Friday, March 14, 2014

Great Lifting SIte

There is a great lifting site that is relatively new: http://www.olympicweightliftingguru.com/     This is maintained by Taylor Chiu, oldest son of Dave Chiu who we featured in an earlier post on our site.  http://www.haskestrength.com/2010/06/dave-chiu-true-sportsman.html   Taylor is a great lifter, a Marine who was deployed in the middle east, and served as a missionary in Thailand. He has some great stuff on his site that applies to competitive lifters, athletes who use weightlifting to train for other sports, and beginners who want to learn. The site is multi-media with great videos, pictures, and descriptive writing. Below is a sample article contributed by Dave on the need to adapt techniques to individual characteristics.

Fixing Lefty – What if my technique is not “normal”?
March 10, 2014/0 Comments/in Lifting tips /by David Chiu
This guest post is by Dave Chiu, Olympic Weightlifting coach of the 2-time defending Crossfit Games Team Champion Hack’s Pack.

He had quite a weightlifting career himself, posting all-time bests of 135 kg snatch and 175 kg clean & jerk in the 105 kg weight class.

His greatest lifting achievement was winning Collegiate Nationals in 1990, followed closely by his silver at the 1991 Olympic Festival.


I received an interesting message from a friend frustrated about her lifting (we are acquainted because of mutual CrossFit friends but haven’t yet met):

“so I have a question for ya.. k.. power versus squat? Meaning this.. I absolutely LOVE to squat everything.. squat snatch, squat clean etc.. but.. I struggle with the hang power snatch and hang power clean. I do okay with them from the ground.. but struggle with them when doing power.

My coach has been trying to figure out why this is.. it’s like I’m backwards from everyone else. Most people struggle getting under the bar or dropping down in the squat and like the power better. But.. not me.. I would squat snatch and squat clean any day over the other. So any ways.. my question is this.. what is the benefit of the power lifts? And are they going to benefit me.. or help me as far as Oly goes..

haha! Sorry I have so many questions.. I would love to start competing in the Oly comps, but I’m pretty positive that my lifts need to come up a bit.”

This inquiry is actually rather common…

of a sort that comes down to “Why am I different, does it matter, how should I feel about it, and what-to-do?”

Here’s why I titled this “Fixing Lefty” — there are individual differences between people which are distinctive, but need not be made into problems.

I am left-handed for writing and eating, but right-handed for almost everything else.  Growing up in late-20th century America this was no more of a big deal than having slightly wider than average feet (so I prefer to wear 12s instead of the 11s that fit length-wise).

Vardanian pulled with hips higher than most would recommend.

Urik Vardanian is a “lefty” when it comes to technique, but he was one of the greatest weightlifters ever.
However, in many times and places such a sinister preference (from the Latin for left) has been so scandalous that children who showed such a tendency would be “corrected” by such means as da-shou-lian (hit-hand-training) or having their left hands tied behind their backs.

Decades ago I lived in Taiwan, a beautiful land with wonderful people who are as modern as most places, but still aware of such past prejudices.  During one period my proselyting companion at the time was also left-handed, so it was humorous to hear such exclamations as “You’re both lefties?!?!  Are all Americans lefties??”

Here’s how this anecdote relates — many coaches and athletes who use the O-lifts for all their benefits to physical improvement and competition have a parallel attitude toward lifting tendencies that are no more “wrong” than is left-handedness (or to state a more directly related example, splitting right foot forward instead of the more common left).  It is crucial to remember that LIFTING MORE (or the same more successfully) is the primary determinant of what is “right” technically, so if the method allows for that within the framework of the athlete’s goals, then IT’S NOT WRONG.

Yes it’s more typical for CrossFitters to be better at Power Cleans/Snatches, and for many to be better from the hang than the floor, just as it’s more common for them to lift 30+% more in Deadlift than Squat.  It doesn’t take more than a little experience to observe that some can lift nearly as much, and a few even more, in Squat than Deadlift — similarly, a minority will be better using a squat technique rather than a power one, or from the floor than from the hang, and there will be rare cases who do best of all split-style.

There is a great deal more worth saying about why this is so, but for now I will just reiterate that what is usual is not always what’s best for a given individual — we all know that and appreciate it most for our personal distinctions, but sometimes it’s still necessary to say so and save needless coach/athlete stress and individual frustration.

Play the hand you’ve got — give reasonable attention to cultivate areas that seem less in balance with the ideal or what’s common (especially if it improves safety), but don’t disdain what works well for you just because it’s different.  Yes, your current weaknesses can be brought up to par, but don’t do so at the expense of higher performance — don’t hate what you’re good at.

Especially if, like some famous cases in ball sports, being a lefty is key to why you make millions…

Here’s my response and the rest of the conversation:

Some are the same way, like DW, and me too as it turns out…

it’s part individual coordination (like how a small percentage will tend to split snatch and/or clean) and part relative leg strength compared to back/upper body strength

sometimes the wod/event requires a specific method, but usually its just clean or snatch so you do what works best for you no matter whats usual for most

this is a good way to see how your PRs relate to the usual/well-trained proportions, but as you plug in each number you will likely get a wide range of results for the others… AND THE SAME IS TRUE FOR ALMOST EVERYONE ELSE (the point is that individuals are individuals so such wide variation is very common):http://www.qwa.org/Resources/Calculators.aspx

This is good to know.. because my coach gets frustrated with me because I miss on my power cleans and power snatches… but then I can add weight to the bar I just missed.. and squat snatch or clean it… just fine

EB has had the same problem w/ her tendency to split…  appreciate and build on what you’re good at… be appropriately attentive to differences that matter

PS — at a cool competition held in Las Vegas every spring “High School Power Clean Nationals” they have no problem accepting squat clean as fully legit, and when expert olift coaches say CL or SN its presumed they mean squatting… the CF tendency to power clean/snatch when not specified is an anomaly I got used to yrs ago.

Dave completing a heavy jerk in his prime.

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