Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Olympic Lifting

This was me today!
I think the thing I both love and hate the most about Crossfit is Olympic Lifting. A properly performed clean and jerk or snatch can be one of the most satisfying experiences. You start with over 100 lbs of weight on the ground and next thing you know, boom, it's over your head. It feels light and smooth and easy. You're a powerful, strong, super(wo)man. Everything in life suddenly feels possible and attainable. Unfortunately, this only happens with properly performed lift.

Both the snatch and the clean are complex movements. You lift the bar off the floor and at some point (and only at just the right point), you jump with an explosion of power and that power moves the bar from mid thigh to shoulders (clean) or hips to over head (snatch). There are many, many things to think about and many, many things that can go wrong. Frequent outbursts from my coach include:

'Lats!' (as in use yours)
'Elbows' (as in whip your elbows around to catch the bar) - often paired with 'too slow'
'You're pulling' (as in don't bend your elbows)
'Stay over the bar' (ie don't lean back, I like to lean back and let my back help me lift, this is BAD!)
'Finish' (as in finish the lift)
And most frequently, heard over and over 'JUMP!'

But, it's a catch 22. Even though there is so much to remember, you can't really think. It happens too fast. If you try to think your way through the lift, you'll fail! Too be truly successful, this has to become an engrained motion. You have to develop muscle memory so you don't think, your body just knows what to do.

I have been Olympic Lifting for 4 years now and after 4 years, well, I'm a lot stronger than I used to be. I jump MUCH better than I used to (it took me years to learn how to jump, I have no fast twitch muscles). I frequently manage not to bend my elbows too much (I have given myself tendonitis multiple times from too much elbow pulling).  But, even after 4 years, sometimes an olympic lifting session is nothing but complete, utter frustration.

The agony!
But other times..... Today, something magic happened. About 1.5 years ago I gave up snatching. I had given myself really bad tendonitis twice and just decided it wasn't for me. So, for the last 1.5 years, every other week when the gym snatched - I cleaned. Then a couple weeks ago I tweaked something in my elbow cleaning and decided I'd snatch for a few weeks. Well, today was amazing. I was snatching what had previously been my absolutely max weight for a 12 set of 1 rep workout and it was easy!  EASY EASY EASY. Did you hear that - EASY!!! Every single time the weight actually hit my hips as it is supposed to and flew up over my head. Now, I'm not say the weight was heavy in the grand scope of things, but for me it was heavy and it felt amazing.

The ecstasy!

So, a little (huge) pat on the back for me. Next week I'll be back in the trenches with cleans again. Cleans that have not been so pretty of late..........

I have never done this!

If you don't know this man, it will mean nothing to you, but it's funny!

No comments: