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It was the readiness with which he spoke of them. It was the context. He knew that I had arrived in Scotland, for my first visit, just an hour earlier.
PERIODIZATION BASICS.


When you only start lifting weights things seem quite simple. You add the weight weekly/monthly, because you are becoming more strong, agile and profound in technique. However, that may not last forever, and once you will realize that you no longer can move the heavier weight than on the previous training. That is the time you realize that the appropriate dosage of workload is key to success on this level.

It is a very important issue one should bear in mind during preparation, however whilst you approach the competition date it becomes even more crucial. On top level strength is the quality that may not be analyzed putting a blind eye on temporal aspect. You may be shred, agile, fast and technique throughout all the year. But an elite athlete may not perform pulls with its maximum weight every other training.

I have seen some USA athletes doing really great job during preparation, showing decent methodological base and excellence in technique, but due to poor planning of workload in transactional period before the competitions, sometimes they scored on the competition 50 lbs. less than their best results in gym.

In this article I will not explain the nature of periodization, the rationale behind it and different models. Instead I will try to provide a very practical set of recommendations for each period of preparation and a clever reader will surely make its own conclusions on how it is connected with the idea of periodization.

Stage I. Preparation period.

This period lasts 2 to 4 months and is aimed on accumulating your strength while maintaining decent technique. The basic recommendations are:

Competition lifts: High rep range and low intensity (low weight in other words).

Strength work: It should occupy a majority of your training schedule in terms of time, diversity and volume.

The idea is to significantly increase your strength, even if it comes at a price of temporal (!) decrease of performance in competition lifts and maybe even in speed.

Stage II. Transactional period.

This period lasts 1 to 2 months and is aimed on transaction of the strength build on Stage I into results in competition lifts.

Competition lifts: Increase the diversity and the training volume of the lifts. Make them a priority in your training in terms of time, diversity and volume. Reduce the rep range comparing to Stage I and increase intensity (moderate weight). Diversity in this sense means that you shall perform different variations of the lifts.

Strength work: Try to maintain the level of strength you have achieved on Stage I. Building strength is no longer your priority, but saving is.

The idea is to increase your performance in competition lifts, whilst trying not to lose your strength.

Stage III. Pre-competition period.

This period lasts 1 to 2 months and now you are preparing yourself for that very day, where you are to show your best in 6 attempts.

Competition lifts: Avoid diversity now, stick only to competition variations of the lifts. Continue increasing intensity and decreasing range of reps.

Strength work: Simply minimize it.

The idea is to increase your performance in competition lifts aiming for new records and preparing to work on 1-rep range. You should accept that you results in squats and other strength work will decrease.

This stage also include going for PR to evaluate your results so that you could know what weights to lift on competition. Use the following recommendations to schedule such PR attempts:

Snatch – 7 to 14 days before the competition

C&J – 14 to 21 days before the competition


The exact time depends on some personal factors (time needed to recover). However, bear in mind that heavyweight athletes need more time to recover than their lightweight peers.

Stage IV. A week before the competition.

Now you should prepare yourself for setting new PRs. You need to rest and relax, but not to lose your focus and tonus.

Take this plan as the example.

Mon

1. Snatch 70-75% 3 sets of doubles

2. C&J 70% 3 sets of singles

3. Clean pull (from the stage) 90-95% (of best C&J) 4 sets of doubles

4. Front squat 70-75% (of best front squat) 3 sets of doubles


Wed

1. Snatch 65-70% 3 sets of singles

2. C&J 65-70% 3 sets of singles

3. Snatch pull (from the stage) 90% (of best snatch) 3 sets of doubles


Fri

1. Snatch 50% 3 sets of singles

2. C&J 50% 3 sets of singles

Sun Competitions!




Author: Sergey Bondarenko, weightlifting and strength & conditioning coach, Master of sports of international class (Russia)
Translation: Artem Chupakhin, Sergey's trainee

If a building becomes architecture, then it is art
STARTING WEIGHTLIFTING. HOW TO BUILD A PERFECT TIECHNIQUE AND AVOID INJURIES.
Ideally, you would like to start weightlifting with finding an experienced coach. Even once you have read many books and articles on weightlifting, you will find it difficult to maintain the proper technique during performance of exercise yourself, because you need someone to control you technique on every phase of a lift and to notice your mistakes. However if you are not able to find a place where you can work on your technique with a coach, try at least to capture your lifts on camera so that you can review it yourself.

Of course, you would need some experience and knowledge to notice the mistake and find the correct exercise to eliminate it. Even if you are attentive and persistent and you may notice the worst mistakes yourself, there will still be many subtle ones, which will however significantly affect your performance and safety.

Though working out your mistakes yourself will be difficult, there are some guidelines which at least make it possible.

First and foremost - you need to check your physical condition.

That would encompass both general attributes and preparedness for hard work of particular muscles groups (back, legs, arms etc.).

