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Stalled on Overhead Press

2011/08/24 2 comments

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Squat: 290 lbs: 5/5/5
Press: 137.5 lbs: 4/4/3
Deadlift: 295 lbs: 1 set of 5.

This morning I stalled on Overhead press for the first time. The weight started feeling really heavy a few workouts back, and my form wasn’t quite on today. When I looked at the video of my third set, it looked like I was pressing the bar about two inches in front of my face, which disadvantages me, leverage-wise. I think I’ll try the same weight again next time, and try to keep going with it.

Squats are still going up, but every set is a struggle. I know I can get squats up to 300 lbs; I’m hoping to pass 315 before I stall. Hell, I’m willing to be surprised by getting to 375 pounds if I can keep going with it. I’ll just take it one squat at a time, and see what happens.

Current numbers for last fully successful set in the progression:

Squat: 290 lbs
Overhead Press: 135 lbs
Bench Press 175 lbs
Deadlift: 295 lbs
Clean and Jerk: 190 lbs
Snatch: 130 lbs

Press and Deadlift are both still 5 and 10 lbs behind my PRs, respectively. My Squat passed my PR by about 55 lbs ago.

I’m thinking of switching up my routine a bit, moving to four days a week, and devoting two of those days to the oly lifts, and the other two to the slow lifts, as recommended by Tamara Cohen.

I’m also thinking of switching out bench press for weighted ring dips. Why? Partly so I can do my workouts even when I don’t have a spotter. Partly because I’m an anti-bench press bigot, I guess.

I’m a little disappointed with how slowly deadlifts are going up. I’m actually thinking of doing them more frequently. I’ve been cautioned about recovery, but so far that hasn’t been an issue. I can always scale back later if it starts fatiguing me too much.

So overall, it would look something like:

Monday

Snatch
Clean and Jerk
Front Squat

Wednesday

Squat
Press
Deadlift

Thursday

Snatch
Clean and Jerk

Saturday

Squat
Ring dips (3x max reps, add weight when I get to 3×10 or 3×12)
Deadlift

Thoughts?

Categories: Fitness

Oly lifting setback and breakthrough.

Ive been working on my olympic lifts for the last couple months. In July, I set a goal for myself to get my snatch up to 135 lbs. I had one day where I got 125 lbs, and worked pretty hard on 130 lbs, but just couldn’t catch it overhead. Since then, I haven’t been able to break 115. It’s been a little frustrating. It’s frustrating not to be able to hit my PR. It’s frustrating to regress to where I can power snatch more than I can squat snatch.

I’ve been doing a linear progression lifting program (which I’ll detail soon), and watching my squats go up into uncharted territory. My previous max was 235 lbs, and this morning I was moving 255×5 for three sets. My clean and jerk is also moving upward. A couple weeks ago, I hit struggled to hit 180 for a PR. In competition, I power cleaned 85kg (187), but pressed out the jerk. A week later, I cleaned and jerked 190 lbs.

But my squat snatch is stagnant at 115, even though I can power snatch 120. Today, I was even struggling to get 115. The 8:30 was finishing up their warm ups, and I was still working on it. Brad walked by and said “your swinging the bar.” What!? I’d worked on that. I’d gotten a good linear bar path. That was fixed, right? Wrong. The bar kept falling down in front of me, and I couldn’t land it in a comfy overhead squat.

Before now, the main critique I’ve gotten was that I need to be more explosive, so I’d been working on moving faster when I pick up the bar. I think this “correction” was causing me to rush the first pull, and getting myself into a bad position for the second pull. So I slowed it all down, got the bar past my knees, and then drove hard from there. On the second try, the bar landed smoothly in the squat, and I drove it up. At that point, I had to leave to catch my bus, so I wasn’t able to really drill it home, but I think it might be the fix to break through my plateau.

Dave also made the very sensible suggestion that I might spend some time drilling assistance lifts. Some snatch pulls might help me work on keeping a vertical bar path, and getting into the right position for the second pull. We also talked about snatch balances, but when I get in the right position, I feel pretty comfortable catching the weight, so for now, I’m going to stick with the pulls.

Whatever I do, I need to solidify this correction, so I can get back to moving the weight up. I can’t wait to get those 45s on the bar.

Categories: Fitness

Notes on Olympic Lifting at PDX Weightlifting

This past week, my beloved and I were given the opportunity to train with Nick Horton and the folks at PDX Weightlifting. Nick was gracious enough to let us lift with them while we were in town, and even spent quite a bit of teaching us the lifts, and coaching us as we progressed.

He began with the snatch, and on the first day, we did nothing but the snatch for the majority of the time. Once our form started degrading from fatigue, we switched over to working up to a heavy single front squat, and then called it a day.

We started with PVC pipes, doing hang power snatches from the hip. Once we had worked on the hip explosion for a little while, we moved down to the knee, and practiced going back and forth from the hip (first position) to the knee (second position), and back up. Between the two positions, we were told to keep the knee angle the same, and just push our hips back, and our ankles to the point where our shins were vertical. This actually created quite a bit of stretch in my hamstrings. I’ve known that my hamstrings tend to be tight, but I may need to do some mobility work there. Or maybe I just need to keep doing snatches with this technique.

For third position, Nick wanted us to keep our butts down, unlike with deadlifts. As I understood it, the reason was that starting with the butt up (and back closer to flat) made it more likely that the hip explosion would pop the bar forward instead of up, swinging it over a lifter’s head and behind. Edit: Nick tells me that the main reason for this starting position is to make it easier to stay back on the heels throughout the pull.

Once we were lifting from the ground, we moved on to the bar, starting with an empty bar. We moved up in weight slowly, doing several sets of triples at each weight, until Nick “graduated” us to the next weight. If the weight got too heavy, we would back the weight down again, and start working back up at the same methodical pace. I worked up to 50 kg at this weight (110 lbs, which is 10 lbs less than my max), and did several singles at this weight.

I didn’t actually back off the weight at any point, but Jayme did. I don’t remember how high she got, but she started psyching herself out, when she realized she was lifting her PR, so Nick told her to take ten pounds off, get her confidence back, and then work back up. After she did that, she was able to lift pretty comfortably at her previous max.

At one point, Jayme asked why Nick never talked about what we’re supposed to be doing with our arms. he said it was a pedagogical strategy. Since you’re supposed to keep your arms relaxed, telling people how to use their arms was often counter productive, as it just got people focused on their arms, which made them tense them up.

In contrast to the way we do strength training at CFD, it felt very relaxed, and reactive to our performance. Rather than hitting a certain number of reps with rising weight, you just spend some time with each weight until you’re ready to move on. It feels less like you’re trying to get somewhere particular, and more like you’re just spending time with the weights.

Categories: Fitness