Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Weightlifting Q & A - Charles Coster

Chuck Sipes

Bert Goodrich, Jim Mansfield (impersonator),
Mickey Hargitay

Zabo Koszewski

Weightlifting Q & A
by Charles Coster (1957)

Q: I am a keen bodybuilder and weightlifter, and am having trouble recovering from my Squat Clean. Is there anything that I can do about this quickly? Please do what you can to help me.

A: Just look at any great squat lifter. Look at the assistance exercises he uses and you’ll get a pretty good idea of the way he trains to add power to the recovery phase of his cleans. Most squats and deadlifts will help with the recovery – in both the split and squat style, but there is one exercise that has proved to be better than all the others – the deep knee bend with the bar held across the front of the shoulders. Tommy Kono, pound for pound the greatest lifter alive, uses the Front Squat and is said to have done a single repetition with 480 pounds. No wonder he can recover from a 385 pound squat clean with very reasonable chances of success in competition.

This particular movement is important both for the bodybuilder and the Olympic lifter. The Front Squat is a “natural” movement, one identical in action with the squat clean. If you remember that progressive exercise can and will strengthen any muscle group to which it is applied, then the Front Squat, merely because it is a repetition squat clean recovery, must help in your quest.

Take a weight you can you can squeeze 3 sets of 3 reps out of, and progressively perform 3 to 10 sets with it. When you get to 10 sets of 3, gradually increase the reps until you are able to do 10 sets of 5 repetitions, then add weight to the bar and begin again. Use this exercise regularly (after you have finished actual lift practice) and you’ll soon find your clean recovery problem solved.

Q: How can I improve my pulling power so that I can improve my lifts?

A: Well, there are loads and loads of ideas available, and I don’t know just what you have already tried or what you have not tried . . . but so long as you have removed that “mental block” you have removed the chief obstacle to progress and improvement is not beyond you. Make sure that you keep your confidence intact at all times, and tell yourself that you can and you will improve your pull.

Here is one method of improving your pulling power, a way that has as many mental as physical benefits.

You will need to load two bars for this. First, perform a deadlift with your best clean poundage. Then, using a second bar, lift close to your best weight in the two hands deadlift. Don’t put it down. Hold it in your hands or as long as you can. When you do put it down, step right up to that first bar with the clean poundage, and lift it.

Notice how light it feels – like you could flip it through the roof. Encourage that feeling. Your heaviest clean poundage isn’t so heavy after all. Keep telling yourself that fact.

Now try this exercise – high deadlifts. Get two strong boxes (power rack) and rest the plates on each box so the bar is about knee high. Increase your top deadlift by about 20 pounds and you have the right starting exercise poundage. Grab hold of the bar with your clean grip and lift the weight. Make every effort to pull it high, just as if you were cleaning the poundage. Hold for a slow count of three, then lower it back and repeat.

Now that you have the description off pat, here’s how to use it with your quick lift training. First go through your snatches, then afterwards hit your cleans. Do one or two sets of the cleans and snatches without a split or squat, and the rest with a split or squat. These movements will help you build power and style. Then use the high deadlifts.

Q: It is obvious that when the champions lift their top weights in competition – that they feel much lighter to THEM than MY top lifts feel to ME. Is this why they often succeed in top lifts whilst I often fail?

A: It would be idle to deny that some champions are born champions – just as other champions have to made the hard way from very humble beginnings. But in both instances these people seem to have the ability to ‘make muscle’ of unusual quantity or unusual quality and strength – QUICKLY! And therein probably lies the main difference between such people and yourself.

The ‘lightness’ of limit poundages for anyone is an important ingredient of successfully increasing personal bests . . . and the best way for you to achieve such a condition can be partly found in overloading your training weights. Basic power training principles may be the answer to all your problems.

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