Courtesy of Liam Tweed
Q: I have been training on the Olympic lifts three times a week and making fair progress. My lifts are 160, 170 and 230. Now I have the chance to train five times a week and I am told I should only do pressing on two evenings. Do you agree and if so what poundages should I use?
A: It suits most lifters to train on the Press only two days a week and you should give the system a fair trial (two months at least) before trying anything else.There are two ways of arranging your poundages. If you keep your ordinary Olympic schedule unchanged you must not use more than 140 lbs. on the two special evenings. In this case you should work up from 110 doing three presses from the shoulder at each stage. You can go through this routine twice.
On the other hand, you can cut down the pressing in your normal schedule and do more and heavier work on your special evenings, in which case the following system would be suitable:
115 x 3,3,3
125 x 3,3,3
135 x 3,3,3
145 x 2,2,2
150 x 1,1,1
I prefer this system myself.
Q: When I reach my limit on the Press my right arm straightens before the left and I get disqualified. Yet I can press as much with the left arm as the right with a dumbbell so I do not seem to be specially weak on one side. I have tried altering the position of my hands on the bar but this does not help. Can I put this right?
A: A good press involves much more than the actual pressing muscles, the deltoids, triceps, etc., as all the muscles that support the trunk are brought into play. Your weakness may lie here and would not be so apparent with dumbbells. If your present schedule is bringing results do not alter it a great deal, for in time it will level matters up. Single-handed dumbbell swinging will also help and so will the one one jerk. You must use fairly heavy poundages and practice the lifts with both arms.
Q: As a result of six months hard training I have increased my weight by 10 lb. and all my measurements have gone up with the exception of my biceps which have stuck at 13-1/2". For the past months I have specialized on them but still cannot get results.
A: You do not mention your other measurements, so I cannot judge how much your biceps are under standard. Unless there is a very glaring weakness and, quite likely, it is the specialization that has kept them down. Very few of the best developed men and hardly any first class lifters pay special attention to the biceps - forget them for a time and get back to your old schedule that was producing results.
Q: I have increased on the Press to 170 lb. but I cannot Snatch more than 140 or Clean more than 195. Shall I leave the Press entirely alone for a time and try to bring my other lifts up?
A: No. You cannot become better on one lift by leaving another one alone unless you are doing so much work that you are exhausting yourself. First of all make sure that your styles on the Snatch and Clean are perfect. This you can only do with light weights. Your greatest weakness seems to lie in your pull from the ground and there are many lifts and exercises that will help overcome this. The stiff legged deadlift is a good movement and better still if it is performed from boxes; the ordinary deadlift with reasonable weights and performed very quickly is also valuable. The first stage of the one hand swing is one of the best exercises in weight-lifting for strengthening the pull in the Snatch and the Clean.
Q: I wish to increase my poundages on the Olympic lifts which are at present 125, 125 and 160 lbs. Would you advise me what percentages to use and the correct number of reps? I understand that repetitions on the Press should be from the shoulders and repetition on the Snatch from the "hang" position.
A: On the Press you should not use less than 70% of your maximum or more than 95%. On the Snatch the limits should be 65% and 90%. On the Clean & Jerk you need not handle more than 80% of your limit in training. With the lighter poundages 3 repetitions from the shoulder and 3 from the hang should be the rule in the Press and Snatch. 2 repetitions is sufficient when the bell reaches 85% or more. A sound schedule in your case would consist of 4 groups (sets) of 3 with 80%, 3 groups of 2 with 90%, and 3 single lifts with 95% on the Press. The Snatch would be the same except that you should start and finish with lighter poundages. You will not need the same amount of work on the Clean & Jerk although you must not neglect it entirely. Repetition cleaning will probably be advisable but unless you are particularly weak overhead you need very little repetition work on the Jerk.
Q: I am 24 years of age and my general measurements are: Height 5'9", Weight 13 st. 7 lb. [200 lb.], Chest normal 44.5, Biceps 15.5, Thighs 24, Wrist 7.5. I would be glad of your criticism. I was a P.T.I. [physical training instructor] in the Royal Air Force and did a little weight-training and feel that I would like to get back to weights again. Perhaps you could tell me how to start.
A: You have tremendous natural advantages. Your framework is unusually heavy and although your present measurement are well above average you can increase still further if your ambitions lie in this direction. Most lifters will envy your 15-1/2" biceps - but you can build them up to at least 16-1/2 without a great deal of trouble. My advice is that you should put in about 8 to 10 weeks at fundamental training using pullovers, stiff leg deadlifts, dumbbell pressing, etc. Then you can concentrate upon the Olympic lifts and if your measurements are any indication you should be very successful. Men of your build assimilate a great deal of work but results will be better if you do not train too frequently. Three sessions a week is probably sufficient for you.
Q: I have been training hard on the Olympics for six months without making much progress: my best lifts are 140, 140 and 190. I start on the Press at 115 doing 3 repetitions from the shoulder several times and work up to 140. I do the same with the Snatch. On the Jerk I do repetition cleans with 160, but very little jerking. Can you improve my schedule?
A: You are making the mistake so many enthusiastic lifters make: using poundages that are far too heavy. You should start pressing and snatching at 100 lbs. and never go beyond 125 in training. The lighter weights will seem very light, but you must not think that they are too light. Repetition cleaning with 150 and 160 is quite in order, but do not neglect the jerk altogether.
Q: Sometimes with a heavy Clean my grip fails and the bar drops out of my hands. Is there some way by which I can correct this?
A: You can try "locking" [hook grip] the thumbs - that is, passing the first and second fingers over the thumb when you grip the bar. Most lifters seem to think that this can only be done when the "get set" style is employed, but, in fact, it can also be done with a slow dived. If you grip still fails there is evidently a weakness in fingers and forearm which you must put right by special training.
Q: The largest discs on my training set are 10" in diameter. Should I support the discs on blocks to bring the bar up to regulation height from the ground?
A: Yes, you should always train under regulation conditions. Instead of using blocks you will find it easier to have some wooden discs cut. Snatching and cleaning with small discs is bad in the ordinary way but don't forget that it is excellent for improving the length and strength of the pull. Some lifters I know have had special small diameter lead discs made so that the bar was only three inches from the floor.
Q: I have made a total of 565 lbs. at 9 stone 10 lb [136 pounds) bodyweight. A little time back I reduced to featherweight and made 550 lbs. Do you think I should try to keep to the featherweight class or build up to lightweight?
A: Only men who have been training for many years and have reached a certain mark in bodyweight and development should ever think of keeping to a definite class, to say nothing of reducing to a lower one. Do all you can to increase to the lightweight limit and if your frame can carry the weight do not stop there.
Q: Nearly all the schedules I have seen advocate 3 repetitions from the shoulders on the press and 3 snatches from the hang. Why the 3? Why not 6 or 10? And why not just one?
A: You can take it for granted that every conceivable number of repetitions has been tried and 3 on the press and snatch has emerged as the best general basis for training as the result of years of experiment. If you perform 6 repetitions you must use a poundage that is too light to give the muscles sufficient resistance; if you use single lifts the poundage must be too heavy to permit a sufficient quantity of work to be put in.
Q: I find it difficult to lock my arms with a weight overhead. What is the reason and how can I put the matter right?
A: The balance between "locking" muscles and their antagonists is wrong and may be the result of lack of exercise or exercise wrongly performed. You can put the matter right by dumbbell pressing, making sure that the arm is completely straightened with each repetition. You will find dumbbells much superior to barbells for this purpose but light weights must be used.
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