Just Do It…(like this)


Years ago, I trained briefly with an Olympic Weightlifting coach. I’d drive two hours (one way) for about an hour and a half session and trained with a promising up and comer strong young man who was a collegiate lifter. It was a new experience for me, training in the garage with another lifter. The coach was an Olympian, a very nice Minnesota man. In fact, I still owe him $20 towards my final session. I think of that everytime I’m in a situation where I may see him (like The Arnold.) I carry an extra $20 in case I run into him and can square up.

Anyways. My two hour trips didn’t last long. Truth be told, we never really jelled. My part of that is when I get coached, I try to do exactly what the coach tells me. I’ve written before on how that screwed me up at Games last year, getting “coached” by countless people right before attempts, I’d try to do what they told me and get all messed up. (Which is why I’ll quietly walk away from folks this year or just outright tell them that I’ll talk to them AFTER I throw. No more.) The problem is, many people have the right idea in their head but have no idea how to communicate it. Compound that with the fact that I’ll try to do exactly what they say and I’m just a big old mess.

My struggle with the Olympic lifts is when I would get walked over to the wall and be told that I need to look exactly like THIS…

…keep my back long like this and chest up. W!T!F!????

First off, I can’t keep my back “nice and long” unless I’m put on some sort of torture chamber device. My back is nice and short in comparison to my femurs. The actual exact OPPOSITE of Pyros Dimas. So we would snatch, over and over and over and anywhere from 28-30kg hoping that I would magically “get” it and start looking like him.

Ummmm, that’s not how it works folks. If your “strength” coach keeps telling you that you’re not “looking” right, fire him/her. They have no idea what they’re doing. If your coach says you need to look like Lidia Valentin as you come out of the hole, assume you mean her hair and make-up cuz that ain’t coaching. Coaching, teaching the fundamentals; laying a foundation for further learning; principles based on the mechanics of lifting, not appearances. Cuz guess what folks, these lifters are the best of the best. It’s like saying, run like Walter Payton. Well, ok, he was amazing. But what coach these days would allow their player to hold the ball as if you’re about to drop it (cough*EARLYDAYSAP*cough.) What worked for Payton worked for him but perhaps wasn’t the ideal form of running with a football being chased by really big guys who want to smash you into the ground and take away said football.

There is an interesting discussion going on right now on NASGA on just this topic (that I started. Troublemaker:) I asked about a stone put and where we want our throwing elbow. Do we want it as high as it goes, causing shoulder impingement? Or do we keep it parallel or low. ADD in the additional angle of the elbow ‘behind’ the hips or not and it’s very interesting to me. Some top notch throwers and coaches have chimed in, which I am very appreciative of, and there are a couple of different answers. As I’ve watched seemingly hours of video of some of best throwers in history, the consensus seems to be…elbows are actually all over the place. My question then, is WHY? How is force transmitted most effectively in the release?

Same goes with lifting. And running. And training. In each ‘form’ example given of a top athlete in sport, an opposite example can be pointed to by another elite athlete in the same sport. And all of that has absolutely nothing to do with a novice learning the fundamentals. Mechanics. Transmission of force. If that ain’t being discussed, then yes, you may as well talk about hair and make-up.That reminds me, I need a haircut…and some brown eye shadow.

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex…it takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.

E.F. Schumacher

Training Log

About tosabarbell

For training opportunities at tosabarbell, call or text Juli at 320-296-9313. e-mail to jep6095@gmail.com At tosabarbell, I build relationships cultivated in a strength and learning environment. There is no 12 week magic pill program to strength but rather a lifetime commitment to be the very best and most useful human you can be. tosabarbell is a private, home grown gym with three lifting platforms; squat rack; prowlers; throwing implements; bars, bumpers and everything else needed for an effective strength and conditioning program. Straightforward barbell programming including the Olympic lifts; sound (read: not fancy bullshit) diet advance for weight gain or loss; and strong coaching will ensure you will meet your goals such as becoming stronger, more explosive, and better conditioned. I have been coaching teams and athletes for over 30 years. I grew up participating in various sports at various levels but was always drawn to those that require strength training. I have multiple local, national, and world records in the sports of Weightlifting and Highland Games Heavy Events as well as a combined total of 5 World Championships. My 5 years of training and coaching under Mark Rippetoe provided a wide range of influence from some of the top strength & conditioning and throwing coaches in the country. I will strongly encourage tosabarbell athletes to compete (and prepare you to do so.) However, tosabarbell is also for those who wish to be stronger and go through life feeling better. Matt WanAt is a retired Professional Strongman who competed frequently with Strongman Champions League in Europe. He played a year of D1 football with Iowa before concentrating on his Chemical Engineering degree in Iowa City. He is a native of Wauwatosa and still remains a staunch supporter of Tosa East. This blog will be a mixture of strength notes, coaching and nutrition tips, personal shit; bacon delicacies, and a whole lot of fun.
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