For about the last four weeks BK has brought the athletes on a journey through the Olympic lifts. There are two exercises that make up the Olympic weightlifting competition, the Snatch and the Clean & Jerk (C&J). Both movements are aggressive overhead lifts that are beasts. It is also crucial that the athlete’s technique is flawless when performing these lifts as there are a lot of moving pieces. Add in that the weight is going over your head and it brings in yet another element to the strength exercise. This experience has been my first with Olympic style lifting and it has been great…but definitely a struggle.
Coming into crossfit I thought I had decent experience as an athlete. I never played one of the major sports like Football, Basketball or Baseball in high school, though I did play baseball as a kid up to the American Legion level. I was a swimmer. I spent my summers and winter in the pool. After looking to swim in college…and ending up at Villanova…I decided to hang up the Speedo. This is all a long way of saying…I’ve never done an Olympic lift. Throwing a barbell over head is something so foreign to me that these past four weeks have been incredibly difficult. Technique is always something I have struggled with. Even going back to swimming…I’ve always tried to compensate for an area of a movement where I was weak. In swimming it was my legs. I have fairly broad shoulders and as a sprint Freestyler I would muscle my way down the pool. As anyone who has done any Olympic lifting…muscling a lift is a major no-no.
BK’s approach to teaching the Olympic lifts has been awesome. In the four week program…the first time I picked up more than a dowel rod for a movement was at the end of week three. Of course the three week period wasn’t overly exciting but it was critically important. If you don’t maintain your form and technique with a dowel rod you cannot expect to hold any type of technique when adding the weight. Learning the right stance, starting position, the proper grip are crucial skills to maintain. Stance. Grip. Position. That mantra serves as the foundation for every lift we do at CFP.
With the snatch and the C&J my biggest issue is letting the bar travel away from my body during the lift. I am again trying to muscle the bar overhead using my arms and shoulders. I have to be patience and really let the shoulders lead and the arms follow. I really need to keep the bar close and look to drop underneath the weight. For the C&J it is definitely having fast elbows along with keeping the bar in close. Being new to Olympic lifts the movements are just awkward to put together. There are so many things to be conscious of when doing these movements it is really important to have your head about you and really pay attention to what you are doing. Concentration is key.
We’ve got one more week of the Olympic lifts and then we are on to the next phase. I’m going to keep fighting to keep that bar close. Big CFP athlete MetCon tomorrow morning. Should be nice and steamy in the Box…bring the hurt.