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Old 11-27-2011, 09:27 PM   #1
Bryan Boorstein
New Member
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 9
Default My introduction and things I struggle with

whats up guys. I'm Bryan, crossfit owner, and Olympic lifting student. 5'10'', 190 lbs, 29 yrs old.

It was late summer 2010 that I finally decided it was time to really learn how to snatch. I had done cleans for a year or so prior to this. PR Clean was 245 lbs at the time, I think. I had done snatches, but only in met-cons. I had never snatched more than 135 lbs at the time. (btw, sorry, but i lift in lbs, so I communicate that way too). I figured the prudent first step would be to test my 1 RM. My training partner had just hit a 200 lb snatch a month prior, and he was super hyped about breaking into the 200's... so I had a goal. What resulted was that I made it through 175 lbs without missing. I missed 185 a couple times, then hit it. What followed, for the next 6 months was an obsessive drive to be as awesome as possible at the snatch. I fooled around with it for awhile on my own. Basically, I did everything wrong, but it still worked, because I was so new to it. I snatched atleast 3 times a week, and I always worked up to a 1 RM. Often times, I would even miss 5 times, finally make it, and then keep going at the next weight for awhile. In 45 days, I hit 210 lbs. I got stuck there for a long time, or rather what felt like a long time. It was about two months, and then in January, my partner and I started following a Catalyst cycle, the 10-week classic, I think.

The cycle worked well. I improved my snatch to 230 lbs, Clean PR'd at 285 lbs, and I really sucked at Jerking, and it made no sense to me, so I PR'd at 255 lbs, the same weight I could push press. The coolest thing about the cycle though, was that it made me understand the different positioning so much better, and I started to understand the benefits of working the skill-transfer stuff and the partial lifts. It has made me into a much better coach. And it also has made me into a huge oly lifting dork. I have now read everything on the catalyst site, and if it weren't for Pay Pal having technical issues with my account, I would have bought a number of back issues of Performance Menu. I've filmed my lifts and analyzed them over and over, pausing at certain points, slow motion, all that. (btw, i'll post vids soon... all the ones I currently have are from a few mths ago, and technique has changed slightly).

So, I feel like my technique is good enough on the clean and snatch. I know things can be picked apart, as I'm sure a good coach would and should do, but I know that it's good enough to at least allow me to realize that my problem is in my legs. Basically, that 230 snatch PR I hit in March last year, that's still my PR. Same with the 285 clean. And until today (more on this later), my jerk PR was identical to my push press PR (275 at this time). And the thing that made me really finally realize that my legs are the problem was last week when I nailed 225 snatch for 5 singles with 1 miss, and couple days later hit 275 lbs clean for 6 singles with no problems. So, consistency at 95-100% is really solid, but I cannot seem to hit new PR's.

Story of my legs... had a knee injury last spring, actually practicing a jerk with a PVC as I was readying for a PR attempt (and by PR attempt, I mean I was probably going to push press the weight and split my legs slightly and call it a jerk). This occurred a few days before the Open last year, and I had to do the whole open with a bad knee. I didn't qualify, but it wasnt cause of the knee, I just didnt know how to do double unders. So, it is what it is, I got em now. Either way, knee kept getting worse. Doc diagnosed me with a plica months later. I guess a plica forms when there's an injury that doesn't heal, and it forms a ball of scar tissue that moves around in the knee. So, I started icing every day, multiple times, and increased my mobility and flexibility work. Knee is now about 95%. Regardless, I didnt even start squatting again after the knee injury until 3 months ago... that means I went March to August without Squatting.

Pre knee injury, PR was 375 lbs (low bar, to parallel). Until a month ago, I was still squatting low bar. About a month ago, I started really wanting to focus on oly lifting and started squatting only high bar, feet in catch position, and chest up, butt all the way down. Sweet, except now my PR is even less, cause those things are hard. So I look like an even bigger pussy when I squat. Anyways, point is, my legs really suck. Front Squat PR is 300, maybe (did 300 to parallel, no clue if I can do it all the way down). OHS PR was 255 for awhile last year. Havent tested in a long time, but just hit a 245 snatch balance last week, and it wasn't that hard getting out of the hole, so I dont think the leg strength is as big a factor in my inability to snatch a PR... but I'm sure increased leg strength would help the 1st and 2nd pull...

