View Full Version : Olympic Lifting for Dummies

Troy Archie
04-19-2007, 09:36 AM
To start off I'm a skinny 5'-10" 155lbs Crossfitter with my only Oly lifting exposure being that of Crossfit and I know there's plenty of you who don't consider that exposure. I'd say I'd rank upper novice in strength (Weightlifting Performance Standards (http://www.exrx.net/Testing/WeightLifting/StrengthStandards.htm)), more so in the lower body/TB lifts than the upper body lifts. I’ve trained Crossfit for about 2.5 years with one of those years doing made up WOD’s while traveling OZ and Asia. I'm addicted to Crossfit and have been hesitant to change as I’ve gotten great results from it, especially when compared it to the BB and long runs crap I used to do. My goals are health and fitness. I very well see that my strength is my weakness and it’s something I want to address. Right now I have no intention to compete but stranger things have happened.

So I did some digging around in the dregs of the internet and came up with a name and number for an Olympic Lifting coach and gym in my town. I took a drive down met with the guy and got the low down. He starts off with 3-5 "Learning Sessions" (depending on your level of learning and response) where he asses you and instructs the basics of the lifts. Sessions run for about an hour and cost $50 each. After those 3-5 sessions he creates a program for you to address your wants and goals, whether you're a completive lifter, firefighter or soccer player. Program runs for 4 weeks and after that he re-asses you and makes changes where needed. You either pay drop in times or buy 6-12 month passes to his gym and train there. 12 months comes out to $20/month. He gives you the keys to the place and you come and go as you may. If he's there while you're training he says he'll be badgering the sh!t out of you with feedback and what you're doing wrong. From my conversation with him, he's been in the game since the 60's, has coached the Canadian National team, has had a number of athletes win the Canadian Nationals and most recently had one win the Canadian Westerns and is revving him up for the Nationals.

Does this sound like a good deal?

What should/can I expect?

As I said I’ve been rather hesitant to stop drinking the Crossfit cool-aid and have been trying to figure how I could put the two together but I figure, what’s 1-3 months of training a different and more appropriately a specific modulate instead of many? Along with the strength gain that I would make the amount that I’d learn in that time can only do me good and as time goes by I see more and more that the more I learn the better I become.

Any feedback and perspectives would be great.

Neal Winkler
04-19-2007, 10:02 AM
Perhaps if you give his name someone will know of him.

Troy Archie
04-19-2007, 10:05 AM
Larry Mather


John Alston
04-19-2007, 10:13 AM
I think the chance to work with a coach who is up to the level of coaching a national team is alone worth pursuing.
The 20 bucks a month deal sounds pretty good.
As a disclosure, I am an oly lifting head so I am inclined to say, "Hell yeah drop that weak 135lb clean for reps crap and develop some real power!" but that's just where I am coming from, no disrepect.
If you look around this board you'll see that people who try to focus on strength and/or mass gain - whether oly or not - seem to have trouble maintaining a lot of their WOD numbers. Be prepared for that.
But good coaching is hard to find, which is esp true for weightlifting. I say drink that fountain of knowledge!

Garrett Smith
04-19-2007, 04:59 PM
There is nothing to lose by training in pure OL for a couple of months...if anything, you'll come back to CF with some badass form and strength in the OLs!

Mike ODonnell
04-19-2007, 07:50 PM
try something new...follow your interests...learn...and progress....that's what life is all about.....go for it!

Yuen Sohn
04-19-2007, 08:06 PM
My goals are health and fitness. I very well see that my strength is my weakness and itís something I want to address. Right now I have no intention to compete but stranger things have happened.

Sounds a lot like me. About a year ago, if anything related to Olifting was posted in the WOD, I would pretty much cower in fear. A workout like Isabel as Rx'd (30 snatches at 135 lbs) seemed utterly discouraging to me, as even 1 rep was not possible.

I knew there was a training facility about 45 minutes from my home, but procrastinated for the longest time. One day, I just got fed up with having this huge gap in my knowledge/ability and took the plunge. My only regret is not doing it sooner.

The way I see it, the time spent focused on a specific skill is not a distraction, but rather an investment in one's overall, long-term fitness. Who knows...you may decide to compete one day. Go with the flow!

