some slack, stay consistent, and trust the process.
Embarking on my journey into the world of weightlifting, I had never imagined that I would find myself on the platform of a weightlifting meet. It was a challenging and exhilarating experience that pushed my limits and taught me invaluable lessons about strength, perseverance, and the importance of community. In this blog, I will share my personal account of participating in my first weightlifting meet and the lessons I learned along the way.
Olympic-style weightlifting demands exceptional strength, power, and technique to excel in the sport. Athletes are constantly seeking ways to improve their performance and take their lifting prowess to new heights. Among the array of exercises available, the Romanian Deadlift (RDL) stands out as a powerful tool for enhancing performance and maximizing gains in Olympic-style weightlifting. In this blog, we'll explore the remarkable benefits that RDL brings to weightlifters striving for excellence in the sport.
1. Strengthening the Posterior Chain:
RDL primarily targets the posterior chain, including the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. Strengthening these muscle groups is crucial for Olympic-style weightlifters as they are responsible for generating power and explosiveness during the clean and snatch movements. By incorporating RDLs into their training routine, athletes can build a solid foundation for a more explosive performance.
2. Improved Hip Hinge Technique:
One of the key aspects of Olympic-style weightlifting is the hip hinge movement, which involves bending at the hips while keeping the back straight. RDLs reinforce this hip hinge technique, teaching lifters to maintain a neutral spine and engage the posterior chain properly. This increased awareness and control of the hip hinge motion can lead to safer and more efficient lifts.
3. Enhanced Grip Strength:
Olympic-style weightlifting places substantial demands on grip strength, especially during the pulling phase of the lifts. RDLs challenge the grip as the lifter holds the barbell throughout the movement. Consistent incorporation of RDLs can lead to significant improvements in grip strength, helping weightlifters maintain a secure grip on the bar during the snatch and clean movements.
4. Reduced Risk of Injury:
As weightlifters continuously strive for heavier lifts, the risk of injury can increase. RDLs promote balance between the muscles of the posterior chain, reducing the likelihood of imbalances and injury in the lower back and hamstrings. By building strength and flexibility in these areas, athletes can protect themselves against common weightlifting injuries.
5. Enhanced Muscle Hypertrophy:
Incorporating RDLs into a weightlifting program can contribute to muscle hypertrophy in the hamstrings, glutes, and erector spinae. This added muscle mass can positively impact overall lifting performance, allowing athletes to generate more force during the explosive phases of the Olympic lifts.
Romanian Deadlifts are a valuable addition to any weightlifter's training regimen, particularly for those pursuing excellence in Olympic-style weightlifting. From strengthening the posterior chain to improving technique and reducing the risk of injury, the benefits of RDLs are numerous. By incorporating RDLs into their routine, weightlifters can take their performance to new heights, achieving their goals in the pursuit of success in the world of Olympic-style weightlifting. Remember, always consult with a qualified coach or trainer to tailor the training program to individual needs and goals. Happy lifting!
After some serious time to recall the events of the North American Open Series 1 meet (held at the Arnold), I have finally been able to sit down and write about the experience. I have really struggled to put my thoughts about this event on paper, for one very major reason. Every time I try to think about it, I am almost transported back into the meet, the excitement, the moment.
For me as a coach, the event itself was full of constantly changing emotions. I will discuss some of these feelings below; however, the strongest feeling I had throughout the weekend was pride. Overall, I spent most of the event feeling proud of PFP's lifters. Their hard work, positive and coachable attitudes, and especially their commitment to their teammates made me feel overwhelmingly proud to be part of PFP Barbell and East Coast Gold.
Initially I was struck by two conflicting emotions. The first was sheer excitement to be part of the largest weightlifting meet in history. The second feeling; however, was stress about finding East Coast Gold coaches to help with our ten lifters from PFP. Between Gina, Caleb, and myself, we expected to be stretched thin to keep sessions covered. While we were all very confident in our abilities as coaches, coaching at a historically large weightlifting meet left us all worried about doing the best possible job we could for PFP's team. Luckily for us, we quickly realized that the East Coast Gold family had us covered. Once we knew that our lifters would be well supported, the stress gave way and let us turn our focus on the team.
