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Barbell Why Powerlifters Struggle with Weightlifting

watchnerd

Level 8 Valued Member
I don't even bother with the low bar. It doesn't feel good on my shoulders and I feel like I can't get enough depth.

Oh, I don't program or train low bar, either.

But the last time I was having a max effort day with some PL guys who train at my barbell club, we decided to have a stupid mini-squat meet where all the participants (weightlifters, powerlifters, and Crossfitters) had a total equal to best their best front squat + best low bar squat.

Prize was a case 12 piece SPAM variety pack and a case of Rainier ale.

It was all an attempt to figure out if there were really such things as "knee dominant" vs "hip dominant" lifters.
 

MikeTheBear

Level 7 Valued Member
Being strong is absolutely not going to hurt anyone who wants to learn Olympic lifting,

This is one of those topics that I could write an entire article about and it would be very long. The "problem" with being strong is that it's easier to "muscle" the lifts with light weight. It's a common theme you hear from those learning the lifts, especially when they're already strong: "I do great on my warm ups but once I get to a heavy weight everything falls apart." Some of this can be a mental thing, but I'd say a lot of it is technique. They do great with lighter weight because they're strong enough to muscle the bar up even if their bar path is not optimal. Get to a weight they can no longer muscle up and the incorrect bar path rears its ugly head.

No weightlifter or weightlifting coach thinks that strength is unimportant. Fighting this strawman gets very tiresome. But weightlifting requires being strong in specific positions, and a person coming from a powerlifting background may not necessarily be strong in those positions. Or it may be a movement pattern issue. Glenn Pendlay switched to weightlifting from a powerlifting background. When he first started cleaning he would dump the bar forward because his years of low-bar squatting engrained a forward lean every time he squatted. This was his default setting on squats that he had to unlearn.
 

MikeTheBear

Level 7 Valued Member
the most important point is that kettlebell ballistics offer the average person many of the benefits of weightlifting with a much lower point of entry in terms of skill.
Agree 100%. I would argue that this is true for athletes training in most sports. Many sports require not just power but power endurance, which is what KBs train. Get an athlete to do 20 good swings with a 92 kg KB (yes, they make 'em that big) and that athlete has a pretty good base of power endurance.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Elite Certified Instructor
Most people don't want to go back to being a relative novice at something for a somewhat long period of time once they have spent a few years being intermediate or advanced... and this is what it takes, generally speaking.

For anyone so afflicted, I recommend a web search on:

beginner's mind

Starting at the beginning of something new is magical, and in no small part because it's about the best thing one can do for your brain as you age. Being a beginner at a new skill is like going on vacation to a place you've never been before, except it's the opposite of going on vacation.

I’ve been practicing Olympic lifting for 3 months, rather on the back burner because I had a powerlifting meet a few days ago, but it will be a much bigger part of my training from now on. Here’s a 50 kg clean (from hang) from about 10 days ago.


-S-
 
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MikeTheBear

Level 7 Valued Member
You have a very high standard here ;)
I got the idea from Bret Contreras. Here's what he said:

AN INCREDIBLE DEADLIFT AND OLYMPIC LIFT ASSISTANCE EXERCISE​

When an assistance lift works, you know it immediately. I never got any "assistance" from swinging light kettlebells around. However, several months ago I bought a 106-pound kettlebell, and more recently a 203-pound kettlebell.

I should mention that my form on kettlebell swings is far from optimal. I look like a damn Neanderthal heaving the weight around. But I know how to use my glutes properly (from 6 years of hip thrusting) and therefore I fire them like crazy during the swing.

I've found that it's easy to swing 70 pounds with perfect form, but when you go heavier, it's a different story. Eventually I'll make the 203-pounder look right, but in the meantime it still provides an amazing training stimulus.

I'm not nearly as eloquent as Marianne, but nevertheless I've found that the transfer to deadlifting is incredible as long as you go heavy. At first, "heavy" for a typical female lifter might be 35 pounds and for a typical male, 70 pounds.

