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First Steps to become a great (well, maybe better) Weightlifter/CrossFitter:

Posted by Sean Hutchinson on May 24, 2016 at 1:10 PM


I’m not saying that you have to look like K-star in the bottom of your OHS before you start training but it definitely goes a long way and makes progressing much easier when you can perform the movements in Weightlifting and CrossFit safely. Being able to comfortably hit these positions will make everything you do easier and safer in the long run. The biggest issue I see with new athletes in this sport is rushing to add weight before they are even flexible and mobile enough to do the exercises correctly. This can cause a lot of issues down the line if an athlete wishes to take their training to the next level.

What do I recommend?

• Sign up for a site like ROMWOD. There is a daily WOD to help you improve your flexibility. The biggest thing for me is routine. I know I’m supposed to stretch out but I just don’t. I’m the type of athlete that if it’s not programmed or explicitly given to me to do I’ll probably skip it. With ROMWOD I can login anytime, click play, and follow along. Click here (or copy and paste into your browser) for a free 2-week trial to see what all the hype is about. https://romwod.com/members/aff/go/built4this62kg

• Check out mobilityWOD videos on youtube. There are tons of free tutorials on how to use tools like foam rollers, sticks, bands, lacrosse balls, etc. to improve your mobility and get your body moving correctly. K-star also has 2 books out now that you can purchase and learn from. Between all the paid and free resources out there you really have no excuses to not work on flexibility/mobility daily.

2. Learn to do the basics first:

Some common errors I see with coaches and athletes when learning the Olympic lifts are simply just skipping the basics. You have to master or at least somewhat learn the basic fundamentals before you can start increasing the load/intensity of these movements. Learn how to full squat snatch and clean from day 1. Unless mobility is an issue there is no reason you shouldn’t be learning the full lifts from the start. Pulling under the bar aggressively and smoothly is THE most difficult thing when it comes to the Olympic lifts. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen athletes who have been lifting or crossfitting for years and can’t get under the bar because they never learned or now they lift so much they are too afraid. I’m sure you’ve all seen it. There is always that guy who can power clean 225#’s but is scared to get under 185#’s in a full squat clean.

Same thing goes for the Jerk as well. This is definitely one of the most overlooked and undercoached movements out of the snatch, clean, and the jerk. I’ve seen some of the prettiest cleans followed by some of the most atrocious jerks of my life. It never fails when stepping into a CrossFit gym. Let’s be honest though, most of the issues are because of lack of knowledge for newer coaches and lack of time because of the rush to get these movements so you can perform them in a WOD. A 1 hour class just doesn’t cut it when learning these highly technically movements. Some other examples: Learn to do a strict pull up, push ups, HSPU, dips, muscle ups, etc…all strict, before you even think about kipping. Trust me. You’re body will thank you later when you take the time to develop the proper strength to control these movements rather than just kipping your way to more reps before you’re ready.

What do I recommend?

First thing I always recommend is to get a qualified coach. If you have an Olympic lifting coach that host classes at your gym, PLEASE…FOR THE LOVE OF GOD…take advantage of that. You don’t realize how lucky you are to have him/her there until you don’t have the opportunity anymore. Having a good set of eyes on you when practicing the Olympic lifts can go a long way. Learning how to do the full squat variations of the lifts is always the first step. Once you master this you can start increasing your intensity. As for the jerks, I always recommend learning the power jerk variation first. This teaches the athletes to have a straight and explosive dip and drive and teaches them how to get their body under the bar and receive it overhead with elbows locked out. Once this has been mastered we can move on to learning the split jerk. I honestly don’t think this is a necessary movement unless you plan on competing in Crossfit or Weightlifting. The imbalances this can create from multiple reps everyday throwing the same leg forward are not worth the few extra pounds you’ll be able to put overhead.

So what if you don’t have a coach? There are tons of resources/coaches who sell online coaching services. Is it the best option? Probably not but it’s way better than spinning your wheels and making little to no progress trying to figure things out on your own. You can inbox me at: builtforthisathletics@gmail.com if you would like to talk about some programming/online coaching options that I offer.

3. If you want to be a competitor than you need to compete:

This is something I definitely fell victim too when I first got into Weightlifting. I used to get so nervous about competing. Every single time was a different experience. After years and years of competing and putting myself out there in different scenarios I have gained tons of confidence in myself as an athlete. I used to get so nervous before I went out there I would literally feel my heart beat racing and not know how to relax. I feel like this happens to a lot of newer athletes. They handle training so well and don’t really think about competing until it’s too late. They get up on the stage or out on the floor and freeze up. The game plan goes out the window and everything goes to shit. It happens all the time and there are definitely ways to get better at competing.

What do I recommend?

Compete as much and often as you can possibly afford to, especially in the first few years. The more you get comfortable out on that stage the easier competing at your best will be. You have to learn to block out things or just go out there and have fun with it. The same mentality that gets you all those PR’s in training needs to carry over to game day. The only way to do this is practice. Sign up for those local competitions. Go to other boxes every once in a while and train with better athletes than you. Put yourself in uncomfortable situations and make yourself become comfortable with them. That is the key to being a great competitior. Once you learn how to control that you will take yourself to the next level as an athlete and a competitor.

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