Troy Archie
04-21-2007, 10:30 AM
Thanks for the feedback all. I had come to the realization that I would NEED to go on some sort of strength/power protocal at sometime in the near future. I was planning on a SS framework but think that Oly lifting would be a lot more fun and I would probably get more out of it result wise and learning wise. I was pretty much sold on the idea when I left the place but was interested in a different perspective. Now I just need to get the ball rolling, which might be harder said than done with school starting on Monday. 5 years of school here I go...


Elliot Royce
04-21-2007, 12:52 PM

Although I am nowhere near the CFitter you are, I was turned on to the O lifts via CF. I also know of other CFitters who are starting to reorient themselves towards O lifting. There's nothing that prevents you from doing both. Unless you are planning to go into serious competition (and not just meets like many people do - ask Yoon and John for their experience, i"m still a virgin), you won't want to O lift more than 3x per week. And you want to make sure at the beginning that you're lifting under supervision to get your form down. So there's still plenty of time for CF.

A coach is wonderful. I've made tremendous progress with Gary Valentine, and your guy also seems very experienced. See if you can afford him for 2 hours per week - by the time you warm up and get going, the hour will be gone. Also, try to find a time when some of the experienced lifters are there so you can join them.

You don't want to give up on your conditioning, though, so find something -- CF, sprinting, another sport -- to keep the metabolic conditioning up. O lifting will help: 5 heavy hang cleans in a row will get you briefing, but it's not the same thing. Keep us posted - start a log.

Troy Archie
04-21-2007, 02:52 PM
Thanks Elliot. The general conditioning aspect is what's been on the back of my mind this whole time and is why I'm hesitant to drop CF entirely. I've had great results with CF and still am but addressing key issues now will only help me not only in the long run of things but in the immediate too. I forget though that I'm not going to be training the Oly lifts 9 times a week like the competitors and 3-4 times a week will probably be the magic number, at least at the start.

Do you post all your training on here or just Oly stuff and CF stuff on a different log?

Elliot Royce
04-21-2007, 05:09 PM
I just post my lifts here. Since I try to play hockey at least 2x per week, I've been relying on that more for conditioning. Hard to do weightlifting, hockey and Crossfit all at the same time.

Larry Lindenman
04-22-2007, 05:28 AM
Elliot...glad to hear your going to take up O-lifting. You don't have to throw the baby out with the bath water, still do some CF skill work...but focus on gaining power via O-lifting practice (minimize the metcon work). Will you lose some of your metcon? Sure...but that comes back quickly, actually quicker with a greater strength reserve. I am more convinced of a program where CF is a base, but you break off into other areas for a month or so to develop one of the fitness components. Of all the fitness components strength and power are the most vital for performance. Doing a concentrated O-lifting or Powerlifting program will only help.

-Ross Hunt
04-23-2007, 02:36 PM
There's metcon, and then there's metcon.

Chippers and long, slow distance are one thing; short circuits with moderate loads are quite another. Since all I care about right now is improving my total (and, of course, big guns), I do neither.

But before I went all the way over to oly lifting, when I first started it after doing the WOD for a while without strength gains, I took the middle way of restricting my metcon to low-rep, medium-weight, rounds-for-time circuits. Really low reps, e.g., once a week a did this after an oly workout:

Max rounds in 10 minutes of:
-5+5 2 pood snatch.
-5 light back squat (70%)
-5 weighted chins

Then once a week after an oly practice, I did Grace, which of course was also under 10 minutes. After a couple months of this, with a few 100m-200m sprints easy thrown in before workouts, and I could still run a 5:00 flat mile.

The lesson, IMO, is that you can to some extent--to some extent-- minimize endurance adaptation in muscles and maintain or even improve anaerobic/ short-duration aerobic conditioning while concurrently increasing strength and power--so long as you stick to low reps in circuits.

Pierre Auge
04-23-2007, 03:07 PM
find a balance... Its very possible and in fact beneficial to mix both OL and CrossFit. Don't think the metcons will harm your lifts, they wont. More than anything OL is a sport of skill, strength and power are wonderful side effects. Train with CrossFit, practice the sport, good things will come. Simply find a balance between doing too much training and not enough practice or too much practice and not enough training. That balance is completely relative to you and your lifestyle choices.

My point - Do CrossFit, Play Weightlifing - have some fun, you can be good at both!