Monday, May 28, 2012

Simple Basic Programing

If you are going to squat, why not squat heavy and deep?

Below is an article that I really like by Jim Wendler off of the Elitefts site. We've put out alot of information on our site previously, emphasizing the need the need to build strength and power in the weight room and sports specific skills in sports practice sessions. Of course there will be differences in the exercises prescribed for different athletes, but those differences should be driven more by the individual characteristics of the athlete than by their sport. Does a lineman really need to train alot differently in the weight room than a receiver? Should a sprinter train entirely different from a thrower? Well, that depends on a lot of variables, but basically all athletes need to get stronger in same planes of motion. I believe every one benefits from bending their legs. (for best results through the full range of motion) That means squats in some form for anyone without a structural limitation. It may be back squats, front squats, one legged squats or whatever best fits the situation, but everyone needs to bend their legs. Another required plane of motion, in my opinion is bending at the waist, both ways. This means cleans or snatches in some form and/or pulls or deadlifts of some type along with back raises....etc.  It also means situps, hanging leg raises, or some form of ab work.
A good program would also require pushing overhead with military, push presses, jerks, dumbell presses.....etc. A horizontal push should also be included which entails bench presses, flat or various incline angles, dips, pushups, or some variation of them.
These pushes should be augmented with a pull in the opposite direction such as lat machine or pullups for the  overhead pressing and some form of rows for the horizontal presses.
 I cannot imagine any athlete, or human being for that matter, that would not benefit from staying with those basics, given there is no medical conditions that would prohibit it. These basics should be the foundation of any program.
Of course this is also an option if you don't want to be strong.....

I've been asked many times how 5/3/1 could be adapted for athletes. Most would say this is a legitimate question, as surely the needs of the performance-driven athlete would be much different from the guy who just wants to be bigger, stronger, and more awesome in general.

However, I'm here to tell you that regardless of the sport being performed on the field, not much really changes. This obviously goes against the "sport specific training specialists" who are trying to convince you that each athlete and sport is a special snowflake. Let's examine the facts.

All sports require that an athlete have strong hips, legs, shoulders, arms, and midsection. The best way to develop these areas is with a basic and effective barbell-training workout. There are no "sport specific" exercises as weight training for sports is nothing more than General Physical Preparedness (GPP).

So the goal of the coach is to use the most efficient exercises in the weight room to develop these parts of the body. This will allow for less time in the weight room, as athletes must develop things other than strength and thus don't have hours and hours to spend in the weight room. At least they shouldn't.

An athlete must train speed, strength, agility, conditioning, and most important, skill work. When one spends too much time on one thing, other areas are compromised. In the United States, especially with football, the weight room seems to take up the majority of the time.

Remember this simple statement when preparing athletes: they should be mobile enough to achieve the proper positions in the sport, and strong and explosive enough to move from those positions.

With any sport, the basic barbell lifts are the best and most efficient ways to train the entire body. These include the squat, deadlift, press, bench press, and power clean. Perform them with a full range of motion and proper loading and the athlete will become stronger. Pepper these exercises with assistance work and you'll have a complete strength-training program.

The assistance work is where the strength coach and athlete can infuse a little creativity, but don't use this time as a free-for-all in terms of exercises. Assistance work for athletes should be used for the following:

Muscle mass


Injury prevention (often termed "pre-hab" by some coaches. This refers to an area of an athlete or his/her position that's often injured and needs some preventive medicine).

Balance (this means that the assistance exercises chosen are used to balance the whole of the athlete. This would include upper back training, lat training, and abdominal/lower back, otherwise known as core, training, etc.).

The right assistance work can often fulfill all these areas. This is called training economy. And when training athletes in the weight room, training economy (a.k.a. "getting the most out of the best and fewest exercises") is vital. If the exercise doesn't serve a function, leave it out.

Choosing the correct assistance work is easy. For athletes I recommend doing hamstring, single-leg, lat/upper back, abdominal, lower back, and in some cases, neck work. The lifts you choose are going to be entirely based on what you have access to as an athlete and a coach.

Remember that athletes have become explosive and strong long before fancy machines and equipment came into vogue. You don't need much equipment, just the right coach and smart programming.