Our first lifter of the weekend, Mo, lifted in the very first session on Thursday morning. While she wasn't thrilled about having to wake up before 6:00am to get to weigh-ins, Mo started us off super strong. Once she was able to have breakfast, Mo did an incredible job. Watching Mo compete is always a blast, as she has some of the best post-lift celebrations out there! In addition to her enthusiasm, Mo showed up all of the competition with a singlet that was truly out of this world. She made 5 of 6 lifts and had a very memorable session!
Next up on Thursday was Andre. As an experienced competitor, Andre had some big goals for himself, and we felt very confident in him. During both his snatch and clean & jerk sessions, Andre received some tough calls from the refs. That aside, Andre made 2 of 6 lifts, putting up a total that earned him 3 gold medals! Even better than medals, Andre also put a Clean & Jerk PR overhead! Andre was awarded a 4th gold medal for his distinguished facial hair and dedication to recording the live stream for every single PFP lifter that he could capture.
Our third session on Thursday was split across two platforms. On the red platform we had Gina, Beth, and Nicole. On the white platform was Amanda. Since Gina was lifting this session, Caleb and I split up for this session. Caleb coached for Amanda and I helped out with Gina, Beth, and Nicole.
On the red platform with Gina, Beth, and Nicole, things really got interesting. Their session was a close race, as most of the lifters' totals varied only by 5 or fewer kilos. These three strong ladies handled it in stride! They warmed up well, were prepared for their lifts, and overall were successful!
A few weeks before the meet, Gina suffered a minor hip injury and had to catch all of her lifts in a power position. For Gina, this meet was about making as many lifts as possible while being careful of her injury. Between catching her lifts in a power position, and the adrenaline of the competition, Gina absolutely smoked it! She made 5 of 6 lifts, and nearly threw each lift through the ceiling!
Next up in the same session was Beth. Beth has been lifting and competing for a while, and this was not her first time competing at the Arnold. Regardless of how she may have felt on the inside, Beth remained calm and collected throughout her session. After a tough fight with snatches, Beth was able to refocus herself and come back for a much better clean and jerk session. In the end, Beth made 3 of 6 lifts and put up a great total!
The final lifter on the red platform was Nicole. Nicole entered the meet with a goal total, but very few expectations. Nicole has been lifting at 64kg, but wanted to make a total that would allow her to lift at 71kg in the future. Her goal was a 130kg total, and she CRUSHED it. It is clear that Nicole comes to life on the competition stage, as her smile lit up the platform on every lift. Nicole made all 6 lifts AND hit a snatch PR, a meet clean & jerk PR, and a PR total!
Amanda rounded out the end of the 49B session, coming into the weekend with a chance to medal for University Nationals. Still relatively new to competitive weightlifting, Amanda shows tremendous platform awareness while still making a point to make some new friends in the training hall. Despite the pressure, she started her session with laser focus and was able to remain level headed throughout her warmups. She over-pulled her second snatch at 58 and missed it behind, but kept her composure and fought back to make 59 on her third attempt. She kept that momentum going for the clean and jerks, making 73 on her third attempt for a meet PR and locking in bronze medals for Snatch, Clean & Jerk, and Total! Amanda is an incredible competitor and we can't wait to see her take over the platform at Under 25 Nationals in Vegas this summer!
After a great showing on Thursday, Gina, Caleb, and I were ready to refocus on PFP's Friday sessions. First up on Friday was Abby. Abby is a super strong youth lifter, and has been lifting and competing with her dad for the last few years. Abby is known for showing up to the competition platform with a cool, calm, and confident attitude. Abby worked hard on the platform. After a tough fight in both the snatch and clean & jerk sessions, Abby made 2 of 6 lifts and put up a medal-worthy total. Abby maintained her calm nature throughout her session, and was ultimately happy to have made both of her openers for the first time in any meet! Abby will be competing in Youth Nationals this summer and is hungry to get back on the platform and give it her all!
Next up on Friday were Robert and Joe. They were lifting on different platforms at opposite ends of the building, so again we had to divide and conquer. Gina and I hung out with Robert for his session, while Caleb worked with Joe.
