So you have been progressing well with your strength training as of late, and either by choice of your coach or by your request, you are beginning to learn weightlifting movements.
Super cool you think! Some more complex variation in my training, sweet, I am ready! You move through the basic progressions pretty well and you start to think, this can’t be too bad. You can back squat and front squat, your strength isn’t too shabby, you can overhead squat and deadlift with sweet form and you feel you have this “pull” movement coming along well. You have been working through some basic barbell movement primers and are keen to start trying some actual lifts with some load.
So the program finally progresses to some snatch and clean variations with load, your thinking awesome! Now I get to do what I see others in the gym doing. In your mind it seems so easy to join the dots, its just a snatch pull into and overhead squat right? Or just a clean pull into a front squat right? When you watch others perform the movements, they make it look easy.
Compartmentally, yes, but this is when the real test begins and (the weightlifting gods will now test your worthiness) the art of learning the skill of weightlifting. As a novice to weightlifting, the first few months your still like a baby giraffe, movements are jolty and uncoordinated, your not quiet sure where the bar is relative to your body, and weights you deemed “light” are making you sweat and hurt! Your timing is all off and your still using body parts to move the bar that don’t need to or shouldn’t. There are 100 different things going through mind every time you touch the bar and attempt to perform a lift, despite the coach asking you to focus on 2 – 3 things. Think bout don’t over think, be controlled yet aggressive, it is the art of finding your calm amongst the chaos that is the technicality.
You persist a little longer and things start to click (a little), timing improves and you start to understand the “pull” and how it fits to moving the bar. Your loads are now starting to look a little more decent as you load the bar in your sessions, your moving less like a giraffe and your thinking, cool, I can do this, this isn’t so bad. For most recreational lifters, this is a good zone to be in, you may only be hitting weightlifting movements once or twice a week in your program and your content with that and you have no desire to commence the never ending quest that us weightlifting. For some, you decide you want to take it to the next level, you want to train it more frequently and are now playing around with targets for a snatch and clean & jerk max, you may even give a low level comp a go!
Once you make the transition to focus more heavily on your weightlifting, this is where patience becomes your most valuable tool. Any great weightlifting coach can explain to you in words weightlifting and the ideal technique, but it will take you 10 years to master that technique. You will have training sessions where everything feels amazing, you hit the slots perfectly and your timing is on point, but then you will come in the very next day and things will feel hard, your timing will be way off, you will miss snatches forward, behind, get spat out the back of cleans and squished under jerks or even routine squats. As one of my coaches used to say to me “some days you get the bear, other days the bear gets you”. Get prepared for many sessions where the bear gets you more than you get the bear!
I have been competitively weightlifting now for 4 and a half years and one thing I can tell you is you only get better with more time and being consistent, even if you are a natural that picks it up well. I am still considered somewhat of a foetus in the sport of weightlifting to give you some perspective.
Along your journey there will be ebbs and flows, you lifts will increase fast at the start, but they will plateau, you will go through periods where it may take you a year to PB your snatch (yep that was me at one stage), and there never stops being something technical that needs work on, or part of the body that needs to be stronger yet again, because we can never be strong enough. Ask any experienced lifter to show you some of their lifting videos from the early days… its always good for a cringe and laugh! We all start there just remember that!
So don’t be too hard on yourself if your technique isn’t quiet there yet and your not matching it with the Rx lifters in your box or the best lifters in the strength room. Enjoy the fact that you are on a journey of mastering a skill that is technical and something not everyone can do nor finds comes easy. Take the small wins when the come, savour the great lifting sessions when you have them, try not compare your lifting progress against another and most importantly trust the process and trust your coach (if you don’t have a weightlifting coach, get one!) I have found in my personal journey that when you rush, your goal lift seems to stretch further away from you (literally). Be patient in your technique, be patient in your progress and you will be surprised at maybe just maybe how quickly things may then come to you.
2018 12 02