Sunday, May 28, 2017

Priming the Pull - Liam Tweed (2017)

Priming the Pull
by Liam Tweed (2017)

So you think you are a well-rounded strength athlete, do you? 

You squat and you press for all you're worth, and once in a while you even grind out those back-busting, butt-ripping deadlifts.

In short, you are a bad hombre . . . nobody should mess with you, right? 

Hmm, depends . . . do you PULL? 
I mean really PULL! 

I'm talking about explosive lifting, ripping weights with controlled acceleration from the ground to specific height targets from hip to above your head.

Firstly, a well-rounded athlete needs to do a LOT or the basic movements; the definition of these varies depending on the guru, but in my view you need to: 

1) Squat
2) Press
3) Pull

Many years ago I was told by a respected iron gamer that that was all I ever needed to do. I believed him then and I still believe him now. But . . . 

What do we mean by a "pull" . . . in my mind lat work doesn't qualify. Chins are great but they aren't pulling. Pulling for an athlete means a dynamic explosive movement that moves a weight from ground to wherever it's destined to end up. 

Have you ever seen the spinal erectors on a high ranked weightlifter? 

Those weren't built on the Bosu Ball! 

Explosive pull exercises have gone the way of the dodo, even sadly in some weightlifting circles where it's pretty much been boiled down to Snatch, Clean and Jerk, and Squat. In my mind that's a damn shame, as we seem to have thrown "the baby out with the bathwater." The explosive pull has a lot to offer if your aim is to pack functional (there's that dreaded word again) muscle onto your legs, lower back and traps.

"Legs" you say?  

Yes! But don't take my word for it. Give a few sets of Clean Pulls for 3's a go and get back to me on that! 

Back in the '60s lifters used to work HARD and they did it or the love of lifting, not for fame, money and glory. Here in South Africa it was no different. Lifters ground out their presses, pulls and squats, day after back breaking day, just to gain a few pounds on their totals. And all this was done on top of a full time job.

Excuse me for glorifying these Iron Warriors, but I'm an undying fan of the true amateur athlete, because I can relate. It's us that battle away year after year, decade after decade with no thought of the hope or glory or recognition that are the true hero's.

That's right! I'm talking about YOU out there reading this . . . step up and take a bow!

Now, let me tell you a story about an unknown Springbok (SA national) lifter from the '60's by the name of Jannie Van Rensburg. He was known for being hard on himself and the lifters he trained. He once wrote a  nine month pulling specialization course in the South African weightlifting magazine, and I'm presenting it here for shock value and hopefully to illustrate why we should respect and admire those that came before us.


First 3 Months

Monday / Wednesday / Friday

1) Clean Pulls - 5-4-3-3-3, jumping 20 lbs. each set, start with 80% of Clean. 
2) Snatch Pulls - as above.
3) Power Snatch From Blocks (midway between pelvis and knees) - 4 x 3 reps.
4) Power Snatch From Blocks (pelvis height) - 4 x 3.
5) Power Clean (same height as 3) - 4 x 2.
6) Power Clean (same height as 4) - 4 x 2.

76 Reps of Pulling!

He said in his article that after his first workout on this course, " I crawled from the garage gym into bed." One of his trainees increased his Power Clean from 200 to 255 lbs. over the 3-month period.
But there's also the other three days of the week!

Tuesday / Thursday / Saturday

Light Lifts for Form . . . and
Pressing - lots of emphasis on Pressing Strength.
25-Yard Sprints.
Standing Broad Jumps.
Jumping Over Hurdles.

Second 3 Months

 Monday / Wednesday / Friday

1) Power Snatch 5-4-3-2-1 (jump 10 lbs.).
2) Power Clean 5-4-3-2-1 (jump 10 lbs.).
3) Snatch High Pulls 5 x 3 reps (jump 20 lbs., start 80% of Snatch).
4) Clean Pulls - 5 x 3 ( as above).
5) Overhead Squat of Split Overhead Squat - 5 x 5.
6) Jerks From Racks - 5 x 2.
Tuesday / Thursday / Saturday
Same as the First 3 Months Layout.

Third Three Months

Monday / Wednesday / Friday 

1) Power Snatch - 5 x 2 reps.
2) Snatch - 8 singles (jumping 10 lbs.).
3) Power Clean - 5 x 2.
4) Clean and Jerk - 8 singles (jumping 10 lbs.).
5) Straddle Hop - 3 sets until tired (jumping "fore and aft and sideways").
6) Overhead Squat - 5 x 5.
Tuesday / Thursday / Saturday
Same as the First 3 Months Layout.

Okay. That's the way they used to train when they wanted to improve their pulling power, and considering that there had to be a lot of focus on pressing strength you can imagine how HARD they trained. 

Any guesses as to whether they were strong, athletic and conditioned? 


Don't neglect your explosive pulling if you want to build and maintain your athletic abilities. 

Train hard and "do not go gently into the night, rage, rage against the dying of the light." 

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