If the athlete has had an injury in the past, it's smart to do a couple sets of a proper exercise to help strengthen the area. If the athlete's sport or position is predisposed to a certain area of injury, adjust the assistance work to help him avoid an injury.

As an example, for many athletes, shoulder, back, hamstring, and knee injuries are part of the culture. So hit these areas with glute ham raises, external rotation (internal rotator stretches), extra abdominal work, reverse hyperextensions, and back raises. Properly performed squats and single-leg work will help strengthen the areas around the knee to help prevent knee injuries.

For in-season athletes, I recommend two workouts per week be performed. The set up would look like this:

Day One

Squat – 5/3/1

Bench press – 5/3/1

Assistance work

Day Two

Deadlift – 5/3/1

Press – 5/3/1

Assistance work

In-season assistance work can be 3-4 exercises of 8-12 reps per workout. If you choose to keep power cleans in your training, you can do them on either day.

There's no greater feeling than going into the final games of the season and feeling strong. This will give you (if you're an athlete) or your team (if you're a coach) a physical edge over your opponent. More importantly, this will give you a mental edge, which is invaluable.

If you're a strength coach, time in the weight room can also be used (and should be used) to develop other physical areas of the athlete. This includes flexibility, mobility, jumping, and medicine ball throws, amongst other things.

For example, an abbreviated version of the Parisi Warm-up (the Parisi Warm-up DVD is a great resource for every coach) should start each workout. I'd advise every coach have 3 or 4 variations of the warm-up and start each workout with one of them. Not only does this prepare the athlete's body for the upcoming workout, it can also address mobility problems. That's training economy at it's most basic.

Additional mobility and flexibility work can be done in between the sets of the main exercises. Brad Arnett, who was strength and conditioning coach at the University of Arizona but now runs a private facility, uses hip and piriformis stretches between sets of squats to help address depth issues and hip mobility problems.

Between sets of upper body pressing, don't be afraid to stretch the internal rotators or do some kind of upper back or lat work. This will allow you to get more work done in a minimum amount of time.

Jumping and other explosive work should be done after the warm-up and before the strength work. When designing your program, look beyond just the sets and reps and exercises. Use this simple training template when preparing athletes:

Speed (this includes sprints, jumps, throws – anything explosive)

Strength (this is any barbell work)


Done in this order, we prioritize the most important areas of athletics when the athlete is fresh. Don't turn the speed/explosive work into conditioning work – be sure your athletes are getting the proper time to rest between maximum efforts. It's always better to do things better, not do things more. Save the conditioning work for after the speed and strength work.

Young strength and conditioning coaches often feel overwhelmed by the amount of information out there. There's a never-ending urine stream of coaches and experts who lay claim to the "latest and greatest" and there's constant pressure to always use the newest ideas.

I know this because I've felt this pressure – you often feel like you're in a turbulent Sea of Genius getting tossed around on your Idiot Raft, but before you abandon ship, let me give you a few pieces of advice.

Don't coach what you don't know or don't feel comfortable with. You may hear something at a conference or in a magazine/book that sounds great, but if you aren't sure or if the information/application is out of your pay grade, let it go.

There's nothing more dangerous than a coach applying a concept haphazardly and without knowledge. Anyone remember the DVD of Adam Archuletta and the training of Jay Schroeder? That training (along with the painfully complicated "D.B. Hammer") was all the rage a decade ago and it was used and abused by coaches that had no grasp of the process and application of the methods. Don't coach what you don't know.

Drop your Philosophical Anchor! If you don't have a core philosophy when training athletes (or training anyone), you'd better develop one. This is something I've heard Dave Tate say repeatedly at seminars. I don't care what it is, but you need to take a stand on the things you believe in.

This doesn't happen overnight. I had to sift through years of training and reading to get to my own philosophy. There's big pressure for people to always be open to new ideas and that's fine – but you can't fall for everything.

If you have a solid, well thought-out philosophy, you'll be able to learn new things and apply them to your current training without selling your soul.

Learn to coach. Coaching is more than teaching – coaching is about getting your athletes to do the things you want them to do, in a language that they understand. I've seen countless smart coaches fail miserably because they can't get their point across. Just because you know your stuff doesn't mean you know how to coach your athletes. There's no book or course to learn how to coach – you gotta' get your hands dirty.

