August 19, 2017

More on the “O” Lifts

Almost a year ago (this is my first substantive post since returning to my blog) I traveled to Boulder, Colorado to gain additional insights on the Olympic lifts (just for clarification, there are only two: 1) the clean and jerk, and 2) the snatch).  Why Boulder?  Well, because Boulder is where Randy Hauer lives and trains.  I was referred to Randy (you can find the highlights of Randy’s training bio here) via Paul Fleschler of Red Rocks CrossFit, a former USA Olympian and national USAW lifting coach when I had inquired about working with a coach a bit closer to home.  While one can readily argue the relative convenience of training up in Boulder versus down in Colorado Springs, I was happy to have the referral—always looking to gain new perspective (as an aside, I continue to be amazed by the amount of athletic expertise that seems to reside in Boulder, Colorado).

On two separate occasions (2 sessions, separated a week apart from one another) I found myself at Flatirons CrossFit Strength and Conditioning (FCSC).  Even before I crossed the threshold of FCSC, I was met with the unmistakeable sound of bumper plates hitting the floor … the sound escaping the confines of this fully-equipped CrossFit/Olympic lifting facility and wafting into the parking lot.  As I entered the gym I was met by Tim, the hulking owner of FCSC (and, by the weights I saw him moving on my two visits, giftedly strong).  After filling out the customary waiver of liability, I was left to my own devices while I waited for Randy to appear … as is my habit, at least when I am traveling sans children, I arrived early and I used the next 10 minutes to put myself through a dynamic warm-up (I used Durkin’s 15-movment regimen: 1) Jumping Jacks, 2) Gate Swings, 3) Pogo Hops, 4) Seal Jacks, 5) Bodyweight Squats, 6) Side Lunges, 7) Lung & Rotate, 8) Reverse Lung & Rotate, 9) Carioca, 10) Forward Skipping, 11) Backward Skipping, 12) Frankenstein Walk, 13) Dynamic Frankenstein Walk, 14) Inchworms, and 15) Hip Swings.

My first session would be devoted to the power snatch (Randy, like many coaches, teaches from the snatch) and the second, the clean.  Randy arrived, put me through a well-practiced movement screen, and we got busy working on the power snatch.  As I had only purchased an hour of Randy’s time ($90), we moved methodically through the snatch progression, but I could have spent all day with him —we also managed to work on flexibility drills, my personal “limiters.”  I frequently say that “I have the flexibility of an icicle” and it is something that I am continually working on.

Randy Hauer

Randy Hauer

A week later I returned to Randy’s charge to work on the clean movement.  What follows are my disjointed and fragmented training notes from my second session (dedicated, in large part, to the power clean):

Clean Session: #1) high-block (bar stays close in, elbows go even further back as the bar moves up … the elbows pull back further in the power clean than the power snatch.  Drill: bar racked (1-thumb into the knurling) – especially here, close eyes, put the bar to the hips … bar goes lower than in the snatch due to the more narrow grip.  #2) above the knee, the bar gains speed, focus on keeping the chest up and the hips back.  #3) bar on the floor, (slower tempo to above keen, racking motion, knees go back, then forward) … to achieve better lifts, you need more speed on the bar, work on racking speed, elbows up.  Note: time the rack to “hit” at the same time as the feet!  Two additional movements: 1) front squat – work on depth; the goblet squat is also a useful tool here; and 2) snatch balance – bar behind neck (careful)—work in the rack, jump-to-press overhead.

As was the case with my initial visit for the snatch, flexibility (not just at the wrists … ha) proved to be the area where I needed to devote most of my attention when working on the power clean.

As I had after the first session, I left Randy and FCSC with my head swirling, thinking of all the concepts that I had learned and all the work that I would need to do over the coming weeks and months to make improvements in the Olympic moves.  The Latin phrase “repetitio mater studiorum est” (“repetition is the mother of all learning”—another priceless benefit of a liberal arts education)—crept into my head and I vowed to put this wise, although in some cases, inefficient, adage into practice—repetition, repetition, and more repetition IS the key to learning these moves.  In addition to inviting me to return to FCSC for workouts and continued practice (the gym offers a $20 drop-in rate, and you will likely find Randy working with athletes when you visit), and a promise to pass along an introductory program via e-mail.

Bottom line, whether you are a fitness client, an endurance athlete, a CrossFit devotee or someone who is just looking to expand your toolbox of functional resistance training movements, I will encourage you to seek our Randy (or another qualified USAW coach) and get on with learning the technique of the Olympic lifts and their building blocks.

I don’t wish to summarily give away Randy’s programming, but his “beginner” program included a 3x a week regimen of power snatch and power clean movements (both at above and below the knee positions in addition to work from the floor), overhead and front squats, as well as snatch and clean grip deadlifts.  Randy kindly granted me permission to set out his beginner program and I have included it below (you may also access it as a .PDF file here):

4-Week Beginner Program 1*
*courtesy of Randy Hauer

Monday

Hang Power Snatch Above Knee 5 sets x 3 reps
Hang Power Clean Below Knee 5 sets x 3 reps
Front Squat 3 sets x 5 reps
Snatch Grip Deadlift + Shrug 3 sets x 5 reps

Wednesday

Hang Power Snatch Below Knee 5 sets x 3 reps
Overhead Squat 3 sets x 5 reps
Hang Power Clean Above Knee 5 sets x 3 reps
Standing Press 3 sets x 5 reps

Friday

Power Snatch (floor) 5 sets x 3 reps
Power Clean (floor) 5 sets x 3 reps
Front Squat 3 sets x 5 reps (make last set lighter than Monday’s)
Clean Grip Deadlift + Shrug 3 sets x 5 reps

Note: Add a little weight each set if possible but always maintain good technique.

See the important note concerning technique … if you don’t know how to accomplish these moves, go see Randy  or seek out the expertise of another qualified USAW certified coach.