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Lately I have noticed a few of my new lifters "sipping" air gently before lifts, especially jerks, getting about enough air to fill one infant lung at best. In order to pressurize the trunk to create maximal rigidity, you need a lot of air—like all of it. You need to fill the lungs, which requires getting your guts out of the way so your diaphragm can contract. If your abdomen doesn't visibly expand as you're taking in a breath, you're not taking in a full breath.
Devin Asks: I tried searching and didn't find what I needed (maybe I didn't type in the right search term... if this has already been covered, I apologize). I recently read your article about arm bend in the first/second pull. I kind of have the opposite problem. In the third pull, I don't think I ever actually activate my arms after the hip drive. Even looking at videos it looks as if they are just bending/moving because of the barbell, not because they are pulling me under. I plan
Just to give you a little insight into my life, I’ve been writing articles for this website nearly every week for several years—this is number 250. That means that at least part of my Sunday is comprised of me panicking and scratching my head for another idea when it feels like I’ve written ten times on every single possible weightlifting topic already. There are only so many articles that can be written on weightlifting technique or programming, so from time to time you end up
Emma Asks: Hi Greg, I am a massive fan of weightlifting, I LOVE to lift. I was wondering if you have any tips on over coming the fear of catching the snatch overhead when it gets heavier, I've been stuck on the same weight for months. I know I need to man up but its really holding me back. Any tips or advice I would love. Thank you.   Greg Says: First of all, don’t beat yourself up too much over it; it’s a very common problem, and every lifter experiences that fear at some
I’m going to get to the point of this one in a roundabout way, so just hang with me for a second.   For those of you who don’t know, I’m a rabid boxing fan. Not too long ago, Puerto Rican legend Miguel Cotto retired after his final fight at Madison Square Garden. A few weeks after his retirement, I read an interview with Cotto where he spoke about his career. He said the best performance of his life was a 2007 TKO victory over former champion Zab Judah. According to Cott
Too many people make the mistake of trying to keep their shins vertical in the starting position of the snatch and clean. Often this is a product of mistakenly attempting to position the bar over the middle of the foot or even farther back. Unless your feet are enormous, placing the bar over the middle of your foot prevents the shin from inclining forward much at all, and unless you have incredibly short legs, that means your body is going to be positioned largely behind the bar rather than abov
Louie Asks: As of late, I've been having issues with soft elbows in the catch when I snatch. It's almost as if the weight is crashing down on me causing me to bend my elbow (I'm assuming) and I end up pressing out the weight prior to rising or I miss the lift entirely. However, using blocks (from a high hang position) I'm able to catch solidly with locked out arms (no elbow bend whatsoever). I figure either my pull is not high enough or my speed under the bar is just not fast eno
Now that I’ve laid out the basics behind the use of complexes for weightlifting, I want to get into more specifics. One of the important points with complexes is that they should have at least one specific purpose. We can use complexes in a very general way to accumulate more volume and similar basic programming goals, but we have the opportunity to fine-tune these exercises to best suit a specific lifter’s needs at a specific time in the training cycle. Why go half way?   The
Some of us don't feel like Gumby naturally, even if we actually have pretty good mobility. Often I see lifters feel stiff and uncomfortable in their workouts until they're nearly finished, at which point they observe they finally feel "warm". This should tell you that you need to change something - if you know you can get warm and feel loose eventually, it makes sense to figure out how to get that feeling at the beginning of your workouts instead of waiting until the end. On
Jarrod Asks: I am the head coach/programmer at a South Eastern suburb “box” and have a couple of athletes that need some help and they are looking to me for assistance and I’m not 100% I have the right answers! So I’m looking to you for help—no pressure. Both of them have weak elbows. One’s struggles are due to fractures/dislocations of both elbows as a kid and one is due to chronic tendonitis from years of baseball. The end result is the same, both have tr
Let’s talk about how to pick the proper warmup weights when you’re working up to your heavy stuff in the snatch and clean and jerk.   Rookies often screw this up if they don’t have anybody teaching them how to do it. We’re talking about workouts (or competitions) where you need an effective sequence of weight jumps from the empty bar all the way up to your maximum lifts.   As with many things in weightlifting, there are multiple ways to do this. However, m
Weightlifting technique can really be as complicated or simple as you want to make it. You could easily spend the rest of your life researching, experimenting, practicing, and driving yourself crazy with the infinite minutiae. But most of you just want to get better, and do it as soon as possible as easily as possible, which is a perfectly rational desire. Focus on the big stuff and forget the little stuff until you need it. Don't worry too much about the precise angle of humeral external
Steph Asks: I have a split jerk of 102.5kg at 64kg body weight and overhead strength has always been a strength, recently someone pointed out that I rush out the catch on my split jerk and suggested I stick the landing for 2-3 seconds. I gave it a go and regardless of how hard I try I can't seem to stick the landing I always seem to bounce straight out into the finish position. Is this a problem is it holding me back from getting heavier overhead? Greg Says: In theory, there is nothing wr
Plenty of people will tell you they don’t care that much about winning, but there isn’t a single honest person on earth who will tell you he/she likes losing. The problem with losing is that you can’t undo it. You can’t go back and fix what you did wrong, even if you know exactly what it is. That leaves you to cope with the loss—you have to deal with it one way or another even if you try to pretend it didn’t happen.   What you do in response to a loss i
The separation of the barbell from the floor in the snatch and clean should be relatively smooth—that is, it should not be jerked abruptly from its static position on the floor. This kind of separation creates two potential problems: first, it significantly increases the likelihood of an unwanted shift in balance or position; second, if the initial speed off the floor reaches a certain threshold, the lifter will have to actually slow the bar down somewhat to maintain tension against it and
Evan Asks: I'm a male lifter who has been lifting for something like 9-10 months now. I usually lift in my garage; it’s pretty rare that I go to a gym. However, I do on occasion, and the last time I went happened to be a day that I was shooting for a new snatch max. After watching me fail twice at 79.5kg before I finally made the lift, I asked the coach there where I was going wrong. His answer was I almost always land on my toes, which causes me to either chase the bar or lose the wei
The internet is a great tool for all of us, but it also complicates certain things. For example, when you see a video of your favorite weightlifter from Whereveristan doing some odd exercise, you're naturally going to assume a few things: They do this exercise regularly They've been doing this exercise their whole careers This exercise is at least partly responsible for their success If you do this exercise, you too will become great at weightlifting The problem is that all
Adrian Asks: I've been lifting a year and a half and have a problem setting up tight from the floor. From plates and off blocks I feel really strong but when it comes to the floor I can’t seem to get full scapular retraction and T-spine extension, which wrecks my first pull. How do I set myself up or mobilize to fix this problem? Greg Says: You don’t want full scapular retraction when pulling—you want to arch the entire spine and depress the scapulae, but keep them close
The exercise known to us as a snatch/clean high-pull and referred to as “Practicing active drop phase” in the Soviet school has long been incorporated into weightlifters’ routines. But like with any other exercise, to benefit from it, an athlete needs to understand what he is doing it for and when and how it shall be done.   While approaching it correctly, it may help you to understand the technique of “active drop”, where you basically use your arms to push
It's a pretty common occurrence to see the attempts at correcting or preventing one problem create another. One I come across seemingly hourly is lifters locking their elbows in extension during the pull of the snatch or clean. Obviously this is a well-intentioned attempt to avoid bending the arms prematurely, but in fact, the result is considerably more problematic. When you put force into the bar in the pull, it has to go somewhere - when you lock the elbows, the only place it can go is