You need to evaluate your muscle groups by the following criteria:

- Pace;

- Coordination;

- Strength; and

- Flexibility.

Find the weakest link of the chain and work on improving of this quality.

For example, if you have weak back and legs, while maintaining other qualities on the decent level, you need to focus on your back, and only then move to improving your legs. Working on your legs requires you to put significant training volumes on your squatting, which may lead to an injury unless your back is strong and well-prepared for such volumes.

Second – work your flexibility.

Even if you are nature gifted with decent flexibility and no way you have thought of it as of your weak attribute, most likely it is, when it comes to starting weightlifting. If you ignore focusing on your flexibility from the very start you will face a serious risk of injuries later on.

To maintain a stable position in the bottom of your snatch, holding your back tight and the loaded bar right over your head you need to be sure that:

- Your shoulder and hip joints mobility provides for the required range of motion;

- You have a decent lumbar-spine mobility (weightlifting has a tendency to form more distinct lumbar curve (hyper-lordosis)); and

- You thoracic spine allows you to hold your shoulder blades tight (normally weightlifters have less distinct thoracic curve (hyper-kyphosis).

Third –working on technique.

While working on your technique, bear in mind the following basic principles:

- Light weight only – you goal is technique, not personal records, so do not load the bar so that its weight would impair your technique.

- More repetitions – you try to establish a movement stereotype. On first few reps of a set you are likely to make a mistake or few, but by the fifth (for example) repetition you may fix your errors and perform close to the right movement. Do not push it to the limit making tens or twenties. But doubles and triples on this stage may not be enough.

- Start with the easiest movements and follow to the more complicated ones –basically you would like to teach the technique "backward" or "from top to the bottom", try making overhead squat, if its fine move to the hang snatch from the middle of your thigh, once you succeed with it – try hang snatch from your knees, etc. At last you will manage it to the full snatch.

- Focus on accessory exercises – overhead squats, drop snatches, etc.

Forth – build the basement.

You need to have a certain reserve of strength. Let us say you want to clean 220 lbs. bar. Technically, with a perfect technique you may do it if your personal record in front squats is 220 lbs. But that would mean that you have no strength reserve. Cleaning 200 lbs. will make you work on you maximum capabilities both on the pull and squat phases of clean, it is risky and energy-demanding. However if you front squat 270 lbs. than the second phase of 220 lbs. clean will most likely be an easy walk for you, allowing you to direct all your energy to a stronger pull.

The following exercises may help you to improve your muscles strength.

- Legs – back squat (NB! Do not accept anything but full depth), front squats, overhead squats.

- Back – various kinds of deadlifts (clean grip or snatch grip, with second pull or w/o, deficit lift or from power rack etc).

- Arms – focus on press and push press. Avoid working on your biceps as it may impair rack position in C&J/front squats.

While working on your strength, do not forget improving you endurance. Without it – that would be hard to continue adding on training volumes and intensity.

Fifth, the last but not the least – gym sessions is just a part of you training.

No matter how hard you train, you will not able to maintain progress, unless you recovery well. You need to plan training wisely not to get yourself into overreaching or overtraining. Your best friends are proper nutrition, decent sleep and bed regime, sauna and massages and other methods of recover, which deserve much more detailed overview, which you will soon see in other articles.

Try to stick to this recommendations, be persistent and dedicated and soon you will see the results!

Author: Sergey Bondarenko, weightlifting and strength & conditioning coach, Master of sports of international class (Russia)
Translation: Artem Chupakhin, Sergey's trainee

If a building becomes architecture, then it is art
IMPROVING YOUR JUMP
I bet that many of you saw how someone unfamiliar with weightlifting is surprised to see "that massive immobile guys" to jump on a high deck of bumper plates. But those who lift, do know that burst capabilities of weightlifters may be really astonishing. Most of the strongest lifters jump really high, but does that mean that if you jump high you will lift a lot? Is strong jump a nice bonus or a prerequisite of success?

I would not say that weightlifting is just a "jump with the bar", but I have to admit that strong jump is a fair indication of leg speed and power. I do believe that jumping work shall have some place in every athlete. However, that is not a plug'n'play thing. You need to introduce jumps into you training cycle wisely and I hope that article may give you some clue.

First and foremost, you need to distinguish between two types of "jump work":

- Jumping exercises

- Working on jump through auxiliary exercises

First group is as simple as it is – you need to get a higher or longer jump and that will be your result. However, for second type of work you need to do it right way, getting a proper timing and coordination. That mean that the height is not your priority – you need to do it quick and accurately, landing on the right position.

As usual, to get the best result you need to pay attention to both methods. That is however a good news, since there is a synergy between these two kinds of work.

Let us get these groups examined separately.

Jumping exercises

The arsenal is pretty rich here.

First of all, that could be:

- Box jumps

- Jumps over the obstacle

- Length jumps

For any of those you may use the following alterations:

- Bodyweight or extra weight

- With acceleration or from dead stop

- From full bottom position

One thing I rarely see but like to use, is "pit jumps" where you put two boxes with some distance inbetween, jump down from first box into the "pit" and then immediately jump on the second box with a single movement.

