It’s Really That Simple

    I recently returned from a weightlifting training camp with members of the Russian National Team.  With all of the complex technique approaches, catapult vs. triple extension talk, and self proclaimed weightlifting coaches shamelessly blasting social media, I knew I was in for something good from this training camp.  When the lecture began, there was no extravagant technique approach with “must hit” positions. It was better. It was perfectly simple.

    The interesting approach they take to weightlifting is nothing new. Back in the 1950’s and 1960’s, Tommy Kono was absolutely dominant in the weightlifting world, setting World Records in four separate weight classes, winning two olympic golds, and six consecutive world championships. But, after his career, Kono also did some coaching.  When Yasha Kahn, Coach for Norwood Weightlifting, began lecturing at the training camp about the Russian Training System, someone from the back raised their hand and asked what the American System is.  He sort and laughed a little bit and went into the fact that in the 50’s and 60’s there were two systems to train Olympic weightlifters, the Russian and the American.

After Kono was finished competing he began coaching. First he coached the Mexico National Team, then the West German Team, and back to America.  By that time his style of training was out and the Russians, who were dominated by the Americans, adopted this system of training, which is now the Russian System.  So while we are off trying to find the next big thing by bringing in coaching from Bulgaria, Hungary, and Poland, we are getting beat by teams doing what we were doing 60 years ago!  This is a great lesson for any athlete, stop looking for the next best thing!  Find a good coach, and then work. When you start to plateau, work harder!

    I have dedicated much of my career to these movements.  Even before I began to compete, I was studying and analyzing them from a coach’s perspective.  When you get as deep into it as I am, it is refreshing to take a step back, learn from a world champion, and look at the movement as a whole instead of dissecting every inch of the pull.  I believe that we can do this with all movements that we coach and that you as an athlete learn, but it’s not all on the coach.  As an athlete you will have more success, more quickly if you just listen to the cues that the coach is giving verbally and nothing else.  I noticed this at the training camp on multiple occasions.  They would give you two or three things you must do, and the rest took care of itself.  This drove people crazy in the camp!  Many times I would hear “what about the double knee bend,” “where should my shoulders be on the finish,” and the classic “when do I drive my hips into the bar?”  They stuck to their guns, refusing to talk about all that nonsense, giving simple cues to do on your set-up, and then stand up!  The best part about it is it worked!

Here is the bottom line…  These movements, along with other movements including gymnastics, were conventionally taught to kids.  Then, CrossFit came along and we began teaching these skills to knowledgeable adults.  With that came all of the Pose Running and Catapult nonsense, simply because adults are always looking for something new, and more importantly they want to know why it works.  The truth is high quality coaches are not going to give you gimmicks. It’s going to sounds overly simple, but it is suppose to be.  There is no need to over complicate a complicating movement or skill.  Now as an athlete, you must try to clear your thoughts and focus on the the cues the coaches are giving you. It will make the learning curve much shorter so we can get you moving and feeling better.

-Coach Thomas