The Open Experience Part 5; Final Lift
Now for the Clean & Jerks…
This was perhaps the movement I was most concerned about. It stems from 2 major things.
1. I believe I didn’t really put in the right effort to squat as much as I should have. There were many days in which squatting was programed towards the end of the workout. After 2 hours and cleaning, jerking and snatching, the last thing I wanted to do was spend another 45 minutes squatting. At this point in the workout, I’m hungry, tired and looking for reasons to quit.
Yeah, my back definitely hurts today. Better call it before these 9×6 squats at 85%.
When you know you didn’t put in all the work you possibly could have, it creates room for doubt. In weightlifting, as I’m sure in most other sports, the slightest bit of doubt is not only terrifying, but incredible destructive to performance. 10x more so when your opponent is YOU and weight. One microscopic sliver of doubt when you initiate your muscles to begin driving the weight off the platform and you can forget it. You’ll never pull under with confidence. You’ll never have the courage to fully and genuinely position your head under the bar with intent to catch.
2. My shoulder wasn’t engaging like it should. Ever since I went to an MMA wrestling practice, got exhausted and hung onto a fighter’s leg while he wizzarded (is that a word?) my shoulder, it didn’t work right for like 6 months after that. To further illustrate what the hell i’m talking about, I dove into the fighter’s leg in an attempt to “take him down”, but i was so tired that I just held onto the leg and didn’t try to finish the move. This allowed the trained fighter to pound the shit out of my shoulder with his entire body and hips. It was easier for me to take the beating than to deliver my own.
No real long term damage occurred, but it affected my training adversely and caused my right shoulder to lose similar strength patterns as my left shoulder. Additionally, this created doubt in my ability to catch heavy weight overhead. Doubt = Failure.
Now that snatches were done, time to get after Clean and Jerks.
This time, warm-ups were purposefully paced with less rest time. I didn’t like sitting around waiting so my coaches delayed my warm up until I would about 12 lifts out (that’s about 15-18 minutes).
How to time your warm-up lifts
You want to lift as much and only as much weight that will prepare you to lift perfectly on the platform. If you start your warm-up too early, you might go cold and have to do a few extra sets to stay warm – this risks fatigue.
On the other hand, if you don’t have enough warm up attempts in, you might be cold or not ready to catch a maximal load overhead. It’s pretty important that you time it just right and that’s one major benefit to having an experienced coach there with you. Coaches looks at how many other lifters and possible attempts happen before your attempt. It’s difficult to judge timing, but it’s roughly 1 minute per attempt. If that lifter misses the lift, they get 2 minutes on the clock so 1 minute becomes 2. And if this happens 5 times in a row, 5 minutes turns into 10 minutes and you risk getting cold. This is most common in amateur lifters.
Since I spent a lot of time waiting around for my turn to snatch, I tended to get cold and didn’t like that.
Coach Kristen and Eugenio adjusted my warm ups to start a bit later and as I started to move weight I felt my jerks feeling unusual. In this instance, today the were feeling sharp, tight and in place. I was looking forwards to getting on the platform.
My first attempt, 152kg (334lbs) was fantastic. I nailed it perfectly. I can very vividly remember driving the weight from my shoulders to overhead and my feet slapping the platform so succinctly, like a perfect hi-five. Elbows snapped overhead and weight didn’t budge. Boom, 3 white lights.
Jerks are perhaps that only way judges can steal lifts from a lifter. It’s obvious in a snatch and clean. You either stand up with the bar or your don’t. If you elbows bend in a snatch, it’s super obvious and odds are, you won’t make the lift. But in the jerk, it’s different. It’s much more common to catch the bar overhead and have to adjust. If you elbows bend AT ALL, it’s a no lift. Sometimes, the elbows lock out fine and well, but the shoulders move. While this is OK, it’s hard to see and sometimes is mistaken as elbow movement. This is where a bit of athlete <-> judge bickering might take place.
My next lift, 155kg (341lbs) was a no lift. I felt my left elbow bend immediately as I caught it. The clean felt great though so I decided to go heavier.
157kg goes on the bar. This matched my best ever lift, which I hit in July just before my wrestling extravaganza. Clean felt easy. Stood up, took 3 breaths and on the last one, like always, I dipped, then drove up through my hips > into my shoulder and the bar went up. I moved my feet and punched myself under the bar.
Or so i thought. Unfortunately, the judges weren’t watching the Beaux Sheaux and two out of three judges gave me the red light of death. No lift. No idea what they were watching but it wasn’t me because that shit was solid.
I wasn’t too mad though becuase that lift really didn’t mean anything in the large scheme of things. It wouldn’t have helped me qualify for nationals unless I snatched 131kg, which we know I didn’t.
All in all, I made a 125kg snatch and 152kg C&J. Most lifters don’t normally hit personal bests in competition. It’s pretty risky and really hard to do. This total of 277 wouldn’t get me to nationals, but that’s ok, i still have more time to qualify. I need to hit 289 in order to be qualified to lift on the national stage.
This experience wet my appetite for professional weightlifting. The community is great, the equipment is stellar and the judges are strict yet consistent. They don’t play favorites and I think that’s important (and the opposite of bodybuilding).
I’m really happy to have such a great coach with me everyday. I’m very selfish for taking this amount of time to train and couldn’t have done it without my partner Kristen taking on extra workloads so that I could train harder and longer.
Update: I qualified for Nationals at a meet in Houston!