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Old 12-05-2012, 02:46 PM   #1
Paul Fournier
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Join Date: Dec 2012
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Default New to Oly lifting

Heya everyone. New to Oly lifting, and found posts on this forum to be useful, so I figured I'd ontroduce myself.

I'm an active Muay Thai competitor, so I'm doing this as an strength suppliment, but my god am I having fun doing it.
I'm 5'11", fight at 140 lbs, walk around at 150. My goal isn't weight gain or size, just dynamic strength.
I've been doing power motions for a while, but I just started getting into full motions, and I'm hooked. I just started the glen pendaly routine for beginners, and am just working out my strengths and weaknesses.

So far, I've done just enough, at light enough weights, to figure out that I lack shoulder and hip flexibility to catch the snatch in a proper overhead squat position, and am find my split jerk to be shaky at best.
I havn't found an olympic lift trainer in town, and don't have any recording medium yet, so I know it's like pissing in the wind, but any help or advice you can offer would be appreciated

I'm been stretching my shoulders with a broom stick, but with any sort of weight held overhead, at the bottom of my squat, right before comming up, my shoulders come foreward and I drop my weight. I've been working on barbell only overhead squats, squatting with a broomstick and pressing in the snatch position before comming up.
As for the jerk, is there an advantage or disadvantage to performing a push jerk or a split jerk? I don't feel comfortable catching the weight in the jerk, but that's a practice thing.

Anyways, thanks in advance for any replies!
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Old 12-06-2012, 06:53 AM   #2
Nathan Ward
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Cant help you with the snatch because mine is terrible. But with the jerk I prefer to split. I can get lower and feel a lot more stable than when I push jerk. If you feel unstable in the split Id bet you arent splitting wide enough and you are letting your knee get ahead of your front foot.

The way I worked on these issues was to take a pvc/broomstick and lay it on the ground in between my feet and then just split jerk with an empty bar over and over again. Just focus on keeping your front shin vertical and also keeping your feet wide enough that you arent feeling any side to side instability. When in the split you should feel firmly planted in every direction.
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Old 12-06-2012, 08:42 AM   #3
Thomas Brenden
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It's possible that you're losing the bar forward in the bottom of your overhead position because of tight/weak hips/posterior chain, so you just don't have the ability to stay as upright as you should. If that's the case, something like wide stance box squats, or sumo deadlifts may yield some improvement. Just an idea of a myriad of things that could be causing issue..

As for the jerk, I'm going completely off the actual words you used here, but there is no real "catching the weight." When you drive the weight up off your shoulders using your legs, you are more pressing your body under the bar to the locked out position. Kind of the opposite of a push press, where you pop the weight then use your shoulders to push it up the rest of the way. So if you are truly "catching it," that could be leading to some of the instability. The pvc drill Nathan mentioned is good, as is drawing a big + sign on the floor and practicing the footwork.
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Old 12-06-2012, 03:13 PM   #4
Paul Fournier
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Thanks guys. I was thinking of the split jerk as pushing the bar vs pushing myself under the bar. So now with that mindset I'm going to try a few light jerks to see the difference.
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Old 12-06-2012, 10:49 PM   #5
Javier Sanjuan
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 182


I know this is going kind of wayward from your initial questions, but in regards to the jerk, if you have an issue with understanding the concept of pushing yourself under the bar after the explosive drive, try working with just a bar at different heights over your head. When I help people understand the concept, this is my go-to drill. You can start at any height with the bar over your head and simulate being at the end of your drive (on your toes). In one swift motion, push yourself -- either into a split or a push -- under the bar without pushing the bar upward. As you begin to feel more comfortable, continue to decrease the height in which you begin -- this will also help you learn to get deeper (bending the back knee) as the weight gets progressively heavier and the bar doesn't jump up as high off your shoulders. The last phase will be to have the bar on your shoulders and work the full jerk. I think you're going about getting your flexibility to improve the right way and this motions will help you "grease up" the shoulder area.

As for losing your snatches forward, it's a result of improper receiving posture, which is related to your stated lack of flexbility in your hips and shoulders. You acknowledge the lack of flexibility, which is good, but don't get frustrated, which is very easy to do. I like spiderman stretches, getting into my squat stance and manually pressing my knees outward while pushing my hips forward for a more upright posture, a figure-four stretch, putting pressure on my knees to further stretch my ankles, PVC pipe pass throughs for shoulders, and rolling on the actual bar for my thoracic region among others. They're really all related -- a lack of mobility in one will lead you to compromise your potential or just flat out miss lifts. If you have Greg's book, there's a pretty good section on the stretches, or you can check out Kelly Starrett.

Continue to stretch and you'll start feeling a lot more comfortable; likewise, do the lifts at a ligther weight to continue getting that flexibility, because you're not going to really get the flexibility required for the movements without doing the movements. Having the weightlifting coach around will help you, too.

I hope this helps you in some way.

Javier A. Sanjuan
Olympus Barbell Club

Dear God, please help me lift heavy and be awesome. Thanks. Amen.
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Old 12-07-2012, 12:08 PM   #6
Paul Fournier
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Just as an update - The snatch posture at the bottom of the squat clicked when I was practicing after my workout. My back flexibility is still limiting the amount of weight I can use, but my problem was my hip position: I just wasn't keeping my hips square at the bottom of the movement. It's still shaky, but now that I know what to concentrate on, I'm hoping to see quick progress.
So what I'm doing until I feel confident in the full snatch is breaking down my full snatch day to power snatches, snatch balances, and hang snatches from the hip. I'll still be doing stretches 4x a day for a while though :P

As for the jerk, today was my neck jerk day, and I felt like a rock star thinking of pushing myself under the bar vs pushing the bar. The only rep that was iffy was my very first one, but after I got the feel, I nailed every single rep. Before practicing my overhead squat, I threw on some light weights and tried the split snatch, and found that with this new motion, my legs fall into place without having to actively think about it. Now the trouble I can see myself having with real weight is climbing out of that split position, but I'll see about that next workout.

So my challenge is still the snatch (I can't even perform a proper one at 30% of my clean and jerk so far), but with all your help, I feel confident I'll be putting real numbers on the bar before I have to start the cardio for my fight :P

Thanks alot!
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