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25.6.15

Sub Ex # 75

Handstands
By Donny Shankle

Handstands are a great exercise to get you practicing the bone on bone lockout you need while Jerking. They are also an easy exercise to strengthen your overhead stability. I do handstands at the beginning of training against a wall and push my head forward to stretch my wrists, upper back, and shoulders. Sometimes I will do handstands at the end of training. The inverted position circulates blood through my upper body helping them heal. Hold each handstand no more than a minute.

Reps: 1
Sets: 1-5
Advanced Way: Handstands are already an advanced exercise
Duration: 5 minutes
Placement In Training: At the beginning and/or end of training

22.6.15


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Tips For The Split Jerk

#3 - Squat More / Squat Less
By Donny Shankle

You may be missing your Jerks because your legs are not strong. Consider how strong the legs must be to complete a C&J. First you have to use your legs to pull the weight from the floor. Then you have to stand up with the weight out of the bottom of the Clean. Now you have to relax with the bar across your shoulders and then Jerk the weight overhead. You spend years in the squat rack building the leg strength necessary to Snatch and C&J. Two exercises which take seconds to complete. When you combine all of your competitions in a year, and add up the amount of time you actually spend on the platform lifting, your performances equal to no more than probably a minute. If you are short of lockout on your Jerk or your conditioning is so poor that you do not even attempt to “Dip and Drive,” you may need to evaluate your training and spend more time in the squat rack.

Maybe your legs are strong and you can front squat significantly more weight than you can C&J. If this is the case (aside from your timing being off in the Clean) then there may be an error in your weekly standard. You could structure your training better and allow for your legs to rest in preparation for a controlled or heavy training session. If your hips and legs are so fatigued from maximal squatting you are unable to complete the Jerk after a Clean then make a change. The day before you C&J to maximum, take your squats up to a percentage you can move the weights fast or remove squats from the training all together. The sport is Snatching and Clean and Jerking. Performance should not suffer for any variation including one as important as squatting. The squats are included in training to help you lift more weight and not impede you.

19.6.15

Why So

Serious
By Donny Shankle

Uncle didn’t only use the word “gradually” a lot in training. He also used the word “serious”. He didn’t approve of playing games or wasting energy before training. He wanted you to be serious before training, during training, and especially competition. Of course, we still had our laughs on occasion but these moments were rare and when you were lifting it was all business.

Quite often some weightlifters or weightlifting coaches have a persona to them which is sometimes misinterpreted as elitism. It’s not elitism. This behavior comes from being serious on the platform. It comes from spending years in the gym training and can potentially carryover into social settings. It comes from weightlifting coaches who teach weightlifters to be serious when they are lifting. These lessons do not always stop when you leave the gym. I can remember spending New Years Eve with uncle and sitting on the couch drinking some champagne watching television. The cartoon Family Guy happened to be on and I laughed at one of the jokes. Uncle came over to me with a disapproving look on his face. I thought he was going to tell me something about the champagne. Instead he said, “Donny why are you watching this? Cartoons are for babies.” It wasn’t the idea of relaxing he objected to or watching a comedy. It was the idea of weightlifters he was training to be fierce competitors finding amusement in things he viewed as childish. This is not elitism, bigotry, or an old school way of thinking. His seriousness had nothing to do with culture and everything to do with weightlifting.

Think about the exercises snatching, cleaning, and jerking. Most people I came across when I first started lifting didn’t understand them and always associated them with being dangerous. This has changed the past few years as there has been an increase in participation. Still, I can see how weightlifting can be viewed this way by people who are not familiar with the sport. You are moving fast and putting yourself in low positions with heavy weights. However, this is a skill and it’s a difficult skill to master. In its difficulty and potential risk of injury lies the reason you should be serious in training. If you spend your time not focused on what you are doing then you risk getting hurt. Even when you are serious you risk being hurt. However, risk is something anyone who wants to be great at something must confront.

If you love something and want it then be serious about getting it. Every time you step on the platform and hook your hands in, flip the serious switch in your brain on. When it’s time to train then train. Seriousness is found in the person who is passionate about becoming great. The world is full of enough fools and weightlifting has no place for clowns.

18.6.15

Instruction

Coaching
By Donny Shankle

I am not going to delve into the intricacies and ambit of coaching, but briefly focus on your mannerisms and how you should interact with champion weightlifters. Manage their adaptation, sit down, when you have to give cues give one at a time, and be a source of positive instruction.

