Monday, January 7, 2013

Slow Mo Snatch

Shrug Up, Shrug Under, No Shrug?

Triple Extension? Yes, No, Maybe.

Here is the complete video. Please discuss!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Lifting All That Weight: TGIF

Thanks to Austin Finnell for sending me the link for this awesome weightlifting and beer commercial.



Free PBR to the first person who identifies the weightlifter in the commercial.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Drop Ins Welcome

If you are an experienced weightlifter (whether from a Crossfit affiliate or USAW athlete) and you find yourself in Boulder on business, vacation, looking over CU etc. feel free to drop in for a workout. Just drop us an e-mail to give us a heads up. Drop in charges are listed on the right side of this page. If you are here for a week or more, we can work out a special rate.

Last summer David was in town for his daughter's softball tournament (the Colorado Sparkler) and stopped by to get a few workouts in. I was happy to hear from David again this year and he stopped by our new facility yesterday to get a workout in.

Watching David warm up I commented that hadn't remembered him being a splitter. He replied, "Yeah, last year I was in Boulder training and this coach named Randy Hauer showed me the split and encouraged me to try it. I like it, it works for me so I never went back to the squat style."

Oops. Very funny and a little bit embarrassing that I had forgotten that, but it just goes to show you never know what coaching tip might make a difference. Or when. Or how much.
Great to see you again David! I'll remember next year if you pass through Boulder again.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Meet Prep Clinic

Flatirons Crossfit Weight Room
Sunday July 15th, 9am - 12 Noon
$100 tuition
(FCFSC and FWLC members get discount, see Randy!)

This clinic is designed to help you successfully plan for your next (or first!) weightlifting competition. We will go over what you will need to bring for a weightlifting meet, how to work with your coach to plan and execute your warmups and attempts. We will also go over the basic competition rules, procedures and practices that you should be familiar with.

This is not a beginners weightlifting class. It is a hands on, practical event so bring your lifting shoes. We will spend the bulk of our time lifting, coaching technique and working up to your planned opening attempts for a weightlifting meet. This is a great clinic to get some final preparation in for the Rocky Mtn State Games Weightlifting Meet July 28th in Colorado Springs.

This clinic is limited to 12 participants.

Register now!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Inner Game of Weightlifting

One of my coaching mentors is Timothy Gallwey, author of a series of books based on what he calls "The Inner Game". His first book, the Inner Game of Tennis was a revelation in the art of how to teach complex movements. "The Inner Game", simply put, is the process of learning how to get out of your own way and let your body do what you've asked it to. The result is higher,more consistent performances, increased confidence and a happier more confident you.

I've adapted a lot of Gallwey's ideas for weightlifting. If there was ever a sport that required mastery of your inner game, it is weightlifting. Compared to practice and training, the competition is over in a matter of minutes: you have 3 attempts in each lift to post your best for that day. It can be, and is, rattling for many lifters, even seasoned competitors.

The following is an excertp from Galwey's book The Inner Game of Stress. It is a Tennis coaching story, but simply substitute snatch and clean jerk for the tennis examples and see if you have an "a-ha!" moment. 

 David was a volunteer in an Inner Game demonstration of learning and coaching. His complaint was clear and emphatic. “I have a very defensive backhand volley,” he asserted with complete certainty that he knew what he was talking about. I asked him to step up to the net and let me see for myself, thinking that he, being an intermediate player, was probably exaggerating the case. But when I saw him step back at each shot and ineffectually flail at the backhands I hit him, I said, “Yes, that has to be one of the most defensive volleys I’ve ever seen.” David seemed relieved that his problem was seen and acknowledged by the coach. But then I said, “I can see why you don’t like that stroke, but what I don’t know is how you’d like to hit it.” He began to explain, “Well I’d like it to be more powerful …” I cut him off, saying, “No, don’t tell me, show me. Show me how you’d like to hit the ball some day, and then maybe I can coach you toward that goal.” David took my request seriously, and he started to show me. The first few balls he hit out in front of him, like never before, and then he said, “No, not like that. … More like this.” At this point he started hitting very forceful backhand volleys into the corners with a kind of fierce intensity, never leaving the mind-set that he was just trying to show me what he’d like. Soon the audience started laughing, and the “spell” was about to be broken. I said, “David, it’s too bad you can’t hit backhand volleys like that right now.” Instantly, David retreated to his former defensive shots. I said, “Yes, that’s how you do hit them, but show me again how you would like to.” As instantly as his forceful backhands had disappeared, they returned. “Like that. … And that….” Every time he caught himself hitting his shots like he “knew” he couldn’t, the old backhand would return. He went back and forth several times, like day following night. I ended the demonstration, and David approached me with his head down. When he got to me, he stopped, looked me in the eyes, and said with a somewhat trembling voice. “So, who am I?” His confusion was obvious. There seemed to be two people within him. Was he the person who for twenty years had “proved” to himself and others that he had a defensive volley, or was he the one that for a few minutes had shown that he could hit amazingly aggressive, powerful backhands?

“It’s your choice,” was all I could think to say at the time. Clearly, David’s body was capable of doing what he thought he couldn’t do. Being an experienced player, he must have had a clear image in his brain of a forceful backhand volley. But in the stress mode, he didn’t have access to it.*

Pretty interesting stuff, right? The next time you come in to lift, make a mental note as you warm up of how you want your lift to be and then let it happen. You may be surprised at how much your performance improves just by lifting like you want to instead of how you think you can.

