Saturday, February 16, 2008

New Methods By An Old Lifter

The oldest living weightlifter in active competition in the United States has developed a few tricks of the trade that can profitably be used by all lifters. He is Leslie Carson of Muncie, Indiana, whose “tin can method” may add several per cent to your clean and snatch.

Leslie Carson purchased his first barbell in February, 1913, at the age of twenty. He still has the original bell, along with others including some York sets. Although he has lifted for health’s sake ever since, he never entered a meet until he was 59 years old. At that time he entered as a middleweight, defeated all the lightheavies and all except one of the heavyweights, but was defeated by a middleweight. When nearly 61 years of old, he won the middleweight YMCA championship of Muncie and Delaware County, and two weeks later was acclaimed the YMCA middleweight champion of Indiana. Both contests were battles between youth and old age – and contrary to tradition, old-age won.

One of his innovations is the use of rubber tires on his plates. This prevents scratching the hardwood floors of his home where he works out frequently. He says, “If more lifters would use rubber tired plates, their wives and mothers would take more kindly to home workouts.”

But the innovation originated by Mr. Carson of which he is proudest is his use of a tin can to increase his records in the cleans and snatches. He guarantees anyone who will adopt his “tin can method” of training will, unless already at his actual peak, add several per cent to his clean and snatch records.

In both lifts, the problem – as all lifters know – is to pull the bell high enough with weight enough and split or squat low enough to get under it. If you are training alone, it is impossible to determine accurately, even when watching in a mirror, how much you are falling short in either pulling high enough or getting the body low enough. The eyes cannot precisely follow the movements in the mirror and watch the bell at the same time. So – have you ever depended upon your friends to tell you how you’re doing? Their eyes cannot follow your rapidly shifting body well enough to see positively how high you are pulling the bar in proportion to your height. Furthermore, kind friends nearly always tell you that you are pulling the bar “plenty high” and splitting or squatting “plenty low,” when in reality they know you should do better but hate to tell you so.

Because Mr. Carson’s well meaning friends were to tolerant when judging his form, he made a lie detector out of a large size tomato can, a flexible cotton rope and a strong rubber band.

To make one for yourself, tie a non-slip loop in one end of the soft cotton rope large enough to slip easily over the end of the bar as shown in the photos. Secure the rope across and part way up the bottom end of the can by placing the band over the rope and around the can. Do this so that the distance from the top of the loop to the bottom of the can is equal to the distance from the floor to the outer tip of your shoulder when standing erect. The rope may be slipped back and forth under the rubber band to adjust the length to lifters of different heights.

Now place the bottom of the can on the floor and the loop over one end of the bar, and practice pull-ups high enough to upset the can, increasing the weight as strength increases. No side-line friend can tell you that you are getting the bar high enough unless you upset the can. The reason for the large size can is to guarantee enough noise that you will hear it when it upsets. Besides, a small can upsets before the rope gets taut.

The next step is to find out, by adjustment, how short the rope must be to force you to split sufficiently low in the snatch that your knee will come within an inch or two of the floor, and at the same time avoid upsetting the can until after you begin to rise from the split. This will also work well in the squat style, and in judging your depth in the clean. Try it to gauge squat depth by listening for the sound at bottom as well. When you have found the proper length of rope, practice your lifts and increase the weights until you have arrived at your maximum. This simple method will increase the lifter’s feel for chosen height and depth and aid in establishing unconscious knowledge of reaching them.

To use the “tin can method” to increase your pulls, adjust the rope by slipping it through the rubber band so that its length from the bottom of the can – when it is sitting on its bottom on the floor – is equal to the distance from the floor to a point about four inches above the belt. Find our how much weight you can pull to this point and upset the can. A simple adjustment of the rope length is all that is needed to change the check on different pull heights.

Reverse the procedure by finding out the shortest length to which you can adjust the rope and still split or squat under the bar in the clean without upsetting the can until after you start to rise from the bottom.

Different rope lengths can be used to guarantee depth in a squat of any height chosen before the lift is attempted, and will take away any tendency to “believe” the chosen depth was “achieved” when, in fact, it was not.

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