Questions and Answers About Lifting

Question: Will I lose my strength if I take time off?

Question: A high school thrower wanted to improve. “How often should I bench?”

Question: For years, benching had become a religion. Now, in some places, squatting is “the answer to all questions.” So, how much should you squat?

Question: How do you incorporate Overhead Squats into your training?

Question: What do you mean “the body is one piece?”

Question: How do I prevent overtraining?

Question: How do you develop rotational strength?

Question: What are the lessons you (Dan) have learned?

Question: How did you get your start and what would you recommend for others?

Question: You work with Brian Oldfield and John Powell. Can you tell us all their secrets?

Question: What is the longest post you ever had at the Old School Site…Sometimes, you seem to ramble on forever!

Question: Do I need lifting boots?

Question: What are some of the basics of throwing?

Question: How are those Deadstop Front Squats coming?

Question: Is there a way to combine dieting and Olympic Lifting to speed fat loss?

Question: I’m afraid to ask: what have you learned lately?

Question: Do you have any ideas for in-season football lifting?

Question: Will I lose my strength if I take time off?

I have never been convinced that improvement in lifting (or throwing or life) is linear. So, I like the idea of planning off weeks. But, what most people misunderstand is that I think you really need to load those weeks before the off-week. I guess I straddle two theories here:

1. You are going to end up taking time off sooner or later, or submit yourself to endless crappy workouts that you will soon convince you that you are genetically inferior.

2. When you train, you really have to train hard.

I like Brooks’ idea of picking twelve exercises and trying to attain Hoffman’s Gold standards. Attempting a bunch of bodyweight snatches, cleans, and presses as well as a host of one arm lifts is hard work. In the “Body as One Piece” program that I have my throwers use (the fourth week is off), the squat workout is PR squats for 7 sets of 5 followed by jumps. We overload these lifts whereas the athlete stands and goes down under their own power then we help them come up. (Don’t try this without talking to me more.) They can never grind these lifts nor slow down coming up. But, that is 35 reps (on paper) with their max, once a month. In reality, the first two sets are done with PRs, but the last ones are just pathetic attempts. Paul Northway once had to do 135 on his last set. He could snatch 265 in high school, but on his seventh set could no longer lower himself.

This is hard work in my world. Supersetting triceps x and arm curls is not.

So, what does time off mean? For me, it might be a week of arm work and circuit training. Or, more rollerblading. It is active, but not killer. Joe Mills used to recommend the York courses when guys got stale in the weightroom. Whatever you choose to do, keep your eyes on four or ten year progress rather than week to week or even month to month.

When I use my “Body as One Piece” program with all the triple pyramids and overload lifts, you find that you come back stronger. Of course, you only squat twice a month on this program, so you are really fresh. Note: this program works for someone off the learning curve. It is fairly advanced. But, I would still recommend for someone who has a year or so under their belt to unload regularly. Joe Mills recommended going back to the York Courses when he noted a lack of progress. At the PBBC, we “bodybuilded” for a couple of weeks, usually just lots of arm work, inclines, hypers and assorted crap, along with bodyweight for reps contests in the squat and bench press. I can almost predict when a person is going to crash in a program by just looking at the structure of the month after month after month of expected training. Life is not linear.

Question: A high school thrower wanted to improve. “How often should I bench?”

I wanted to scream at first, but at least he is going to the right place. In high school I weighed 162 and threw 170 with an awesome bench. (I won’t put the number in because no one would believe me.)

Four years later, at Utah State, I threw the REAL discus 190 at a bodyweight of 218.

BUT…

I benched less than I could in high school!!!

Throwers don’t need to bench. Throwers don’t need to bench. Throwers don’t need to bench. Throwers don’t need to bench. Throwers don’t need to bench. Throwers don’t need to bench. Throwers don’t need to bench. Throwers don’t need to bench. Throwers don’t need to bench. Throwers don’t need to bench. Throwers don’t need to bench. Throwers don’t need to bench.

Snatch and squat.
Clean and press.
Run hills.
Work your abs.

Overhead Squat.

Now, I did have an athlete follow my advice and he threw the high school disc 214’9″. At a bodyweight of 215. He snatched and cleaned and ran hills and threw overweight stuff.

Strong is such a relative word. When you say you bench 300 that is one thing: putting it overhead from the floor…

Now, THAT is strong!

Question: For years, benching had become a religion. Now, in some places, squatting is “the answer to all questions.” So, how much should you
squat?

I know that to be a modern era O lifter at the international level, you have to squat, squat and squat. But, some of the points you make are worth thinking about. John Powell threw his lifetime best throws when he decided to keep the squat movement, but never go heavy again. (Sets of 8-10 with 225 with a good rhythm.) (Note: John has two O bronzes in the disc, as well as a silver at the Worlds) His comment on this was that the heavy squats made him hurt, made him slow and he didn’t like them.

I think there is a gem in there somewhere. If your long term goals don’t necessarily include a huge squat, maybe you don’t need to do it. All of my lifts are better than John’s except for the deadlift (and maybe the bench, he is vague about that one) but he completely humbles me in the discus.

I would still argue that everyone should squat, but perhaps we need to keep the proportions in check. At the USOC training center, we were told that all you needed to have the strength levels for a world record throw in the discus was a 250 snatch, 300 clean, 400 bench (I thought that was high in comparison to the snatch, but others guys thought it was low…) and a 450 squat. John Powell got a silver at the worlds with a yearly best of a 220 snatch and 286 clean.

Looking at Grimek, especially his success at the world and Olympic level in weightlifting, it would seem that squatting had a place in his training, but it was the “be all and end all.”

So, do you need to squat? Sure. It is, when done correctly, a lift that does it all. It makes you more flexible, builds your cardio, strengthens all the connections, and carries over to all athletic movements. Should you wrap your knees, wear Levis, a supersuit, and eat chalk before you squat? I would argue “no.”

Although all training is a question of balance and proportion, I would think that the squat, as well as the bench, seem to be the hardest lifts for most lifters to keep in balance. I know people who NEVER squat and wonder why they get no sports improvement from lifting. I know lifters who have four bench workouts a week. Ask them to throw a football hard a few times!

So, overall, I would say:
1. Yes, you need to squat
2. Squatting is not the only thing you need to do.

Question: How do you incorporate Overhead Squats into your training?

I’m a big fan of overheads, but you need to be sure you know why you are going to add them. Seriously, they will help with any goal I can think of, but if you are going to start doing them, there is going to be a learning curve. Six months from now, they will pay off with better flexibility, better “support” structure (I know some people don’t believe in support muscles, but I do), and great thigh, hip and lower back strength. If you are doing them for sports, I think you will find an immediate carryover.

