I’ve always been a fan of the Olympic Lifts ever since I finally learned how to do them some what correct back in high school. At first, when I didn’t know how to get them down right, I hated Olympic Lifting!
Today as a strength coach, I’m always out searching on ways to better my craft. Whether this be with kettlebells, sandbags, bodyweight, gymnastics, whatever, I want to get better!
Shoot, just in the last week I hired myself a coach to help myself improve on my Olympic Lifting… That’s a whole other post in itself but, just to be up front, in my opinion, EVERYONE needs a coach in order to take it to the next level. Even a coach needs a coach!
With that being said, I’ve never considered myself an expert when it comes to the Olympic lifts, but just with anything else, when I don’t consider myself an expert in some area, I make damn sure to search around for a guy or gal that is an expert in that particular area to learn from.
One of the guys that I can assure you knows what he’s talking about when it comes down to the Olympic lifts is none other then my main man, Eric Wong.
Eric is a badass professional MMA coach to some well known fighters , but he is also a Master in Olympic Lifting, which is why I had him write this guest blog post…
As much as I love training with kettlebells, sandbags, and dumbbells, I also love my barbell training which is why I’m always looking for ways to improve on that area as well. Olympic Lifting is far too powerful to leave out of your training programs 100%. It’s critical you add them into your training in some form or fashion.
But, instead of me continuing to ramble on about myself, here’s Eric with a few stories to share as well as some solid tips on Olympic Lifting.
I first started playing around with the Olympic lifts some time in university.
But not while I was at the school gym. It was when I was doing a work placement in my hometown of Hamilton, Ontario. So I was living at my parents place.
For any of you young guys out there still living at home… MOVE OUT! Trust me on this one. 🙂
The first lift I started with was the Hang Clean. It seemed simple enough so I gave it a shot.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have a proper understanding of the movement. So looking back, I was definitely doing it wrong and I was definitely not reaping the full benefits.
Like all guys with a competitive edge, I tended to push myself to the brink on each set. Failure was probably the most common training program amongst my buddies and I. It’s fine (but not the best method) if you’re doing something like a bench press and you’ve got a spotter.
But I was doing the Hang Clean in the home gym I setup in my parents basement.
I kept adding weight until I totally missed the catch at the bottom and had to throw the weights off me while simultaneously falling backwards, flat on my ass.
The weights made a huge crash and my mom comes running down the stairs, thinking I’ve been crushed to death. Luckily, I was fine. The only thing I hurt was my pride.
That’s mistake #1 I see when guys start learning the Olympic lifts – trying to lift too much weight, too soon, without proper understanding of the biomechanics of the movements.
If you can’t visualize the exact sequencing of the lifts, don’t do it.
Looking back on my past training history also reveals another common mistake that I see with O-lifting beginners: pulling with the arms too much and/or too soon.
I was 16 when I first started lifting weights. My brother bought me a York barbell set that included a bench press, chest fly, preacher curl and leg extension attachments, and a pile of vinyl weights that are about 5 inches thick, each. And that’s for a 5 pound plate!
Because I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, my workout consisted of 3 exercises: bench press, skull crushers and bicep curls. Rinse, lather, repeat.
Months and maybe even years of this made me very arm dominant. With the O-lifts, being arm dominant won’t get you very far. You’ve got to use your hips and core to generate all of the force. Your arms simply finish the lift off, kinda like when you twist your fist at the very last second to give a punch a final bit of ‘oomph’.
That’s why after I learned the Clean Pull Exercise, where you do a Clean but don’t do any lifting with the arms, your last movement is a shrug of the shoulders, I was able to do Cleans with a lot more weight. Because I’d learned proper timing and was able to fully utilize my hips and core.
The final tip that I’ll share with you today I learned from the Olympic Weightlifting clinic I attended. It was put on by a guy who was a former Canadian Olympic Weightlifting team member, and a spitting image of Joe Pesci.
I was practicing my Snatch after some instruction and Larry watched me and said, “Pull slower from the start.”
I was like, “WTF?”
But I tried it and pulled slower at the start.
While at first it felt totally weird, because I’d thought you had to explode right from the get go, it worked out much better.
The reason why is because you can maintain an efficient and powerful posture better when pulling slow, and you can generate more acceleration through the middle of the lift when the bar is just passing your knees, which is what you need to get the bar high enough to drop under it.
When you try to pull with too much power from the floor, by the time the bar gets to your knees, you can’t generate anymore acceleration and you’ll have trouble getting the bar high enough to get under it.
And that’s all I’ve got for you today. If you’re into learning the Olympic lifts or you already do them, but aren’t 100% confident in your technique, these tips will help you tremendously. Plus you can avoid the embarrassment of missing a Clean and avoid giving your mom a heart attack.
Now, if you enjoyed those few, but highly powerful tips on Olympic Lifting from Eric, make to sure to stay tuned for an important announcement in regards to a Special Project Eric and I have coming soon!
In the meantime, go ahead and post up your BIGGEST QUESTIONS about Olympic Lifting in the comments below!