Another one method I like and do not see getting enough attention is jumping out of the full squat with the bar.

You put the bar on back, go full bottom and then jump out. The alteration for this exercise are following:

- Full bottom or half-bottom position

- Bodyweight or bar

- Dynamic (spring off for the next rep when you reach bottom) or static (paused)


That is very important however not to forget that you need to land right at the same position, where you start of.

With that jumping exercises you may have a bunch of combinations enough to maintain the principle of variation in your training cycle. The thumb rule for their use is to either put them at the end of the training or at a separate GPP day.

Auxiliary exercises with the bar

This method means that we will have to amend our classical lifts and their variations so that they get focused on jumping power, speed and accuracy.

The list of exercises you can get by this way is long enough not to mention all of them, so I will cite few that I favor mostly.

1) Clean/snatch "out of the pit"

Put two bumper plates on the floor – one next to each outer part of your feet and stand inbetween. When you do clean/snatch (no matter whether from the floor or hang position) finish the movement with the jump that will be powerful enough to jump on these plates.

2) Clean/snatch pull with jump

That is basically a normal clean/snatch pull (yet again, no matter whether from the floor or hang position) which you finish with a jump. The jump shall be basically a logical finish of powerful pull, letting you land at the same place.

3) Snatch balance and power jerk (from back)

Apart from helping with a drop phase, these exercises allow you to focus on leg drive and jump more than classical lifts as they are technically much easier than those involving pull and the bar is better balanced there, as you do not need to think about not letting the bar drag you forward.

4) Power snatch/clean

If your goal is to pull the bar high enough to rack it in standing position, you will automatically make a powerful jump as you need to engage every reserve to do so (of course if the weight is heavy enough).



HOW OFTEN SHOULD I TRAIN
In this article I will try to cast a light on the question that many novice weightlifter are often concerned about – how often should we train weightlifting? The answer will definitely depend on many factors, such as free time, recovery facilities, aims and ambitions, level of preparation and physical condition. Despite of willing to give an answer on this question to every athlete, I clearly realize that it is not possible within the scope of this article. However, I will answer it for two quite different group of sportsmen - pure amateurs combining sports with family and job duties and people who are able to surround themselves with perfect opportunities to pursue the highest sport career goals.

1)
The ones that aim for paragon of sports performance.

If you are lucky to have loads of leisure time and your financial condition allows you to maintain perfect recovery condition (or if you are professional weightlifter) than training 5 to 8 times a week will be a decent choice of yours. Of course that would not be "go hard" every training session. You will try to make your sessions short and intense both in terms of time and number of exercises.

5 times a week will suit the following pattern: Mon, Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat training sessions and Thu, Sun – recovery days.

8 times a week will make you schedule 2 training sessions every Mon, Wed and Fri (one at the daytime and the other one close to the evening).

Such intense weekly schedule practically requires you to maintain perfect recovery, scheduling sauna sessions for Wed and Sat evenings (i.e. prior to your recovery days) with a maximum load being scheduled for these very days (again because of the fact that they are followed by recovery days).

While choosing the right number between 5 and 8, bear in mind that the workload and training volume will be the same for every option – the only difference is the distribution of this workload among the training sessions (making 8-days-a-week training sessions shorter and simpler than 5-days-a-week).

Also note that normally, weightlifters of heavier weight classes would opt for less training sessions a day/a week, because they need more time for recovery and it is not that easy for them to keep their sessions short as they need longer warm-up.

2) Amateurs

I highly recommend amateurs sportsmen (especially novice ones) to follow 3-days-a-week model, however including the sufficient diversity of exercises in their training sessions. If you are fine with adding another training session – devote it to accessory/auxiliary exercises (jumping on a boxes, improving your endurance, flexibility etc.)

It will perfectly fit the following pattern – Mon, Wed, Fri – training days and Sat – auxiliary work.

The perfect time to conduct a training session is either right after the noon or somewhere after 5:00 pm. If you train early in the morning, in the lunchtime or late at the evening – your training sessions may not be that efficient. If however that is the only option available to you due to busy schedule, try at least to stick to the following rules:

1) Let yourself have at least one hour rest between last meal and training session;

2) Make at least 1,5-2 hours gap between waking up and training and between training and going to sleep.

If you can make these gaps longer – good, because basically they are just a minimum allowing you to minimize discomfort.

And never forget one of the most important rule that many trainees underestimate – it is better to "undertrain" than to overtrain. If you face overreaching, then avoiding decrease in performance will be a task much more difficult than adding some extra work if you realize that you have not stressed your muscles enough on your last sessions.

Author: Sergey Bondarenko, weightlifting and strength & conditioning coach, Master of sports of international class (Russia)
Translation: Artem Chupakhin, Sergey's trainee

If a building becomes architecture, then it is art
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