So, how toadd? One idea is based on what Pavel T recommends: do them EVERY day for twosets of five for two weeks. First set heavy, second set is a back off.

Another is to simply make one day a week “overhead squat” day. Or, take a couple of weeks out and just do overheads three days a week. The few weeks of specialization will not retard your overall progress. Some guys act like a week or two of specialized work will kill them. That is bodybuilder thinking, “Oh no, I’m a quarter inch off my left bicep.”

Another idea is just to toss them in and do them. It would be a great complement to your front squats. I often do overheads and front squats together. They really do seem to be a nice blend.

I usually teach athletes the overhead squat fairly early. Trust me, a kid who overheads with 95 pounds will find the back squat a fairly easy thing to learn. It is an odd thing about my coaching style: I don’t teach discus throwers how to hold or release the discus. I use handled medicine balls and they do countless full turns and drills with throwing into walls or onto fields. So, they master advanced drills like “float-float-stings,” three turns and a throw. One day, with nice weather, we go out to throw the disc. On the way down the hill, the new kid asks another, “how do you hold this thing?” Experienced kid takes two or three minutes to show how to hold and release the disc. Young kid goes to ring with a mastery of the big picture that will make the implement go far. Doing it the other way, like most coaches, the athlete spends the whole first year doing standing throws trying to make the discus fly right. No carryover at all to big throws.

If you teach a kid to overhead squat, the back squat and the front squat are a breeze. You don’t even coach it, they pick it up by simply watching the kid before them. Teach an athlete to snatch, they usually pick up the clean. Show them the clean and jerk and they rarely need a great explanation of the bench.

I think we need to raise the bar high for new athletes and really demand a lot. I think the same about teaching, too.

So, dive in, so to speak, and just start doing them.

Question: What do you mean “the body is one piece?”

First, that is a good question. But be sure to understand the concept of “one piece.” It is something I learned years and years ago and I call it the two rules:

1. The body comes in one, flexible piece.
2. Specificity works-but at a price.

The one piece concept is the idea that nothing a bodybuilder believes, basically, is true. If you tell me that benches are an upper body exercise, I need merely stick a fork in your calf while you bench your max. If it only is upper body, the fork should have no affect on your lift. Yet, it does. Be careful who you do this experiment with, some people take it to  extremes.

Being “one piece” is the real gift of the O lifts and why they carry over to Highland Games and the four Olympic throws; shot, disc, hammer, and javelin. I have a video somewhere of Soviet high jumpers doing set after set after set of power snatches to improve their jump. What the overhead squat and the O lifts, perhaps a few others too, including the front squat, do for the athlete is demand flexibility, balance, total muscular development, kinetic awareness and movement into one package.

After a few months of serious overhead squat work, you might only notice larger spinal erectors. Yet, your vertical jump and other athletic moves will increase. At the Upper Limit gym, we used to measure VJ, standing long jump and both “three jumps.” (Continuous three jumps, hop-hop-hop, or, three combined standing long jumps) Athletes would improve radically when they started doing the Overheads and/or O lifts. These athletes were also off the “learning curve” for the jumps, so any increase usually reflected training. Well, I like to think that, anyway.

As a football player or a thrower, the “one piece” idea really carries over. I always talk about Paul’s quote when he threw 182′ as a sophomore, but it is true, he really did stay together in the throw and it went far for a 155 pounder.

Dumbbell exercises would have been a great complement to his program, but, alas, I failed him. I would imagine that the king would be Clean and Press/Jerk with two dumbbells followed by Clean and Press/Jerk with one dumbbell. One arm snatches would be in that top group, too. Basically, start thinking about the longest movement a bar or dumbbell can go, still held in the hands. That is why Reverse Grip Wrist Curls have little value for “one piece” training. (Note: don’t mistake me here: grip strength has an enormous value and needs to be considered; however, small movements don’t IN THIS STYLE OF TRAINING)

If you can do swings, I would imagine these would have a place, too.

For an example, I offer you the world’s simplest program:

1. Clean and Press with two dumbbells, start light and go up to max.
2. Overhead Squat. Mix reps each workout. 3 sets of 8 with a minute rest OR 5 by 5 OR 5 by 3 OR Pyramids OR multiple Pyramids.
Go home. Repeat two days later.

This is almost exactly the program I recommend during the peak season to throwers, although I would probably tell them now (November of 2000) to do one arm clean and press as it seems to strength the obliques. It is not a bad program, but it assumes a large base of general strength and an accumulation of  specific skills, tests, and other training.

I hope this answers your question. The concept of “one piece” always needs to be tempered with “specificity works-but at a price.” If all you did was snatch and clean and jerk, you would get very, very good in those lifts. If you did them for seven hours a day, six days a week, you would get even better. Or get crushed. Lynn Jones calls this “the Bulgarian Butcher System,” if you survive, you thrive.

Doing just overhead squats and a little ab exercise at the peak of track season keeps the athlete together as they literally burn up before your eyes. Throwing the disc and assorted drills for nine months really starts to “pay the price.” So, I think if you want to be good at overhead squats, do them three to five times a week KNOWING that everything else is going to suffer to some degree. That’s “the price” of specificity. However, you will also master the movement and reap the benefits of training a full body lift.

Question: How do I prevent overtraining?

I’m not sure this will answer your questions, but I wanted to comment on overtraining. I really don’t know how to transition from one school of training to another, but my experiences in sports may have some clues.

In high school, by the end of football season, I used to notice how “deconditioned” I had become in terms of strength, speed and endurance. Of course, my body and mind had compensated in terms of being able to tackle, shed blocks, and handle 21 other bodies moving about me without losing focus on my jobs. But, my lifts would go down and my off-season training gains would be gone.

The Monday after football season ended, we would get wrestling gear and go down the hall to the mat room. There, my nose would bleed almost daily for two weeks and I would literally die trying to keep up with the rounds of drills. A month later, no more nose bleeds, but I don’t think I could handle 21 people moving around, only one guy across from me.

Wrestling season used to end early for me (I sucked), so I would head out to throw the disc. I could fight somebody for an hour, yet I would be off my best throws of the previous year EVEN THOUGH I weighed more and I was stronger. A month later, I would be, on average, 26 feet farther than the previous year.

Why this voyage into my past? Well, I am a great believer in supercompensation. Short term overtraining leads to long-term success. I can hear the complaints about injuries, but, in truth, not too many of us suffer injuries that lead to surgery, according to those studies in the 1950′s. In fact, if you are not a druggie and have some common sense, I think you can afford to train harder than you think.

