Compete.

February 1, 2018

 

Here’s a short little bit of advice for you folks out there newer to the sport. If you’ve been competing in weightlifting for less than 4-5 years, I suggest you get out there and compete more often than you probably are.

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Young Clara and myself at the first Occam meet held at Crossfit Another Level in 2015.

COMPETE.

I suggest that all my newer lifters compete around 6 times per year. Too many times have I let a newbie lifter who happens to advance quickly in skills start to act like a seasoned competitor and compete only 1-3x per year. Guess what happens: Their expectations are never met and they get way too emo about an activity that they’ve chosen to specialize in for a relatively short amount of time and eventually quit.

Whenever someone walks into my gym, I don’t see them. I see where I want them to be in several years; Several years as in MORE THAN SEVEN. It took me 5 years to get to my first National Championship and American Open. When I Identify someone with talent, I usually let them know what is a reasonable timeline to expect to get to get to that level and it’s usually less than 5. However, just because you advance to that level sooner rather than later doesn’t mean that you don’t have to pay your dues. It doesn’t mean that you’re a seasoned lifter. In fact it doesn’t prove that you know anything.

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Unrelated photo of me holding a book thus proving I know something.  This is in one of my favorite cities, Savannah GA.

Go get experience. Go have fun. Go participate in the sport that you claim you’re all about. Every meet you do, you will learn something new; I promise you. Handling yourself in a contest setting is a skill unto itself. Yes, eventually you and your coach will need to be more selective in which contests you do and which ones you will and will not prepare for. To try to remain in peak contest shape with no regard to actual strength building is just as bad and I’m not suggesting that. But don’t let me catch you polluting the internet with a bunch of instagram videos of you lifting weights if you won’t fork over the 40 bucks to sign up for a local meet and support your weightlifting scene and y’know . . . actually be a weightlifter.

Instagram videos don’t mean dick. Likes on your PR hang snatch double video don’t mean dick. Most importantly showing up to weightlifting practice every day DOESN’T MEAN DICK unless you actually go apply what you learn in a new and unique environment. To do so would be analogous to someone who spends 6 days a week at the batting cages, has never once played a game of baseball and claims that they are a baseball player.

Sincerely,
-The Wizard of Occam

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Happy Birthday to Elle’s younger sister, Clara, whom I’m smacking in the leg here to get her hyped up for a max lift in contest.  

I did another quick instructional video of the next exercises I would add into a strength/bodybuilding/fitness split in the globe-gym setting.  By now the trainee should have some experience with a proper receiving position for both the snatch and clean and has the fundamental understanding of the dip drive.  He/she can now safely handle weights overhead in regular tennis shoes with iron plates and crappy bars.  Now we get to add in some more advanced exercises which are more specific to Olympic weightlifting.  The trainee is free to add these exercises on any day of his split and the focus should be on higher reps instead of max weight 1) because these are still just meant to compliment his current training program and 2) he does not have the proper facilities to attempt maximum weights.

Enjoy,

-The Wizard of Occam

So I don’t generally like putting out a bunch of informational content because whenever I see stuff like that, it usually looks like a bunch of broke ass, thirsty ass gofundme weightlifters or trainers looking to advertise with internet hits so they can do remote programming and fill their piggy bank.  However, I do like being helpful.  So if you have a question, just ask.

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Answering questions.  

So I was chatting with my homie TJ the other day and he mentioned that he’s like to start practicing the Olympic lifts but didn’t really know where to start.  He, like most people, work out in a bigger 24 hour workout type facility that is not equipped with bumper plates or lifting platforms.  TJ lifts.  He has covered his bases with the press, squat and deadlift and is a generally strong and fit person.  If this sounds like you, check out the video.  If that’s as far as you go with the lifts, that’s cool.  I genuinely think that most able bodied people should be able to do these movements.  These movements will also prepare you, should you pursue the lifts further by teaching yourself or finding a coach.

Enjoy.

-The Wizard of Occam

So you made weight.  Congratulations.  Now it’s time to do what you actually came here to do: the whole lifting of the weights thing.

I weighed in a whole kilo under what I needed to be last weekend.  and I was comfortable as fuck too which means I did a good job.  It then came time to ingest nutrients and more importantly, fluid as fast as possible so I wouldn’t be bloated and lazy when it came time to actually lift.  Remember, at BEST you only have 2 hours before your session starts.  I ended up with about an hour and a half.  So I took a grocery bag with me to weigh ins containing:

-Pedialyte

-Chocolate milk

-A banana

-Nutella

-Spoon

-Doritos

Remember a few key points from nutrition class: your body’s preferred fuel source is sugar, excess protein will basically be useless in the next 2 hours and fat slows down your digestion process.  So unless you want all this stuff sitting in your gut and not moving, I suggest you take it easy on anything fatty.  I had a spoonful of nutella to make me feel full and I was money.  The Doritos were just something salty to snack on but really served no other purpose.  The chocolate milk should be consumed first followed by you sipping on Pedialyte.  I drink other liquids as I compete, mostly just Redbull and shit like that.

If you start cramping while competing, don’t panic.  Just continue moving around and DO NOT sit down.  Pacing back and forth is preferred.

Once you’re done, go eat something delicious.  Just remember that you’re body will not be happy with you for the next couple days so don’t expect to feel really amazing right off the bat even after getting real food in you.

Hope this helps and good luck out there.

-Ben

I wrote this for my team the other day.  It’s something that I’m going to have to say again and again as long as I coach for a job.  At first it’s going to sound like NOT the right thing to say from the business standpoint.  But in my opinion it is the moral and ethical thing to say as a coach.  And the longer I do this job, the more comfortable I get and the less I care about what other people do besides myself and my group.  Personally speaking, weightlifting was not a healthy habit for me for a long time.  That doesn’t have to be the case for you or any of my lifters.  Hear me.

