Friday, May 30, 2014

Check Out Our Facebook Pages

Keep up with the latest news and some history from the Rez and beyond!
In 2014 one can no longer afford to ignore the power of social media. We have decided to wade into that realm.We have a page called Mustang Weight Room which is updated almost daily with great information from the past and present along with current updates.
We have began to update this regularly with articles from our archives. We have over 530 posts now in our archives and there is a lot of good stuff that has been buried in time. We will try to use the medium of Facebook to get some of that good information back out. If you are plugged in to social media, check our newest page out.
Like us and we'll add you as a friend to stay current.

Real power and information from the Native Source to You!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Greatest Comeback in Weightlifting History

Kaki is a master technician. 
No one else moves under the bar like he does!

This is a great article by Taylor Chiu off of his website: http://www.olympicweightliftingguru.com 
He has a lot of great stuff there. This is a great story from the world of weightlifting that teaches many lessons on many different levels.

Everybody likes a good comeback, a good underdog.

And every great legend starts somewhere. And for 3-time Olympic Gold medalist Akakide Kakishvillis (Kaki, for short), that journey began at the 1992 Barcelona Games.
Although from the country of Georgia, Kakiashvillis lifted for the Unified (former Soviet) team in this contest – the Soviet Union had already collapsed, but there wasn’t time to split into individual nations. In 1992, his main competition was Sergei Syrtsov, a native Russian. Two teammates, coached by the all-time great Vasily Alexeev, going head to head, in what would become an intense duel and the greatest comeback in weightlifting history.
All white lights, 3 good lifts, but soon to be eclipsed by his Unified teammate, Syrtsov. Rumor has it that Alexeev, the coach, didn’t want to see a Georgian beat his fellow Russian, so he didn’t let Kaki push his snatch attempts as high as he wanted. Minutes later in the competition, and Syrtsov had set an Olympic record with a 190 kg snatch.

Just to clarify, a 12.5 kg lead in weightlifting is HUGE. It’s like being up 35 points in a basketball game, or 4 touchdowns ahead in football. Wrap it up. Go home, call it a day.

Kaki was in even bigger trouble when Syrtsov set an Olympic record total with a 222.5 kg Clean & Jerk.

But as the world had learned in 1988 when he hit 225 kg as a Jr. World Champ, Kaki has a BIG clean & jerk.

Even still, Syrtsov’s triumph seemed like such a foregone conclusion that NBC cut their coverage prior to Kaki’s last lift. To win, he would have to tie the world record of 235 kg, one of the greatest world records of all time (to this day).

And a legend was born.

That, my friends, is as good as it gets. All the aches, and sores, and repetitious lifts, for that. We can’t all win a gold medal, but we can all win – against all odds, against our own foes, whether internal or external. Kaki would go on to win 2 more gold medals, his sliver of a victory in those ’92 games leading to a bigger-than-life career.

Face your fears, cause you never know what lays on the other side.

Afternote –

Kaki’s victory is somewhat symbolic of resistance against the Soviet Union, like weightlifting’s version of the “Miracle On Ice”, cause even though he won for the quasi-Soviet team, and mistakenly had his nationality announced as Russian on the medal stand, he was clearly more interested in representing Georgia than the empire. After his win in 1992, he went on to compete in the next 3 Olympiads for Greece (his mother’s homeland), and has been outspoken in the resistance to Russian aggression.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Snatch and Clean Extension: Be Patient

Be patient off the floor and get the bar and your body in position.

Yet another great (un)commonsensical article from Greg Everett or Catalyst Athletics. Very simple stuff, yet not understood by so many who are trying to master the lifts. Yes the lifts are meant to be performed explosively, yet there is a rhythm and timing that a lifter must feel to be able to exert the maximum speed and force to the bar. The great Tommy Kono teaches this in lifting and Mac Wilkens teaches it in throwing. Positions, not speed in the beginning produce power. Be patient and get your body into the optimal power positions before you try to "explode" with the weight.