No matter what sport you play or coach – boxing, MMA, basketball, lacrosse, football, baseball, etc. – the same principles of training apply. With the 5/3/1 program, this means the main lifts are done as the program is laid out and the assistance work is done with the athlete and sport in mind. For almost all sports this entails work for the hamstrings, upper back/lats, and core.

The only change made per sport/athlete is the exercises chosen for rehab and prehab. This is up to you, the athlete or coach, to determine. And that's pretty easy – just look at the training room and the injury roster. Now train in such a way to prevent those injuries.

In the off-season, you can train 2, 3, or 4 days/week – the days don't matter as much as the principles that are applied. Once you've embraced the principles, you'll realize that everything falls into place. The minutia is no longer important.

When in doubt, remember this: get them mobile, get them strong, and get them fast. There are no hidden exercises. The secret lies in smart and simple programming.

Well said!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Can Recess Slow Childhood Obesity?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Commercial Gyms? Beware!

If your gym doesn't allow this,....you are in the wrong place.
There are gyms, and there are gyms. There are places where people with a common passion gather to workout, and there are places where they are trying to ride the "fitness boom" and milk it for all of the money they can. Making a profit and having a great gym need not be mutually exclusive, but businesses like the one described below give all gyms a bad reputation. Personally, it is my best advice that any serious athlete stay away from the chain type gyms. They are about money, not results. What ever you do, never sign anything and apparently never give them your credit or debit card numbers.

A Tempe man is suing LA Fitness for fraud, contending that staff members used his electronic signature to charge him for more than $1,200 in services he did not want or need.
Benjamin Calleros, 22, said LA Fitness drained his bank account of money set aside for tuition when staff members fraudulently signed him up for personal-training services.
The lawsuit mirrors hundreds of concerns posted on consumer-protection websites alleging that LA Fitness bills for unrequested services, continues auto-deducting monthly fees after contracts are canceled and refuses to reimburse once fees are collected.

"I was never someone who thought I would sue anyone," said Calleros, who is a film student at Scottsdale Community College. "But somebody needs to stand up."
LA Fitness officials in Arizona and at its headquarters in California did not respond to repeated requests for interviews.
Phoenix lawyer Tom Burke, who represents the LA Fitness in this case, said Thursday that the lawsuit would be challenged in court.
"We deny the allegations," he said, without discussing specifics of the case.
Phoenix lawyer Van O'Steen, who is representing Calleros, said the lawsuit raises larger questions about the way electronic signatures are collected via remote devices.
"These electronic-signature pads are the equivalent of someone signing a blank piece of paper," he said. "(Calleros) was told he was signing a waiver. ... He hadn't signed a waiver at all, but a personal-training contract."
O'Steen questioned whether the electronic-signature pads, which are similar to those in retail stores where purchasers sign credit agreements, should be used for contracts and other complex documents.
Calleros said shortly after he purchased a $24-per-month gym membership at the LA Fitness at Southern and Mill avenues in Tempe, he was offered a free training assessment.
Calleros said once the personal trainer fished the assessment, he asked Calleros to sign up for personal training. Calleros said he declined and was asked to sign a waiver on a small hand-held electronic-signature pad.
In his lawsuit, Calleros contends that his signature was pasted on a personal-training contract that allowed LA Fitness to electronically deduct payments from the same account that he was using to pay his gym membership. It was an account he used rarely, and primarily for college expenses.
O'Steen said that the signature on the contract, which he and Calleros believe originated from the signature pad, appears "small, compressed and is floating well above the signature line" where the date is typed on the form.
He compares it with Calleros' signature on the gym-membership contract, which is bold, crosses the signature line and is dated in Calleros' own hand.
Felix Mendiola, the LA Fitness personal trainer named in the lawsuit, said Thursday that he could not comment on the case.
"There is a lot that I would love to say about it," he said, referring questions to his lawyer. "When the truth of the matter comes out, I don't feel that it will be an issue."
LA Fitness is a member of the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, headquartered in Boston.
A representative said Thursday that the association could not talk about specific court cases. But as a member of the association, LA Fitness must abide by a code-of-conduct policy that prohibits "illegal activities and deceptive sales practices."
The code also requires LA Fitness to deliver services as promised and to conduct business "in a manner that commands the respect of the public for our industry."
Calleros said he didn't discover the account was depleted until five months after he joined the gym, when his tuition payment was returned for insufficient funds. That's when he said he discovered LA Fitness had been debiting $240-a-month charges.
Calleros said at first he believed it was just a billing mistake. But when he tried to address the issue, a variety of customer-service issues -- including three dropped calls, unreturned calls and phone transfers to nowhere -- he became convinced it was something more, he said.
Consumer-protection websites include complaints over billing issues from individuals claiming to be former and current LA Fitness members across the country. Many sites such as RipOff Report, Consumer Affairs and ComplaintWire include complaints from consumers who said they were billed for unrequested services.
"I have made attempts for nearly three months to cancel my membership," an individual named Onlife9 wrote on ComplaintWire in December. "My bank has advised me to cancel my debit card to ensure no future withdrawals can be made from my account."

