Saturday, July 20, 2019

Training on the Olympic Lifts, Part Four - Jim Halliday

Article Courtesy of Liam Tweed.

When doing the assistance exercises scheduled in this series it is not in your interest to make them easier. You are not trying to establish a high standard of poundages, but endeavoring to strengthen weak points in your makeup (hey, so similar to the previous bodybuilding article by Bob Green!) and to develop power. It is essential that you do the exercises laid down, even if the poundages you handle do not reach your expectations. 

For instance, in each of the following exercises the work can be made much easier by departing from the positions laid down, thus increasing the possibilities of using higher poundages, but by doing so you defeat the original object of the movements. This, in each case, is the development of pulling power. You will realize also that the accent is on increasing power in what has come to be known as the second pull.

This term, in my opinion, is very misleading if taken literally. There is no such thing as a definite second pull, it is only a changing-over of the muscle groups in action and actually is a continuation of the original movement. To deliberately try to enforce a second pull gives cause for a break in the continuity of the movement. A certain "rhythm" is lost, speed diminishes, and a broken action ensues which, common sense tells us, cannot be helpful to a successful lift.  

The first assistance exercise for the Snatch is the Snatch Off Blocks. To do this movement you place the plates of the barbell to be used on two blocks or boxes of an appropriate height for what you are working on. 

Note: Blocks and/or boxes of different heights are great to have in your gym. You can sit on 'em! No. Put yer beer on 'em? No! Of course, different heights create different start points for various lifting movements. For this particular assistance exercise, the author uses boxes at a height that "allows you to maintain a perfectly erect position; i.e., your legs and arms must be straight." This is a high start point he's using.   

From this position you wrench the bar into movement and at the appropriate time split or squat under it in the usual way. It is possible to make this movement easier by bending the knees prior to commencing to pull, but this makes the exercise absolutely useless for what we are trying to achieve in this particular instance. 

You will find that a deep split or squat must be employed owing to the constricted nature of the pull, but the comparatively light weight allows the recovery to be made safely. 

Exercise Two is a firm favorite of mine. It is to this movement that I attribute my success on the Snatch. Grasp the bar in the usual style as for an orthodox Snatch. Now you simply do a two-hands Snatch without foot or knee movement at all. This means that you simply pull the weight to arms' length overhead. At the conclusion of the pull you can simplify the movement by allowing the wrists to turn and completing the action with a press-out. This you must avoid! You actually must pull to the full extent, only allowing the wrists to turn at the last possible moment. After the initial pull the legs must be kept braced, no bending of the knees whatsoever. 

You will realize that, done correctly over a period of time, this movement will work wonders with your pulling power, and also serve the purpose of training you to pull to the fullest extent, a habit I hope to write more about later. 

Such a good movement is this, that I calculate it increased my Snatch 20 lbs. in one year, even at a time when I considered I was approaching my peak. In the recent past I have worked on a single attempt schedule with these and have done 10 singles with 190 -- all correctly performed! 

For the start, however, I advise you to try about half your Snatch poundage and do a few groups (consecutive reps. Damnable Brits and their antiquated grammar!) until such time as you become more proficient. Then use the singles schedule and progress with the miniature disc system. This also applies to the first assistance exercise. 

As I said previously, after seeing the world's best in action I am convinced that power is the key to high poundages. Of course, the champion must also have the other attributes that make a successful lifter . . . speed, coordination, timing, and of course, match temperament. But of all these things power is the most important, and as the others are, shall we say "gifts of nature," I am convinced that, once the rudiments of style have been mastered, training for power is the essential thing.

As far as actual training on the Snatch itself is concerned the man who has completed his primary training can do no better than follow the same advice as I gave on the Press. Use your commencing poundages merely as a form of warming up and conserve your energies for the handling of big poundages. Of course, every man varies in his capabilities in training. 

For instance, the "solid" type of lifter can approach his match poundages often in training, at times even eclipsing his best, whilst others, like myself, seldom get with 20-30 lbs. of maximum. This is due to the fact that such lifters depend upon vast resources of nervous energy and a competition temperament to assist them in matches. Yet the same advice applies. Find your training maximum, and work up to it easily, then concentrate on single attempts on or around this figure. 

Perhaps an example of my training schedule will help as an illustration. My top Snatch is 260 (done in squat style), but my most consistent big poundages have been made in the split style. We will take my best poundage in the split style (253) and use my schedule on this method.

The most I have ever done in training has been 242 and I have only been successful with this poundage twice! I usually finish about 230 and my schedule runs like this: 

180 x 4
195 x 3
210 x 2
220 x 2 
230 - as many single reps as possible up to about 10-12. 
If I do not reach 230 I remain at 220 doing singles as denoted above. 

To illustrate my point about your match temperament it will interest you to hear this. On my final workout in Finland prior to the last Olympics I found it impossible to do 220! In my warming up immediately prior to the contest I failed at 198! Yet I not only commenced at 225, but succeeded fairly easily with 248, my best ever at lightweight. 

There is no doubt that the ability to rise to the occasion is a big asset, but you must have the power to do what you set out to do. Temperament is only the mental capacity to assist you in reaching your physical limit. Here I must admit that power itself is insufficient to make a world-beater. How often have we given examples of this in the past, but I still think it 80% of the battle. 

Even if you are an experienced lifter, even if you think your former training has been hard enough to enable you to reach the peak of your strength, you must still concentrate on building power. Heavy snatches, single reps with heavy weights, assistance movements to overcome your weak points . . . only by doing so can you hope to reach your maximum on this, the finest lift of all, the Snatch.          


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