I have always enjoyed training with people who have either wrestled or been in the military. These people seem to understand that they can push themselves much farther than they ever imagined. When I was in college, we still used to have guys who would come out of the military then compete in junior college. We had a steeplechaser at Utah State who was a former Marine. What I enjoyed about these guys (besides the fact they could buy me beer)was that none of the stuff I bitched about was that big a deal. If we had brown bag lunches on road trips: that was fine. Double up in a hotel: that was fine. Bad weather: that was fine. These guys had been pushed to a point that brown bag lunches were a treat.

I think that you are going to be very damn sore when you try dino-stuff, strongman stuff or the O lifts. If I did your HIT workout, I would puke. I probably couldn’t walk right for a few days. I trained seriously on Nautilus equipment in 1982 and did everything as intense as possible. I got dry heaves and my heart rate stayed up for hours the first few weeks. Then, I compensated and my body adapted to it. In 1979, I did high rep squats with poundages and reps that amaze me today. Again, at first, I puked, weeks later, I got used to it.

The transition is going to be filled with ups and downs. You are going to give up some stuff when you abandon HIT. I have a friend, Lane, who got into high rep Trap Bar deadlifts and high rep squats in a HIT program. He then noticed that his best squats (maxs) hadn’t gone up at all and quit doing the reps. He noted, though, that he missed the overall feeling of “????” when he stopped HIT. What is “????” ? He couldn’t explain it, but it was the mental strength of pushing the reps as well as the heart rate and breathing rate stuff that he missed.

I don’t think overtraining is really the term. I usually use “learning curve.” When you first start to clean, you might only be able to handle 100 pounds. Six weeks later, you clean 200 pounds. Well, that rate of improvement is going to slow as you climb the “learning curve.”

If you do dino-stuff, let’s say sandbagclean and press, you are going to have really sore hands and fingers justholding on. Your back and shoulders are going to get roughed up. You might getbruises on your shoulders and forehead. (It happens when the sandbag decides tocome down.) Yet, you might double or triple your weights in just a few weeks.

But, are you overtraining? You might, right now, be capable of a 250 pound sandbag clean and press. But, you have to learn the method, condition the grip and skin, and get the confidence to do the lift. Missing a 260 pound sandbag clean and press fifty-six times in a row may be a signal of overtraining, but not a lot of soreness from a seventy pound bag.

You will be surprised how soon you will get used to the grip problems, the technical issues and the joint soreness from pushing, pulling and throwing things around. But, I guess I would caution you not to think of this as “overtraining” rather as “learning.”

I can’t think of a better way to spend my life than to learn something new every day.

Question: Question: How do you develop rotational strength?

First, I have tried as a coach and a thrower to do every thing possible to build this aspect of my throw. It is harder than you think. I would always argue a good base of ab work for any thrower. We did a variety of crunches, situps, various ground based twists, and leg raises. I found that medicine ball throws were a very valuable addition, too. At times, I became lethal at those medicine ball situps where you try to bury your training partner after coming up.

Second, the coaches who really push rotational strength training often don’t have good throwers. Or, it is an opinion. The best throws coaches train rotational strength on the field with overweight hammers, plates and “puds.” Puds are weights with fixed handle. Throwing the 35 pound weight during the indoor season used to really prepare my muscles for the disc. My best was 58’11″ with the old style of two turns and hit it. Bondarchuk, the great Russian coach, experimented with everything and he and Sedych ended up with a very simple program of clean grip snatches, half squats and a heavy over the shoulder throw to both sides.

Bondarchuk later developed a wonderful program that developed over a year. You would change exercises every few weeks, but they built on each other. I mentioned that in a past post: Clean from box, clean from hang, clean from floor, snatch from box, snatch from hang, snatch from floor, clean grip snatch from box, clean grip snatch from hang, then clean grip snatch from floor. Well, the rotational work developed along the same lines with one arm throws to two and back varying weights.

John Jesse offered a program for throwers in Track and Field Quarterly Review, June 1966. He made an important statement: “Though timing and correct body position on arrival at the front of the ring are essential to the maximum application of “body torque,” once the athlete arrives at that position, application of “body torque” is entirely dependent upon the strength of the waist and abdominal region, primarily the spinal rotator and lateral flexor muscles of the trunk.”

Dan Gushard was right that Carol Cady did a lot of twists, but John Powell did none. Brian Oldfield’s breakthrough training was simply pyramids of power cleans and push jerks twice a week.

At Utah State, we emphasized power cleans, push jerks, quarter squats and a power curl. Throwing muscles came from throwing. But, we also had everybody throwing over 180 in the disc. To make USU’s top twenty, you have to throw 180 and change. (BTW, this list is almost 100% Americans, with one or two Canadians. Some schools simply buy older European throwers and claim to coach them; this is a real pisser in my life. I ended my Div 1 eligibility at age 21. I competed against a guy at another Utah school ((nameless)) that was a 26 year old freshman ((and major drugger)))

I guess my point is to look at successful throwers rather than what someone says. I know that seems assbackwards, but when you talk with Anthony Washington and he tells you that he spends four months a year just doing circuit training on the universal gym in his girlfriend’s apartment complex, then nails a 232 throw, you need to reaccess “science” and review the throws as art. American throwers especially seem to do better when they focus on their strengths or local resources rather than listening to some guy at a clinic. Fortunately, we seem to be getting people at these clinics in the past few years, but we still have a major drugger giving a lot of throws clinics.

In my career, I tried everything, but I found that snatches and squats (front, back, overhead) gave me the biggest bang for my buck. I agree with Dan G that Pavel T’s stuff is excellent and I would have used that in the fall and winter. No question rotational strength is important, but safely developing it is another question.

Question: What are the lessons you (Dan) have learned?

The question is simple: what are the things that you have learned in your lifting experience that frankly surprises you today? Basically, what are the things that you may have heard or seen in the past and ignored that you find absolutely “right on” now?

My list:

1. The role of health in strength training. I knew this, of course. The magazine, “Strength and Health,” certainly emphasized this point, but it has only been in the last ten years that I have discovered that the key to long term strength gain is being healthy!

2. So, what is healthy? First, don’t get injured or sick. I think that most of the injuries and sickness come from “over-conditioning,” not overtraining. It is all that extra stuff: the aerobics, the step class, the “injury-prevention” exercises, bodybuilding stuff, the lat pulls, the extra sets of arms…the body deals with it by failing and falling apart. Try to overtrain the squat snatch. I’m serious. Go into the gym for three hours and snatch. Ian’s 100 rep challenge taught me this lesson: you can’t overtrain the core lifts of snatches, cleans, and a few others.

3. I’m shocked how the cheapest supplements, Magnesium and Potassium, maybe zinc, and a few others actually help me improve. Mg is amazing; I first discovered all its value with the Eades’ book, “Protein Power Lifespan Program,” but I never realized how great it was until I started investing the pennies a day to try it. The expensive stuff, all of it, just doesn’t do anything.

