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Old 08-13-2004, 09:09 AM   #1
elizabeth bradley
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hi. ok, i've got my bar lubed up and my bumber plates. now,,,,I am learning olympic lifts via online videos and forums. however, it would seem that mistakes will be made and i really don't want to make a mistake that will result in teeth missing, scars, knee surgery, back problems and other things like that. i would really appreciate some input from people who did learn things the hard way and wish they could go back in time and not make that "one mistake". there has to be a few common ones and even some uncommon that complete newbies just can't predict. usually, they start something like this,,,,"well, this one time i did this and then the bar did that and it took me 4 months to recover........."

yes, i have done many searches and read many different forums and have many new links in my favorites, but nothing beats advice from someone with first hand experience who just went through the learning curve. obviously, a coach would be ideal but let's just say that is out of the question right now. cheers

oh, i also am going to post this in the techniques thread in case it is more applicable there
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Old 08-13-2004, 10:05 AM   #2
Brian Hand
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Elizabeth, one thing I have noticed that isn't discussed much is learning to miss. Just like in judo they teach you to fall first, I think in weightlifting you ought to learn to miss first. This makes practice safer and gives you confidence.

There are a lot of theories on the progression of learning the olympic lifts - like should you learn the snatch first, the clean first, power movements, etc. The only thing I would say is, if you want to learn the full movements, squat clean and squat snatch, don't even fool with the power clean and power snatch first. If you get strong on the power movements, it will interfere with your learning the full movements. I am still struggling with this. This goes double if you are already strong. In a perfect world, you'd learn to squat snatch and squat clean before you ever squat, deadlift, bench, etc.

The flexibility issue is obvious, it will be necessary to build adequate flexibility to even hold form, so you can't add weight until the dynamic flexibility is there.

Connective tissue strength may be another issue, you want to give enough time for both your muscles and connective tissue to adapt before adding weight. I was ask some questions of my own here here but rather than risk hijacking your thread I'll start another.
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Old 08-13-2004, 11:46 AM   #3
Lincoln Brigham
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Brian makes an excellent point. Learn how to safely dump a front squat, an overhead squat, a back squat, a clean and a snatch (to the front & behind you) onto the ground. Don't save a bad lift in order to spare the floor, save your body and just dump it on the floor.

It's one of the first things I teach. You are worth more than the floor. You are worth more than a little noise.
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Old 08-16-2004, 05:39 AM   #4
Barry Cooper
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I've never hurt myself O'Lifting, but I have doing deadlifts, stiff-legged deadlifts, and back squats, all back injuries, and all caused, in my opinion, by insufficient rounding of my back. I kind of rotate my butt up when I'm doing any of those movements, as well as Good Mornings. It seems to protect me.

Start light, and get comfortable, and progess gradually. To get really good, you're looking at a number of years.

Warm up with 2 sets of 10 back hyperextensions. That has always helped me too.
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Old 08-16-2004, 10:32 AM   #5
Paul M
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I'd just like to qualify what Barry has to say a little bit. First off, from his post, its unclear to me whether he's advocating a strong arch by rotating your butt upwards to the back or advocating what I think of as "rounded back" by rotating it forward instead of backward.

Rounded back lifting is a controversial topic and the people advocating it are definitely in the minority. There are, however, some strong supporters and some of those supporters are very strong! Often times, when you look at guys who deadlift over 700 lbs, it'll look like their back is rounded and almost looks like a stiff legged deadlift.

That being said, I think it probably comes down to an individual's build. Different body shapes require different pulling styles. Just like some people are better built for doing sumo style deadlifts, some people may be better suited to using a more rounded back. The guys like I mentioned above are often times very tall, for example. Just be careful and experiment with lighter weights before trying it out with heavier weight.

-Paul

PS As to learning the O-lifts, I think that a crucial step is learning to properly rack the weight for a front squat/clean before increasing the weight above the bare minimum. Make it automatic so that you never forget and support the weight in your hands. If you don't, you're asking for a wrist injury.
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Old 08-16-2004, 12:52 PM   #6
Brian Hand
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Barry, I think this clarifies an earlier post of yours that had me confused. Now I see it's just a matter of semantics, what you call "rounding" I call "arching". I draw that conclusion because nobody would talk about sufficient "rounding" the other way. I call "rounding" flexing the spine forward, like at the top of a crunch.

For the record, I think the best low back position to maintain during heavy squats, deadlifts, and pulls is the natural, "neutral" position. This is how your vertebrae stack up when you are standing with good posture. The low back has a slight arch (lordotic curvature).

When you bend forward or squat down, there is a tendancy for your back to flex forward. It takes low back strength and hip / hamstring flexibility (as well as proper neurological recruitment) to maintain the neutral arch when squatting or deadlifting a heavy weight.

There is no reason to go beyond that neutral position into a position of hyperextention, and in fact that can lead to other back trouble. This can happen if you see people squatting or deadlifting with their head tilted back, looking at the ceiling. This tips the stack of vertebrae backward, so the little bony prominences at the back of the vertebrae are bearing weight - not what they are meant to do.

