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Stay at home, protect your Snatch, save your Clean & Jerk!

It's somewhat ironic that my first Weightlifting post would be about what you can do to improve your Weightlifting whilst you can't actually weight lift. So here are my 4 quick tips to get through quarantine without throwing away all of your Weightlifting progress.

 

1. Learning & Education

Educate yourself about Weightlifting in your down time, you may have not have access to a barbell but Weightlifting information has never been more abundant. This is particularly important if you are newer to Weightlifting and are yet to grasp the nuances of the sport. Being able to come back after quarantine with the ability to use the same 'language' as your coach and those training around you will really help your learning process. I would recommend the following as a starting point:


Juggernaut Weightlifting guides:

Max Aita does a great job of explaining complicated concepts in a simple way in these videos. Watching YouTuber Meg Gallagher (aka - @megsquats, an experienced powerlifter with some prior exposure to Weightlifting) struggle to 'get it' at points puts the coaching process into perspective - you aren't going to get it right away!

I would watch these two beginner guides in tandem with their snatch, clean and jerk technique pillar videos.


Zack Telander:

Zack's content is hilarious and extremely informative. Of particular note, is his video which documents his progress from his Weightlifting beginnings to where he is now is really motivating as a beginner.


Catalyst athletics:

Catalyst have an enormous library of exercises, Q&A, tutorials, commentaries - you name it, if it's Weightlifting it's there. You may recognise their flagship book "Olympic Weightlifting - A complete guide for athletes and coaches" from likely every Weightlifting coach you've ever met's bookshelf. Excellent resource.

 

2. Drill key positions

Kick the end off of your mothers mop and use the stick as if it were a barbell. Get acquainted with the key positions which you plan to pass through during the full lift. You could, for example: Begin with just long isometric pauses in your starting position, at the knee and mid-thigh and in your receiving positions of each lift. The progression would then be linking them together with a slow deliberate passing through each point. You will be surprised at how big an impact empty bar/or in this case broomstick work can have. If you "know the route" all you have to worry about when you're back to full training is throttle control.

 

3. Training with what you have

A lovely saying that I picked up in seminar by Nick Grantham is "You can only piss with the cock you've got". Unless you have a home gym already or you have the space and are prepared to buy one, your training is going to have to change and the sooner you accept that the quicker you can move into meaningful, albeit limited training.


But where do you begin? Personally, I'd start by asking myself "How can I improve my weightlifting with what I have at my disposal?". Without a barbell this may sound an impossible task, however there are not many of us who wouldn't benefit from Increased flexibility, improvements in core strength, and a better aerobic base. Relatively simple things to work on which are easy with body weight alone.


Aside from the less than obvious mentioned prior, I'm sure that you have already come to the conclusion that you need to maintain your strength and prevent atrophy. And you would be correct - well done. To do this you need to provide your body with a large enough training stimulus which either promotes progression or maintenance, this is called overload. With body weight alone it can be a difficult task to provide a large stimulus due to our weight being much lower than what we can load a barbell with. Therefore, we have to adjust other things to provide enough intensity.


As an example, you may have no equipment at all, so how would you overload a body weight split squat to a suitable degree when you can back squat 2 times your body weight?! This is where you have to look at intensity altering variables outside of pure loading. Here are a few examples of how you could do this:

  • Increase the range of motion of the exercise - elevate the front and back foot so there is more distance to travel before your knee touches the ground.

  • Increase the time in which the muscles are under tension - slow down the descent of your reps to 5 seconds each, or add in isometric pauses at the half way point of the exercise.

  • Choose a more difficult variation of the exercise - opt for a skater squat, or a pistol squat instead!

The above points can be applied to most exercises, and they make exercises tough! You might even find that if you combine methods you could make a body weight exercise extremely difficult.

 

4. Develop positive habits

Habits take time to stick, particularly the ones which feel as though they require time and effort. Once they are ingrained however, they become part of the norm and require substantially less effort and time. During lock down choose a habit which could improve your general well-being when you're back to full training. Improve your sleep habits, stretch frequently, learn to food prep (or even just cook), keep a diary, etc. Start with one thing at a time, it will make a huge difference when you're back to training.

 

Conclusion.

Staying away from the barbell is tough as a weightlifter, it's a big part of training and it's maybe the reason why you started taking training a little more seriously in the first place - so having the sport itself pulled from under your feet can really suck. But you have to look at this time as an opportunity to develop in different areas which will ultimately set you up for greater success under the barbell on your return.


This list was in no way exhaustive so it won't answer all of your questions, if you need help with your training (or just someone to chat about Weightlifting with) feel free to send me an email at JMKStrength@gmail.com


Thanks for reading,


Joe.

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