Teach your lifters to move gradually in training and to put lifts together in competition. Brio is great but keep the back slaps and yelling to a minimum. Do not stand over them arms akimbo like a drill instructor. Pull up a chair and watch. Do not give too many coaching cues at once. Say one thing and let it sink into the lifter’s mind. Watch him apply this cue to his lifts and then work on correcting something else. Talk to your lifters and let them know you expect disciplined training. Doing so will encourage them to become professionals and look at you as a source of confidence not to be disappointed. Unite weightlifters you are coaching under one setting and let them find out who is the best. This will be your greatest challenge but possibly most important. When lifters train together as a team, talk to them as a team. Demonstrate to them if one weightlifter is showing up daily and making personal records, then all are capable of the same performance. This will teach them to be aggressive and confident in their durability. Something they will certainly need to sustain the tiresome training it takes to become a champion.  

Always be a source of encouragement. The weights will beat them up enough. This does not mean you should try to kindle a fire within weightlifters you are coaching. The fire must already be there and he or she must want to train, be in the gym, and compete. Cultivate the fire already present in them. Embolden them to never be content with winning local or national competitions. Remind weightlifters you are coaching that weightlifting is a world and Olympic level sport. Communicate they can become Olympians. 

17.6.15

Maintenance

Massage
By Donny Shankle

Think of massage as maintenance. The same way a car needs maintenance on its engine to keep from breaking down, your muscles need regular maintenance likewise to keep from breaking down. As you train you will develop adhesions in the muscles which can prevent them from working properly. If I were to tie knots all along a rubber band it wouldn’t stretch completely. To get maximum stretch you need to loosen the knots and get rid of them. Your muscles will stretch and contract much better with some massage to get rid of those painful knots.

You can either perform self-myofascial (SMR) release using a foam roller or see a masseuse. A masseuse who is also a weightlifter or used to working on a weightlifters body will be your best bet. He or she knows where the adhesions are to break them up. To really get into the adhesions try combining dry needle with massage. Also, sitting in a sauna for twenty minutes before you get a massage will help your muscles to relax. The areas which typically need deep tissue work are the IT bands, rhomboids, lats, quads, and glutes. I recommend getting a massage from a masseuse once a month during your de-load week. Perform SMR daily. Especially around areas on your body which have gone through acute trauma.

15.6.15

Sub Ex # 69

TRX MOBILITY
By Donny Shankle

If you are looking for some extra exercises to include in your training to improve your mobility try using the TRX. Here are a couple exercises I sometimes do both before and after training on those days my muscles feel like cardboard. The TRX is great because you can easily adjust the difficulty of the exercises by moving your feet. You can also move into each exercise smoothly saving you on time.

Chest Press: Start with the handles at you sides close to your armpits and from here press yourself up until your arms lock.

French Press: Start with the handles over your head and your arms locked. Bend at the elbow until the handles are behind your head keeping your elbows close to your ears. Feel your lats stretch and from here press yourself back into the start position.

Low Back Stretch: With the handles in front of you, lock your arms out and drop your hips as far back as possible. Let your legs bend a little. Your body should resemble a gymnastic pike position. Feel the muscles in your back stretch a few seconds and then bring your hips through.

Reverse Fly: Start with the handles in front of you and arms locked. Open your arms up until your hands are inline with your ears. Be sure to keep your arms straight.

Row: Start with the handles in front of you and your arms locked. From here pull yourself up keeping your elbows close to your sides.

Woodchoppers: Start with the handles against your chest. Let your hips fall to one side as the handles move up and away from you. Feel your back stretch and torso twist. From here, pull the handles back to your chest.

Peaks and Valleys: Set the handles about a foot from the floor with the tops of your feet in the loops. Start with your hips down on the ground in a prone position. The arms are locked resembling a lazy push up position. This is the valley. Bring your hips up into a piked position until you resemble a peak.

SETS: 1
REPS: 10-20
ADVANCED WAY: N/A
DURATION: 5 -10 minutes
PLACEMENT IN TRAINING: Done both as a warm-up and cool down

13.6.15

High There

Training At Altitude
By Donny Shankle

Training at altitude to gain a competitive edge is nothing new. At higher elevation air molecules are less dense. The air is thinner.  One of the ways your body compensates for this while training is to produce more red blood cells. These red blood cells carry oxygen to the muscle. Consequently, the body’s physiology has changed and the idea is to roll into competition with this change. Once you return back to sea level, and can breathe easier, your body is still used to creating more red blood cells. The muscles therefore will have more oxygen delivered to them than is typically normal and this can increase your performance. Any time I have competed at sea level after training at higher altitude I performed very well. I not only felt stronger but I also felt a burst of energy. You don’t always feel the effects of training at altitude while you are in it. Nevertheless, you always feel the difference when you return back to sea level. You can breathe easier and the feeling is even sometimes euphoric. If you are competing at higher altitude and are not acclimated to it, I advise arriving to your competition a few days early. This will help you get accustomed to the new conditions.