If you see this, it's probably a good gym.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Strong Man History

Here is a great history of the Strong Man sport. Some great footage of past champions and  updates on them today. About 45 minutes long, but well worth the time if you are interested in strength sports and Strong Man in particular.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Multiple strategies needed to fight obesity, study suggests

Personally, I think coaches and physical educators should be positive examples of the value of lifelong fitness. Unfortunately, many are not.

No kidding. Common sense, probably better referred to as uncommon sense, has been telling us this for years. But why is it then, in our public schools here in the United States, we are continually cutting back on physical education and recess, all the while continuing to sell and serve junk food for lunch? What we say and what is actually happening is a huge disconnect. We are constantly  shocked by this huge obesity epidemic,  yet we keep kids sitting longer and serve them lunches that count ketchup as a vegetable. As a physical educator in the American public school system for over 30 years, I have always felt like a lone voice crying in the wilderness, with no one listening.
 In spite of the attention that health is getting in the press, still very little is changing in our schools.

By Nanci Hellmich, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – Students should be physically active for 60 minutes every day at school, fast-food restaurants need to offer healthier foods to kids, and communities need to have trails and other safe areas for residents to encourage physical activity, says a report out today..
It's going to take many strategies like these and a full-scale effort across all segments of society to reduce the obesity epidemic in this country, says a report from an expert committee convened by the Institute of Medicine, which provides independent advice on health issues to policy makers, foundations and others.
The goals and some of the strategies were presented here at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's meeting, "Weight of the Nation," where experts are discussing ideas for the prevention and control of obesity.
Currently, two-thirds of adults and a third of children in the USA are overweight or obese, government statistics show. Another study out Monday predicted that as many as 42% of adults may be obese, roughly 30 or more pounds over a healthy weight, by 2030 if actions aren't taken to reverse the trend.
Extra weight takes a huge toll on health increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, many types of cancer, sleep apnea and other debilitating and chronic illnesses, and it costs billions of dollars in extra medical expenditures.
The Institute of Medicine committee reviewed more than 800 obesity prevention recommendations to pinpoint the most effective ones.
The report says there is no one answer to this problem, but it's going to require bringing all the pieces together — the schools, the workplace, health care providers, says Dan Glickman, chairman of the institute committee and former secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The illnesses and costs associated with obesity are spiraling out of control, he says. "If we don't address this comprehensively, it will basically take us down as a society."
M. R. C. Greenwood, vice chairwoman of the committee and president of the University of Hawaii system, says, "Many people will probably say 'what's new' and what's new is the clear statement that we must begin to attack this problem collectively on all fronts. It's a massive problem unlike anything we have ever tackled before."
Here are the five goals and a some strategies suggested for achieving them:

•Make it easier for people to work physical activity into their daily lives.

Communities could convert unused railroad beds into walking/running/biking trails.

•Create an environment where healthy food and beverage options are the routine, easy choice.

Fast-food and chain restaurants could revise their recipes and menus to make sure at least half of their kids' meals comply with government's dietary guidelines for moderately active 4- to 8-year-olds, and that those meals are moderately priced. Shopping centers, convention centers, sports arenas, and other public venues that have meals and snacks also should offer a variety of healthy foods.
Businesses, governments and others should adopt policies to reduce the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages including making clean water available in public places, work sites and recreation areas.