4. Flexibility. Forget it! If you wantit: squat, dip, straight leg deadlift. If you want more: overhead squat. Stop doing stretches and do the lifts and you will get all you need and more.

5. “Show up.” It is the first lesson of success in the business and education world, but in the weightroom, too. Many of the athletes I deal with, who have failed, always have an excuse. “This, that, this, that….,” then they wonder why they fail in the key situations. Most of my success in the past ten years reflects the fact that I “show up.” Many of my workouts stink! But, I do them.

6. In the area of nutrition, the key is digestion. My sister gave me a list of foods that have the most common allergies: wheat, cow’s milk, corn, soy, eggs, sugar, and peanuts. Except for eggs, most of that list seems to apply to me. In the past ten years, I have focused on digestion rather than volume (calorie counting or whatever) seems to help me more than all the forced gains I used to try to do.

7. I’m not made up of parts. I’m one piece. Snatch, overhead squat, clean and press…use all the pieces of the body.

Question: How did you get your start and what would you recommend for others?

In the mists of my training past, I think we started when my aunt died and my brothers and I got a couple of hundred dollars in inheritance. Of course, we went through it like water…but, we bought the Ted Williams Sears Barbell set.

The basic training was pick it up and put it over your head. I remember in the 8th grade getting the bar bug and taking it seriously. I had ten pound dumbbells in my bedroom and did curls, reverse curls and something else every night. A couple of times a week I would clean and press. I could get 45 pounds like it was nothing, but kept missing 65. My neighbor could do it; so, I really started to push it.

Finally, it occurred to me that 45 was easy and my two dumbbells were easy and that easy+easy=make the damn lift!

So, I took 65 pounds; cleaned it and pressed it three times. It was here that I discovered that the mind is a touch more important than just looking pretty.

That spring, I went to my first Spring Training. As a Catholic school kid, the Junior High allowed us to go to Spring Training for the upcoming Fall. We had to change in the school bathroom then walk a half mile or so, then play Spring ball. I wanted to quit every day…but, I hung in there. The coach gave us a summer lifting program:

Military Press 75 pounds 3 sets of 12
Half Squat 75 pounds 3 sets of
12
Toe Raises 75 pounds 3 sets of 12

I couldn’t do it! So, I lifted at home, lifted at a friends, use the high school Universal machines, and trained all summer. I still couldn’t do the sets of 12, but I improved. When I showed up in the fall, they moved me to guard when some kids quit and I began coming to school in the morning to lift. We did the “Big Three,” squat, bench and row.

After the season, we went into the first “Real” program I ever did:

Power Clean 8-6-4
Military Press 8-6-4
Front Squat 8-6-4
Bench
Press 8-6-4
When you could do all 18 reps, you got to add weight next time.

This was the basis of my programs for a few months.

I had been saving money to buy an adjustable bench and I got it in March of 1972. I started doing incline benches, bench presses, squats, reverse curls, toe raises and incline flies on this. I stayed with 8-6-4, or 10-8-6-4. The day after my last track meet, I did 132 and a half pounds for 8 in the bench. I had almost doubled my workout lifts, weighing between 118 and 130.

Now, comes the downside. Going to the high school, all the seniors loved the Universal gym bench press. They were very, very good football players. (South San Francisco High School has an amazing football tradition. When my sister was in school, they did not lose a football game while she was a student! We weren’t bad either)

So, I became a bench fanatic. I kept doing half squats and ran lots of hills and stairs. I dropped the militaries. I will say that I got WIERD strong in the bench. At 162 pounds as a senior, I benched…ah, you wouldn’t believe it.

After throwing the disc 170 as a senior, I knew I had to do something to get to a Division One school. I went to Skyline College and their lifting program was 4 sets of 8. Everything was 4 sets of 8. Reverse Curls, leg curls, lat pulls, bench press, miliary press, and on and on and on. I made less and less progress. They hired a guy to supervise the weightroom and he gave me the rudiments of snatch technique. I “knew” the clean, I thought. He then suggested going to an O lift meet to watch how it is done.

Literally, on the the way to the bathroom, I bumped into Dick Notmeyer. He said that he lived a mile from Skyline. It was true. So, for 25 cents a week gym dues, Dick taught me the O lifts. I went from 162 to 202 in four months. The first day, I snatched 165. A few weeks later, at my first meet, (nervous as hell) I snatched 187. Nine months later, 231. I clean and jerked 231 in my first meet, nine months later 308.

A year or so later, I was a Utah State Aggie.

What would I do different? I think of this a lot.

1. I would have stayed with that 8-6-4 program for much of my high school years. I kick myself for dumping cleans, front squats and militaries.
2. I would have used the military as my strength standard rather than the bench.
3. I would have eaten more protein, especially at breakfast.
4. I would have learned more lifts to do at home; one arm stuff, jefferson lifts, all the leg variations, maybe power snatches.

5. Even in high school, zip over to Dick Notmeyers.

For the newbie?

1. Do the basic workout of 8-6-4 or some variation that works the whole body.
2. Gather the benefits of strength training; don’t try to get it all done the first week. Be patient.

Question: You work with Brian Oldfield and John Powell. Can you tell us all their secrets?

Brian’s breakthrough year came after he got serious with Dave Davis and actually lifted for more than a few weeks. He simply did Power Cleans followed by Jerks off the Rack. He did a single heavy pyramid of both exercises, two days a week.

He told me in Ohio that his “Best” training program was doing rack lifts of 15 reps of partial front squats, partial pulls and partial presses (short top end movements only) for about five heavy sets twice a week. “That’s all you need to throw far.”

He was a real fan of sprinting and sprinting on your toes. He told me the same thing, many, many times, Fred, that plyos are BS. Now, I have to agree with him: if you are a thrower or O lifter…what the hell are you doing leaping off boxes?

He also introduced shot throws, too. He started every workout with underhand throws, overhead throws, one arm throws, over the shoulder throws and tricks with the 16 pound shot. You could call this “upper body plyos” or you could call it “throwing,” depending on your audience, I guess.

The other great Oldfield insight is overweight throwing. This “revolutionized” my coaching, I wish I would have done it sooner. (Actually, I did. The summer after I threw 190, I experimented with a 7 1/2 pound plate. I could really throw it far. When I went back to the disc after three weeks I tossed my lifetime best and lifetime goal in a good wind. Since this worked so well…of course, I stopped doing it)

At the John Powell Discus Camp in Granville, Ohio, we give everyone a “powerball” a handled medicine ball. All week long, the athletes relearn to throw from the ground up. After doing this, my athletes return to Utah and then throw well beyond their best. This, along with Overhead Squats, is the reason we were able to get Paul Northway to throw 214’9″ in high school. Brian learned this from Highland Games’ events, then applied it to his rotational throw.

