View Full Version : Gareth's trying to learn the Olympic Lifts

Gareth Rees
03-26-2011, 03:20 PM
Hi guys,

I've very recently started to learn the olympic lifts from near scratch (after playing around with them with poor technique, and heaving learned them under what I understand now to be poor instruction). Anyway, my friend gave me the idea of posting my progress on here, as I think it may give some people an insight into how you can progress to learn the lifts (successfully, I hope), while already in another plan. Though this may not be the best way to do it, which is a given, I'm still very weak, and don't want to go through a full cycle of technique work only, while my strength regresses or stalls, as I want to progress (please don't focus on this comment, as it's not the scope of this thread).

Some background history;
- 21 year old male.
- STATS.... Body weight - 225lbs, Bench Press - 130kg, Low Bar Back Squat - 167kg, Front Squat - 130kg, Deadlift - 190kg (all roughly where I'm currently at, not my all time bests).
- Self coached, and going to teach myself the O-Lifts mainly through a Greg inspired progression.
- A few years having messed around with powerlifting, making progress and PR's, then slacking off and taking a few steps back again.
- Currently using the 5/3/1 template (4 weight sessions, and 1/2 conditioning session per week), and going to fit my O-Lift technique work in as/during warm ups.

I hope that in doing this it helps somebody in some way, and if anybody has any ideas, questions or constructive criticism on anything I've said or done, just throw it my way and I'd be happy to hear it.
So, after the boring, formal introduction, here is my technique training...

Gareth Rees
03-26-2011, 04:14 PM
I am actually currently near enough 2 weeks into my technique training, so firstly I'll backdate how I got to the point I'm currently at, then I'll begin to add to this thread from workout to workout;

14th March

Hang position
I wanted to begin by learning what I should be feeling in the hang position, so I began there.

Jump from hang position (without bar)
During my previous poor instruction, I had been taught to consciously produce a DKB, and as a result I had no idea of how to produce it naturally (possibly due to my instructor's lack of knowledge of O-Lifting), and simply the idea of a natural DKB intimidated me and put me off learning the lifts for so long. This drill takes out any knowledge you think you need, and takes out any guesswork of what you should be feeling. You just do it! So simple, it's genius! Primary focus was on opening up the hips, and ensuring correct balance over feet. DKB did not happen unless I forcefully extended my lower back.

Tall Muscle Snatch
Four high pulls, snatch on fifth. I done this to get the correct mechanics drilled into myself before trying the complete drill, it helped. Primary emphasis put on raising elbows high, and keeping bar close to body.

(p.s. with the cues and points of focus, I find that any more than 2 at a time and I get confused and forget some, best to drill it in one session and add upon it next session).

15th March

Hang position and Jump (without bar)
Balance over feet, and thus the jump was a lot more consistent still with same focus as yesterday. Tried 3 reps with unloaded bar at the end of drill and there's a noticable pull forward, need to further adjust balance backward.

Tall Muscle Snatch
Same as yesterday, this time extra focus on adequate layback, and a quick turnover.

17th March

Began using an unloaded bar after warming up with a few simple jumps to reaquaint myself with the correct movement patterns again. Noticed towards end of the drill that hips are not fully extending any more, this is definately the effect of the bar, and having been looking for other flaws I missed this one (biggest problem of being self coached, no feedback).

Tall Muscle Snatch, to Heaving Snatch Balance
Thought these two would go perfect together, and they do.
TMS - Need to put extra attention to correcting layback issues and begin initiating the movement with a shrug.
HSB - Very unstable and inconsistent in bottom position. Pausing for a few seconds helped a lot.

18th March

Began without the bar to rectify yesterday's problem, when I added the bar then it was fine. Seem to have decent technique hitting some consistency.

Tall Muscle Snatch to Heaving Snatch Balance
- Layback and shrug still not consistent.
- Bottom position was better, still not good

21st March

Extra emphasis on not leaning over bar. Progress to snatch pulls very soon.