Snatch and Clean Extension: Be Patient
Greg Everett  |  Quick Tips  |  September 17 2012
Snatch and Clean Extension: Be Patient, Greg Everett,
A big mistake with the snatch and clean is trying to initiate the final explosion too soon. This can create a list of problems, including shifting your balance too far forward, pushing the bar away from your body, preventing a complete extension of the hips, and limiting the speed and height of the bar. Bring the barbell back into your body as it leaves the floor, and continue using the lats to push it back into the hips - not near the hips, but actually into the hips. (Understand that the hips DO move forward toward the bar as well - however, the effort to move the bar back to the hips helps prevent the lifter from shifting forward as is the natural tendency, and from over-reaching the hips through the bar).

If the barbell never touches your body, you're doing something horribly wrong. (By the way, keep the bar in tight to the legs on the way up - if the bar is banging into your hips when it contacts, you've let it get too far away first.) When the bar is into the hips, you're balanced properly over the feet, and your shoulders are still over the bar, drive through the ground explosively and snap the hips open (or you can use the dirty little word jump). Do it right, and you will feel and hear the bar pop up for you faster than it ever has; additionally, you'll find your pull under and your balance in the receiving position much improved.

Bring the bar in, then extend.
Greg Everett is the owner of Catalyst Athletics, head coach of the national-medalist Catalyst Athletics weightlifting team, publisher of The Performance Menu, author of the books Olympic Weightlifting: A Complete Guide for Athletes & Coaches and Olympic Weightlifting for Sports, and director/writer/producer/editor/everything of the documentary American Weightlifting. Follow him on Facebook here and and sign up for his free newsletter here.
Then you are ready to explode!

Monday, May 19, 2014

All Black's Haka vs. NFL

Here in the USA people are already getting excited about the upcoming football season. Of course our Superbowl has become a national holiday and is billed as the world championship. True, except that the rest of the world doesn't play football. American style football is certainly a spectacle with the helmets and pads that make players look other worldly and allow for high speed collisions. The pace is really pretty slow as there is a break between each play, although a recent trend is to speed up the game and shorten the time between plays. Probably the closest thing to American football is Rugby which truly is an international sport and is played without breaks or pads. Quite a few years ago a good friend of mine who was a rugby player at BYU did his doctoral dissertation comparing the pain threshholds of American football players with rugby players. When I asked what his conclusions were, he just smiled and said (with his New Zealand accent) "Rugby players are tough!"  A lot of American football teams are using the Haka as a pregame psych up. I'm sorry, but they just don't capture the essence of the real thing.......

                                                                        Pretty pathetic.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Improving Technique

Often it is easier to teach good technique to female lifters as they generally come in with less experience and therefore, less bad habits.
Below is a great (un)commonsense approach to teaching and correcting technique errors by Greg Everett of Catalyst Athletics. It goes without saying that first, one must know what proper technique looks like, then it is a matter of getting the athlete to feel the positions. Finally, the end result is getting the athlete to move through the positions in a fluid manner. Of course it is much easier to teach good form than it is to correct ingrained poor habits.  Either way, the approach is the same. Get the athlete to feel proper positions, then design and modify drills to help them move through the desired position.

Training Tip: Feel it First

A point I try to emphasize in all of my seminars is that it’s generally easier and more effective to teach athletes’ bodies what to do than to teach their brains. That is, if you can get the athlete to move the way you want through exercises and lift segments, you’ll make more progress in less time than if you attempt to teach them conceptually what they should be doing.

One area where this is very simply illustrated and immediately effective is in abbreviated complexes that allow the athlete to first feel the position or movement you’re trying to get them to do in the snatch, clean or jerk, followed by a snatch, clean or jerk to apply it.

An example of this would be an instance in which an athlete is failing to extend the hips fully and keep the bar moving close to the legs up to the hips in the snatch. I will often have that athlete do 3 snatch deadlifts from the knee to a simulated finish position with the legs vertical and the hips slightly hyperextended (shoulders behind the hips), lightly sliding the bar up the thighs as they perform the movement at a relatively slow speed, followed by a snatch from the knee. I have yet to see this particular drill not create immediate improvement to some degree.

An even more simplified iteration of this is simply having the athlete stand in that simulated finish position before the lift—to feel that orientation and balance of the body so the body knows where it should be going.