Again, you could call some of these drills “plyos,” it all depends on your audience.

The great insights of Brian:

1. Lift twice a week, but do full body, explosive, heavy stuff

2. Train with overweight implements

3. Take your minerals

4. Sprint training or hills is very important

5. Become a true student of your event and try to think through every single aspect of what you do

6. Discover what foods you are allergic to

7. Complicate the movement with drills to simplify it in the ring

8. Enjoy yourself…have some fun!

I think the reason people think that Brian, John Powell, and just about every other quality thrower or lifter “hide” their training is that, usually, it is so damn simple.

John let me look at his training diaries and I was shocked to see that he did run an 880 (800 meters) before each practice and recorded the splits for each lap. He then did situps, dips and pull ups. And recorded his numbers. He did clean grip snatches, he calles them “push presses,” with 135 for sets of five, then did a very simple three day a week program.

Then, he worked on the disc. If he got bored, he did drills, if he found a problem, he spent a lot of time thinking about it and fixing it. He hung around quality people who could help him fix his lifts and throws.

So, some guy comes up in a meet and asks Brian: “how do you train?” Brian says: “power cleans, jerks off the rack, sprints, and I throw three days a week.”

Guy wants to hear: I microperiodize the loads, blah blah blah yadda yadda yadda. Or he wants to hear that Brian does exactly what the guy does THIS week! John told me that nobody every believes the good guys. Everyone thinks they have a “secret.” Then, of course, this guy walks away and says to his buddies: drugs.

It is really simple stuff. My great throwers are good at power snatches and overhead squats. They throw about 15 to 20 full throws a day. They run hills twice a week. So, I go to a clinic, show how I teach the disc, give the coaches every detail of our training.

Paul throws 214: coaches claim he is on drugs.

It is not that Brian gives out conflicting advice, it is that he is also summarizing probably thirty years of training. Did you ever reverse curl? Yes…coach now has his 9th graders reverse curling, but, truly, the question was flawed.

The great ones do the simplest programs. I just interviewed Dick Smith, Lee James’ coach. It is the mind of the athlete that makes the difference and the ability to keep from overtraining that leads to greatness. The great ones can “turn it on.”

If you go to discus camp, not only will you meet Tiffini, you can also talk for hours with John and Brian. You will be largely disappointed if you think that you will learn the “real” secrets behind doors. The worst thrower at camp has all the tools for greatness after the very first session.

Like Jesus told the Young Man in Mark: “Now, go and do it!”

People hate that kind of advice: you know the answer, now follow the path you KNOW is the right one.”

And…

Question: What is the longest post you ever had at the Old School Site…Sometimes, you seem to ramble on forever!

Another “expert” showed up at “Old School”…disrupted things for a while and just shot down everyone…someone asked me about “internet experts.”

I can’t agree more with your statement. Where all this flaming nonsense comes from in the first place mystifies me. When I first posted at this site, I added “Please don’t flame” because the basics work and many people want some pseudo-science to bail them out. If I posted Horoscope training systems, many people would fall over themselves trying to train based on their birth sign. Of course, I don’t believe in horoscopes, I’m a Virgo and we are skeptical.
In discus throwing, there is a guy named John Powell, former police officer, who spends a lot of time training young throwers. He has “never inhaled” and he is the straightest of the straight. Yet, some other guys make fun of him because of his values. I don’t get it.

What bothers me most about the people taking pot shots is simply this: “What have you done?” Have you ever squatted so much so that you had to time the bar movements to get the lift? Have you ever been crushed by a bar, yet made the lift? Have you a trophy? A medal? A state record?

The answer to the critics is simple: Compete. Get out of the comfy confines of your home gym where everybody says “You’re huge” and step on a platform. Bodybuilders who compete have my respect. I couldn’t bear standing with really next to nothing having people critique every flaw I was born with or failed to develop.

Competitive powerlifters, my hat is off to you. The bar just stays on the floor unless you pick it up. It is a simple sport.

These are good questions. First, some background: in the 1970′s, I was a high protein fanatic, weighed 218 in 1979 and threw the discus 190’6″ for Utah State. Everybody thought I weighed about 195, because I was lean. I then got some advice (what the hell was I thinking) to go to the High Carb lifestyle. This is the basic grazing method of Americans, high in grains,corn, and milk.

Well, my weight increased up to a high of 262. Yes, my squat went up, but my cholestrol was awful, my waistline was as high as 42 measured. It may have been higher, after a while you don’t check.

My wife, Tiffini, also grazed with me and got her weight up. The harder she trained, the less she got out of it.
So, she comes home about 16 months ago and decides to do “Atkins” because this girl at work does this diet and loses. I think it is total BS, but lesson number one of successful marriage: support your wife in all body related activities.

Her mom gets in her grill and says: “It is all water.” Well, my wife has lost forty pounds of water, she looks better than the day we got married (she was 19, 30 now) and her tubby husband?

Before “Meat, leaves and berries,” I lifted 3 to 5 days a week. I used fairly complex lifting programs, but made my best gains on one lift a day.

For example:

Monday: Power Snatch for Fives, immediately followed by 8 explosive short movements with 30% of the bar weight.

Tuesday: Squat, heavy, followed immediately by some kind of jump

Wednesday: Stiff leg deadlifts, or nothing

Thursday: Power Clean

Friday: Off

Saturday: Total: Snatch and Clean and Jerk

I used this program to snatch 314 and clean and jerk 385, cleaned 402, but missed jerk.

I also used the Big 21 program, which I think I may have already posted, but it was three days a week, clean and press, snatch, clean and jerk for 3 progressively heavier sets of five, followed by six progressively heavier singles.
I also ran hills on Tuesday and Thursday, threw the disc up to seven days a week, supplemented the hell out of my diet, and couldn’t match my college throws. I lived in the 180′s.

After starting this diet, I find that I just don’t need much lifting. At age 42, (this is a year ago) I am trying to get my weight around 206 (the 94 Kilo class) and just keep improving meet to meet. I snatched 231 last week (boneheaded a 253 behind me) and power cleaned and Jerked 308. These were easy lifts in a meet, but I hadn’t lifted in a meet since 1992. I wanted to go 6 for 6, but I went 5 for 6. The last time I weighed in a meet, my belly stretched my singlet, this time, I couldn’t find a belt to fit. My waist line, on waking this morning was 33 and a half.