*Horton, John; Gallwey, W. Timothy; Hanzelik, Edd (2009-08-15). The Inner Game of Stress: Outsmart Life's Challenges and Fulfill Your Potential (Kindle Locations 468-484). Random House, Inc.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Otto and Ewald and Tommy Kono

By now most everyone with an interest in fitness or strength and conditioning has seen the photos circulating the internet of Otto and Ewald, the German identical twins. Identical, that is, except for their physiques. Among the reasons given for their physical differences are that Otto was a distance runner and Ewald was a thrower. There is usually more than a little derision aimed at Otto for being "unhealthy" looking while Ewald is held up as an example of what healthy should look like. Interestingly both Otto and Ewald  were track athletes until the age of 18 when Otto stuck with his love of running while Ewald took up the sport of Olympic weightlifting. The picture below shows the twins in 1969 at age 22.

Interestingly, there are no sources ever cited in other blog posts about where the information on Otto and Ewald came from. This post aims to correct this situation.

Tommy Kono and the Spitz Brothers
I first read about Otto and Ewald Spitz (surprise, they have a surname) 11 years ago in Tommy Kono's book  Weightlifting Olympic Style. As far as I can tell, this is the original and only authoritative account of Otto and Ewald because Kono actually knew these guys. It's a far more interesting story than Otto was skinny (and unhealthy by implication) and Ewald was muscular (and again by implication healthy) because he exercised with weights. It is also high time Kono gets credit for the photos taken of Otto and Ewald that circulate the web without attribution. I've included a few more photos that most of you probably haven't seen.

In case you don't know already, Tommy Kono was one of the greatest American weightlifters ever and one of the greatest  in the history of the sport. A Japanese-American detainee in a U.S. WWII American detention camp, he began weightlifting because he had been a sick, asthmatic kid and hoped it would improve health. Despite lacking obvious raw talent, ideal equipment or training conditions, Kono excelled, epitomizing the concept of mind over matter. He was undefeated internationally from 1952 until the 1960 Olympic Games where he took Silver. He set 26 world records in 4 of the 7 extant weight classes. Concurrent with his success in weightlifting he also competed successfully in bodybuilding, winning the 1954 Mr. World and the 1955, 1957 and 1961 Mr. Universe. In other words, no one else has ever accomplished what Tommy Kono has accomplished.

Tommy Kono stands atop the podium at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia.

Kono in Germany
In 1969 Kono was coaching for West Germany where he met the other Spitz brother, Lothar, who helped Tommy with the junior weightlifting program. Lothar's younger brother Ewald was on the weightlifting team. Neither Lothar nor Ewald mentioned to Kono that they had another brother, Ewald's twin, Otto. Some months later during a coaching trip to Baden Baden expecting to see Ewald, Kono was shocked to see his lifter at the hotel pool some 25lbs lighter than when he had seen him two weeks earlier. "What happened to you?" Kono asked thinking it was Ewald, "You've lost so much muscle size!" "I'm Otto, Ewald's brother."

Kono writes that Otto and Ewald had both been track athletes until the age of 18, when Ewald decided he wanted to take up weightlifting and compete in the sport. Otto stuck with running. By the time Kono met Ewald he was 22, had been lifting for four years, had grown from 55kg bodyweight to 67.5kg bodyweight and could clean and jerk 135kg. Everyone has seen the "before" pictures of the twins together, but check out the "before and after" pictures of Ewald.

Kono was intrigued that a set of identical twins could have physiques that differed so much and decided that it would be an interesting experiment to attempt to prove that weight training and nutrition actually did influence physical development. He enrolled Otto into participating. He persuaded the German government to provide a small grant, got the Schnell Barbell Company to provide a barbell and dumbbell set and other equipment and he got a pharmaceutical company to provide free vitamins and protein supplements. The experiment lasted 13 months when Otto decided to hang it up. He had made very good progress but had apparently had enough.

The Moral of the Story 
For Kono, the story of Otto and Ewald Spitz isn't a commentary on who is "healthier"; a runner or a weight lifter. It is instead a story about the desire and motivation required to achieve a goal. Otto stuck with the experiment for 13 months, made good progress and then lost the desire to go further after which of course he stopped progressing. Ewald, motivated by his brother's progress, worked even harder to"stay ahead". During the experiment he added another 4.5kgs of body weight and his lifts improved to a 174kg clean and jerk and a 125kg snatch. Having good supplements, equipment, government support and expert coaching were all important factors, but without the desire, focus and enthusiasm to achieve, progress stops.  

From Weightlifting Olympic Style, "A desire, determination and commitment to succeed are essential parts of the motivational, psychological side of training and Olympic Lifting. Improvement in the physical body is a natural process if the mental side of training is catered to and nurtured by a positive environment and reinforcement."

Thursday, January 12, 2012

O-bility WOD: No Hands No Feet Drill

This a drill that will address a lot of issues. It teaches smooth acceleration, proper use of the hips for power and improves balance. Use it for the snatch or the clean from the floor or from hang. Position your feet in your squat receiving stance, use a basic overhand grip * no hook grip* and start light. Don't move your feet, keep them glued to the floor.

Here is National Resident Coach Zygmunt Smalcerz demonstrating the drill at the OTC.

and here are several of Glenn Pendlay's athletes practicing the drill.

Give it a shot and post what you notice in the comments section. Good for a warmup or as a mid-course correction on off days.