So, Split Jerks next: Greg was nice enough to email me and answer a question I sent him about my 275 push press being the same as my Jerk PR, and how I only push jerk because the split feels so uncomfortable. He had great advice, and mentioned behind neck jerks. His initial advice was to practice a movement that seemed like a snatch balance for Jerks... feet start in the split position and drive yourself down into the lunge as weight moves off back into overhead position. This felt weird to me, so I decided to move right to behind neck split jerks. I wasn't planning on going heavy. I was just going to drill a few sets at 135, then try and figure out whether I was doing that jerk balance thing correctly. But, weights felt good, and for the first time in my life I actually felt comfortable in the split position. So, I decided to take advantage of it and add some weight. I was prudent the whole time. 185 x 3, 205 x 2, etc... then I started doing singles. I wouldn't move up weight until the movement felt perfect. So I actually had to hit 225 three times, and then I hit 245 three times, and then it also took three times before I felt confident with 265. I wanted to ensure I was hitting the split perfectly, and that I was allowing my legs to do the work. In the past, I've relied so heavily on the pressing side of the movement. I needed to de-condition this... After 265 was perfect, I made 275, first try, 285, first try, 300 (second try), and then 315 (second try). Holy hell, I just put 40 lbs more than I've ever done over my head and it actually felt kinda easy.... Whats the story guys... how well is this gonna transfer to a front jerk? I have no clue. I've never even considered putting 315 over my head... I've never even really felt the stability and the confidence in the bottom of the split position previously.

So, wrapping up here, I think I've decided the best plan of attack is to do the 10 x 3 squat cycle from this site. I have gotta get my leg strength up, and I know it will help all aspects of my lifts, as well as my crossfit game... I'm willing to sacrifice some breathing ability to get stronger, though I'll still prob hit 2-3 metcons at some point in the week. You all think this is a solid plan? Im so frustrated with my legs, I really hope this thing works for me. Does anyone have any words of wisdom for me as I embark on this 9-week squat journey?

Sorry you just read a novel, hope it wasn't too boring. I really wanna get better, and so I am all about absorbing as much info as I can.


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Old 11-27-2011, 10:19 PM   #2
Matt Foreman
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 59

Hey Bryan,
It would be a lot easier to give you feedback if you provided more information about yourself. It's hard to help you with such limited information.

Just kidding man I'm sure you're probably going to get much more detailed feedback from others, so I'll just throw in a couple of quick thoughts. You said, "About a month ago, I started really wanting to focus on oly lifting and started squatting only high bar, feet in catch position, and chest up, butt all the way down. Sweet, except now my PR is even less, cause those things are hard."

Keep squatting that way, even if it forces you to use little weights that make you feel like a weenie. Unless you have some kind of injury that prevents it, you should squat in strict OL style as you described here. That's how you'll get better in the OLifts. Just bite the bullet and make yourself be strict.

Behind-the-neck jerks can be tricky. Some people have a natural feel for them and they can jerk much more behind the neck than from in front. Some people are about the same (my jerk PR was the same from in front and behind). How will it translate into your C&J? That'll just take some time and practice to determine. Good luck!
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Old 11-28-2011, 01:30 PM   #3
Bryan Boorstein
New Member
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 9

haha, I figured that if you guys are going to put in the time to give me advice, the least I could do was ensure you had all the information.

Plus, I think I'll prob be frequenting the forum and asking questions in the future, so this way you all will have an idea of who I am and the relevant details of my background.

I just stated a youtube channel to upload videos. This one below is a Snatch from Oct 19th. It's 225 lbs, 5 lbs below PR. I went 4/5 at 225 this day, but just cant seem to hit 235. Thoughts on video?

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Old 11-28-2011, 01:53 PM   #4
Bryan Boorstein
New Member
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 9

This video is a Clean at 275 lbs (PR is 285). I went 6/6 this day, and yet can't clean more than 285, because I can't get out of the hole with it....

This was during a one week period that I was screwing around with a dynamic start. I realized after watching this video that the dynamic start is not ideal for me at this time, and that it makes it difficult for me to maintain lumbar as the weights get heavier. So, I no longer employ the dynamic start... but you can still get an idea of where I pull from, and the overall flow of the movement. Lumbar is much stronger from the static start.

Also, sorry the video is sideways. My trainer filmed it that way, and I couldn't figure out how to rotate it

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Old 11-28-2011, 05:04 PM   #5
Matt Foreman
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 59

You're doing a lot of things well. Good strength, some good positions, pretty good flexibility and speed. At the top of your snatch pull, you're throwing your head/shoulders back a little more than you should. I think you should be going for more vertical extension of your body at the top of the pull. A little backwards pull-lean at the top of the SN isn't a bad thing. But yours is just a little more than optimal.

Cleans look solid overall. I think your own diagnosis is accurate, you need to develop a lot more leg strength through strict OL-style squats to maximum depth. If you do that, your cleans, snatches, and jerks will all improve.
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