Figure out what the body is failing to do, then get the body to do it, whether or not the athlete understands what or why, and then before the athlete has time to think about it, get them to perform the lift you’re trying to correct. If you do this well—that is, choose your drills appropriately—you’ll see marked improvement.
This is what can happen when you focus on "just getting the weight up" with no regards to proper form. Unfortunately this is common place in many weight rooms.

In spite of the above comment on female lifters, males do not hold a patent on poor technique. A beginner with a poor coach is still a disaster waiting to happen.

Monday, May 12, 2014


Jerking is an amazing, athletic movement.

Yet another great article by one of our favorite writers. Jerks are rarely used in athletic training programs. In fact, heavy overhead lifting is rarely done anymore. If done at all, it is generally limited to military and/or push presses. Nothing wrong with those exercises, they are great, however mastering the Jerk adds a whole different dimension to developing power (increasing the rate of force development) and allows using heavy weights. The quick dip and drive is actually a plyometric exercise that activates the myotatic stretch reflex. Pushing quickly under the bar while splitting or squatting, then catching and stabilizing it requires timing, reaction, and balance. The athletic benefits are great. Matt gives a simple explanation of the important coaching points.

Matt Foreman  |  Olympic Weightlifting  |  June 18 2012

All I’m going to do here is list off a bunch of random things I’ve learned about jerking throughout the last two decades. In my early years, it was my arch nemesis. I sucked at jerking and it made me feel like I had no value as a human being. Then, with a lot of work and some major changes, I fixed it. Here are some tips that helped me.

You have to remember that jerking is a leg lift, not an upper body lift. When people see the jerk being performed, their first thought is that the arms are ramming the bar overhead. Actually, the power of the legs is the main factor in successful jerking. The arms obviously have a role in it because they extend and lock the bar overhead. But that bar comes off the shoulders because of the explosiveness and accuracy of the dip-drive phase. This is why it’s possible to clean and jerk heavy weights without having buckets of upper body strength.

Most of the best lifters in the world use what we’ll call a “medium-split” position when they do jerks. If you watch a lot of world championship footage, you almost never see any deep-split positions. When I say “deep-split,” I’m talking about what you would see from somebody doing a lunge exercise, where the front thigh is almost parallel to the ground and the back knee is a few inches from it. Elite lifters don’t do it this way because the key to better jerking is driving the bar higher, not splitting deeper. With the depth of your split, there’s a limiting factor. You can only split so low before your knee hits the floor. However, there is no limiting factor in how forcefully you can drive the bar off your shoulders. The sky has no boundary, at least not one you’re going to hit with a barbell. So once a lifter has established a consistent, solid medium-split position, the main emphasis should be improving and strengthening the dip-and-drive phase, because this is what will ultimately determine the skill of the jerk.

Having a lot of upper body strength is a good thing in weightlifting, but it can also be a hazard when the athlete is learning the jerk. If the lifters have the type of shoulder/arm strength that will allow them to “muscle” the bar over their heads, they’ll be able to successfully complete jerks even though they’re using shoddy technique. The easiest people to teach the jerk to are often those who don’t have an abundance of pressing strength, because they’ll be forced to rely on their legs to execute the movement.

There’s no universal rule on the width of your grip. Some great jerkers have a narrow grip, and others go wide. The main issue is that your jerk grip has to be positioned so that you can clean with it. If you can’t rack your cleans on your shoulders with the grip you’ve selected for your jerk, then you won’t be able to perform a full clean and jerk effectively UNLESS you can master the technique of cleaning with a narrow grip, and then popping the bar off your shoulders and simultaneously sliding your hands out wide on the bar when you stand up and prepare to jerk. This one requires a lot of practice and athletic ability, but it can definitely be mastered. You see it sometimes with lighter weight lifters at the top international meets.

Some of my personal favorite teaching cues for the jerk:
- Relax your hands before you dip
- Dip your butt between your heels
- Big chest
- Punch over the ears
- Big air before the dip
- (some of these require additional explanation the first time I use them, and maybe even hands-on guidance)

Behind-the-neck jerks can be a valuable teaching tool for beginners and intermediate lifters because they make it easier to hit the overhead lockout position. However, my personal opinion is that advanced lifters should practice rack jerks from in front of the neck, as they will in competition. Behind-the-neck jerks can be a “trick lift” where the mechanics of the movement allow the lifters to jerk significantly more than they’re actually capable of in a full clean and jerk. They might be good for showing off, but they don’t transfer to the competition platform that well.

