I am always amazed at how popular mobility work has become in the last few years and how stability work is often ignored. People stretch to no end, but they don’t work on their stability. There is no doubt that the weightlifter has to be mobile in key body parts in order to be efficient. Weightlifting without mobility would not be the athletic and dynamic sport it is. There would be no such thing as receiving the bar in an extreme position of knee and hip flexion (bottom of a squat), for instance. That is, weightlifting requires full range of motion of every joints. However, the weightlifter also has to be able to stabilize the weights and he has to be able to do so at maximal range of motion.
The popularity of Crossfit, as a mean of general training and fitness, has created (at least momentarily) interest for the sport of weightlifting. Whether I/we like crossfit or not, the fact of the matter is that a lot of crossfiters are seeking weightlifting coaching or looking to make the switch to the ”dark side”. As a matter of fact, most lifters I’m involved with at the moment come from a crossfit background. Coming from such a ”general” background to such a specialized training comes with a need to adapt. Here are some of the considerations for coaching weightlifting to crossfiters. These considerations are based on my experience and may not be reflective of the majority of crossfiters, but there are still lessons to take from this.
For this third edition of Ask First Pull Fridays, I received a question from Angela who inquired about correct pulling technique. Angela had a question about how one should be pulling during the lifts. Concretely, she wanted to know if you should pull all the way up to the crease of your hip because she was told it should never happen. It is a very interesting question in itself and it should be a good reminder to everybody, coaches included. If you would like to send your question for the next edition of AFP, you are more than welcome to do it through here or here.
Without further ado… Let’s explore how one should pull.
If you searched around on the internet for a way to improve your performance as a weightlifter (or as a practitioner of the Olympic lifts), you would find a thousand ways to do it. You might read that you need to improve your overall strength or that you need to do more of a certain lift. Others might advocate changing the whole training plan altogether. On the other end of the spectrum, you might find people that advocate you to work on certain aspect of your weightlifting technique. All of these answers are geared towards improving the physical state of the athlete and they might – or might not- be good. Obviously, there are many ways to skin a cat. However, there is one important concept that is rarely talked about and that you should be aware of. It is, to me, the most important concept to be aware of as an athlete.
In defense of Sport Science : what it has given us and how it can help us solve weightlifting problems
There seem to have been a disconnection between what sport science really is and how it is believed to be. I noticed that there seems to be a common belief that sport science is not useful to coaches or athletes. Because my mission with First Pull is to produce educational material and discuss ideas, this disconnection, between the reality and the popular belief of sport science, is a problem I want to address. The general idea being that without sport science, there is no such thing as effective training methods because the knowledge of the mechanisms implicated in weightlifting (skill acquisition, movement specificity, anatomy, recovery, etc.) would be unknown. Here is my rebuttal to the dis tractors of sport science.
Transfer of learning : Importance in skill acquisition of weightlifting & implications for coaching and programming
In my last article about skill acquisition, I made the statement that improvements, in the cognitive stage of skill acquisition, are mainly due to thinking and planning as well as the ability of the athlete to uses existing knowledge/skills as a basis for the new skill. I gave the example of a lifter that I coach. I mentioned that most of the technical errors in her lifts came from previously learned skills that she was trying to consciously – or not- repeat in Weightlifting. I received many e-mails about this statement which lead me to believe that perhaps I should extrapolate on this concept. I will discuss the definition of what transfer of learning really is, its importance for coaches as well as its many possible applications.
The recent ”spurt” of popularity of Weightlifting, by different actors such as Crossfit, may also have given the impression that weightlifting is a ”work out” which in turns may influence the way the lifts are being programmed in Gyms. We are seeing the lifts performed with major technical flaws on T.V (Here is an example by a very famous non weightlifter Athlete) and programmed in ways that do not lead to proper skill acquisition/refinement, which makes the general public believe that 1) weightlifting is just like any other resistance training movement 2) technique – or technique development- does not matter. It isn’t and here is why.