Carl Miller’s Advanced Weightlifting Camp
by Halsey W. Miller (1981)
Carl Miller’s fourth summer weightlifting camp consisted of two sessions. The first session resembled previous camps closely and stressed the basics of lifting techniques and training methods. Carl’s “Olympic Lifting Training Manual” with its key chapter, “Training Methods – Bulgaria 3” formed the core of the instructional materials for that camp. The second session formed Carl’s “Sophisticated Camp” and dealt with more advanced training techniques. Topics covered included use and misuse of steroids, acupressure, cluster training, speed work, and assistance exercises. Greg Klaja, a former national collegiate champion, and Dr. Halsey Miller, coach of the Spartan Weightlifting Team, assisted Carl as platform coaches and lecturers.
A full array of equipment was available for all lifters to use. Peary Rader’s “Magic Circle” was used to teach the scoop and double knee bend movements in the first session. Isokinetic machines used included a power rack, leaper, quad-ham unit, and leg press machines. The isokinetic equipment generally helps weightlifters develop greater speed. More specifically, the power rack can be used to teach proper pulling techniques, such as “going to the bar” in scooping. The leaper unit is valuable for teaching the rotary hip action used by shotputters and by some lifters when jerking weights overhead.
Carl Miller’s lectures stressed (1) speed, for many American lifters are slow as a result of too many heavy squats (“grinders” to some) and pulls; (2) forward setting, a concept introduced in previous camps, in which Olympic-style lifters keep their body weight forward, on the balls of their feet, throughout the pulling portion of cleans and snatches. Thus, the formerly taught “backshift” in which a lifter’s body weight shifted to the rearward to the instep during scooping is eliminated; (3) feeling, each lifter was urged to learn to “feel” the lift and analyze what movements he had made during the lift. Movies and slides of world class lifters were presented as a means of avoiding injuries and to provide a mood for working out; (4) Light stretches and cardiovascular work prior to a workout release proteins into the bloodstream that create feelings of euphoria and cause temporary cartilage cells to form in the joints that aid in preventing damage to the body; (5) personal training routines using Carl Miller’s Olympic Lifting Training Manual. The latter topic is perhaps the most difficult for the average person to comprehend and takes several hours of diligent work to understand and use.
Carl also lectured on nutrition, psyching for meets, and the body proportions of an ideally structured lifter. Measurements of over 220 lifters have indicated that short upper arms, but long overall arm length, short thighs and a short back provide better leverage for weightlifting. Unfortunately few, if any, people are ideally proportioned.
Halsey Miller lectured on steroids and other drugs commonly used by strength athletes. In part, he concluded that American athletes abuse steroids by taking too many and too much in an attempt to compensate for overtraining and faulty workout programs. The east European steroid programs and their “secret steroid” were analyzed, and found to be “light” by American standards. The major difference between us and them is an artifact of training and not drug schedules.
Platform work consisted of a morning and an afternoon workout each day. Each was closely supervised by Carl and his two assistant coaches. Eccentric pulls and squats were taught, as well as descending and ascending pulls that were used to learn proper scooping action and the double knee bend. Learning a stable bottom position was done by squatting with a bar held overhead with a snatch-width grip (overhead squat). Following pulls and Olympic deadlifts, complete lifts were made, with television taping for later critiquing, as well as instant analysis by the coaches. Speed work, especially speed squats, was emphasized. Speed is the major criterion that distinguishes Olympic lifters from powerlifters, and it is necessary to successfully lift and lock out heavy weights overhead.
Cluster training was done as groups of single lifts designed to overload one’s muscles in performing a total movement. It is designed in between the overloading of partial movements of the preparation phase and the motor setting done in the latter portion of the contest phase. Hang lifts were done, using the “position of power,” which helps eliminate the development of form faults that may occur from performance of partial lifts.