20 More Tips That Will Make You Better at Olympic Weightlifting
Olympic weightlifting can seem like a never-ending journey of self-improvement and bewilderment. This isn’t too far from the truth, at least on the self-improvement side of things. Weightlifting is a lifetime skill (and a life skill too), and you’ll definitely experience moments of bewilderment along the way.
The danger comes when you allow the bewilderment to get the better of you. A large part of my job as a weightlifting coach is to steer you away from this, to simplify the complexities of the sport, and provide you with a framework of concepts from which you can hang your lifts and experiences. Following on from my seemingly popular 20 Tips That Will Make You Better at Olympic Weightlifting piece, here are twenty more tips and concepts to make you think, and ultimately make you a better lifter:
20 More Tips for Better Olympic Weightlifting
1. Nail the Start Position - It starts with the start. The only thing stopping you from creating the best possible start position is you. It’s just you and the bar. You are not in motion. Neither is the bar. It does not arrive at you with different velocities and trajectories. There is no opponent. So what’s stopping you from setting up perfectly? (Clue: Whatever you just answered to that - fix it). Wind yourself up against the bar. Start pulling so the bar is almost leaving the ground. Bring your chest up more. Tighten that back. Find that tension in your hamstrings. Get yourself so tight it hurts to hold it.
2. Be Consistent in Your Set Up - Make your set up the same every time. Approach the bar the same way. Address the bar the same way. A failure to do this means you arrive at the bar in a different way each time, which makes you your own opponent.
3. Do Not Leak Energy Throughout the Lift - You’ve done the hard work creating all that tension. Now all you need to do is maintain that tension through your body, particularly your core, as you progress through each position.
4. Get Uncomfortable (and Get Used to It) - These positions are not comfortable. Your body will try to find the easiest way to get to and hit these positions - the path of least resistance. Don’t let this happen. Fight for your positions.
5. Fix Your Gaze - Ever had those days where you feel like you are all over the place? Of course you have. Where is your head at on these days? Focusing on a fixed point will help you both focus your body and your mind.
6. Be Aggressive When Receiving the Bar - Your aggression shouldn’t end with the pull. Be aggressive in finding and holding your receive and coming out of it too. And don’t celebrate until you have finished the lift and the bar is back on the floor. I’m serious.
7. Be Stable in Your Receive Position - Why are you in such a rush to get out of the catch position of your snatch or jerk? Spend time in these positions and learn to be stable in them. If I see you rush into your recovery every time, I’ll assume it’s because you can’t hold position. Prove me wrong.
8. Focus on One Thing - If you’re anything like me, you can only focus on one thing at once. So stop trying to change everything about your lift at the same time. Focus on one thing at a time.
9. Accept Change - Accept that as you change even one small part of your lifting, something else you felt was pretty much sorted will slip out of sync. Accept that this is part and parcel of weightlifting, and be pleased with positive changes in your lifting. You can fix that other stuff.
10. Drill the Weak Parts - You tell me there’s too much to think about in the lifts. So drill, drill, and drill the parts you currently need to think about so much, until they are second nature to you. Assess your weaknesses honestly and drill them accordingly until they are better. Then reassess, and hit the next area of weakness.
11. Use the Bar - It’s not you versus the bar. It’s you and the bar. Be at one with the bar. Use it to your advantage. Pull yourself under it. Push up against it. To be aggressive and successful you have to work together with the bar.
12. Think Small - Incremental increases. Small technique changes. Small shifts in position or weight distribution. These small things make a big difference.
13. Think Big - Ever had a sticking point at a round number? A lift you just don’t seem to be able to hit, even though it’s just a couple of kilos more? Stop getting hung up on the numbers. Each lift is not an end to itself. It’s a progression onto the next lift.
14. Be Fast - Be fast enough to create momentum.
15. Be Controlled - Be controlled enough to find position.
16. Be Supple - Be supple enough to create position.
17. Be Strong - Be strong enough to hold position.
18. Be Smooth - Be smooth enough to move from position to position fluidly (and look cool doing it).
19. Be Confident - Be confident that if you do all this, you will stand far better chance of making the lift than just ripping the bar off the floor and “going for it,” using speed to compensate for position.
20. Be Happy - Olympic weightlifting will either make you or break you, and quite possibly both if you let it. Take pleasure in the fact that you are participating in such a brilliant sport, in small changes, in big lifts, and in yourself.
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Photos courtesy of CrossFit LA.