Robert has been lifting and competing for some time, and works hard both on and off the platform. Robert came into the meet with a goal total of 212kg. Thanks to hard work, great focus, a well-planned lifting strategy, and maybe a little bit of luck, Robert exceeded that goal by 8 whole kilos! Robert stayed calm, focused, and prepared throughout his entire session. In the end, he made all 6 lifts, hit three competition PRs, and swept gold! We are so proud of this moment for Robert and we can't wait to see him compete at Master's Nationals this summer.
Joe showed up Thursday afternoon, a day before he competed, and didn't stop smiling the whole weekend. After a rough showing at his previous meet, Joe came into his first national level event on a mission and ready to redeem himself. Joe kept his cool after getting a tough no-lift call on his third snatch attempt at 105, saying to me "let's send it into the clean and jerks!" Joe finished his session going 4 for 6 with a 230 total, and is ready to carry that momentum into training for Finals/Nationals. In addition to a great meet, Joe also spent all of his free time working hard to support his teammates throughout the weekend. Joe was ready for anything and spent all four days loading barbells, giving pep talks, and smiling until his cheeks hurt. Joe will be headed to Vegas this summer for Under 25 Nationals and is excited to keep the momentum going!
Closing out the weekend for PFP was Leo. Leo entered to compete in University Nationals, and was a blast to work with. His adrenaline was through the roof throughout his session, but he used that adrenaline to fuel him on the platform. Overall Leo had a great session! Despite numerous technical delays during his clean & jerk session, Leo put up a serious fight and hit competition PRs on both lifts and his total! He made 3 of 6 lifts with unmatched enthusiasm! Like his peers, Leo will also be competing at Under 25 Nationals in Vegas this summer and is ready to put his lifts through the roof!
At PFP, we often discuss how being part of the barbell club is about more than medals. The community, care, and fun that we promote within the gym means more to us than perfect meets or podium finishes. Throughout the weekend, this became clearer to me than ever before. I am beyond proud of the work our lifters have done, the positive attitudes they displayed, and the incredible effort they put into showing up for their teammates. Weights were lifted, snacks were shared, and even a few tears were shed. As Tom often says, "The strength of the lifter is in their team, and the strength of the team is in the lifter."
At PFP Barbell we deliver our programming via an app called TrueCoach . Below are some suggestions on how to maximize your experience with your app and your coach.
I have been competing in the sport of Weightlifting for about 5 years now and coaching for the better part of 4. I am a big believer in training being "Process Driven". If we can focus on the process of getting better then the results will come. The more we focus on results the slower they come. I also am guilty of harping on "enjoying the process" .
Your experience in weightlifting as a whole should be enjoyable. If you're not having a good time with the overall experience , you should probably do something else. For 99.9% of us its not how we support ourselves, its too hard, to frustrating , and too complicated to do if we don't like it.
Here is the thing, sometimes training sucks. It may be for days , weeks, or possibly even months. After nationals every year , I have a tough time with my training. Generally its over 30 weeks away from my next big meet. I am coming down from a peak, my body hurts, and my motivation is low. In general it stinks. I have to literally drag myself to my sessions for while.
Rehabbing an injury can be the same . It can seem like you never will feel better. Training is slow and difficult. You watch your friends and teammates move heavy weights and your stuck with modifications and rehab. Its frustrating , difficult , and not a lot of fun.
So whats my point? The process won't always be enjoyable . One of the most rewarding parts of Weightlifting is how difficult it is. The high's of hitting a new PR , qualifying for that big meet, or landing on the podium , feel so great because of the adversity of your training. The vast majority of the work we do won't make our highlight reel. Most of the things that will make us great is mastery of the mundane. Consistency trumps intensity every time.
If you're going through a period of training that just sucks....keep going! Growth is on the other side of adversity! The reality is thats what separates the good athletes from the great ones. The great athletes keep showing up .
Come join the PFP Barbell Team !
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This Spring, Head Coach Tom Duer, is set to compete in the IWF Las Vegas International Open in Las Vegas. After moving down to the 109kg class for last winters American Open Final , Tom secured his spot on Team USA for this Bronze Level International Competition.