My experience training at altitude occurred while living in Colorado Springs.  The Olympic Training Center located there sits at over six thousand feet above sea level. Interestingly, most research I have found only talks about the effects of high altitude training on aerobic exercise. A weightlifter’s training may not be exactly aerobic, but even a single session can last many hours. There are also multiple training sessions in a day. While living on the OTC, I sometimes trained three times a day for as many as eight total hours and sometimes more in a given day. Granted the hours spent training are not continuous but you are still in the gym. Training this way is not unusual once you are at this level and the effects of this type of training stay with you. The muscles ARE using more oxygen than you may realize when you are training this many hours in a day. This includes the heart which is working harder to pump blood through the body. Still, the altitude you train at cannot be too high. If you are training at too high an altitude you risk developing nausea as well as a number of other complications. I highly doubt you will ever run into this type of problem as I do not see any weightlifting gyms in airplanes, on mountain peaks, or space stations. 

Each time I visited the OTC, I acclimatized well but remember feeling very tired by the end of the training day. The benefits of training at higher altitude do not stop in the gym. Sleep makes up a third of your day and focus in training does not stop while you are asleep. Your subconscious is still working as you dream. You may even need to see a therapist who specializes in helping you sleep better or spend money on expensive mattresses, recliners, pillows, etc. The reason I slept better at higher altitude is because my body was working harder. The cardiovascular, respiratory, nervous, and endocrine systems were all working overtime. The only way they could adapt to the increased demand training at higher altitude was to sleep longer and deeper. I personally find REM sleep is much easier to achieve at higher altitude. However, performance is better the closer you are to sea level. The more oxygen rich air keeps the red blood cells flowing through the muscles allowing you to train heavier more often. Periodically training at altitude I find to be the best choice for your body. As with anything else, don’t over do it.


On The Road

Training While Teaching
By Donny Shankle

This was supposed to be entitled Lifting On The Road but I changed the name to something I better understand. I figure if I have trouble writing something it must be because I am not versed in it. My experience with training while traveling revolves around teaching. Any training I have done while living on the road would make for a depressing segment in this book. There is no way to train well while living in your car bouncing from location to location.

I am reminded of a conversation at the kitchen table between myself and Coach Pendlay. Topic of discussion this day was what is more important: Eating well and training less? Or training well and eating less? I said eating well and training less would be better, but now I can see how that may not have been entirely true. I never had any improvements training on the road. I grew stronger when I was rooted like an old magnolia tree. Even when I was eating well (which is not the easiest thing to do on the road) I never improved if I didn’t have a place to train uninterrupted. Coach was half right where I was half wrong. The training is more important but only if it’s diligent training.

I have had the privilege of teaching as far north as Alaska, as far south as New Zealand, as remote as Guam, and as urban as Tokyo. Within teaching lies veiled happiness to your own training. If you happen to teach your own seminars one day, be prepared to lift for your audience. What’s a weightlifting seminar without seeing a weightlifter lift some big weights? Treat your seminars as control days. This will prepare you for actual competition and give you an advantage against your competitors. If you know you are scheduled to teach on a certain day then train for that day. A weightlifter’s demeanor is incomparable to any other athlete. Show that to your attendees. If I am right about this, which I am, let your lessons not only convey your expertise but also your passion.

10.6.15

Tips For The Split Jerk

#8 - Make Use Of Jerking From Behind The Neck
By Donny Shankle

I first taught myself how to Jerk in the high school football weight room. I found out quickly I had a natural feel for the timing. Once I started my formal training to compete in weightlifting, I used the behind the neck Jerk variation often. However, I eventually started to move away from Jerking from behind the neck as I felt going from the front is more specific to the actual Jerk in competition. An annoying cut on the front of my neck which opens up during consistent training forced me to again explore the behind the neck variation. I am happy I returned to practicing how I initially learned the exercise.

