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Weightlifting has seen a big increase in participation in the last few years, due primarily to the influence of CrossFit. Many of the new lifters coming to the sport are, as you might call it, "mature", and this has created a lot of confusion and frustration, as much of the information regarding weightlifting, particularly program design, is intended for young athletes. While it would be nice to simply have some simple recommendations for masters athletes, the reality is that "
Sam Asks: When programming leading up to a meet, what should your program look like 2 weeks out and 1 week out?     Greg Says: This can vary quite a bit depending on a few things, such as the skill level of the athlete, the types of exercises the athlete best responds to, how the athlete recovers, the nature of the program leading into the competition, and the significance of the competition.   First, let me try to lay out some basics that apply in some way across the board. T
During the first few years of a weightlifter’s career, everything is mostly going in an upward direction. Sure, there are little knockdowns and plateaus, but they’re usually temporary. Those are the years when you’re putting big increases on your total every six months or so, and it’s fun as hell.   Then, at some point, it all slows down. Most of the time, it REALLY slows down.   Let me give you a personal example. I competed in my first meet in 1990 and tot
A common mistake in the split jerk is to be up on the toes of the back foot. This is unstable in every possible way, and prevents you from supporting enough weight on the back foot to keep your balance approximately even between the two feet. Being up on the toes allows easy spinning of the foot and slipping. The back heel should be raised off the floor, but the balls of the foot should be flat on the floor and in full contact - this is necessary to support adequate weight for a proper split
Christopher Asks: What to do if my butt/hip shoots back in back squat, front squat and clean?   There are a couple possibilities here: your hips are really shooting up, i.e. rising faster than your shoulders momentarily, and because of the fact that they hinge around the knee, they naturally move backward as a part of this motion; or your hips are actually moving backward primarily.   The latter problem is often the result of limited ankle mobility. This prevents the shins/knees fr
Emotions are like thoughts, but without the utility.   Stuff your feelings deep down inside where they belong.   I don’t give a fuck about your feelings.   All things I’ve told lifters at some point. Of course jokingly. Mostly.   Emotions are like the appendix. We all have one, and even though we’re not sure what it’s for and why we need it, it’s still there, and sometimes it blows up and creates a lot of pain and hassle when we could be
A downside to the internet and the accessibility it provides to anyone with a connection and a keyboard is that people can take advantage of the anonymity to create inaccurate personas for themselves and very often very easily get away with it. That is, just about anyone can pose as an expert in a field and if the marketing and graphics are flashy enough, they'll get some money out of someone's pockets. In weightlifting, this is often an even bigger problem than in other sports becaus
Carolina Asks: How do weightlifters stay lean while lifting? Do they incorporate cardio if so what type and when?   Greg Says: The first thing to address is that it's a misconception by people coming into weightlifting from other sports (especially CrossFit in my experience) that weightlifters are fat, and there is a fear that if you become a weightlifter, you'll suddenly get fat. You have to step back and consider the facts: There are fat weightlifters, and there are lean ones. T
If you're struggling to stay motivated and focused during your training sessions—because you're tired, distracted by things outside the gym, training alone with no accountability, or any other reason—try not letting yourself sit down during your workouts.   If you have to, get rid of whatever chair or bench you normally sit on between sets. Move it somewhere else in the gym outside the range of immediate convenience to minimize temptation. While you’re at it, you
Jonathan Asks: What are your thoughts on how much technique should be emphasized and reinforced to athletes ranging from intermediate to advanced level lifters? Should advanced level athletes be able to make the decisions about technique along side with the coach or should no matter what the level of the lifter the coach is calling the shots with the lifters just following as the coach says and the coach adjusting to what the lifter is telling them about how they feel or what they feel through o
Some athletes are really easy to coach. You give them a job to do, they get it done, and everything works the way it’s supposed to. They make your life stress-free and your coaching fun.   And then we’ve got the other kind. (If you’ve got more than two or three weeks of coaching experience, you probably know what I’m going to say next.)   Some athletes are very difficult to coach. Working with them is NOT as simple as giving them a job and letting them get i
The coaching business has been changing a lot over the last 20 years. I’m not talking specifically about the actual nuts-and-bolts work coaches do to train their athletes. I’m talking about the way coaches have to deal with the personalities and attitudes of the athletes they work with (and parents, if we’re talking about youth athletes). Let’s take a look at a list of “new generation coaching challenges” we see these days.   Athletes/parents who think
One of the many non-training activities you should be doing regularly if you want to progress as much as possible in weightlifting is setting goals for every single training session. I recommend doing this the day before. After the current day's workout is finished, write your journal notes about it, and then have a look at the next day's training session and set at least one goal for it. This is a chance to truly prepare mentally for the session. Going into it with a goal already in
There is somewhat of an accessory work renaissance these days in weightlifting. It was cool a while back, then it wasn’t, and now the pendulum seems to have swung back to cool. Personally I think there have always been too many people at the extremes: those that think accessory work is a total waste of time and never do it, and those who think accessory work is some kind of magical secret that will turn the average weightlifter into a world record holder.   Accessory work certainly
While we always want to keep the bar as close to the body as possible throughout the pull of the snatch and clean, contact at the shins or knees that causes scraping or any noticeable collision is problematic and indicative of an error in the position or movement. There are a few possible causes: Shoulders Behind the Bar If the shoulders are behind the bar rather than above or slightly in front of it, the bar will naturally want to swing back against the legs to center itself under the sh
Rene Asks: How do I fix awkward awkward foot position when catching a snatch or a clean? The inner side of my foot is always first in the ground and my foot is also turned out too much.     Greg Says: The first task is to figure out why the problem is occurring. Three basic scenarios are most likely here. The first is that you’re actually misplacing your feet, i.e. you’re landing in a position that is inherently “wrong” and need to change the stance in which y
I genuinely can’t believe I haven’t written an article on this subject yet. It seems obvious now, as this question comes up pretty frequently, and it’s something I address in detail in my seminars. In any case, let’s get to the bottom of this because, unsurprisingly, there are varying opinions—or at least varying interpretations of things people say about it.   First, let’s quickly establish a couple things. The first pull is the movement of the bar fro
Not a lot of people want to fight the turning out of the feet in the pull like they do in the squat, but just in case, here is a quick run down of why we want the feet turned out about 10-20 degrees relative to the centerline. The knees need to be pushed out in the starting position and first pull, and turning the feet out keeps the knees more aligned, although it's not necessary this alignment be perfect. The knees-out position allows the hips to move closer to the bar (creating a more
Candy Asks: I had a question for you regarding a program for myself. It gets a bit overwhelming so I thought I could ask you and you can see where I can start. I want to improve my overhead performance. I am strong on my lower body but not so with on my overhead. Like for example my PR on back squats is 195 but my overhead is 95 pounds. That's just an example I wanted to throw at you. Can you give me any tips?   Greg Says: Where you need to start is diagnosing the source of the proble
I’ve been wondering about this question for years. Still haven’t completely figured out the answer. Actually, it should be “Do Strength Sports Attract Hardcore Personalities…Or Develop Them?” Weightlifting isn’t the only naughty one.   I swear, I’ve seen some doozies during my time in the iron world. I once saw a lifter choke a guy out in the warmup room over a questionable comment that…probably didn’t deserve a choking.   I s