"You're not fast enough under the bar." "Your feet are too soft!" "Don't shrug your shoulders, just grip the bar and get under it fast." These are just some of the constructive comments given to me within the first few minutes of the session. Most lifters probably would have thought "whatever! I'll do what I want!", but I was there purposely to learn and get barked at a little. I enjoyed every second of it because I was learning something new about this sport I love so much. When you breathe the proverbial weightlifting dust as your oxygen, you tend to want to know as much about the sport as possible. Even if I never amount to anything past the American Open, which is my current qualifying goal right now, I would still like to know as much as I can to pass on and teach to younger lifters. Back to the session...
We obviously started with the Snatch, but in a way I am very unaccustomed to doing. I did multiple sets with the empty bar and worked on getting under it without the weight. If you've never done this before, I suggest you try it...it's really hard! Also, I did some calf stretching by kneeling down in a squat and holding the bar across both knees. From there I would shift back and forth. Bud told me I need to work at this because I have a small center of gravity, mostly because my calves are too tight and do not allow my knees to move out past my feet. The average gym-goer would grimace at this position, but I am starting to understand that most of the "old school" methods and thoughts are just that...OLD. They need to be updated, especially my thoughts and beliefs on the sport. I believe your ideas and methods are only as good as the source from where you get them. Also, it goes back to the adage; "If it's not broken, don't fix it", which, funny enough, was exactly what Bud eluded to when I asked him about my jerk. I tried my best to get under the bar fast with the small technique changes that were made. Trying to undo three years of my current technique is all but impossible, that I know, but I was a little mad I didn't progress better than I did. I only went to about 85% in the Snatch.
On to the Clean and Jerk. Again, I started with the bar and went from there. Although it was even harder than the Snatch was with an empty bar, I started to feel what Bud was talking about...getting under the bar FAST. One thing I should mention is the seemingly small technique change they made by telling me to relax and not hold my breath. Wow! That was extremely difficult because I've always felt if I didn't keep the air within my diaphragm, I would completely collapse. Even though I only worked up to about 80%, this new relaxing technique did not seem to affect my attempts. What did affect them though, was keeping my eyes focused on a spot in front of me. This helped me so I did not whip my head back. It felt very weird and restrictive to me, but my speed seemed fine.
One other thing I noticed about his lifters' training was that they only worked with singles, even with lighter sets (excluding the first few warm-ups). I guess that is how one needs to train in order to completely replicate the way a competition is held. Plus, I'm sure training almost every day of the week would call for mostly singles. When you get into multiple repetitions, you're asking for extreme fatigue by the end of the week. Also, their thoughts on the second pull are non-existent, meaning that there is no second pull. Just lift the bar fast and your body will do the rest. I like this way of thinking. It's simple and very effective...it takes the 'too much thinking' out of the lift and forces you to just lift. Tom, a lifter at Bud's, asked me if I was a good student, claiming that the best lifters are dumb. I now know what he meant by that...the smart guys go out and think too much, while the "dumb" lifters just go out and lift with no worries. Good stuff.
It will take some time to turn these new changes into productive attempts, but I'm willing to try. Even if that means starting over completely from scratch. I need to get rid of these old habits from the old school methods, and buy into a new system. Who knows, doing so may help me get to the American Open and beyond. I had a blast training there and I hope to go back and learn more soon.