Tall Muscle Snatch to Heaving Snatch Balance
Lacking precision in TMS

22nd March

Hang Snatch Pulls
COULD NOT KEEP IN CONTACT WITH THE FLOOR!!! Even when loading the bar with 30kg still ended up jumping around 1-2 inches, and slightly forward.

Hang Snatch High Pulls
Added this to Greg's progression as i don't thin I'll be able to go straight from pulls to tall muscle snatches to muscle snatches. I needed an inbetween movement - hello high pulls! Balance seems to be decent, transition from pull to thrid pull is very difficult to time correctly.

23rd March

Tall Muscle Snatch
Four high pulls, snatch on fifth. Done with 30kg bar, technique deteriorated hugely.

Overhead Squats
Bar was very unstable overhead, and I wasn't able to keep shoulder blades retracted,only elevated.

24th March

Hang Snatch Pulls
Very inconsistent, and occasionally jumping up and/or forward an inch. Tried with 40kg barbell in an attempt to maintain contact with the floor. Don't believe this had a negative effect on my technique.

25th March

Hang Snatch Pulls to High Pulls
Bar only. Finally managed to control force to keep in contact with floor, though balance was not very consistent, and occasionally only one foot would lose contact.
Again very difficult to find correct timing for 3rd pull

Martin Bonn
03-27-2011, 01:36 PM
hi mate,

if you are in south wales, you should come to the empire in bristol on a friday eve. you'll get good coaching there and there is loads of good lifters you can learn from. The coach is an ex-commonwealth champion, he's just got the british record in the cj in his age group. really nice guy!

Gareth Rees
04-02-2011, 04:34 AM
28th March
Mid Hang Snatch Pulls to Overhead Squats
- Took a step back to concentrate on the pull only. On last pull, tried to initiate 3rd pull to get timing correct and not have to focus on other points.
- Primary focus on retracting shoulder blades, bringing knees forward and out, and bringing bum as close to heels as possible. Done slow to try to ensure correct posture and positions. felt a lot better. 3 sets of 8 with unloaded olympic bar.

29th March

Really was not in any mood, and did not want to practice O-lifting today. Skipped it as i knew it would be a poor session if I did it. Went straight through to strength work, which actually went very well as I squatted 135kg 7 times with more in the tank for another one or two.

30th March

Mid Hang Snatch Pull
Same as Monday. Lacking in consistency at times

Overhead Squats
Same as Monday. More fluent. A lot more consistent.

31st March

Hang Snatch Pulls to High Pull
- Seems like balance is too far forward, causing improper layback - and thus, slight swinging of the bar (especially around hips)
- Difficulty in timing third pull, and there was no shrug

Mid Hang Muscle Snatch - VIDEO
Only tried once. Improper balance (as above), same issues as high pulls. Good first attempt, high elbows, decent finishing position. Unconsciously and unintentionally turned into a power snatch with no foot transition. Body may be too far inclined forward during finishing position. See the link below, any criticism or suggestions, I'd appreciate your input.

Video of first hang muscle snatch (following a few snatch pulls to high pulls); http://www.youtube.com/user/MrGarethRees#p/a

1st April

Mid Hang Snatch Pulls to Muscle Snatch
- Think that with regards to yesterday's problems suggested, it was not actually a problem of balance, but instead of the body being positioned too far back, leading to the bar being pushed forward as the hips come forward to maintain balance, and thus the arch/swing. Tried to solve by not leaning as far back. See video yesterday.
- As yesterday. Felt decent and fluent, but again turned to power snatch. Tried to intentionally do a single power snatch at the end, but everything was too conscious and I forgot a few key points. So ensure now it is a muscle snatch.

hi mate,

if you are in south wales, you should come to the empire in bristol on a friday eve. you'll get good coaching there and there is loads of good lifters you can learn from. The coach is an ex-commonwealth champion, he's just got the british record in the cj in his age group. really nice guy!

Thanks for the suggestion Martin. Unfortunately I don't have access to a car, and so travelling would be a nightmare, but when I do I will definately consider it. I'll take it that you're part of a team? Is it a group training set up?

