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View Full Version : Where to start with weightlifting?


Zach Stevens
09-10-2011, 07:24 AM
Backstory, i have been into powerlifting and the power versions of the olympic lifts for quite awhile but now i want to really get into weightlifting as a sport. I just ordered an Eleiko bar and some nice bumpers.

My question is where do i start? Im in a small town that does not have weightlifting couches and i will have to teach myself. What would be the best way to learn the lifts correctly and what would be a good beginner program to follow?

Thanks for any help!

Arien Malec
09-10-2011, 02:04 PM
I really like Greg's book and Glenn Pendlay's progression.

Keep in mind the following two positions:

1) Power position:
If you can get to and explode from this position every time, you've got 80-90% of the battle won:
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2503/4163260788_0b42c379ec.jpg

2) Below the knee position.
If you can consistently hit this position with the back set correctly, weight on the heels, ready to bring the bar in to the hips, you've got 70% of the battle won.

http://www.ironmind.com/ironmind/export/sites/default/ironmind/lu77-211_lg.jpg

(look at his back and chest here)
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-12/27/xin_10212062721462961058323.jpg

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2578/4126950882_3b4a937985.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/38313689@N00/4126950882/)
liao69 CHN (http://www.flickr.com/photos/38313689@N00/4126950882/) by Rob Macklem (http://www.flickr.com/people/38313689@N00/), on Flickr

90% of the art of weightlifting is getting the bar from the floor to that below the knee position, and then from that position to the power position, and getting good "body feel" is critical.

Check yourself with a video camera (if you have an iPhone 4, the VideoPix app helps provide instant feedback). Post video to this board and to Glenn's board to get feedback.

Here's what finally worked for me (despite coaching, because I'm a slow learner):

Glenn's progression starts from the top, which makes it easier to hit those positions, but ultimately you need to hit them consistently from the floor. A good drill is to start from the top, hit the power position, hinge your hips to the knee position, bend your kneed to the floor, and reverse the steps back to the top, over and over. Start with PVC until you have it down. Then do the drill top to floor and then floor to top, pause, and do a full snatch from power position. Start first with PVC until you have it down cold, then go to the bar. If you purchased an Eleiko set, a pair of training plates would be a nice incremental investment so you can start from the floor consistently from the right place.

The weights will be silly light and the whole thing will be frustrating, but hitting those two positions consistently every time is pretty critical.

Progressions and drills:
Snatch first:
http://www.pendlay.com/Snatch-progression-series_df_54.html

This is a good drill prior to the step of the progression where you snatch from the power position:
http://www.pendlay.com/Dirty-Dancing_df_71.html

http://www.pendlay.com/Clean-progression-series_df_55.html

Greg's book:
http://www.cathletics.com/zen/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=41&products_id=155&zenid=68a16c75e5adb6b023e395a81bfeb9fb

Arien Malec
09-10-2011, 02:20 PM
Four more points:

1) Banish power movements from your work (at least until you are consistently perfect with the full movements)
2) Lighter and perfect is better than heavy and messed up (keep 90-95% of your work in the perfect range. Use the last 5-10% to hit maxes -- and you don't need to hit maxes at first).
3) Go back on the weight and do full range snappy high bar and front squats -- your body need to learn how to get comfortable in that low position.
4) This is a pretty good and simple beginner program:
http://www.pendlay.com/A-Training-System-for-Beginning-Olympic-Weightlifters_df_90.html

Bee Brian
09-10-2011, 04:45 PM
Great job Arien!

Arien Malec
09-10-2011, 05:27 PM
Just one more point -- just to be explicit, the reason I like Glenn's progression is that if you are lifting alone without coaching all the time, being able to find those critical positions without much feedback is a much. The top down approach he teaches helps you get back the groove when you lose it -- it's obviously much better to get continuous coaching.

Zach Stevens
09-12-2011, 10:35 AM
Thanks so much Arien, you answered many of my questions that i didnt even ask! I just put my platform together and my bar/bumpers wont be here for a week so i will go out today and get some pvc pipe and really try to hammer those movements until they get here. I will also be working hard on perfecting the overhead and front squat. I have been reading a lot over at Pendlays forum, here and mikes gym. I think i will order Gregs book as well. Thanks again.

Arien Malec
09-12-2011, 11:02 AM
Excellent!

I re-read Greg's progressions -- they make great sense. If I had actually followed them when I was learning....

One thing he says in the book that is absolutely right-on: positions first, then movement, then speed.

Until you can consistently get into the two positions noted above, don't add movement. Until you can hit those positions with slow movement, don't add speed.

Obviously squat like hell (high bar full range snappy no grind), and press/push press while you are working positions and movements.

I'm pretty sure people gave me this exact advice 2 years ago or so, and I ignored it :)

Zach Stevens
09-12-2011, 12:38 PM
Excellent!

