There isn’t a one size fits all approach when it comes to how we, at Evolutio do Physiotherapy. The same can be said about how you train.
What’s best for you could be completely ineffective for the person who trains right along side you.
Jac our resident geek sat down with weightlifting coach and biomechanical extraordinaire, Lester Ho, AKA “The Training Geek” to chat about everything from coaching, training, rehabbing and how, many factors can change the way you approach the barbell.
Over the next few months, we will release a series of blog posts to help you understand what types of drills and exercises are best suited to the type of athlete you are!
First on the agenda:
Shoulder Positioning when you Receive the Snatch!
The Snatch certainly highlights everything a good lifter needs in the world of weightlifting. Mobility, Stability, Co-ordination and Strength.
In our experience, we have often found that athletes all lean towards lacking one of these movement biases (*Of course you can fall into more than one movement bias but this gives you a starting point). This almost guarantees suboptimal performance.
Today we explore these categories in more detail, and in the process, help you figure out which type of athlete you are so that we can ensure you are heading in the right direction towards your weightlifting goals!
Athletes who need MOBILITY
You struggle to hit certain positions because you feel stiff or stuck!
In the snatch, you have to grip onto the bar to keep it up; it doesn’t just sit stacked above your centre of gravity. You often catch in the power position and wonder how much heavier you could go if only you could just get under the bar.
A stiff upper back and associated stiffness in the shoulders are the most common problems we see with athletes struggling to get good overhead positioning.
Poor posture and the lifestyles we have in this day and age with desk jobs, mobile phones and sitting create positions throughout the day that functionally make us tighter in the front of our shoulder and encourage curvature of our spine. Over time, these changes become harder to reverse.
Sceptre- Pecs, Subscap
Posterior shoulder smash
Biceps smash with barbell
Thoracic mobility on foam roller
Athletes who need STABILITY
The receiving position comes easy to you, but you get the wobbles or even fling the bar so far back (because you can) that you often miss catching the lift despite having the ability to get the bar up!
Locking out and holding the receiving position steady is a struggle and despite those around you being envious of your incredible flexibility, you wish you could just catch that lift and be solid like a rock!
Athletes who are more flexible or have hypermobility have no issues with range of movement. However, we need to account for having active stability in the extra range so that you are not merely hanging off your joints using just the passive structures to hold you there (ligaments, joint capsules etc) as these are certainly not built to withstand a 100kg bar overhead without the help of your muscles!
KEY EXERCISES AND DRILLS
KB bottoms up press and walk
Turkish Get ups
Athletes who need CO-ORDINATION/TIMING
You’ve got mobility, you’ve got stability but you just don’t have the moves… timing is just a little bit off! You pull too early and miss out on the power your hips have to offer to get the bar high, you don’t quite punch your arms out in time to receive the bar or you’re just not getting under the bar quick enough.
Lester quotes, “Perfect practice makes perfect”
More often than not we concentrate on the perfect set up and sticking the landing, but consideration for what happens in between is less of a focus. There are likely, components of the snatch that need more practice. So we break it down, and we repeat them ‘perfectly’. This creates muscle memory and increases the response time of the muscles to fire quickly and efficiently.
KEY EXERCISES AND DRILLS
Behind the neck Push Press
Athletes who need STRENGTH
You have great technique and mobility, you get the bar up and catch it beautifully but you can’t hold this receiving position or, you just can’t stand it up.
Its one thing to co-ordinate and fire the right muscles at the right time, but what if those muscles were weak muscles? It would be like having a working light switch that switched on a 60w light bulb (as opposed to a 100w light bulb)- it works, but it’s not very bright! Having good strength ensures you have a good base and foundation from which to work from.
KEY EXERCISES AND DRILLS
Squats! – Front Squat, Back squat, Overhead Squat
Core work-Dead bugs, planks etc
Athletes who need CONFIDENCE
This is the extra category we thought was important to mention. Many may actually just lack the confidence to get under the bar despite having the mobility, stability and strength.
This is where Lester got a bit Mr Miyagi on me….
“Practice mindfulness in the receiving position….feel what its like to be in that position…you don’t want to overthink ‘the how’ of getting there”
Overhead Squat holds
Bonus reading…because why not?!
The discussion of kinematics vs kinetics came up in amongst our chat.
Firstly, what does it mean?
Kinematics is the motion you see. Kinetics, the forces behind the movement. In short, what you see is not necessarily what is happening through your joints and muscles.
We used the example of the “knees out” cue. So often we hear the cue to drive the knees out, and while seemingly this is an excellent way to get the glutes engaging and to ensure good alignment of the knees, we need to consider what is happening above and below the knees.
Those with flatter feet may, in driving their knees out destabilise their base of support as the forces are now transferred to the outside of their feet. While the alignment of the knees now look textbook perfect, it may not actually be the best, most stable position for the athlete! To caveat this (before we see every flat footed athlete squatting with their knees knocking) this is merely one example from our experience.
We see every athlete as individuals and every individual is different in the way they move. Previous and current sporting experiences and/or injuries can govern the way your body adapts and performs.
Working with an expert eye to figure out YOUR blueprint is one sure way to ensure optimal performance.
If you’re serious about your lifting, recovering from injury or merely want to improve your performance, having a coach like Lester and/or having a biomechanical assessment from one of our physiotherapists can ensure your training is as focussed and as individualised as possible for your specific movement patterns.
About Lester Ho a good friend of ours:
Lester Ho started the Training Geek to share his interest regarding the scientific concepts and mechanisms in training. His interest predominantly revolves around the sport of weightlifting where he is currently finishing up his PhD in Biomechanics on the snatch. Because of his research, he has not only picked up the sport and fallen in love with it, but it has also been the driving force behind the people he trains as a personal trainer and coach.
He offers private coaching – both in person and with the wonders of technology, remotely. He also regularly runs workshops and seminars teaching the fundamentals of the Snatch and Clean and Jerk.