My training now? Well, it absolutely varies. I know the techniques, so I lift two to four times a week. I try to only do a movement once a week, for example, I may warm up with overhead (or squat snatches) then really push front squats for 8′s, then not do them for a week. Why? I have found that I just don’t need the volume like I used to? If I get the job done, increasing my lifts each meet, looking better, why kill myself?

Here are a few insights from years of sports:

The Body is One Piece (See all my posts)

Little and Often over the long haul.

The key question: what is the least I can do?

Least I can do? It is a concept I learned from our old national hammer coach. Basically, in the Fall, after not lifting for two months, how far can I throw. Pretty far. In a weakened state, the disc still flies. Test yourself in the weight room. Were the lifts 10% of your best? (If you squat 600, did you struggle with 60?) NO, of course not!

IN two weeks, maybe three, your strength levels will be very close to last year’s bests. Where last year, it took all season to get that 300 pound clean, two weeks of training has you at 290.

This is the concept: Once you get to a certain level, what is the least you can do to return? Now, what needs to be “tweaked” to get you ahead of the old level? This is the joy of training, using your head to make you strong.

One little mistake: when I state that the harder my wife worked, the littler she got, well, the aerobic dance fairies attacked me.

She got, ahem, “not littler.” I pray she never sees this. It would be “bad.”

Although I ultimately benched 405 for a single, at that powerlifting meet I only got my opener with 297, then just blew the next two. That pause thing just killed me. A week later, I snatched 285 and clean and jerked 365, which is interesting, because most people tend to bench more than they can put overhead. I squatted deep and did a 465 (it was a kilo number, so I might not be exact.)

Yes, I believe the quick lifts will help the squat and deadlift, but I think doing some serious military presses would help the bench more. As I have found out, a lot of powerlifters today use serious bench shirts and wraps, fill their chest really high, sneak their hips right next to their shoulders and have a range of motion of about three inches.
And that is all fine, that is the sport. But for a general trainer, I think some of the techniques of top end powerlifters would not be helpful, maybe counterproductive.

On the 405 bench, done in two different settings, my friend, John Price spotted and they were done without a pause. We had been doing this bench program of high reps with heavy loads, sets of ten up to 315 (and more, for John Price, b***ard,)and we decided to max.

One thing: please don’t think I am an expert. I love discus and olympic lifting and hunter-gatherer eating. I hope I haven’t come across as a “guru” or anything along those lines. I just love talking about this stuff.

Question: Do I need lifting boots?

The basic answer is simple: if you use the o lifts as a supplement and only “power” the bar up and don’t catch it in the deep position, no, they have no value. It only helps when you take the bar to the deep squat.

Now, this is also relative. I can snatch a light weight deep with bare feet. In fact, before meets, I spend one or two workouts a week working on my deep position with flat shoes. It teaches me to run to save lifts and, I think, works some flexibility.

A few years ago, Dave Turner noticed that I kept missing heavy snatches, although I was pulling well. He recommended an additional heel on my heeled boots. Well, I was using these shitty Nike shoes with a soft heel. Weighing 250 and snatching 250 equals 500. Well, these shoes would sponge with heavier weights, eliminating the heel. The extra heel was a miracle, I added about 20 pounds to my training hall snatch and nailed a 314 at the next meet in the snatch.

So, do you need them?

Here is a post I sent a few weeks ago with some other ideas about the bottom position. Maybe you can decide after you read this:

First, I want you to take a light bar and do some simple overhead squats. Does the problem happen? Now, stand on a small plate or board. Increase the height two or three times. Does adding more heel help?

Generally, this solves the whole problem. Even though you may be stable with a light weight as you get heavier, you get pushed down and your body compensates by doing odd stuff. I can rock bottom snatch 225 all day long in tennis shoes and never have to step forward or twist to save it. Put 30 more pounds and I feel like I am lifting on the deck of a ship. That’s why we wear heeled boots. Go to a shoe maker and ask to get your heel built up. Don’t go crazy or anything, just a quarter inch can help, and a half inch can be night and day.
Second, try this exercise: squatting behind the neck presses. Bar on back, really light bar, squat to rock bottom. Now, do behind neck presses. If your knees come in now, it is shoulder or back flexibility. How do you improve this? This exercise. You will hate me at first, but appreciate it later.

Third, Dick Notmeyer used to have me get into the deep snatch position with 135 on the bar. Then, he would push the bar down. My job was to hold the position and spread my knees wider. Then, still pushing, he would gently, and please do it gently, twist the bar a little. Right side forward, left back, then left side forward, right back. Then, I would stand up and realize how tight the groin muscles are and how they effect bottom position.
Three ideas to try.

Finally, lifting boots are cool. Get low cut ones and amaze your friends.

Question: What are some throwing ideas?

Kit, you are certainly using the right methods from the track and field world. My single bit of advice would be to talk and/or work with a shot putter for a few sessions. Lots of really strong guys try their paws at the stone put and try to “jump shot,” as in basketball, the stones. Somewhere, the thrower needs to “Lift-turn-punch” the stone. It is the turn part that gives the distance.

In discus throwing, we call it the X position. Do me a favor and try this sometime: kneel on both knees and throw a shot/stone with both hands from the chest. (Like a bench) Note the distance. (and put something under your knees) Next, put it in your throwing hand, on your knees and throw. Why the huge increase in distance? This twist is the secret to the disc, shot and javelin.

From space looking down, your hip line and, as you twist, your shoulder line, make an “X.” Here is the insight of all this writing: it doesn’t have to be a very big X, something most people miss. They try to get more torque by bending their knees, but the hip line and shoulder lines form a = if you do it wrong. Or, they crank it really hard, the shoulders “stretch reflex” immediately, so when you need the X, it looks like =, again.

These kneeling throws can really help your putting by teaching you the progression of “turn- punch.” Very successful Highland Games throwers are often former disc/shot guys who are may not be the strongest competitor but win because they are using their whole bodies and not “jump shooting” the stone.

I realize you may already know this, but it is the basic stuff that kills most people at Highland Games. Gym rats on roids show up and I kick their butts because they try to kill the weight in the various weight/hammer tosses. It’s only “25 pounds” they say, not realizing that on a chain, whipped around your head, physics kicks in and …

Your training looks good. Throwing overweight implements has been proved time and again to improve throwing. (It is simple logic: if I throw a five pound discus 160 feet, there is no question I could throw a four pound discus 160 feet. But, if I throw a one pound disc 300 feet, how does that tell me distance for a four pounder?) The East Germans did a huge study on overweight implements and decided that it was as beneficial as lifting.