There, now you have something to apply to your training. These might seem like very basic concepts, the type of stuff you learn early. However, I think it’s worth mentioning that I didn’t really figure out some of these ideas until I was eight or nine years into my career. Somebody said them to me when I was getting started, or maybe I read them somewhere. But it took a long time before I truly understood how to use them. There’s a big difference between A) knowing a piece of information and B) actually putting it to work. The first one just makes you a better talker. The second one makes you a better lifter.


Matt Foreman is the football and track & field coach at Mountain View High School in Phoenix, AZ. A competitive weightliter for twenty years, Foreman is a four-time National Championship bronze medalist, two-time American Open silver medalist, three-time American Open bronze medalist, two-time National Collegiate Champion, 2004 US Olympic Trials competitor, 2000 World University Championship Team USA competitor, and Arizona and Washington state record-holder. He was also First Team All-Region high school football player, lettered in high school wrestling and track, a high school national powerlifting champion, and a Scottish Highland Games competitor. Foreman has coached multiple regional, state, and national champions in track & field, powerlifting, and weightlifting, and was an assistant coach on 5A Arizona state runner-up football and track teams.

Some great jerks in action by men and women.........

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

Here in the United States we have a holiday this weekend called Mother's Day. Hopefully you all celebrate something like this around the world. Even if it's not an official holiday in your homeland, remember your Mother this weekend and/or pay tribute to those who influenced your life for good.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Catching Cleans

Mario Martinez was one of the United States' great lifters and he battled the racking problem that Matt Foreman describes below.

We had a post a few weeks ago from Taylor and Dave Chiu on the necessity of adapting or lifting technique to individual characteristics. http://www.haskestrength.com/2014/03/great-lifting-site.html
While it is great to watch video and and analyze sequence photos of world class lifters and try to emulate their positions, we have to realize that sometimes we may lack the body proportions to hit these positions perfectly. There are also plenty of examples of top level lifters who have dealt with less than perfect genetics. Understanding this and working with  your own limitations is smart. Below is another great article by Matt Foreman that talks about catching cleans.

Okay, since we talked about the turnover phase of the snatch in the last article, why don’t we take a look at the clean? Actually, now that I think about it, many of the lifters I coach tend to have more difficulty catching cleans on their shoulders than catching snatches over their heads. Ever thought about that?

 Much of it is flexibility-related, which we all know. If an athlete is tight in the wrists, shoulders, elbows, and upper back, receiving cleans on the shoulders can be a real bugger. You start to see two big problems:
1.They have to open their hands and let the bar roll back on their fingers when they catch it on their shoulders, often letting their pinky fingers (and maybe even their ring fingers) pop off the bar. Men usually have more trouble with this than women.
2.They don’t catch the bar at the top of the shoulders, tucked into that “notch” we all see when expert lifters turn over their cleans. Instead, the bar lands on a forward area of their deltoid, possibly even down on the sternum.
I’ll bet I just described about half of you.

 These two problems lead to…more problems. One or both hands popping completely off the bar during the catch phase. Dangerous misses where the bar lurches forward and jams the wrists or, even worse, dumps off the shoulders into the lifter’s lap. Timing issues, long-term pain increases, etc. One way or another, you simply have to fix these glitches.

 First, the flexibility problems (or as everybody loves to say these days, “mobility”) have to be chipped away at. Flexibility doesn’t improve right away. It’s something an athlete has to put a lot of sustained, persistent effort into over a long period of time. I’m not going to start listing flexibility drills in this article because this website (and the internet in general) is crawling with them. You can do your own research.