Gareth Rees
04-08-2011, 12:19 PM
Found that a huge point that everybody who is learning or plans to learn the O-lifts should consider, is to go in to the next workout with a clear plan of what you're working on and how you plan to progress. Without this, you will not have a goal, or know how you're going to get there, so as a result you're not using your time as effectively as you could be.

4th April

Mid Hang Snatch Pulls to Muscle Snatch
- Getting some consistency. High pull from a tall position just prior to snatch pulls seemed to help timing of transition to 3rd pull.
- Lacking in consistency. High pull felt pretty good, but turnover wasn't consistent. Very difficult to evaluate by feel alone, will have to record more often to evaluate progress and pick up faults. Difficult not to drop into power snatch.

5th April

Mid Hang Snatch Pulls to Muscle Snatch - VIDEO
- As yesterday. Timing of transition seems to be getting better.
- Getting a bit more consistency. Everything looks (when watching video after session) and feels pretty decent. Developing a problem of leaning too far forward on receiving the bar, which seems to translate also to catching the bar too far back. Needs to be corrected or misses behind will become common.


Scarecrow Snatch - VIDEO
Almost fell backwards on first attempt with unloaded bar, so changed to a technique bar (don't have PVC, so just used a light pole that my gym has lying around, not ideal I know). Pretty good for a first attempt, but as above, the bar was placed too far backwards with the body inclined too far forward. Toes pointed out too far on foot transition.


Did record my 5/3/1 squat (this is the 3rd week), but battery ran out half way through so it didn't save. 142.5kg (314lbs) for 7 reps, which floored me!!!! Would have been a cool video!

6th April

Scarecrow Snatch

Put as priority as Muscle snatch is improving a lot, and finish of the bar is poor! Changed to a power variation to concentrate more on the turnover and placement of the bar than depth. Dropped lower and lower each successful attempt until I reached my maximal depth

Tall Muscle Snatch

Revisited these to drill precision, and to translate the efforts of changed receiving position from the actual third pull.

7th April

Scarecrow Snatch

Started with power variations (as yesterday), and progressed lower each successful attempt, this is a fantastic teaching tool, and helped me a lot I believe. Turnover is improving, and I am hitting a bit of consistency with it.

Mid Hang Muscle Snatch

Brought back to try to translate yesterday's efforts and my scarecrow snatches to a better finishing position from pulling from the hang. Primary focus on receiving position (poor position has become a habit, and is difficult to break). Made sure to turn out elbows during high pulls, and there is definately a huge difference in muscles involvement and the bar is much easier kept close to the body.

8th April

Scarecrow Snatch to Snatch Balance
- Turnover of the bar is much more consistent again, and definately improving along with finishing position.
- Both work very well together. Drilling in finishing position, along with a push under (as I intend to progress to tall snatches soon).

Mid Hang Muscle Snatch

Coupling with the above has definately helped finishing position, but also making muscle snatches difficult as I unconsciously drop into a power snatch without a foot transition.. Developing consistency, and probably progress soon.

This point marks 4 whole weeks I've been practicing the lifts, and I believe progress has been very good. I believe I'm pretty solid in most of the basics, and hopefully in another 4 weeks time I will be able to complete a full snatch pretty consistently and with fairly decent technique. After that stage, I plan then to immediately begin learning the cleans, and believe that having learned the snatch before (by far the more complicated of the two) will allow me to pick up the clean very quickly.
I hope that people are finding this thread helpful or at least interesting, especially if they're learning/planning to learn/coaching somebody the lifts, themselves.

Martin Bonn
04-12-2011, 11:13 AM
hi gareth,

we sort of have sessions set up...usually it's Mo Wed and Fr 4-8ish.
Most of us train together, but there's no pressure.
Lots of variablilty in ability as well. From total beginner to one guy hoping to be picked for 2012. really good atmosphere!
I can see that coming across without a car might be a pain! you could make it a special occasion haha!

looks like you training is going well! best of luck mate, if you want any more infor on the club, let me know!