Like Paul says, lifting round backed, that is, flexed forward, is controversial. I can see where it might make sense to do some training in this position, because you will inevitably be in this position in life and sports from time to time. Not many people can lift a sandbag off the ground with a perfectly flat back. But it is a precarious position for your spine, there can be no doubt about that. A little too much forward bend, and the disk is damaged.

So far, I have decided I'd rather develop the extra flexibility required to lift knuckles to the floor with a flat back. I do do a little roundback work - reverse hypers and light good mornings - but I don't think heavy roundback work is worth the high risk.

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Old 08-16-2004, 01:47 PM   #7
Barry Cooper
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It does seem to be a little semantical. Yes, I'm thinking a mild lordotic curve. What this seems to do in my case is counteract a tendency to go past neutral to what I call a bent back, which is where you get hurt. Having a decent curve feels like a shield to me. For instance, when I back squat, I consciously rotate my pelvis backwards (the opposite of humping the bar), and back forward when I come up. Of course, you can overdo it in that direction as well, but there is a sweet spot where it feels good, so I can focus on how much my legs are burning, and not my back.

I've back squatted 420 past parallel like that, and deadlifted 510 like that. It's the form I especially seem to gravitate to in the high rep deadlift workouts, where fatigue really seems to want you to give up the lordotic position and bend forward, which is where injuries happen (or have happened to me).

I think it's actually a good exercise to do a whole bunch of light reps with a movement and see where you get sore. Your back shouldn't really hurt, so much as get a bit fatigued, which is a completely different feeling (I'm not thinking DOMS; I'm thinking what hurts right then; if it's nothing, but you're tired all over, you're doing it right).
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Old 08-16-2004, 10:47 PM   #8
elizabeth bradley
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you guys are definitely talking over my head. however,,i was practicing racking the bar on my shoulders today. i kind of roll my shoulders forward and up to keep the bar off my clavicle. my arms are nowhere near flexible enough to continue to grip the bar when it is rack,,,just the last 2 joints of my fingertips touch it really, and i can't get my elbows up in the air as much as i have seen on videos. so as i was practicing the jerk part, i pushed the bar off my shoulders with my legs and kind of caught the bar with my full grip to press it up over head. however,,i can see that sooner or later i am going to miss catching the bar with my hands and it will come crashing down. any advice here? am i even close?
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Old 08-17-2004, 09:48 AM   #9
Barry Cooper
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Elizabeth,

It sounds like you are racking the bar correctly. We had a big discussion about this a while back. You want the bar to land mainly on your deltoid muscles , to my understanding, which seem to stick out more when you have your elbows out. You ideally should be able to keep all your fingers under the bar, but you don't need to keep your grip. From what I understand, you rack it, stand up, then do a mini-jerk to reposition your fingers around the bar, which sets you up for the actual jerk.

The idea of the jerk is that the overwhelming bulk of the power comes from your legs. You are essentially trying to raise the bar high enough that you can lower your body and jump under it with outstretched arms. There is little to no pressing, per se. Obviously, the lower you can drop, the less you have to raise the bar, but there is a point where you become unstable.

As far as missing the jerk, you may want initially to do "push jerks", which is where you push the weight up, then rebend your knees to lower your body. Some people even do that in competition.

I have never had bumper plates, so I have always had to bounce the bar off the top of my legs. It actually doesn't hurt, and when I miss a lift, I just bounce it off, and drop it. That of course assumes I lose it to the front. If I were to lose it to the back I would probably get kicked out of my gym, as there is always some dumb-*** standing behind me, even when I warn them. That's why I don't do squat snatches. I'd kill someone. I did actually lose a 1 arm C&J behind me once, but someone I managed to rotate my body and catch it without ripping my arm out of the socket.

With respect to the ARCH (the word I should have used), just do what Brian said and try and maintain a neutral, slightly curved position. You will probably need to focus on rounding it, as the weight will want it bend forward and round the other way, like when you touch your toes. That's bad.
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Old 08-17-2004, 01:16 PM   #10
Mike Yukish
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My biggest piece of advice, which has nothing specific to do with bars and bumpers, is that the moment you feel any kind of tweakish pain (as opposed to pukey-related pain) stop the workout. That sudden tightness in the back. The pain in the forearms after a pile of pullups. Etc.

Stop the workout. Maybe switch to something else if it doesn't work the body part in question. But better not to.

For the longest time, I'd get these tweaks, and being motivated to complete the workout and very well warmed up, I'd press on through. Heck, I'm almost done, and it doesn't seem to be getting worse.

I *always* regetted it the next day. That tightness in the back halfway through the WOD would lead to crawling on the floor the next day.

You might feel like you could get back on it after a rest. Don't. Go ahead and see how it feels the next day. If it's fine & dandy, then you have a good data point for calibrating the tweak-o-meter. But I can't judge how I'll feel the next day while in the workout myself, so I wait and see.

YMMV, of course. Best of luck...
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