However, over time, fit females want to strive to swing 106 pounds for reps and males should shoot for 203 pounds. This may seem far-fetched, but it's a long-term goal to strive for.

In the video above, I'm swinging the 203-pounder for 8 reps. Two weeks later I got 20 reps with it, so your strength and power will rapidly increase when you start taking swings seriously. Now my 106-pounder feels like a cupcake.

Best still, heavy swings don't destroy the body like maximal deadlifts do, so you can train them more frequently. In fact, you can put deadlifts on the backburner for a while and maintain your strength by doing heavy a#@ swings 2-3 times per week.
 

MikeTheBear

Level 7 Valued Member
Here’s a 50 kg clean (from hang) from about 10 days ago.

That looks pretty good. I like that you're using your legs to drive the bar up and not leaning way back with your torso which can result in swinging the bar. I had this problem myself. Of course, as the weight gets heavier you'll use more torso, but that will come on its own.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Elite Certified Instructor
That looks pretty good. I like that you're using your legs to drive the bar up and not leaning way back with your torso which can result in swinging the bar. I had this problem myself. Of course, as the weight gets heavier you'll use more torso, but that will come on its own.
Thank you, Mike.

I am very much taking my time. And I'm absolutely focusing on making my squats about legs. My quads are my weak point when it comes to my deadlift start, and I give credit to front squatting for both helping my DL start and maintaining my low-bar back squat with almost no low-bar back squat training. A typical training day for me, using the progression detailed below, is cleans followed by front squats - clean until my max weight, which is around 50 kg, then put the bar on squat stands and work on front squats with a bit more weight, and most of the time I stop there, but sometimes I then swap out the bar for the SQ bar we use in the USPA and do some heavier low-bar back squats. All this in Olympic lifting shoes, and last weekend I did my first meet squats in Oly shoes and am planning to continue doing that.

My teacher is Senior SFG Mira Kwon Gracia, who competes at a high level. I met Mira a few years ago at a StrongFirst event, Second Wind, in Seattle at Andrea's gym, and told her that when I decided to learn Olympic lifts, I was hoping she'd teach me. True to my word a few years later, we started working together in August.

We started just with cleans at my request - don't know if this is normal or not. We worked first on arms-only cleans with an empty bar, then added a little weight, then added bent legs to the start, then added a dip at the catch, then a full squat at the catch, all gradually over time, and that's still my progression each time I train these. I'm in no hurry. I have above-average hip and hamstring mobility so I feel like I have a great headstart in that way. We've only just, literally only once so far, put the bar overhead in a split jerk. I've also been working, with empty 15 and 20 kg bars, on press-behind the neck as a way of working on my shoulder and t-spine mobility, not really for strength, just for finding a good groove.

-S-
 
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Steve Freides

Staff
Elite Certified Instructor
When I studied under Jim Schmitz, I learned both at the same time, but I think Sonny Webster starts with the snatch.
I feel like starting with the clean, then adding the jerk, then adding the snatch, is a way to coax along my t-spine and shoulder mobility without a direct front assault on it, if you know what I mean. Snatch really takes a lot of overhead mobility, jerk less so, and clean/FSQ even less so, but front squatting still requires more shoulder and t-spine mobility than anything in powerlifting - seems like a good progression to me.

-S-
 

watchnerd

Level 8 Valued Member
I feel like starting with the clean, then adding the jerk, then adding the snatch, is a way to coax along my t-spine and shoulder mobility without a direct front assault on it, if you know what I mean. Snatch really takes a lot of overhead mobility, jerk less so, and clean/FSQ even less so, but front squatting still requires more shoulder and t-spine mobility than anything in powerlifting - seems like a good progression to me.

-S-

Makes sense.

Snatch can also be super frustrating.

If I'd had to start with only snatches, I'd probably have rage quit.
 
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