Gareth Rees
04-17-2011, 08:17 AM
11th April

Snatch Balance to Scarecrow Snatch

Getting very consistent, and finishing position is improving a lot. Play around with a few tall snatches next session.

Muscle Snatch

Pull is getting a lot more fluid and consistent. Many things are beginning to happen naturally now. Finishing position has improved.

14th April

Scarecrow Snatch to Tall Snatch
- Very consistent now and feels very good now (though not 100% what it looks like).
- First ever time trying it, and it felt very good. Felt nearly exactly like scarecrow snatch, which is probably why it was so easy to pick up. Don't think I'll have to spend too long learning.

Mid Hang Muscle Snatch

Same as monday, and will probably progress to power snatches soon

15th April

Tall Muscle Snatch to Tall Snatch
- Used simply to drill correct third pull mechanics for tall snatches.
- Progressed to trying with an unloaded bar, and so much more difficult than with technique bar. Very inconsistent, catching bar in front mostly, but very occasionally behind, and sometimes with incorrect balance. Very confusing if I think too much about these, so just have to do it! Not entirely sure if third pull is entirely correct as it all happens so quickly.

16th April

Tall Muscle Snatch to Tall Snatch
- Same purpose as yesterday.
- Same as yesterday. Still very inconsistent. Just need to keep drilling it and show some consistency. Was going to video, but new batteries didn't work, so note: you get what you pay for, they were only 1.

hi gareth,

we sort of have sessions set up...usually it's Mo Wed and Fr 4-8ish.
Most of us train together, but there's no pressure.
Lots of variablilty in ability as well. From total beginner to one guy hoping to be picked for 2012. really good atmosphere!
I can see that coming across without a car might be a pain! you could make it a special occasion haha!

looks like you training is going well! best of luck mate, if you want any more infor on the club, let me know!

Sounds great. For now there is little to no chance of me coming, but when I get my stuff together then I may well come on the rare occasion (and I would definately be in that beginner group, ha). Do you have to pay for anything (membership, pay by session, coaching etc)? It doesn't seem as if they have a website with any info.
Training is definately going well, and I seem to be progressing in the O-lifts, so thanks.

Gareth Rees
05-21-2011, 07:11 AM
Hi guys,
I know I've not posted in over a month now, but this month has been plagued with issues that has stopped me practicing the O-Lifts for around four weeks, and strength training for around 2. It began with an injury to my neck/left trapezius from pressing which stopped my O-Lifting for around a week, then as soon as I recovered an injury to my wrist which I believe came from over-doing grip specific work, and immediately upon recovery I became ill with some sort of virus. This virus saw me drop 13lbs in a week from minimal eating (though all I done was lie down all day), and put me out of any form of exercise for around 2 weeks, and robbed me of approx 20kg from my max on each lift. I only started back 11th May;

11th May

Snatch Pulls

Felt extremely slow and sluggish. The movement felt very unnatural and unco-ordinated. Technique has definately regressed massively from lack of work.

12th May

Mid Hang Snatch Pulls to High Pulls
- Still felt very slow, but a lot more natural and technically correct (or what I believe to be technically correct without the watchful eye of a coach) than yesterday. Forgetting to shrug again.
- High pulls felt pretty good, though not as consistent as usual. Decided today to put some serious effort into beginning to learn the hook grip.

13th May

Mid Hang Snatch High Pulls

Felt a bit quicker and more powerful. Overall, technique felt pretty solid again. Hook grip not only hurt, but felt extremely weak.

At this point I'm starting to try to re-gain some lost strength and am starting the Texas Method, and as a result O-Lift work may decrease to twice a week

16th May

Scarecrow Snatch

No consistency, pulled the bar way too far back, near to identical to 5th April

18th May

Tall Snatch

Finishing position again is too inconsistent, as with scarecrow snatch, along with poor turnover of the bar and balance on the feet upon receiving in a full OHS. Will go back to receiving in a power position, as it seemed to help last time.

20th May

Pushed for time for strength training, so skipped O-lift work completely

From no practice in a period of approx 4 weeks, technique regresses massively, but doesn't take nearly as long to become decent again as it first did