Training the legs for throwing, I discovered is best (now, read this correctly: I said “best” not “ONLY”) done by running hills or stairs. If you have a set of steps or a hill near where you throw, toss in a few (a few!) between some of your throws. Again, the East Germans found this was the best method to strengthen the “blocking” movement of the legs. They found that if a thrower gets too strong in the squat that when they hit it with their hips and thighs, other parts of the “chain,” ankles, knees or whatever couldn’t handle the load and would break down. A friend of mine, the late Stephan Fernholm, used to squat huge amounts then go throw the disc and his ankles would cave and he would foul or miss the finish. So, hill running build the system needed to finish tall. Brian Oldfield was famous for his sprint workouts.

I hope this didn’t go on too long, but there are lots of things from discus throwing that carry right into Games competition,

Keep in touch

Question: How are those Deadstop Front Squats coming?

Hey Andy, I was wondering if you were still around. Good to hear from you.

A couple of things I have learned:

1. On these deadstops, and I would include a lot of lifts in this area, you have to cut back on volume. I am thinking that six singles would be just about enough. I start with 255 at 35 or 36 inches off the ground (sawhorses) and take five jumps up…or I do a heavy, back off to 255, another heavy, back off, another heavy and move on to the next exercise.

2. Working on your sticking point like this REALLY pays off faster than you think. I have been doing the front squats three days a week, but with only six reps, I think I’m not going to creep into overtraining. One day, this Friday for example, I just do six singles with 255, but focus on flying up on each rep.

3. My one truly “max” workout each week has to be tempered. I’m trying to bump my max up over a few months. Last week, I did 335 very easily and had plenty more in me, but I stopped. I think missing on this exercise or pushing it too much is wrong. These are done to fix a problem, so practicing missing makes no sense.

They really work. Brooks bottom position lifts are very close to being the same thing, except I start from the slowing point or sticking point.

I am in pretty good shape overall, I was almost zero carbs all week, then a carb up on St. Pat’s day: but no beer-I gave it up for Lent. (Scotch isn’t beer!) As long as I can do my abs twice a day, lift hard on my workouts, and really tighten my diet, I think I have a chance to do well at our state meet next month.

I think that this exercise is a real gem for any lifter, especially someone who really knows that “this or that” is the problem spot. I will keep you up to date.

Andy’s response:

Thanks Dan

So seeing as this is going so well, do you have any plans to use it for other lifts in the future? Say on overhead squats?

A couple years ago when I worked overhead supports for a while, I would start so I had to move the bar at least a foot in order to do the lockout. Never even heard of an overhead squat at that time, but even a 12″ overhead squat with up to 365 really benefitted my back and support strength

Andy

I would only use them for a clear weakness or long term problem. I know this goes against some of the advice I have received about functional isometric contraction, but I like focusing on a problem like a Lasix Laser beam and just eliminating it. For the next month, for example, I need to slowly bring my upper girdle and shoulder flexibility back around for my O lifts.

Dick Smith’s idea of having someone watch for your sticking points and then training from that point was the inspiration for this whole last month or so. If you eliminate a sticking point, the rest of your lifts should shoot right up.

So, I won’t necessarily go to another lift with this idea. My problem has always been the “buried front squat recovery.” If I can fix this, everything else should get better.

Last night, I reread some stuff that Jason Keen discussed after going to a Pavel T workshop. After my conversations with Dick Smith, I have been trying to figure out an “optimum” way of working partials.

Keen noted that Pavel recommended no more than six singles. His base for a workout is “ten:” either 2 sets of five, three sets of three, but with singles, just go around six. It really tied some things together that I have noticed: I was really overtraining on my Deadstop Front Squats! So, last week, I started to back off on the reps and did the Deadstops “basically” five of the seven days with two of the workouts just being with 205.

Last night, I shot right up to 325 with just six singles and was surpised how fresh I was. This is my weakness and I just need to beat it to death. I have a meet in the third week of April and I’m just trying to cure this (once and for all) problem with getting buried in my cleans.

So, I think that I found a balance for these partial movements: doing much more than six seems to really bury me.

Anyone else find the same thing with partials, i.e. you just have to keep the volume down?

First off: I am just a shade over six feet, in fact, in college I was listed at 6’3″ in one publication, so I am shrinking at a definable rate. I weigh 210-218. So, 36 inches is actually a couple of inches (two? three?) above my rock bottom position. But, this is where I get stuck. In fact, I could feel a “gear change” there when I first started this short “fix it” program, but now that is gone.

The Deadstops, the bottom position, front (or back) squats are NOT the same as the FIC stuff. I know I mix the two a lot, quoting Dick Smith usually. This is where the confusion showed up in the 1960′s, too.

These deadstops are an attempt by the lifter to fix the grinding recoveries from cleans AND save wear and tear on the knees. From my experience, both reasons are true. In fact, Master lifters, or anybody, would be wise to use this method to increase intensity without killing the wheels.

Now, FIC is different. I’m not sure about the big quarter squat or the lockout, but Dick said ALL YOU DO is clear the pins with maximal weight, hold it, drop it and move to the next exercise. Smashing it into the other set of pins was “wrong, wrong, wrong” and would lead to problems.

So, two different things we are discussing here. What you and I are doing is the deadstop or bottom position work. You grind up and lock it out. This is NOT FIC.

This was my confusion, too. It lead me to overtrain in 1991 and 1992. I mixed two programs and just burned up. Now, I literally just do those six singles, toss in a couple of things for good luck and walk out. But, my front squat is shooting up off the pins now.

Of course, the meets are where the rubber meets the road and we will find out how it all works.

Question: Is there a way to combine dieting and Olympic Lifting for a fat loss program?

Back in the dark ages, there was a little magazine called “Florida Weightlifting News” and they took Bob Gadja’s PHA bodybuilding system and put it into an O lift workout. One quick point, the military press was still part of the Oly Three, so they had a lot more options in training.

If you decide to do PHA with the O lifts, expect your heart rate to go through the roof!

Just doing J.V.’s combo of power cleans and front squats and push jerks for reps of five each will burn something off your body.

I guess you could map out the lifts you know, then arrange your bars and stuff about so you could go from one to the other…

Maybe:

1. Power Snatch

2. Overhead Squat (same bar and weight)

3. Clean deadlift and shrug (another loaded bar)

4. Some ab thing

Sets of three or five of everything then repeat, or if you have enough equipment, or want to vary:

5. Power Clean

6. Push Jerk/Regular Jerk

7. Front Squat (Same bar and Weight)

8. Some ab thing.

Sets of three or five of everything…

I’m just guessing, but you would possibly not need much additional running, jogging or step aerobics.

I’m no MLL, although I do play him on television, but I think this combo would get you in condition.

I must say this: if you diet too strictly, you could really suffer from “rabbit starvation” training the O lifts PHA style. Be sure you are getting your fats in your diet and try to lose the fat through carb depletion and fat burning training…not through starvation and overtraining.

