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Old 06-16-2004, 09:15 PM   #1
Leo
 
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Hey everybody

Quick background: found Crossfit and loved the concept, most of my exercise has been based on military PT (.i.e Stew Smith), I'm Navy ROTC, and this is my first exposure to Olympic lifting. I want to attempt the WOD's but I just had a question about learning and progressing through the Olympic lifts. I've looked through various videos and got the back issues of the deadlift, squat, presses, and clean. I've found that I'm "losing lumbar extension" when I squat and have been practicing OH squats with a PVC pipe and bar holds. In one of the issues, Coach says a technically sound squat and deadlift should be established before moving on. Essentially, my question is should I first strictly work with the deadlift and squat before attempting the WOD's that include cleans, snatches, and C&J's, or should I attempt the clean and other olympic lifts in the WOD's? Sorry for the long post!

Leo
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Old 06-17-2004, 06:34 AM   #2
Barry Cooper
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Leo,

I have had exactly one Olympic lifting lesson in my life, and I was taught a progression where I did a deadlift, and high pull, and then a Clean or Snatch, which constituted one rep. That progression taught me, anyway, that they are all related. Try that progression for 5 reps or so with whatever weight you can handle.

Key "Ah-Hah's" for me: round your back in both squats and deadlifts, especially at the bottom, by sort of flaring your butt. For some reason, that takes a lot of stress off your back. Think of both squats and deadlifts as stomach exercises. What you are in effect doing is rotating your pelvis forward, and that takes stomach strength. It is critical to maintain stomach effort to protect your back. I have an enormously strong stomach, but rarely do ab-specific work.

I'm making a short story long (but hopefully helpfully). My short answer is yes. Reason being that your body has intelligence, and especially when you're doing high reps, I find I have a tendency to maximize the groove, as it hurts slightly less than every other way of doing it. So you increase your chance of figuring stuff out if you actually do it, again especially in high reps.
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Old 06-17-2004, 07:59 AM   #3
Ryan Atkins
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Hi Leo,

Welcome to Crossfit.

IMO, working to perfect form on deadlifts, front squats and overhead squats will reveal any technical/flexibility issues that need to be addressed before progressing (with heavy weight, at least) to the more ballistic lifts like squat snatches and squat cleans. A good article that includes these lifts in a progression (along with dumbbell swings) can be found at http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/henkin22.htm.

I actually found the article when performing a search in reaction to Barry's comment about using high reps in order to learn a movement. Although I don't have the book handy, I believe Arthur Dreschler mentioned in his Weightlifting Encyclopedia that, when first learning a lift, performing sets above five reps is counter-productive. I don't think anyone who's used Crossfit for any length of time can doubt the effectiveness of hi-rep O-lift sets for metabolic conditioning. Is there the same level of effectiveness in using hi-rep sets for LEARNING new lifting movements? Is this a hotly debated topic?

Ryan
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Old 06-17-2004, 08:24 AM   #4
Matt Toupalik
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"Is there the same level of effectiveness in using hi-rep sets for LEARNING new lifting movements? Is this a hotly debated topic?"

Not sure if anyone here is familiar with Bill Starr, but he used to be a pretty popular strength and conditioning coach and wrote a long series of training articles for Ironman Magazine.In most of the articles, he would go into extensive detail on a particular lift with pointers on form, sets and reps, placement in a routine, etc.Starr was very fond of the "quick lifts" as he called them and wrote many articles on snatches, cleans, jerks, overhead squats, etc.

He always advocated many sets of low reps when learning a quick lift saying that because lifts like the snatch and clean involved so many muscle groups at once that muscular fatigue set in rather quickly.With muscular fatigue came form deterioration(especially for the uninitiated).This breakdown in form could result in injury.As such, Starr advocated sets of 5 reps or less for the quick lifts, and more commonly, triples and doubles.I always thought this to be a pretty valid point.

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Old 06-17-2004, 08:40 AM   #5
Brian Hand
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Barry, do I read you right on that "round your back at the bottom" part? This goes against pretty much everything I have heard or seen with respect to the olympic lifts.
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Old 06-17-2004, 11:00 AM   #6
Barry Cooper
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Brian,

That would apply more to deadlifts and back squats, and absolutely, that has made a major difference for me. I round my pelvis back, and then rotate it back forward. I'm an autodidact, so it may be wrong technically, but I stopped hurting my back when I made that change. As for the O'lifts, I think I keep it reasonably straight, but I'm not sure. I'm doing the Snatches tonight, and I'll try and pay attention. I'm not a great lifter, but I should be able to put up at least 180-190.

I used to swim, and on one team I had two coaches who had diametrically opposite coaching styles. One focussed on being technically correct all the time, even if it hurt mileage, and the other said in essence don't worry about it, put the miles in and it will all click. My feeling is that they were both right. I have had essentially zero coaching in Olympic Lifting (or any other lifting, as far as that goes), but I've gotten to where I'm not awful just by trying things and seeing what works.

I feel like people get so paralyzed by the fear of minor errors that they in effect stay rooted where they are. That can be especially damaging if you don't have access to good coaching. It's worth pointing out as well that most of us are not trying to compete, much less compete on a high level. We're trying to get fit, and stay fit.

In almost everything in life there is a "Performance Zone". If you don't sweat the details enough, you lose. If you sweat them too much, you lose. My take would be to do your best on the WOD, knowing that your style will probably develop over time. The key thing is to constantly pay attention to what works for you.



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