 Second, there are technical issues you can look at that will improve your clean turnover/catch. As with my last article on snatching, I’m not going to make this a comprehensive analysis of the clean. We’re not reviewing every single aspect of the lift here, so I’m deliberately leaving several things out. Instead, let’s just hit a couple of technical cues and ideas that might help a lot of you:
•“Catch the bar at the base of your throat”- This is a cue I’ve used a lot in coaching. Many beginning lifters are scared to catch the bar in the right spot because they think it’s gonna crush their clavicles or something like that. So they receive the bar in some awkward position on their deltoids, trying to avoid the clavicle destruction thing, and it results in the bar being too far forward…which results in a crappy clean. Other people aren’t worried about their clavicles, but they still catch the bar in the wrong spot simply because they don’t know how to do it correctly. Thinking about tucking that bar right against the base of the throat, with the elbows up in the proper position, can help a lot. (NOTE: When I say “throat,” many of you think about the windpipe situation, where the bar can cut off the lifter’s airway and potentially cause a blackout. I haven’t found this to be a significant problem. It rarely happens, and any athlete with some basic ability will be able to find a way to keep it from happening regularly. It’s like hitting your chin in the jerk. [Editor's note: blackouts are caused more often by compression of the carotid arteries and/or vagal stimulation from the combination of holding the breath and exertion--releasing some air during the receovery of the clean and elevating the shoulders slightly in the rack position will prevent this.])
•It’s definitely possible for an athlete to do all the mobility work in the world and still not be able to catch cleans with a closed fist on the bar. Many people just don’t have the flexibility for this, and they never will. In that case, the goal is twofold: ◦Get the flexibility as far along as you can. If the athlete absolutely has to open the hand up and let the bar roll back on the fingers a little to catch the clean, so be it. Just try to minimize it as much as possible and do everything you can to avoid any pinkies or ring fingers popping off the bar.
◦If this is the case, you’ll have to master the “pop and adjust” technique after you’ve stood up with the clean and you’re preparing to jerk. I use the term “pop and adjust” simply for lack of a better description. You all know what I’m talking about because you’ve seen many lifters do it. It’s the thing that happens when athletes finish standing up with the clean and then drive the bar off their shoulders just a little bit, simultaneously adjusting their hands to a position that they can jerk effectively from. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, put in some YouTube time and you’ll find plenty of examples. Lots of lifters have to do this. I do it personally. It takes some work to get it consistent, but it’s actually not as hard as it looks.

Hey, it would be lovely if we all had that amazing flexibility you occasionally see, where a lifter can turn over a clean and tuck that bar right into the notch at the top of the shoulders with a completely closed fist on the bar. The people who can do this don’t know how lucky they are. They have an immediate advantage over everybody.

 But that’s not common. Most of you have birth defects that are gonna make this more challenging. Now you have another reason to resent your parents! Awesome!

Mario in action at the 1984 Olympics.........

Thursday, May 1, 2014

How To Avoid Sucking When You Get Older

Who is the guy with the white hair? That was my first reaction when I saw this picture. I honestly don't feel as old as I look, yet.

Here is another great post by Matt Foreman. He nails the attitude that keeps life rewarding. Wherever you are along the aging continuum, there is one indisputable fact. We are all getting older each and every second that passes. If you are tough enough, smart enough, and, of course, lucky enough; you may actually reach old age. It is also a fact that aging allows us to grow and improve mentally, spiritually, and physically. However, in the case of the physical, we will eventually reach a point where improvement stops and decline takes over in spite of our best efforts to hold it back. For some this can be discouraging and depressing leading to bad choices. Others however embrace the inevitable process and make the most of it. As Boyd K. Packer states, "I wouldn't trade the wisdom I've gained for the physical strength that I've lost." My experience as I hit 6 decades is that if you are willing to quit letting numbers (amount of weight, reps and sets) drive your efforts and focus on the good feeling you get from just moving and lifting, you can enjoy the process. Setting new records is no longer possible, but it's still very rewarding to be able to do things that most people can't.
Enjoy the journey.

How To Avoid Sucking When You Get Older
Matt Foreman  |  General Training  |  May 15 2012
How To Avoid Sucking When You Get Older, Matt Foreman,
How many of you have seen a movie called Vision Quest? It’s a 1985 flick about a high school wrestler who wants to make his mark in life by accomplishing something huge, so he decides to drop two weight classes and challenge the toughest undefeated grappler in the state. Along the way, he falls in love for the first time and has to weave through all the confusion and frustration that go along with that. It’s a fantastic story about being young, about searching for a direction to go with the hunger you feel inside. The movie was made from a novel of the same name.

