12/7/12

Strength Overhead: I

When he made strong the skies overhead: when the fountains of the deep were fixed: [Proverbs 8:28] 
For the past month or so I've been diving into the world of Olympic weightlifting. Being a powerlifter I had the already sturdy foundation of Force production. My curiosity for all things strength has made me want to throw heavy weights overhead and shout. These strength overhead posts will be a collection of my journey in learning the snatch. Come walk the yellow brick road with me.

I've dabbled in Olympic [we shall now refer to this as Oly] lifting for most of my lifting career. As a sophomore I cleaned [with horrible form and pure delight] 275 lbs [we will now put all Oly lifts in Kilos, 275 = 125 kg. The conversion factor is 1 kg = 2.2 lbs] and felt like a man beast child. Since that time I've accomplished a 143 kg Clean and Jerk, and a 90 kg snatch. Not impressive numbers at all, but it's a start. 


I guess I should semi rant about the naming of powerlifting and oly lifting. Powerlifting suggest's that when we do the squat, bench, or deadlift we're generating a great amount of power. Well Power = Force x Velocity, and when we "powerlift" we move a very heavy object very slowly. To put it into the formula we use a lot of force very gingerly. Velocity is practically non existent in this aspect [I once had a 12 second squat, nearly passed out. Good times]. However, with Oly lifting you take a heavy object and move it extremely fast. Without doing a bunch of equations for you, you can just figure out that Oly lifting produces much more Power. However Force = Mass x acceleration [or the force of gravity acting upon it] and therefore a greater mass being moved increases force by a lot. I will now usually refer to powerlifting as Forcelifting for the purpose of physics.

Now that I've gotten that off my chest I can break down the first stages of my oly lifting transition [still doing forcelifting though, don't worry]. Since oly lifting is not my primary sport I relocated a day of training so that I can have a snatch day. If you are clueless about what a snatch is I guess I can explain. Snatch is the oly lift where someone grips the bar wider than normal, than throws the bar directly overhead landing in a deep squat. See picture below for a wicked snatch [I did that once, but then I woke up].


I already had the mobility to drop into a hamstring to calf squat with my knees externally rotating [pointing out]. What I really struggled with was the overhead portion of the lift [this is something I've seen just about everyone need help with]. To fix this I literally started with the bar and just did speed work from the hang position. I learned from my readings that my hand grip had to be wide enough so that if I was standing tall and raised my knee up the bar wouldn't be moved by my thigh. As the weight increased I realized that my current hand position wouldn't work though [the weight felt as if it was going to fly past me and dislocate my shoulder]. This is when I implemented the infamous Hook grip [read about it somewhere in this article]. The grip forced my should into external rotation, and allowed depression of my scapula more. Almost immediately after using this grip my snatch went up about 10 kg without any extra effort. As a warning though I read somewhere that keeping a hook grip throughout the entire snatch is not advised unless you have crazy good elbow mobility [which I don't of course]. I'll keep increasing the weight and bring my personal data.

My original snatch workout goes as follows:
Complex x 5 sets
A) 3 hang snatch 
B) 3 Over head squat
RDL 3x6 @ 50% deadlift 1RM

It's a simple routine but for a beginner it will help with overhead comfort. I'll be bringing more bacon next week. Oly shoes rock BTW. 

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About Me

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BS, MS - exercise Physiology
EPC - Board Certified Exercise Physiologist

Published Thesis
The impact of three different forms of warm up on performance

Graduate from Midwestern State University, founder of Endunamoo Barbell Club, and Endunamoo Strength and Conditioning. Working to help athletes physically reach their goals and achieve scholarships while spiritually pouring into as many people as possible on all platforms.