Marlaena and I went down to Sumner, Washington this past weekend to attend the CrossFit Olympic Lifting seminar. It was a 2 day course hosted by Rainier CrossFit. The facility was amazing and they had the coolest pull-up rigging system that I have ever seen! It was made out of these huge raw log beams and had different diameter tubing, it was pretty awesome! The seminar was instructed by Coach Mike Burgener, an international level Olympic weightlifting coach, and several of his assistant instructors including a national level coach, a former international level competitor and a couple of current junior national level competitors.
The weekend started off outside with a basic warm-up that consisted of sprints, shuffles, high knees, lateral movement, etc. Then we moved inside and did a partner warm-up drill that Coach Burgener referred to as the "Junk Yard Dog Warm-Up"! After the junk yard dog warm-up we each got a piece of pvc tubing and went through the Burgener warm-up. This is a pretty simple sequence consisting of 5-6 movements that are to be done at the start of every Olympic Lifting session. The warm-up only takes a few minutes to do and I'm going to start including it into my daily warm-up routine.
After we finished warming up we went over the pulling and landing stance of the snatch, the hook grip and the various positions of the lift. Then we focused on different progressions including the overhead squat, the snatch deadlift, the snatch push press and the snatch balance.
Once we finished with the progressions we moved into the full snatch but stuck with the the pvc tubing. It wasn't until the next morning that we actually got to load up a barbell and snatch using real weight. We didn't go very heavy though (maybe 40-50% of our 1 rep max) and really kept the focus on technique and speed.
We worked on the clean next. The clean is very similar to the snatch other than grip width and the finishing position so we spent less time on it, focusing mostly on the speed of the elbows when receiving the bar. Slow elbows have been one of my problems so I had one of the assistant instructors show me a drill to help increase my elbow speed and efficiency.
The last thing we worked on was the jerk. We spent a lot of time on finding the correct landing position and proper posture in the landing position. Once everyone felt pretty comfortable with their landing position we were able to load up some barbells and work on the full clean and jerk. Like the snatch, we kept the weights pretty light and kept the focus on speed and technique.
I didn't know what to expect from this seminar or from Coach Burgener but I can honestly say that this was the best certification course that I have been to yet! It was incredibly informative but really fun at the same time! Coach B was an amazing instructor and had a great sense of humour which kept the mood in the gym very light and relaxed! I would definitely recommend this course for anyone involved with CrossFit, anyone interested in the Olympic Lifts or anyone looking to take on a new challenge!
Exercise & Workout article by Ben on Thursday, February 17, 2011 5:45:20 PM EST
Marlaena and I both hit new deadlift personal bests last month! I finally broke the 400 plateau with a 405 lb. lift and Marlaena got closer to her goal of double bodyweight (250 lbs.) with a 230 lb. lift! We've been training with a few other friends every Saturday and have been focusing on heavy deadlifts, doing sets of either 5, 3 or 1 every weekend for the last year a half. We always follow the deadlift session with some sort of gruesome conditioning circuit!
I really enjoy deadlift Saturdays and the exercise has become one of my favorite lifts. I was really happy to have finally gotten over that 400 mark. I swear it was more mental than physical at the end. Now that I know I can pull 405 lbs. off of the floor I guess I can start shooting for two and a half times my body weight!
And kudos again to Mar! She makes 230 lbs. look pretty easy and will definitely be hitting her goal of a double body weight deadlift in the very near future! I'll keep you all posted!
General Fitness article by Ben on Tuesday, February 15, 2011 12:35:27 AM EST
I came across an ad on Facebook a couple months ago for a company that makes palm grips designed to protect your hands from tearing, ripping or developing ugly calluses while working out.
The company's called GriPad and I sent them an email and asked if they'd be interested in sending me a pair so I could try them out. My hands have always been pretty rough and I've had calluses since I was a kid so wasn't too concerned about the protection they offered but thought the grips might help me make some gains on a few exercises like weighted pull-ups, barbell deadlift and bent over row.
I've had the grips for a few weeks now and have tried them out about a half a dozen times with a few different exercises. For me, they work really well for low rep, weighted pull-ups, lat-pull down, bent over dumbbell row and seated cable row. They give me a much stronger grip on the bar and allow me to focus more on the muscles I'm working (lats, rhomboids, rear delts) rather than thinking about my grip.
The two exercises they didn't really help me with though were high rep pull-ups and the barbell deadlift. With the high rep pull-ups, the Gripads helped to save my hands from tearing but once I started to fatigue, I had trouble re-gripping the bar. If I didn't have the grips on I could have re-adjusted my hand position on the bar and squeaked out a few more reps. With the barbell deadlift, I wasn't able to get a good enough hook grip on the bar with the Gripads on, I still prefer just using chalk.
All in all I think the Gripads would be an excellent addition to any gym bag! I used mine yesterday during my workout, I've been using them with several of my clients and I've had a few other trainers in the gym ask to borrow as well. The grips are relatively inexpensive, I think about $15 a piece, and come in a wide variety of colors!
Fitness Reviews article by Ben on Monday, February 07, 2011 12:28:25 AM EST