I re-read Greg's progressions -- they make great sense. If I had actually followed them when I was learning....

One thing he says in the book that is absolutely right-on: positions first, then movement, then speed.

Until you can consistently get into the two positions noted above, don't add movement. Until you can hit those positions with slow movement, don't add speed.

Obviously squat like hell (high bar full range snappy no grind), and press/push press while you are working positions and movements.

I'm pretty sure people gave me this exact advice 2 years ago or so, and I ignored it :)

Thanks, im really excited to learn a new area of lifting. I think im going to give up all other lifts for awhile while i work on the clean and snatch and front/overhead squats. What did you do when you ignored the advice, just try to muscle up heavy snatch and cleans?

Also i just watched the snatch and clean progressions from Glenn and it was really interesting. Am i right that the clean and snatch are basically the same movement except for hand and catch positions? I never knew they were so similar.

Arien Malec
09-12-2011, 12:44 PM
Muscle up limit weights, yes. Too much ego to back down to work on position and movement.

Up to the end of the second pull, the snatch and clean are pretty much identical, subject only to the difference in hand spacing, and the associated difference in terms of bar position relative to the body.

If you can learn to snatch, learning to clean is going to be pretty easy. Both Greg and Glenn have a "snatch first" learning progression.

Zach Stevens
09-12-2011, 01:20 PM
A question about the reasoning behind 10,15,20,25kg weights in weightlifting. From watching lots of videos it seems everyone uses these plates and then some small plates for incremental weight. Why are these the only plates the people use in olympic weightlifting? It seems hard to learn these movements when you have to start out snatching atleast 40kg. I know thats really light to most but is there a reason they only make 4 different weights and not a wider variety like 5,7.5,12.5kg etc?

Also i only ordered a full set so 2x each of 10,15,20,25. WIll i need more then this or can i use metal plates to make up the difference?

Shane Skowron
09-12-2011, 01:42 PM
A question about the reasoning behind 10,15,20,25kg weights in weightlifting. From watching lots of videos it seems everyone uses these plates and then some small plates for incremental weight. Why are these the only plates the people use in olympic weightlifting? It seems hard to learn these movements when you have to start out snatching atleast 40kg. I know thats really light to most but is there a reason they only make 4 different weights and not a wider variety like 5,7.5,12.5kg etc?

Also i only ordered a full set so 2x each of 10,15,20,25. WIll i need more then this or can i use metal plates to make up the difference?

You can buy technique plates that are the exact same size as a 10kg plate but weigh 2.5kg or 5kg plates. They are usually made out of some fragile composite/plastic-y material that cannot be dropped. There is a young girl in my club whose max snatch is like 36kg or something so she uses the tech plates even in competition.

I would think you'd want a pair of 2.5kg and 5kg metal plates in addition to your 160kg set, if not also a pair of 1.25 and 1kg plates.

I think the reason the big plates are most common are because you can't drop metal plates or tech plates.

Chris Walls
09-12-2011, 02:07 PM
The tech plates I had could be dropped... they could take a hell of a pounding. They were also like $160/pair...

Zach Stevens
09-12-2011, 02:40 PM
The tech plates I had could be dropped... they could take a hell of a pounding. They were also like $160/pair...

Where did you buy them from?

Arien Malec
09-12-2011, 03:02 PM
You can get 10# rubber plates from a bunch of different places.
Greg sells some here:

http://www.cathletics.com/zen/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=14_19&products_id=340&zenid=0ca96d698cbef504c381b5177e67ab1a

Just don't drop them (often) because they deform.

There are more expensive technique plates that you can buy that are made to be dropped -- that's overkill unless you are outfitting your own gym.

Greg sells them as do a bunch of other folks.

kg denominated change plates are:
http://www.cathletics.com/zen/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=14_19&products_id=216&zenid=0ca96d698cbef504c381b5177e67ab1a

Zach Stevens
09-12-2011, 09:54 PM
I want to buy everything in kilos since my bumpers are in kilo, do most people not need 5 or 7.5kg bumper plates? This will not be for a gym just for me, right now i can power snatch 105lbs and power clean and jerk 170lbs, should i just buy some kg change plates and be ok with 10,15,20,25s?

Arien Malec
09-13-2011, 07:55 AM
Yep, don't go for the training plates, then. You should be fine with 40kg. You can work lower weights form the hang and the knee before you work to the floor.

Zach Stevens
09-13-2011, 10:03 AM
Yep, don't go for the training plates, then. You should be fine with 40kg. You can work lower weights form the hang and the knee before you work to the floor.

Alright cool, i will be doing Pendlays progression anyway so probably won be off the floor for a while.

Also i found some nice DHS 5kg training bumpers for $100. I might grab those.