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Exercises Movements, technique & proper execution

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Old 04-19-2005, 12:14 PM   #1
Alexander Karatis
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Having started Crossfit regularly from just this September (when my CF gym was ready), I was introduced to a number of new workouts, equipment (e.g. rings) and WODs that I weren't able to do before.

One novelty for me was Oly lifting. Unfortunately, I had to teach myself. (With help from the journals and the forum of course).

I have improved drastically in my coordination, power, trunk strength and can feel the carryover in many different exercises.

However, I still feel like my Oly lifts are rather weak, and the main cause for that is poor technique and very mediocre power generation. After doing the 10x1RM C&J WOD, I realized that:

a. Anything above my bodyweight is off-limits.
b. Even what I do lift (176lbs), I do it with ****-poor technique.

For some reason, it feels like I am going through the lift in a "traditional strength fashion", and on top of that,I can't seem to get my full body into the motion. I don't know if this me just being afraid of making my movements bigger, and thus robbing myself of true lifting potential for my musculature, but I feel like every effort is a half-assed one.

First off, if I can lift my MAX C&J with almost minimal jerk required, does that mean that I am actually below my *true* 1RM and that with proper technique (more jerk), I can start reaching it?

Also, my catches, even if I'm dealing with near-limiting or MAX weights, all seem rather casual. Is a semi-squat, if not a deep-squat, necessary in order to reach my potential 1RM?

Finally, am I being obsesive-are these things going to improve with technique or am I trying to grow on crooked pillars and bad habits?

I know it's hard to pinpoint problems from some written observations, but I'd appreciate any guidance you guys may have here...

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Old 04-19-2005, 12:51 PM   #2
Keith Wittenstein
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I think I'm in the same boat, but I look at it as a function of time. I am confident that with heavy deadlifts and squats and perfect oly techniques with a broomstick, eventually my c & j and snatch will improve.

I attribute the defect to my lack of coordination. While I am fairly coordinated in a general sense. The special coordination between explosive leg/hip drive and "relaxed" arms escapes me as of yet. I keep wanting to pull with my arms and therefore don't generate enough power from the lower hemisphere. I can't imagine there is much to do besides practice consciously and eventually my muscles will start working together.

Throughout my life I have learned new instruments and new sports/hobbies and acquired advanced degrees. And they all seemed impossible at first, but practice made the difficult things easy and the impossible things difficult.

It's through learning many different things that I have the confidence to say that I can learn this too if I just keep practicing. Once I started reading Pavel's work on strength as a skill, I decided, that I could also get stronger too.

Alex, while we are nowhere near where we want to be, I am sure we are farther along than when we started--by leaps and bounds. I think after reading your posts, I can safely say you probably over-thinking the problem. You are extremely smart, strong and determined. Relax and keep practicing and I'm sure the problems will start to become distant memories.

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Old 04-19-2005, 01:41 PM   #3
Brian Hand
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Alex, I am sure your technique will continue to improve and this will make all the difference. I would consider getting a little coaching even if you have to travel a bit. I was doing okay self taught but just a single session with a few guys watching gave me some corrections that were very valuable.

If you're strong but slow (very common), some dynamic work will help. You could just do it and see if it helps. If you want to examine it more closely before trying that, maybe you could post some things that measure strength and some things that measure power. Some suggestions, maxes in SQ, DL, C&J, SN, etc.; vertical jump, times in short sprints, etc. and the panel here can chime in on whether it looks like you need some dynamic work.
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Old 04-19-2005, 02:40 PM   #4
Graham Hayes
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Put squat cleans in your warm up, squat snatchs too. I do light squat cleans and snatchs every day, it works!
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Old 04-19-2005, 05:50 PM   #5
Veronica Carpenter
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It's hard to "over-think" OL technique. There's a lot of technique to think about when cleaning or snatching. If you are having problems with your technique and are not making improvement, then it won't get better with time and practice. You'd only be practicing poor technique. The best thing to do would be to get coaching, barring that, video tape yourself and compare it to vids of veteran OL lifters. Break down your lifts and see where you're different from the vets. Better yet, post here and let Coach B and others experienced with OL critique your form.

Without knowing exactly where your faults are it's hard to advise on what you need to do, but here's some general tips. A broomstick/PVC is good for starters, but you can't really get the feel of lifting without any weight. So, get on a bar with relatively light weights. Technique work is light work.

If the bar is not exploding as you finish your pull, think about "jumping and shrugging" with the bar. Try to touch shoulders to your ears (impossible but think that way anyway) During the catch, be sure you're not doing an upright row. The bar should be traveling upward with the momentum you generated pulling off the floor, your elbows bend to allow the bar to continue in its trajectory (once your body has gone as far as it can go upward) then you whip your elbows down and around to the racked position. Learn to catch it in a power squat position, then continue down into a full squat. You WON'T reach your full 1RM potential doing a power clean/snatch.

As far as the jerk goes, it's pretty easy to jerk bodyweight with 'minimal jerk' but you won't be able to jerk the heavier weights this way. The jerk is a straight downward dip and explosive drive to get the bar moving off the racked position upward. If you're splitting, your feet should be leaving the floor and quickly moving into the split position. The bar should be behind your ears, think "head through the window" your arms being the window. Your weight should be pretty evening distributed between both legs.

Hope this helps some. But again the best thing to do without a coach is to post some vids here and we can help you more.

Train Hard, Train Smart!
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Old 04-19-2005, 08:15 PM   #6
Dave Clarke
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Great post!

Got a Q from it though.

You wrote: Learn to catch it in a power squat position, then continue down into a full squat.

Does this mean start catching at half squat, then learn to do it lower and lower, or catch at half squat and lower to bottom, then raise?

Sorry for the stupid question, but I had to ask it.


Dave in oz
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Old 04-19-2005, 08:25 PM   #7
Veronica Carpenter
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Dave, learn to catch it first in the power position. As you master racking it in that position, continue down into a front squat. Keep at it until dropping down into the squat becomes natural and quick. As weight gets heavier it becomes necessary to drop under the bar and into the squat sooner as the bar won't travel as high. Basically, you want to "meet the bar" at the point that it reverses direction and starts descending.

I don't believe that there are no stupid questions, but THAT wasn't a stupid one! :wink:
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Old 04-22-2005, 08:10 PM   #8
Mike Burgener
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dave, the difference between a pwr sn or cln and a regular sn and cln is that the reg sn and cln are MISSED pwr sn and pwr cleans. the pull is exactly the same, the depth of where you receive the bar is a matter of how much elevation and momentum you put on the bar when you jump (triple extend) your body. i teach the front sqt before i ever teach the clean for that very reason. the athlete must know how to pull themselves under the bar to receive it properly. the front sqt gives you that suggestion. i don't teach drop, but pull under...i want to continue pulling as i am going down in order to speed up my decent under the bar into that receiving position. make sure your footwork on all snatches and cleans are the same regardless if they are a pwr movement or not. hope this helps.
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