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Exercises Movements, technique & proper execution

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Old 03-05-2007, 11:16 PM   #21
Mark Rippetoe
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I am not more concerned with pulling strength, front squatting strength, or any specific aspect of either of the two lifts. I advocate the low-bar squat because it enables the lifter to handle bigger weights over a big range of motion, thus producing more OVERALL strength. It just so happens that it is also more specific to all the technical aspects of the lifts than the high-bar squat. It's not that I like low-bar so much, it's just that high-bar doesn't work as well, and I'd like to hear why you think they do.

I also advocate heavy deadlifts once every 2 weeks for Olympic lifters. Everybody thinks that's stupid too, apparently because it will mess up their delicate little clean pull. The stronger you are in a general sense, the easier it is to express good technique and the less sensitive any individual lift will be to a technical error. But you can have the best technique in North America, and if your low-bar squat is only 300 lbs. at 85 kg., you're just not strong enough. Yeah, you can use a high bar squat, but you'll get stronger faster with the bar lower on your back, and since it applies better to the lifts, why not do them this way? You can low-bar harder, heavier, and more often because it's easier on the back and knees, and therefore allows the lift to be trained harder. In none of the discussions on this topic has anyone made a case for doing them the other way. The only argument so far has been that they're more like front squats, which we're ALREADY DOING!! Instead of me justifying the low-bar position, I'd like for somebody to actually make a case for the status quo.

My point really is that OL guys are not usually as strong as they need to be, and operate under the assumption that there is such a thing as "strong enough". If low bar squats help get you stronger than high-bar squats, do them. General strength increases have historically been useful to weightlifters. That's what anabolic steroids do too, and I remember a day when people used to take them without fear of getting too strong.
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Old 03-06-2007, 06:21 AM   #22
Larry Lindenman
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Great discussion, I usually like to step out of the way during these, but I just read an interesting article by Glenn Pendlay and he argues, at the elite level, strength in Olympic Lifting is not the issue, technique is. Apparently the Europeans believe we focus too much on strength and not enough on technique work. See the Blog entry: Strength at the OTC: http://glennpendlay.wordpress.com/ (work and family safe). Love to have Glenn jump in with his opinions. Granted this is at the elite level, where none (or few) of us are.
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Old 03-06-2007, 08:56 AM   #23
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I thought I had made an argument for high bar BS. I'll try again:

1. My intent in back squatting squatting for the O-lifts is very simple - to allow slightly greater squatting load while changing the movement as little as possible relative to the FS in order to drive strength improvements in the FS/clean rising portion.

2. The reason I would rather use a high bar BS over a low bar BS is also simple - the reason the low bar BS can be performed with more weight is not that that bar placement somehow magically makes your muscles immediately stronger - it simply changes the movement to allow greater contribution of the posterior chain, thereby increasing the overall possible force production. But the moment you return to a FS/clean, that posterior chain contribution is again reduced significantly, so the loading will drop accordingly.

3. Even in consideration of #2, I recognize that loading the quads with greater weight by allowing more PC involvement will help stimulate quad strength that will transfer to the more upright FS/clean. However, as I've now said numerous times, I'm not yet convinced that the carryover specific to the FS/clean will be any greater than that achieved by the high bar BS, which can load the legs more than the FS but to a lesser degree than the low bar BS, but whose movement is far more similar and therefore will transfer more of the developed strength to the FS/clean. In other words, I believe that the high bar BS's overload will ultimately produce greater strength gains in the FS/clean than the low bar squat can, even though the low bar BS will allow a lifter to handle a greater absolute load.

Hope that's more clear than my previous.

Regarding deadlifts, I don't think that's stupid at all, and neither does everyone else. There are certainly fewer OL than PL coaches who deadlift, but there are plenty.



As far as the strength/tech argument, it's simple: it requires both. Neither will make up for a lack of the other, and improvement in one will not improve the other. I can teach a 12 y/o girl to perform a technically perfect snatch with an empty bar, but that doesn't mean she can snatch double bodyweight. Likewise, a PLer who can deadlift 700 lbs but never trains the clean probably can't clean 400.