There are three advantages to Jerking from behind the neck. First is you do not have to push the head through once the bar is overhead. The bar is already set behind you allowing you to concentrate more on your “Dip and Drive”. Secondly, the bar is positioned directly over your LOB and sits further away from your toes. This helps you get used to the feeling of Dipping and Driving in a much straighter line. Lastly, you can use more weight with the behind the neck variation. Since you do not have to push the head through, and your “Dip and Drive” is straighter, more weight can be Jerked. As a result more personal records can be established and broken. With enough repetition the added weight will also strengthen your “Split” command. As you return to Jerking from the front after a heavy Clean, your confidence is higher because you are used to Jerking more weight from the racks or blocks.

Never forget how you may have at the outset learned something. It may be different or even seem unorthodox from textbook learning, but it is how you learned. It is how you adapted. The things or people which shaped your understanding as a beginner will carryover for you as you advance towards mastery. The Jerk from behind the neck like all other subordinate exercises is another variation to push your limits. Work towards Jerking out of the racks or blocks ten to fifteen kilos more than your personal record C&J.

9.6.15

Swing

Indian Clubs
By Donny Shankle

I first learned about Indian clubs while training at the Willpower Weightlifting Club located in Pontypool, Wales. Since then I have daily included using Indian clubs in my training. The exercises I am able to do with the clubs act as a sort of prehabilitation I do before moving into Snatching, Cleaning, and Jerking. If I do not have access to a pair of Indian clubs, I perform some of the simpler exercises you can do with the clubs by looping my gym towel through a two and a half kilo plate. The range of motion you are able to achieve with the clubs also makes them a great tool to rehabilitate the shoulder.

The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint. It is capable of moving in a much wider range of motion when compared to other joints. The strength and flexibility of a weightlifter’s shoulders should not be limited to pushing, pulling, and Jerking. Shoulder rotation is also very important and the Indian clubs allow you to gently train a three hundred and sixty degree rotation. Any weightlifter who has missed a Snatch behind can tell you the importance of having fit shoulders which healthily rotate and are flexible. Swinging a pair of light Indian clubs is the way I rehabilitated my shoulder back to strength after a dislocation. For a while I stayed away from raising my arm overhead (as the doctor ordered) in fear of accidentally dislocating my shoulder again. Once I felt comfortable doing the lifts again, I also fortunately learned a few exercises with Indian clubs which I find beneficial for weightlifters.

To start, swing one club at a time. There are variations which allow you to use two clubs but as a prehab and rehab tool swinging one club at a time is sufficient.

Swing the club forwards and backwards.
- Keeping your arm straight, bring the club up to eye level and then back down. Let the momentum stretch the front of your shoulder as the club swings past your hips.

Swing the club from side to side.
- Keeping your arm straight, bring the club up to ear level and then back down. Let the momentum stretch the side of your shoulder as it swings past your knees.

Curl the club up and let it fall behind your shoulder. - Start with the club at your side. Curl the club up past your ear and gently let it fall behind your shoulder. Feel the muscles in your back stretch as you point your elbow to the ceiling.

Swing the club 360 degrees.
- Start with the club at your side. Slowly start to swing the club up and down until you are ready to move into a complete rotation of the shoulder. Bring the club up to eye level, continue to bring it up over your head and then let the shoulder finish its rotation by moving behind you until it is back at your side. Keep the momentum going and move right into your next repetition until you are finished.

Doing these exercises everyday will keep your shoulders healthy. Using Indian clubs are fun and shoulder rotation should always be included as a part of your warm-up. Once you have learned these basic Indian club exercises go ahead and try learning the more advanced level exercises. I find these exercises force you to think and improve your gracefulness and neuromuscular coordination. Be careful not to hit yourself in the head.

5.6.15


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Sore Muscles

Contrast Baths
By Donny Shankle

Immersing yourself in an ice bath followed by a warm bath and again in an ice bath flushes the body with blood. I use contrast baths when inflammation or muscle soreness is severe. The cold water compresses the blood vessels and the warm water opens them up. As you repeatedly go back and forth from warm to cold, the contrast bath acts like a pumping process to get rid of lactic build up in the muscle tissue. The cold bath should be approximately fifty five degrees Fahrenheit and the warm bath at a temperature hot enough you are comfortable with. The entire body should be completely submerged since you are using your entire body to lift the weight. Alternate fifteen minutes in each bath followed with ten minutes and a final five minutes. Contrast baths combined with massage and a low saturated fat diet will dramatically decrease inflammation and muscle soreness.