Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Olympic Lifting: A Transition Program

Li Hongli: 2008 77kg silver medalist & epic beast.
Seriously, look at him.

Last week I laid out the groundwork to familiarize beginners to today's assistance exercises. These exercises serve to transition into the competition lifts - the snatch, clean, and jerk.

The important part is maintaining and applying everything learned to these exercises. I think watching then doing is a great start point to acquire a new skill. Therefore after the program, I'll list the individual exercises linked to videos and provide minimal descriptions where necessary - enough to give an idea of what to do or cues that are helpful.

Before the program, let me describe triple extension. It occurs at three points: the ankles, knees, and hips. Performed powerfully, it accelerates the bar upwards before dropping under it and occurs as the bar clears the knees. The lifter gets on their toes and simultaneously contracts their quadriceps and glutes quickly (locking out the knees & hips) and shrugs their shoulders to their ears.

The Program
Day 1
1) Snatch shrug, 8 x 1-3
2) Overhead squat, 3 x 3
3) Snatch balance, 5 x 1
4) Snatch deadlift, 5 x 2

Day 2
1) Quarter front squat, 3 x 3
2) Overhead static lunge, 1 x 5 per leg
3) Push press, 5 x 2
4) Front squat hold, 3 x 15s

Day 3
1) Clean shrug, 8 x 1-3
2) Front squat, 3 x 3
3) Clean deadlift, 5 x 2
4) Loosening deadlift, 1 x 8

- Excluding the loosening deadlift and front squat hold, all exercises are done with an empty barbell.

- Use a broom handle or stick for the loosening deadlift.

- Some weight can be added to the front squat hold.

- The bar needs to be elevated for floor exercises such as snatch and clean deadlifts. Use the squat rack, 45lb. plates, or aerobic platforms.

- "8 x 1-3" is done with 10-20 seconds of rest between sets and 1, 2, or 3 reps per set. Gauge your own performance within each set.

- Keep one day of rest between workouts.
The purpose is to become proficient at the movements. It is not to move heavy weights, get a pump, or impress the ladies. Quality reps are the goal.

The Exercises
*Note: Catalyst Athletics provides descriptions above the videos,
however some aren't great

Snatch Shrugs/Clean Shrugs
  • This exercise is to understand triple extension. For now, ignore the bar lowering and perform from a stand still position.
  • After practice progress to the video's version, then to snatch pulls/clean pulls, and finally the snatch high pulls and clean high pulls.
  • All versions maintain full triple extension.
Overhead Squat
  • One of the more difficult exercises to learn. Boris gives thorough instruction here and here.
  • Tips from me: Shove the bar towards the ceiling the entire time to keep your elbows locked out and your hands pressing the bar up for the duration of the set.
  • Shrug/pull your shoulders up to your ears.
  • Keep the bar balanced over your scapulae.
  • Your stance will most likely be a bit wider than your typical squat stance. Focus driving through you feet as shown in blue here.
Snatch Balance
  • Drop straight down fast; there's little pressing - if any - of the bar.
Front Squat
  • More instruction from Boris here.
Quarter Front Squat
  • Focus on moving your torso straight up and down.
Snatch Deadlifts/Clean Deadlifts
  • Keep your shoulders over the bar and straighten your legs before preceding to lock out and stand tall. If you need to understand the set-up again, refer to last week's post.
Push Press
  • Use momentum from the legs to press the bar upwards.
Overhead Static Lunge
  • Choose a grip closer to your push press.
  • No need to lunge back and forth or alternate legs every rep; put one leg out, hold it there, then go up and down.
  • Emphasis going low to become comfortable in this position.
Front Squat Holds

Loosening Deadlift
  • If you've been arching your back like you're suppose to, this is a recovery exercise for it.
These exercises are very similar to the main lifts. If you find this too much to learn at once, stick with the following:
Day 1
1) Snatch shrug, 8 x 1-3
2) Overhead squat, 3 x 3
3) Snatch deadlift, 5 x 2

Day 2
1) Clean shrug, 8 x 1-3
2) Front squat, 3 x 3
3) Clean deadlift, 5 x 2
4) Loosening deadlift, 1 x 8*

*Optional: Add if back is tired/taxed.
While the original program is preferred, suffering from too many exercises isn't productive as well. The objective is to become skilled enough. If you're not prepared, you might as well not bother.

With this post done, that leaves one left and will cover learning the snatch, clean, and jerk. Not only that, but also alternative methods to them and a conclusion on the topic.

Other posts in this series,

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