Tag Archives: clean and jerk

Measuring performance without focusing on the weight

It’s very easy to become completely consumed by how much weight is on the bar. Even me, although I’m not an ‘ego-lifter’, I still care about the amount of weight I am lifting. Although I don’t compare the weights I lift with the weights other people lift, I do compare the weight I am lifting to what I was lifting before. My big focus is actually what I am lifting now compared to what was I lifting last week, last month, last year… etc.

The problem is, lifting isn’t as simple as this! You can’t just go up and up in weight for every exercise, every workout, every single time. Here I provide some other strategies you can use to measure your performance and have peace of mind that you are improving, even if the weight isn’t necessarily going up. Continue reading

Ask Alis & Sharon: Should I practice both feet forward in the split jerk?

Alis says:

Most, if not every, weightlifter will have a preference for either their right or left foot that goes forward in the split jerk. One of the questions I had with my coach when I first started Olympic weightlifting was whether I should be training the split jerk with different feet going forward. His answer was a strong no.

My own research tells me that the reason you shouldn’t practice with both feet is because you want to get very good, very strong, and very confident with your dominant foot, so that you can lift the most weight. If you spend time switching feet then you are reducing the volume and time spent training the dominant one, which will likely slow down development of motor patterns.

Research also tells me that you should practice with both feet so as to limit chances of developing muscle imbalances (for example, hip flexors, abdominal muscles).

I’d probably say that, for me, the correct answer is this – I train my warm up jerk sets alternating the front foot, only switching to my more dominant foot on the working sets. I also do a lot of single leg training (lunges, Bulgarian split squats), which I hope would help with any muscle imbalances that I may have developed!  The total volume of jerk training tends to be pretty low (only 1 or 2 reps at a time usually), the movement is very brief (because it’s so fast), and there is also no eccentric phase (the part of exercise which is supposed to break down the muscles) so perhaps training most frequently or even exclusively only one foot will have no significant negative consequences after all.

When and when not to use complexes

A weightlifting complex is a combination of different exercises done without stopping. Hypothetically you could do as many different exercises as you fancied. Complexes can be made up of any number of exercises. For example:

Snatch Pull + Snatch (2 exercises)

Clean Pull + Hang Clean + Front Squat + Jerk (4 exercises)

If you use fewer exercises you can usually use more weight than if you do more exercises. Because of the high technical demands of Olympic weightlifting, I personally always keep the number of exercises as no more than 4.

You can also make the complexes longer by changing the reps rather than increasing the exercises. For example:

Snatch Pull + Snatch (2+2) meaning 2 reps of snatch pull plus 2 reps of snatch

I have my own views on when and when not to use complexes, which I will list here: Continue reading

The effect of ‘toes out’ on knees during the Olympic lifts

I was always taught that my toes should be straight forward in the snatch and clean starting positions. I recently had a one-off coaching session with a coach because I was a bit concerned with the movement of my knees during the snatch and the clean. I wanted someone to check that my technique was OK.

The coach made an interesting comment. He said that many people find it beneficial to start their lifts with their toes pointing outwards rather than straight forward (the degree to which they point outward dependent on the individual’s body structure, what feels comfortable, and the effect on the lift).

When I snatch and clean, I have what you might call “a very aggressive double knee bend”. How this looks is that my legs almost completely straighten when the bar is at my knees, before my knees re-bend: Continue reading

How do you know if you’re better at squat jerks than jerks

The squat jerk is not used as frequently by as many lifters as the split jerk. Having read around the subject, my understanding is that for the vast majority of people, the split jerk is the method to use for them to lift the most weight.

It is a highly interesting subject as pretty much every person who starts out on their Olympic lifting journey will by default begin by learning and being coached the split jerk. What this therefore means is that, over time, the split jerk gets developed and has more attention and time spent on it than any other type of jerk, which would cause distortion to the idea that “for the vast majority of people, the split jerk is the method to use for them to lift the most weight.”

Perhaps indeed, one of the reasons that people may be able to lift the most weight in the split jerk is more because they have spent more time on it, rather than because of the actual method (split vs squat) in which the bar is received overhead. Continue reading

Choose your cues wisely

What cues do you use? What are the best cues to use in Olympic weightlifting?

As I am a consciously competent lifter i have the tendency to give myself many instructions. Is my back aligned correctly? check my feet? have I set my shoulders? have I braced? is the bar over the top lace hole of my shoe? It is endless. And then the coach says, “stop over thinking, just do it.”

So a good cue will clear my head and get me through the part of the lift that I find difficult. It has taken me a while to find the right single words that connect with me visually to elicit the right physical responses. Here are some examples:

Continue reading

What your Snatch to Clean and Jerk maxes tell you

I like to watch weightlifting competitions, such as the British Weightlifting Championships, which is on this weekend. Something interesting about these competitions are the results tables. Results of each lifter individually are often more interesting to me than seeing the overall results. I will explain why. Continue reading