Losing fat is not always the same as losing weight.

Question: Don’t be afraid…what I learned in 2001!

It has been a bit of an epiphany as of late, in the sense of the term as used by James Joyce. My great insight of 2001 revolves around the “approach” to training.

I have trained under two great Masters in the discus: Ralph Maughan and John Powell. Coach Maughan believed in a simple formula:

1. Throw three to four times a week

2. Lift three times a week “most of the time,” focusing on the clean, the power curl, the quarter squat and the push jerk/press.

3. Do hills/stairs/sprints twice a week…”most of the time”
During the track season, you would back off the lifting and speedwork and focus on the meets.

4) The big key: for four years. By the time your senior season rolled around, you would gather in the benefits of the huge base of good and bad workouts…over four years…and blossom into being a good thrower.

You throw in training like you throw in meets…enter from the back, full turn, stay in the ring, stay in the sector, walk out the back…repeat. You gather improvements by never working over your limit, but by consistently reaping the small rewards.

John Powell’s approach (for the most part very similar in terms of gathering benefits) also includes a concept that to simplify things, make it more complex. To facilitate the right foot turn, invent a drill (the pivot drill) that demands that you turn-turn-turn that foot until it becomes a thoughtless reaction to the throw. Not accelerating…invent a drill, the “flying South African,” that has you do a wind sprint into a turn and let it go! Fall on your face a few times, then reap the benefits.

Then, I got Tommy Kono’s book and his zeal for “Quality Training.” He insists, page after page, on perfect reps, perfect form. Everything should be contest-like in training, in fact, he emphasizes many times that you should practice with a hook grip or without a belt to make the lifts more of a challenge. Over time, with patience, you will learn to do it right.

Tommy Kono had an ally in Joe Mills. He drilled his lifters with repeat singles in the full, classic lifts. “Meet-like” training led to the building of a lifting machine.

But then, there is the Jim Schmitz approach. Struggling with part of your lift? Well, then, make it more complex. Not finishing pulls? Do a set of “one power snatch, followed by one hang power snatch, followed by one hang squat snatch, followed by one squat snatch from the floor. Toss in an overhead squat on those power snatches, too.”

It occurred to me this year that Maughan, Powell, Kono, Mills and Schmitz are ALL right! I am amazed that I once dumped snatch and clean pulls because they “didn’t work for me.” They don’t work for me ALL the time! Yet, now, I do them exclusively one workout a week. How do I warm up for them? Well, I do these extension squat snatches with a light bar, then do some overheads then, toss in a couple of extra jump snatches…

The secret to success is listening to all five of these voices. As a football coach, you quickly master whole-part-whole-part-whole learning. Having 22 people stand around while you coach a QB on how to take a snap is a waste of everyone’s time. Yet, to prepare for the game, you must be “game-like” on the field.

This year’s insight: Coach Maughan was right…get the workouts in, regular and habitual, some great, some bad, but get them in, year after year. (Show up!)

John Powell is right: invent a drill that repeats, repeats, repeats a motion or action until it is automatic. Make a simple action simple but inventing a drill that makes it complex…then remove the complex parts…it becomes simple again.

Tommy Kono is absolutely right…quality training is the key. You compete like you train. Yet, he also really pushes the snatch and clean pull? Why??? You make a complex action simple, but working the parts, then the…

Joe Mills was right…you build yourself by repeating what you are competing! Drill-drill-drill until it is automatic…then let’s see what happens!

Jim Schmitz is right…take that problem apart and add some extra moves and force yourself to fix it.

My great insight: there is a time and place for pure training…the core only. If a problem arises, take a week, two weeks, three weeks aside and attack it with every possible combination of drills and ideas until this weakness becomes a strength.

Over time, an emphasis on Quality Training will pay huge dividends.

Part II

NUTRITION:

1. Meat, Leaves and Berries (MLB)…read it at danjohn.org/diet.html

2. Mg and Fish Oil Caps for me and my health

3. Drink your water

HEALTH

If you low carb, you have to sleep more. It works, really.

DISCUS

1. Lock the tricep out with the disc on your right cheek

2. Pick up the right foot early…grind the left

3. Grind the right FOREVER and stay long

4. BOOM! Best throw of your life, age 43

SNATCH

1. NO, no, no…really arch your back and really suck in one big breath

2. Curl your wrists after the bar passes your knees, then whip your wrists over head after extension/jump

3. Sit between your legs, Monkey Boy Dan John, means “you, too,” when you dive into the Overhead Squat position. Your chest “rests” on your thighs image helps! (Maybe just me)

CLEAN

Did you pay attention to the above? Whip your elbows rather than your wrists. If you accelerate in the pull, you NEVER miss the recovery (front squat). If you ‘hit’ the weight, rather than accelerate (poetry), you get crushed

JERK

Bring your feet together in the frog stance when you start missing the right flow.

TRAINING

Get in the gym. Make your lifts. Think about each rep, “HMMM, could I have done it better.” If yes, fix next rep.

GRIP TRAINING

Underrated. Farmers Walks with Rosenberg Bars: Answer to all questions.

Finally, thanks to all my lifting friends on the ‘net. I learned far more from you than you will ever learn from me. Guys like Mike Rosenberg have done a ton for me by teaching me stuff I could never have been exposed to in the Artic Climate of Utah. Shaf, Andy, Andy, all the other Mikes, Gary, JV, Dillon, MLL, Dustin, Greg and the throwing crews: Thank YOU! Lest we forget…Jeff A for teaching me to throw the big weights right this year!

Question: Any ideas for in-season football lifting?

1. The “heavy” day should be the day after a game…actually, right after a game works well, too, especially for underclassmen who play on the day before the Varsity, having them train on the Friday, for example, helps a lot.

2. The “other” day should be stuff that doesn’t take a lot of nerve. Don’t Snatch and Clean and Jerk, so to speak. Box Squats, Straight Leg Deadlifts, some dumbbell work and a few machines would work well, but don’t have the athlete tax his nervous system.

3. Don’t be surprised if he gets really stronger, maintains, or drops way down. Any reaction to the training program is normal. We used to find a lot of kids improved their cleans a lot in the football season. My idea then was that they were finally cleaning once a week with supervision. Now, I have another idea: sled work, driving the legs, sprints and the games were all training the system to clean better. Benching and squatting tend to drop, but that seems normal vis-a-vis the work load of football.

4. Don’t be afraid to cut the volume, but strive to keep the intensity up. 5 x 5 just isn’t going to work, but 2 x 5 would be fine. Pyramids would be 2-2-1, that kind of thing.

5. Watch the acne. If he starts breaking out, getting colds, that kind of thing…he is really overtraining. HS kids can handle a ton of volume, then seem to crash.

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