This will be Tom's first time competing internationally. Competing at this event is the first step to becoming eligible for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. After participating in the 2016 USAW National Championships and watching the Olympic Trials , Tom set a goal for himself to be part of the Olympic Trials on the next quad ( 2016-2020 ) .
In order to be eligible for this opportunity , he needs to compete internationally 6 times in the 18 months prior to the Olympics . One of those times has to be as part of the World Championship or Pan American Championship team. There is a lot of work to do in order to make this goal a reality but each one of these competition opportunities are extremely important.
Most of these lower tier International Competitions are Self-Funded. This means that Tom is solely responsible for the costs of competing at these events. To compound this Tom's wife and Assistant Head Coach Maggie Duer is one of his coaches in the back room at meets so their costs double for each event Tom Qualifies for. In order to help with this PFP Barbell is selling fundraiser shirts . Click the Link below to help out!
Shirts : pfpbeaduer2019.itemorder.com/sale
If you don't want or need another shirt to add to your collection all support is welcome !
Email : Tom@Pittsburghfitnessproject.com
To see how you can help !
Full Disclosure I didn't finish my workout yesterday. I did about half of it , looked at the rest of my workout, then the rest of the weeks workouts, got overwhelmed and called it a day. It may have been one of the first times , in a long time, I let the gravity of a workout overwhelm me. Lifting heavy weights can be scary, terrifying even. At this point in my weightlifting career , I am training with weights heaver than I ever thought my Maxes would be. There is a little part of me questions , on every set, "how the heck am I even going to do this." Typically I still get it done, but not yesterday .
Interestingly enough , I got a great reminder of bravery from one of our newer personal training clients at our facility . She really didn't want to come in for her workout, in fact she skipped the last one and was trying to do the same that day. Luckily her trainer talked her into coming in and she had a wonderful workout and really enjoyed herself. On her way out she thanked us and talked about how much anxiety getting to the gym gives her , but that when she is here she had a really good experience. Before she left we had a conversation about bravery and how important it is for growth.
Bravery is not the absence of fear. Bravery is recognizing fear and acting anyway. Learning to be brave is interesting. The fear never really goes away , we just get more skilled at facing our fears. Every time we decide to act and face the things that scare us , our ability to act in the presence of fear increases. The monster in our head is almost always worse than the monster(whatever we are scared of ) in front of us.
So what does this have to do with Weightlifting ?
Like I said earlier , lifting heavy weights can be terrifying ! The injury rate in the sport of weightlifting is incredibly low. This doesn't change the face that lifting 2 and 3 times your bodyweight has inherent risks and if done incorrectly can have life changing consequences . However, the reality is, in order to lift big weights and live up to our potential on the platform we need to learn to thrive in the presence of fear.
How do we do that ?
Act! There are no shortcuts. Go out and expose yourself to situations( on the platform) that cause you anxiety and fear. Get under big weights and practice. The more you experience these things the more that fear can become your friend. You can learn to harness that fear and anxiety and it will unlock a level of performance you may have never imagined!
Nervous about how to get started?
Follow the link and get over your fear today : Get Started
Dale Carnegie may have said it best!
Practice!?!? We Talking about Practice!?!? : How Approaching my training like football practice made me a better Weightlifter.
For the vast majority of my weightlifting career , I approached my training like ...well training . Like I trained for bodybuilding , general fitness , or even Crossfit. Around a year ago I realized my approach wasn't working the way I wanted it to . I decided to change my way of thinking about training for weightlifting.
After putting some serious thought about my athletic background , I thought about what weightlifting training really was. I realized that more than traditional training , training for weightlifting was more like a sports practice. My approach had been wrong this entire time! I made the conscious decision to treat my training like I treated practices for most of my life .
With a quick google search I looked up traditional structure of a football practice to see how I could apply it to my own training and this is what I found:
If you want to improve your lifts head over to : Get Started and set up a Barbell Evaluation today!
Coaches and Athletes will be contributing to this blog. We will be discussing lifting tips, smashing goals, and much more.