Sunday, October 28, 2007

Learn to Lift: You Can Too!

I want to send a big THANK YOU to Dan Thacker and Brandon Jackson of Crossfit Des Peres for hosting and Laurie Miller of Crossfit St. Louis for promoting the Introduction to Olympic Weightlifting clinic yesterday. The goals of the clinic were to cover basic concepts behind the lifts (LEGS!) and terminology, describe the functional flexibility and stability prerequisites necessary to use the barbell from the floor and overhead, and give everyone the opportunity to work on his/her lifting technique with some feedback.

We also discussed the importance of proper equipment and gave people the chance to experience the blocks vs the hang. Personally, I'm learning to appreciate using the hang, but I also think blocks can be a terrific learning tool to tease out arm pulling, keep the bar close to the torso, and help a beginner find the power position. You could see the light bulb come on in with everyone who got to experience the sweet sensation of the barbell flying overhead or up onto their shoulders. So THAT'S what is feels like when you efficiently transfer the power from your legs to the barbell!

We had a great mix of women and men of all ages and backgrounds. I especially enjoyed meeting Milton Grasle (of Camp Commando fame) and Catherine Imes, our very own St. Louis-based kettlebell expert instructor and champion athlete! Catherine is a woman after my own heart, stressing fundamental technique excellence and developing purposeful body awareness with the kettlebell. I look forward to learning more about kettlebell mechanics from her and using them as a tool to create work capacity and functional flexibility in adults.

My goal with this type of instruction is to introduce weightlifting movements (part and whole) as lifetime fitness skills. And, dammit, let's do it right! Learn to swim, learn to bike, learn to lift. And as adults, some of us have to work through old injuries or flexibility limitations, so we must take a little more care and patience with our journey. But that's the fun part--we learn awareness, alignment, mobility and strength--purposefully and deliberately. So give barbell movements a try. Give yourself the gift of improved functional strength and flexibility, proper lifting mechanics (lifting with your legs), and better bone density health. And if we get a few competitive masters weightlifters in the process, all the better!


mattpalozola said...

thanks for the great clinic. It was amazing.

Anonymous said...

I really like this sentence:

"My goal with this type of instruction is to introduce weightlifting movements (part and whole) as lifetime fitness skills."

As someone past the age of competing in the "open" category, that's what I use 'em for. And I wonder to what extent it is useful to try to teach them to my athletes, i.e., if it took me about a year to learn to do them moderately well, and if o-lifting isn't their primary sport.

The Iron Maven said...

Who are you? Thanks for your kind words.

You can always teach parts or modifications of the lifts. You simply need to evaluate your athlete's goals, the demands of the task you wish to accomplish and whether or not full/partial lifts meet those needs. If they don't and time is of the essence, then maybe they aren't necessary or appropriate. There are many ways to teach the same thing.

Catherine Imes said...

That is a good sentence.

The key thing I took away from Saturday...I don't have to do/learn the full squat clean and snatch to get the athletic/mobility benefits from the movements. That's not to say I don't want to learn them.

That's the first time I've been exposed to instruction for weightlifting that broke it down like that. I enjoyed the focus on the body positioning on the blocks or the hang.

I usually left the previous workshops a bit overwhelmed. It probably wasn't the instruction, but my low IQ; but everyone learns things a little differently. Consequently, I didn't have anything that was readily usable for me when left to my own devices.

I always appreciate instruction that breeds independence. Not that we are experts now, but I would gather that most people left knowing they needed to work on something, i.e. flexibility in their ankle or shoulder. How to work on their squat mechanics, ect.

I always like workshops that focus on teaching movement as opposed to just "lifts".

Once again, Excellent job Tracy. I'm sure you will get pressure to do more of these :)


Jen said...

Well Damn it, how do we get you out here on the east coast teaching the lift movements? I just went to my first Oly Seminar this past weekend.
I learned so much for sure. Yet, it was strictly the focused on the full lift. As a person who coaches and a person who has an injury it would be so useful to learn all the modifications.
The Seminar that I went to was done by Greg from the P-menu. He was awesome!
The most useful thing I learned was the difference between the Crossfit Squat and the Oly squat. Boy howdy are my hips tight!

Anonymous said...

I row, I coach, and I teach at a small university in the Northeast.

I think the o-lifts and their transfer of momentum along the posterior chain is better for rowing than slow lifts like OHS or DL -- even though rowing requires little of the explosiveness of o-lifts. Plus, it's hard to argue with the aerobic hit that a circuit of o-lifts, box jumps, and pull-ups affords.

Many rowers are opposed to squats. So was I for years and I'm not sure why. Winter on the erg is boring, and rowers are always trying to find new games to play, but they like machines. It took a few months hanging out with o-lifters at a D1 university to get the feel of the lifts, and I only feel like I'm moderately competent now, more than a year later. If I can't get a rower to squat under a bar, I wonder if I'd be able to get one to learn the basics of a clean, or snatch (or OHS or DL) -- esp. in just a few weeks of winter training.