Several years ago, I was talking to a friend of mine named Mike Ng. He told me he read Vision Quest when he was a teenager, right around the time he was making the decision to become a weightlifter. I’ve never forgotten a comment he made about it. He said, “I think I read that book at the right time in my life.” I think what Mike meant was that he felt the same restless force in his heart as the book’s main character, Louden Swain. And like Louden, he made the choice to act on it by starting the journey of an athlete.

I had a cosmic moment recently, because I read something that had a similar effect on me. It’s a book called The Crack-Up by F. Scott Fitzgerald. This is a collection of essays that Scott wrote in the last years of his life, when he had basically wrecked everything for himself through a fifteen year period of alcoholism and irresponsibility. Here’s a guy who is generally considered one of the great writers in history. But he had a self-destructive personality, and he was completely aware of it. So he wrote about his downward spiral of failure while it was actually in progress. The saddest thing about it, in my opinion, is that the writing in these essays is spectacular. This guy’s talent never dulled, even when he hit rock-bottom. He was dead at forty-four, and this book makes it clear that years of greatness could have still been ahead of him.

I think I read this book at the right time in my life.

Scott was around forty when he wrote this stuff, you see. That’s about the same age as me, and many of you are probably in a similar range (if not, you will be some day). Now, don’t get excited and think I’m going to start giving you a bunch of juicy personal thoughts about having a mid-life crisis. I don’t think I’m having one. I don’t wear Affliction t-shirts. I don’t own a sports car I can’t afford. I don’t have frosted tips in my hair, and I have no plans to dump my wife for a young ditz. However, I have noticed that a lot of people get nervous when they start to close in on the big 4-0 milestone. They start to panic about getting old. I think it probably comes from a combination of sagging breasts, male pattern baldness, and a general fear that our biggest peak moments might have already happened.

If fear of aging gets to be too much for you, you can always crawl into a hole and hide. Alcoholism is a hole you can crawl into. Deliberately sabotaging your relationships with your loved ones is another one. Developing a crappy, hateful attitude towards everything and constantly complaining…that’s another hole. Every one of us probably knows somebody who’s in a hole right now, either the ones I mentioned or some other one they’ve engineered to avoid dealing with the years when life starts to change.

But you wanna know what? We’re not going to do any of that crap. We’re going to clear our heads right now and think about somebody we know who is over fifty and still kicking ass in something. These people are out there, and we’re all aware of them. I don’t care if it’s your coach, your mom, your favorite musician, somebody you saw on 60 Minutes, whoever. Just get a specific person in your mind who isn’t young anymore and hasn’t crawled into a hole. Instead, they’re still steamrolling their field. Go ahead, do it right now. I’ll wait…

A vision quest is a rite of passage, when a person makes spiritual decisions that will determine the journey they take in their lives. You don’t have to be nineteen to experience one, either. There is no better feeling in life than being at the beginning of something special, having a clear direction in your mind and knowing that there are victories ahead. The people you just thought of a minute ago? The reason they’re not in a hole is that they never stopped looking for new roads to travel, believing that they’ve still got more successes waiting for them. They’ve passed age milestones, just like we all will. But they handled these times by searching for something, making up their minds what they wanted, and then chasing it.

Your accumulating years aren’t baggage. They’re ammunition. You’re getting smarter and more experienced as life goes on, so don’t be afraid to look for a new focus if you start to feel like you’re cracking up. In fact, let’s all do it together. It’ll be more fun that way.

Matt Foreman is the football and track & field coach at Mountain View High School in Phoenix, AZ. A competitive weightliter for twenty years, Foreman is a four-time National Championship bronze medalist, two-time American Open silver medalist, three-time American Open bronze medalist, two-time National Collegiate Champion, 2004 US Olympic Trials competitor, 2000 World University Championship Team USA competitor, and Arizona and Washington state record-holder. He was also First Team All-Region high school football player, lettered in high school wrestling and track, a high school national powerlifting champion, and a Scottish Highland Games competitor. Foreman has coached multiple regional, state, and national champions in track & field, powerlifting, and weightlifting, and was an assistant coach on 5A Arizona state runner-up football and track teams.

Did a few pullups with these young guys. Trying for 20, only got 17.

Getting older has it's rewards as you can pass your experiences on to the next generation.