•Improve messages about physical activity and nutrition.

The food, beverage, restaurant and media industries should take voluntary action to develop and adopt nutritionally based standards for marketing aimed at children and adolescents, ages 2- 17. If those standards aren't adopted within two years by the majority of companies, then local, state and federal policymakers should consider setting mandatory nutritional standards for marketing to this age group.

•Expand the role of health care providers, insurers and employers in obesity prevention.

Employers should provide access to healthy foods at work and offer opportunities for physical activity as part of their wellness/health promotion programs.

•Make schools a national focal point for obesity prevention.

Students should have nutrition education throughout their school years, and kids in kindergarten through 12th grade should have the chance to engage in a total of 60 minutes of physical activity each school day. This should include participation in quality physical education.
"There's so much to do, and the country is still doing so little," says Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington-based consumer group. "It seems heartless that we're abandoning two-thirds of the American population to obesity-related diseases."
There are lots of ways for students to get an hour of physical activity during the school day including recess, PE, walking and biking to school, classroom activities and after-school sports, Wootan says. "Kids need a chance to run around in order to sit still in the classroom."
When it comes to food marketing to kids, "companies claim to be taking meaningful action, but still the overwhelming majority of food ads aimed at kids are for unhealthy foods," she says.
"What industry says is healthy to market to kids is not what most parents and health professionals think is healthy."

Of course, we can always go Sumo!!!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sad Story

A sad story......
Some athletes have no life after their athletic career is over. There has to be more to life than sport, otherwise we have no marketable skills or purpose.
Sad to see this happen to such a great lifter.

Former Olympic weightlifting champ Boevski sentenced to 9 years for drug smuggling in Brazil

By Associated Press, Published: May 3

SAO PAULO — Former Olympic weightlifting champion Galabin Boevski of Bulgaria was convicted of international drug trafficking and sentenced to nine years, four months in prison.
The judge from a federal court in Sao Paulo announced the sentencing Thursday, nearly five months after Boevski was detained at the city’s international airport and accused of trying to leave the country with 16 pounds of cocaine “worth nearly $500,000” in Europe. He was also fined nearly $10,000.
Boevski won the gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics in the 152-pound category. He also won world titles in the category in 1999 and 2001. He was banned for eight years by the International Weightlifting Federation for doping in 2004.
Brazilian police allegedly found the drug hidden in a fake bottom inside Boevski’s luggage while he tried to board a flight on Oct. 25. His destination was Sofia, Bulgaria.
Boevski’s lawyer, Leandro Pereira, told Bulgaria’s TV7 channel the sentence will be appealed. Boevski was facing a 15-year prison sentence for the international drug trafficking charges.
Judge Maria Isabel do Prado ruled that Boevski tried to “take advantage of his status of a sports celebrity” to commit the crime. She also that he used his young daughter’s participation at a tennis tournament in Brazil as a way to try to disguise his actions.
The 37-year-old Boevski has denied wrongdoing. He had told authorities the cocaine was unknowingly hidden inside a suitcase he bought in Brazil after his original luggage was damaged.
Authorities said they didn’t believe him, saying a drug trafficker would not “abandon” 16 pounds of cocaine in a suitcase put up for sale. Prosecutors said that in Europe, 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of cocaine is worth about $70,000.
“By the defendant’s version, ‘someone’ would’ve abandoned a fortune of more than half a million dollars in suitcases randomly put up for sale without reasonable explanation,” prosecutors said.
Police initially said that 20 pounds of cocaine were found, but later tests showed that the amount allegedly being carried by Boevski was 16 pounds.
“It would have been impossible for the defendant not to notice the suitcase’s weight when he ‘purchased’ it,” the judge wrote.
The court said that by allegedly having the drug with him and by trying to leave the country there was enough evidence to characterize the crime as international drug trafficking.
“The amount of drug found and the location where the drug was found made it clear that it was not going to be used for personal use, but instead was being transported for commercial means,” the judge said.
Follow Tales Azzoni at http://twitter.com/tazzoni
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

© The Washington Post Company

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Big T

Below is a really great video segment on Testosterone and it's well done in my opinion. It really is a complex issue when it comes to acceptable levels. Personally I have always gone with what God has given me and not attempted to supplement my natural levels. However, as the years go by and I can see and feel the effects of aging, I have to admit that it is tempting to see what restoring former levels would do. Bottom line, I won't be using any T-replacement products beyond good nutrition and exercise, but it is interesting to think about. This is a long video, about 45 minutes, but interesting if you make the time. The segment on finger length ratios (index to ring finger) is interesting. I have heard of this before but wasn't fully convinced of it's validity. Interesting though.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Cola habit behind death of 30-year-old New Zealand woman?