I would never argue that OLers are strong enough. No one can be strong enough in a strength sport - that's the whole point. However, unlike PLing, OLing is not purely a strength sport--it's a power sport, and that implies speed, which implies technical precision. A coach or athlete can't focus on strength improvement to the detriment of technique. There are plenty of examples in the sport of athletes who squat less cleaning more than athletes who squat more--it's not that the squatting strength is irrelevant, it's just that the second athlete's squatting strength has far exceeded his technical ability. In that case, it's clear to me that the programming needs to back off the strength in order to focus more on technique to close that gap.

And that's again why I prefer the high bar BS to the low bar - unloading the legs in order to pull in more back and PC when rising from a squat is a common tendency for relatively weak- or long-legged lifters, but is invariably disastrous with significant loading in a FS or OHS. So I would be concerned in novice or intermediate lifters with training a movement pattern in the squat that is doing exactly what I don't want them to do in the two variations of the squat that most closely resemble parts of the contested lifts.



Oh and MOD RE OHS - Since the possible loading of an OHS will never exceed that of the FS or BS, the OHS can't be used to improve leg strength. Its purpose is developing overhead strength and stability.
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Old 03-06-2007, 01:31 PM   #24
Veronica Carpenter
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What I'm saying is that the hip/back position in the clean vs. the low-bar squat is the same. Look at the back angle of the clean AS IT LEAVES THE FLOOR and compare that with the back angle in the low-bar squat, and you will find that the low-bar squat is more similar to the pull than the high-bar squat. Look at the video, don't just assume, because you're not pulling from the position you think you are.

Mark, you may be correct in saying that the back position is the same in the low bar squat as the clean pull off the floor. The difference lies in where the weight is. While leg strength in the lowbar may transfer to leg strength in the clean pull, I doubt it will transfer to strength in the clean pull since you won't be engaging the muscles in the upper back the in the way needed for the clean pull.

I'd agree with Greg E as far as using pulls and deads to improve your clean pull. However, there is nothing wrong with implementing all types of squatting to improve your leg strength (with the exception of the above parallel non-squat :msn-wink:)
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Old 03-06-2007, 01:55 PM   #25
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"the above parallel non-squat"

i think that is the new official name for the movement. awesome.
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Old 03-06-2007, 03:59 PM   #26
Mark Rippetoe
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This is headed in the right direction:

"3. Even in consideration of #2, I recognize that loading the quads with greater weight by allowing more PC involvement will help stimulate quad strength that will transfer to the more upright FS/clean. However, as I've now said numerous times, I'm not yet convinced that the carryover specific to the FS/clean will be any greater than that achieved by the high bar BS, which can load the legs more than the FS but to a lesser degree than the low bar BS, but whose movement is far more similar and therefore will transfer more of the developed strength to the FS/clean. In other words, I believe that the high bar BS's overload will ultimately produce greater strength gains in the FS/clean than the low bar squat can, even though the low bar BS will allow a lifter to handle a greater absolute load. "

It relates to this point:

"I can teach a 12 y/o girl to perform a technically perfect snatch with an empty bar, but that doesn't mean she can snatch double bodyweight. Likewise, a PLer who can deadlift 700 lbs but never trains the clean probably can't clean 400. "

I don't know that this is true, at all. Lots of PLers that don't know how to clean can very likely power clean 400 lbs., and I've seen it done several times. And this is my point. The stronger the lifter, the less critical technique is. I maintain that a very strong low-bar squat, especially in an already-technically proficient OLer will make a better contribution to the lifts than a high-bar. Your point about quad transfer is part of it, but it has more to do with the dis-inhibition that getting used to very heavy weights provides. Steroids do this too, and we know they work quite well.

Further: "There are plenty of examples in the sport of athletes who squat less cleaning more than athletes who squat more--it's not that the squatting strength is irrelevant, it's just that the second athlete's squatting strength has far exceeded his technical ability. In that case, it's clear to me that the programming needs to back off the strength in order to focus more on technique to close that gap."