Gang,

Learning and eventually mastering a skill set is both a noble and incredibly difficult thing; even for such a skill as irrelevant to your life as weightlifting. But you have to enjoy going through it. You have to learn to take progress as it comes (and goes) and get some level of gratification out of it. If you can’t do this, then I honestly would rather you didn’t lift at all or lift elsewhere. We have an incredibly competitive but also a positive environment. I want you to enjoy it.
Do this after every practice:
Say to yourself TWO positive things that happened or TWO things that you are proud of that you did at practice.
If you can’t do that, it’s time to take a break. Progress and enjoyment while lifting weights is a lot like your world view. If you think you’re shitty and you suck then guess what: your progress and enjoyment will reflect that. The same goes for the opposite end of the spectrum.  If you’re overly satisfied with doing the work that is expected of you, then obviously you won’t be hungry enough to earn progress.  Somewhere in there, there’s a happy medium.
As always, I’m a resource for you guys. Take me aside during team hours if you’re having a rough time with training and we can find a solution to make your training work for you.

With care and respect,
-Ben

I have a message for you,

Nothing bothers you for the next 3 weeks.  Understand?  All your problems that you have right now, and there’s sure to be many because ’tis the season and all that, WILL be there when you get back from Florida.  So relax.  You’ve come this far.  You’ve obviously made weightlifting a priority in your life even if you’re there to get dead last in the J session.  So take it seriously.  Unless you plan on stepping on the podium, you’re going to Florida to lose.  And that’s OK.  Take it seriously and go out there and compete.  That’s how you have fun in this sport.

“But that’s not a balanced or healthy mindset.”

Guess what: neither is peaking for sport; which by definition is not natural or done for health.  You obviously don’t care about that since you’ve gotten unnaturally strong enough to compete at the American Open.  So live it up for the next few weeks.  And when it’s all over, eat too much, have a drink or two with your true friends and take care of the rest of your life.  Don’t go right back to the squat rack (unless of course you ARE one of the top lifters in the country and this is basically your job).

I’m going to eat one last decent meal on Thanksgiving and enjoy my family and friends.  After that, I plan on being as extreme as I god damn want to be.  I’ll see you on the other side.

That title in itself is sure to upset a keyboard warrior out there somewhere.  And actually he would bring some valid arguments as to why I’m incorrect.  So I’m just going to nip this one right off the bat.  We DO USE pulls of all sorts of variations to supplement our training.  In the sport of weightlifting, specificity is key.  So any exercise that resembles the contest lifts the most SHOULD have the most carryover; the key word in that being “should.”  In practice, this won’t always hold up as an absolute.

Young coaches, remember that before you address your trainee’s specific needs as a weightlifter, you must first cover their general needs as an athlete and a fully functional human.  The fact of the matter is that you will be coaching and dealing with regular people; people who go to school all day, sit behind a desk, stay up late with sick kids or arguing with their boyfriend.  ALL of these people will have some sort of movement pattern issue and the most common one you will see is people having problems with a proper hip hinge.  And while hinging at the hip obviously isn’t the ONLY thing that happens in a contest lift, it IS one of the most important moment patterns to perfect for the successful weightlifter.

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Image taken by THE Randy Strossen of Ironmind.  The RDL was originally brought to the USA by Nicu Vlad.  He demonstrated the lift to Jim Schmitz and others at the “Sports Palace” in SF and the term Romanian Deadlift was coined.

So, onto reasons why I teach the RDL before I teach the pull for the beginning/intermediate weightlifter:

  1. It helps to pattern a proper hip hinge.  Weightlifters (and most adults) will try to quad and low back their way through life.  DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN.  Develop the hinge pattern the way God intended; with ALL the muscles of the posterior chain involved as the prime movers.  The RDL isn’t the only way to develop the hinge; far from it (Wattup to all my Hardstyle Kettlebell homies out there).  But it is one of the best ways to LOAD the hinge pattern.
  2. Your trainee’s pull won’t even remotely resemble what a snatch or clean looks like.  This is why when I first introduce the pull, I’ll do it in a complex with a snatch or a clean.  That way the trainee will feel if they pulled on the bar the same for every rep.  This will help develop the rhythm and feel for when the trainee is finally ready to load up the pull as a legitimate assistance exercise.

Summery:

We DO utilize all sorts of pulls in our training so shut up if you’ve come here to defend the clean pull because there’s nothing to defend.  I simply teach the RDL first for the reasons above.  

Here’s a link to another bloggy blog for you.

Yasha’s Thoughts.

I don’t know Yasha personally but I know I’ve seen him at national meets over the years.  One of his blogs popped up on my FB feed.  Every one I’ve read since has been gold.  This one in particular is about the always under appreciated shoulder press as it is applied to weightlifting.

-Ben

  1. Rear leg elevated single leg split squat (driving through front heel to activate the glute).
  2. Single leg DB RDL.
  3. Behind the neck Dip N’ Split
  4. Single arm split leg DB press (pressing with the same side as the leg that’s out front.  Again pushing through that front heel.  Alternating feet.)
  5. High pulls (all variations).  We’ve always done them but they come up more frequently with the emphasis on upper body involvement and “activity through the middle.”

Come at me bro.

Honorable mention: Single arm farmer carry.  (Both lats engaged. Elbow slightly bent and reaching behind.  Neutral spine.)

Gems.

October 9, 2015

Greg Everett is an excellent communicator.  When he writes, his voice is succinct, specific and entertaining.  This little gem struck a chord with me this week.

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Sure it’s a common sentiment and blah blah blah but it’s worth more than 90% of the asinine quotes that people post on the internet every day.