Good health habits bring great results.

Not much else to say about this....
A sad story of excess and addiction that seems to be occuring more often in today's fast paced and complicated world.
There has never been a greater need for safe and sane exercise and good nutrition. The last paragraph sums the situation up very well.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- Experts say a New Zealand woman's 2-gallon-a-day Coca-Cola habit probably contributed to her death, a conclusion that led the soft-drink giant to note that even water can be deadly in excessive amounts.

Natasha Harris, a 30-year-old, stay-at-home mother of eight from Invercargill, died of a heart attack in February 2010. Fairfax Media reported that a pathologist, Dr. Dan Mornin, testified at an inquest Thursday that she probably suffered from hypokalemia, or low potassium, which he thinks was caused by her excessive consumption of Coke and overall poor nutrition.

Symptoms of hypokalemia can include abnormal heart rhythms, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Mornin said that toxic levels of caffeine, a stimulant found in Coke, also may have contributed to her death, according to Fairfax.

Harris' partner, Chris Hodgkinson, testified that Harris drank between 8 and 10 liters (2.1 and 2.6 gallons) of regular Coke every day.

"The first thing she would do in the morning was to have a drink of Coke beside her bed and the last thing she would do at night was have a drink of Coke," Hodgkinson said in a deposition. "She was addicted to Coke."

Hodgkinson also said Harris ate little and smoked about 30 cigarettes a day. In the months before her death, he said, Harris experienced blood pressure problems and lacked energy.

He said that on the morning of her death, Harris helped get her children ready for school before slumping against a wall. He called emergency services and tried mouth-to-mouth resuscitation but couldn't revive her.

Another pathologist, Dr. Martin Sage, said in a deposition that "it is certainly well demonstrated that excessive long or short term cola ingestion can be dramatically symptomatic, and there are strong hypothetical grounds for this becoming fatal in individual cases."

Inquests such as this are sometimes held for unusual or unexplained deaths in New Zealand, and can help shape future health policies. With the evidence in the case now complete, the coroner's office will compile and issue a final report into the death.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Lisa Te Morenga, a nutritionist at the University of Otago, said excessive consumption of any type of liquid in a cool climate would be likely to play havoc with the body's natural systems and balance.

Karen Thompson, a spokeswoman for Coca-Cola Oceania, said in a statement that its products are safe.

"We concur with the information shared by the coroner's office that the grossly excessive ingestion of any food product, including water, over a short period of time with the inadequate consumption of essential nutrients, and the failure to seek appropriate medical intervention when needed, can be dramatically symptomatic."

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Combination Lifts

Combination lifts can add mass.

Back in 1990 I published an article in the NSCA Journal on combination lifts.
(National Strength & Conditioning Association Journal. 12(1):58-60, February 1990)
Over the years I have used them as Coach Schmitz states below, for variety, conditioning, teaching technique, and as a concentrated complete workout when time is short. And....as he says, they are fun to do. They are also great for building mental toughness when done with heavier weights. Executing a jerk after a combination of cleans and front squats, for example, requires toughness and concentration. These are also great for increasing volume and work capacity and can add mass when accompanied by good eating habits. Someone who has only a limited time to train or limited equipment can get a complete workout in a very short time using combinations.  Below is a recent article by Jim Schmitz who should need no introduction to American lifters. He does a nice job of outlining some combination options. Of course no one is limited to these, use your own creativity to address specific needs that you or your athletes may have.
By Jim Schmitz
U.S. Olympic Weightlifting Team Coach 1980, 1988 & 1992
Author of Olympic-style Weightlifting for Beginner & Intermediate Weightlifters Manual and DVD