A lifter who is very efficient in terms of converting squat strength to clean, i.e. cleaning weights very close to his squat, can benefit his clean by increasing his squat, and this is obviously about the only way he can. On the other hand, a lifter who is less efficient has two ways to improve: he can improve his technique, IF it is in need of improvement, or he can increase his squat, because if he is only cleaning 60% of his squat, his clean will go up if he improves his squat because the ratio will stay approximately the same. In fact, for lifters that are not genetically as explosive as one might want them to be, a raw strength improvement might be the only way to increase the clean. His ability to convert strong to powerful is limited by his neuromuscular endowment, which is not terribly trainable and has certainly already been trained if he is doing the SN/CJ competitively.

" So I would be concerned in novice or intermediate lifters with training a movement pattern in the squat that is doing exactly what I don't want them to do in the two variations of the squat that most closely resemble parts of the contested lifts. "

One reason I don't like my novices to squat clean is because I don't want their back squat polluted with front squat stuff until they can separate the two motor pathways. So I understand this point, but I have great faith in the ability of even moderately experienced Olympic weightlifters to keep the front squat in an upright position out of the bottom. The two movements are sufficiently different in terms of motor pathway that post-novice folks have little problems identifying which to use after the weight is racked on the shoulders when it is cleaned.


Rip
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Old 03-06-2007, 04:16 PM   #27
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All good and interesting points, Mr. Rippetoe.

Tell you what - I will volunteer as a guinea pig. My next training cycle will be more basic strength-oriented (e.g. lots of heavy squatting, deadlifting, pressing, etc.), so I'll give the low bar BS a run in that cycle and let you know how it goes.
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Old 03-06-2007, 06:18 PM   #28
Tom Corrigan
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Rip,

what are your ideas/experience on using "partials" as a supplemental lifting technique. I know that Paul Anderson and John Grimik did a lot of them in their training, and they both won Gold's when the US was a respected OL nation. The Jerk's first dip is a very quick "non-parallel" front squat. A quarter squat at best. I've seen videos of Rezazadeh doing FS triples with 100#+ more than he can squat clean. Maybe the same overload principle could be (re)used for strength gains.

What are your thoughts on Bill Starr's aticle in MILO a while ago that American OL lifters need to get stronger to win, not just get better technique-wise. Seems to be a lot of truth to what he was argueing. When I see US lifters, they seem to have very good/excellent technique (as a whole). Their technique is a strong point, and I see Starr's point that US lifters should focus on their "weakness", which is their weakness, in his opinion.

Great thread, BTW. Great points and observations,

Tom

p.s. since Starr was one of your mentor's, I would bet you'd be in agreement with him, but I just wanted to ask...
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Old 03-06-2007, 07:01 PM   #29
Mark Rippetoe
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Deal, Greg. We'll talk.

Tom:
"I've seen videos of Rezazadeh doing FS triples with 100#+ more than he can squat clean. Maybe the same overload principle could be (re)used for strength gains."

Full ROM front squats? Yes, he's very strong. Maybe that's part of the reason why they beat us. I feel as though it's the main reason.

As far as Starr's article, I haven't read it, but we've talked about it numerous times, and he knows what happened to US Oly lifting during our fall from prominence as well as any human on the planet. Hell, he raised me, and taught me most of what I know. The conclusion is inescapable, and to claim that American lifters spend too much time on strength and not enough on technique reflects a failure to appreciate the vast differences between us and them, and our program and theirs. They have very strong people doing Olympic weightlifting, and we have a few people that want to be Olympic lifters. Two different systems generating athletes to their respective elite levels will inevitably produce two different levels of elite.

Rip
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Old 03-06-2007, 07:45 PM   #30
Dale F. Saran
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I am an absolute boot at Oly Lifting (ask Greg, he's seen me - I suck), but find this discussion fascinating. But I'm trying to understand exactly where the bar would be in the low bar BS. I just looked up some pics on google, and it seems to be just below the back end of the trapezius (at least on my gnomish frame). Is this correct? And if so, does this mean doing the BS in this position requires slightly more (to maybe much more) forward lean throughout the full range of motion? If this is an utterly newbie question, I apologize in advance.
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