SCTS: Olympic Lifting, Halmstad

Yesterday we finished a two day course of Olympic Lifting seminar here in Halmstad. It's just one part of Poliquin's Special Consideration Training Series (SCTS) two day seminars. PICP trained coaches can participate in the courses they feel are most beneficial to them. This year there have been seminars on training female clients, program design, lower body training for soccer and so on. There will be a couple more this year, mainly on program design (as Poliquin has come out with a new software containing more than 8000 exercises and variations of them) in the US and Europe and a couple training seminars in Australia.

On Monday the seminar begun with a practical session on how to do the snatch. Charles mentioned on his Facebook page the day before that his Swedish friends had taken him to go dip into the freezing ocean to have a little Scandinavian experience on healthy habits people have here ;) In Finland people do that in the middle of the winter. It's called ice hole swimming, which means swimming outdoors in a round hole that's drilled into the ice. Why is this relevant to the seminar? Because for me it was like a jump into an ice cold lake (only that it lasted for two days) as I had no previous olympic lifting experience... nor any theoretical knowledge either.

I was actually quite nervous coming here which is not common for me. I guess those 17 guys who took the course with me came here to learn olympic lifting, but I came here most importantly to get out of my comfort zone and do something new. I believe that I grow the most when I stretch myself into something that might not always be fun in the beginning or requires effort. Through those situations I gain insights and continue the inner work that all of us should do once in a while. So of all the courses I've done with Charles - the count is 10 now - this one is mostly for myself only.

So the first day Charles and Jud went over how to learn the snatch in reverse. Charles mentioned that learning it in reverse is the easiest and fastest way to learn it. We begun in learning the right grip width, then shrug, upright row and proceeded in small progressions in four people groups and finally doing a full snatch with a very light bar.

Probably the most important piece of information I got was that the reason why learning olympic lifting is so important to strength coaches or PT's is that it's the best way to increase vertical jump. And vertical jump is required in all team sports. Another interesting thing is that when doing olympic lifting, sets of 6 reps are enough for getting an excellent hypertrophy response. Knowing how to implement olympic lifting into the program (even if you don't coach it yourself - and if you don't know how to do or coach them properly, it's easy to get injured) might be a good thing for any athlete and a great challenge for any regular PT client. So we learned the technique ourselves first and then practised coaching the technique on fellow course mates.

We've spent lots of time on practical stuff on the course, here and there we did a lecture and then went back to learning the lifts and their progressions. Here's Jud Logan teaching his little lecture: this was a demo of a "knee to heel" split squat he uses with his athletes before proceeding into step ups and front foot elevated split squats.

One gem I learned from Jud was that the best way to learn squatting is to use slow tempo (5 second eccentric) or do 1 + 1/4 rep squats. In the end of day 1 we did a workout like this:

A1. Snatch grip flip & catch, 5 x 6
A2. Barbell jump squat, 5 x 6

B. Back squat, 5 x 5, tempo 5050

On second day we did a morning workout, 8 sets of snatch. It was getting FUN! This is our little group practicing under Jud Logan's eye... gettin' some tough love huh ;)

Here's Jud showing the group how to make the bar travel with a greater velocity. It has to flip the shirt!

Some photos of the morning workout session. Everybody learned fast and it was surprising to see how quickly all the guys progressed into lifting with a good technique. We didn't hear yankee stomps anymore!

The second day's objective was to learn the technique of clean and jerk. We finished Charles' lecture on how to fit olympic lifting into the program of an athlete, how to periodize and which lifts to use for different sports. As I don't really work with athletes, this lecture was way more challenging to me than any of the Biosignature lectures.

In the morning we had quite a long session of learning how to do the clean properly. It was the most fun practical session yet, as I finally got to put some weight on the bar. I did 7 sets of cleans with 35kg, emphasizing on different things every set as we got instructions from Jud on how to correct the technique. We also learned some new exercises like Pierre Roy squat (below).

Later the day we had our last practical session in the weight room and went over progressions of how to learn the jerk. Having good shoulder health and strength is critical for doing the jerk. First we did some military presses which also great for increasing bench pressing strength.

Charles taught us all the progressions on how we can design a program that eventually leads to practicing jerk, which means focusing on overhead pressing with different exercises over a 6-8 week period. If shoulder health is not your strongest link, you can't go straight into doing jerks! What we learned during Jud's lecture in the class room holds true: if you have functional weaknesses, it's impossible to reach your highest performance (in any lifts).

In the end of that practical class I did a push jerk with 45kg to my own surprise. Talk about having a blast! I have no idea whether if that's good or bad for a female, but beginning with zero experience on these lifts and proceeding to feeling quite confident in doing them gave me a huge boost. Today I'm very grateful to myself for having the courage to do the course. Here's Happy Kaisa with Jud the Teddybear.

Like on most classes, the last thing we did was to give Charles a promise of what we are going to change when we go home. My promise this time is that I will train no less than 4-5 weight sessions a week consistently from now on. Time to get back into working through the mindset of an athlete.

Here's a little competition for the readers of this blog. Here's the question:

What is the best...
1) power exercise for increasing vertical jump?
2) strength exercise for increasing vertical jump?

I'll post the answer later this week. The first right answer will receive.. hmmm.. something fun, I promise! :)

That's it for olympic lifting. Today we're into day 1 of Biosig CE, Robert Rakowski is teaching us and it's one of the most interesting lectures yet! I will post more tonight or tomorrow. It's going to be an interesting course.

Here are my very happy but sore legs after the course... this is what you get with a bad technique. The technique was actually easy to correct - begin the lift with 3 seconds from the ground, then explode up from the knees. And remember to flip the shirt!


djole123 said...

1) Power Clean
2) Snatch Grip Deadlift

toniriuttanen said...

1. Snatch deadlifts on podium

2. power snatch

brian said...

Superb post, as ever.

I'm gonna go for:

1. Power Cleans
2. Snatch Grip-deadlifts on a podium

Michael Hannon said...

Good post.

1. power snatch
2. Snatch Grip-deadlifts on a podium

toniriuttanen said...

olikin lipsahtanut kakkoskohtaan vahingossa "snatch" vaikka tietty tarkotin power cleaniä...

ballsandiron said...

I will go with:

1. Power Clean
2. Back Squat

Jyri said...

1) Continuous snatch from above the knee
2) Snatch DL on podium

- Jyri