Combos for Form, Fitness and Fun

Another fantastic thing about Olympic-style weightlifting is that you can do so many variations of the snatch and clean and jerk—it’s almost unlimited. When combining the lifts or variations of the lifts, we call these combos, short for combinations, also referred to as complexes by some. The reasons for combining movements are for variety, teaching technique, conditioning, and saving time, and for fun. Here are some basic combos.
1. Military press – push press – push jerk.
This exercise is done from a rack. You do a strict standing military press with the first rep, a push press with the second rep, and then a push jerk with the third rep. That’s 1 set of 3 reps. You start light and stop when you can’t military press the first rep. This combo really works your overhead pushing power and will develop your deltoids and triceps.
2. Push jerk – split jerk (unnatural leg forward) – split jerk (natural leg forward)
This means the first rep is a push jerk (remember, a push jerk and a power jerk are the same thing); the second rep is a split jerk, but you split the leg forward that you would normally split backward; and the third rep is a split jerk, with your usual, natural leg going forward. That’s 1 set. This exercise really helps develop your split-jerking technique, as you really have to concentrate when splitting with your unnatural leg forward and backward. You can work up to around 80% of your best single jerk off the rack.
3. Power snatch – overhead squat
This is a good drill when teaching the squat snatch or warming up for your snatch workout. You do 3 to 5 power snatches followed immediately by 3 to 5 overhead squats. That’s 1 set. You can work up to around 70% for 3 sets of 3 to 5 reps.
4. Power clean – front squat – push jerk
This combo is very similar to 3 above. You do 3 to 5 power cleans, followed by 3 to 5 front squats, followed by 3 to 5 push jerks. Let me tell you, that is a lot of work and will really get you huffing and puffing.
5. Power snatch from floor – squat snatch from thighs (hang) – squat snatch from floor
My favorite combo, this requires concentration—and maybe a coach to remind you what to do when first learning this combo. Power snatch the first rep from the floor, squat snatch the second rep from the middle or upper thighs, and squat snatch the third rep from the floor. That’s 3 reps and 1 set. You never take your hands off the bar and you don’t use straps. This combo will develop grip, consistency and efficiency. It really helps lifters learn how to keep the bar close, brush the thighs, and get under the bar fast. You would work up to about 70% for 3 sets of 3 reps. This combo should also be done for cleans: power clean from floor – squat clean from thighs – squat clean from floor.
6. Snatch high pull – snatch – snatch high pull
Another one of my favorites, in this combo you do a snatch high pull, then a snatch (power or squat), and then another snatch high pull—that’s 1 set of 3. My lifters like to call this combo the snatch sandwich. You can do the same combo for cleans: clean high pull – clean (power or squat) – clean high pull—again that is 1 set of 3. You can also reverse the pulls and lifts: snatch – snatch high pull – snatch; and clean – clean high pull – clean. This combo helps you straighten out your pull. You could work up to around 80% for 3 sets of 3 reps.
7. Power clean – front squat – strict press from the front squat bottom position
One of the most interesting and difficult combos that I’ve ever seen was done by Viktor Sots (Soviet Union), 100-kg world champion in 1981, with lifts of 182.5 and 225, total 407.5 kg; and in 1982 doing 190 and 232.5, total 422.5 kg, beating Yuri Zakharevich’s 195 and 225, total 420 kg.
Viktor would do power cleans, followed by front squats, followed by strict presses from the front squat bottom position. He would do 3 power cleans, 3 front squats and then 3 presses from the bottom front squat position. I saw him do this combo in several training sessions, and in one workout he did 160 kg x3, and 170 and 180 for singles. His shoulder flexibility and strength were incredible. I believe he was the first modern-day push jerker doing 232.5 kg. I tell people about this combo, and when they try it, they all fail the first few times, but with practice some get up to 60 kg, though most just quit. Some think the Sots press is done from the squat position, but with the bar behind the head; that is not correct—it must be power cleaned, lowered to the front squat bottom position, and pressed from there—then you can stand!
I want to emphasize that combos are for improving technique, conditioning, and workout capacity (the ability to do a lot of volume and intensity in a workout). Start very light and only do 5 sets total and 3 to 5 reps tops—and really concentrate on your form.