Finding Flow

Figuring Your Jumps
By Donny Shankle

Getting to your maximum quickly gives you the most amount of energy to devote to the new personal record, and a very well conditioned weightlifter can reach his maximum within five attempts. A large problem with beginning weightlifters is they do not know how to choose their attempts in training to even give themselves a chance at the personal record or they repeat their personal record which is silly. Why match your best when you can put a little more on and improve? If it's consistency you are after then practice it with near personal record weights and not your PR.

Let's take a look at a few examples of weightlifters whose conditioning is very good but just shy of the excellent mark. Emily's best snatch is 83 kilos and she has mapped out for herself eight attempts for the PR. Dan's best C&J is 146 kilos and he too has given himself eight attempts to reach the PR along with Sophie who's best C&J is 111 kilos.

The final three attempts for each lifter are the most important as they move towards a new PR. Emily's 80k and 82 kilo attempts need to be perfect and the more efficient she is the greater amount of energy she will have for the 84k which she was successful with. Notice each lifter made the PR and they took gradual jumps to get there. All of their attempts built upon each other and there was no unnecessary shock on the body. This is called making your attempts flow, and the smoother the flow the better shot you have at filling your log book with the little letters PR. Sophie for example warmed up with the bar and went straight to 40 kilos which is a 25k jump. She then followed up with a 20k jump, two 15k jumps, then followed with a gradual flow towards a tight 5k, 4k, and 3k jump to the PR. Dan is a bigger man and because of this his jumps can be slightly bigger. His final jumps were all separated by 5 kilos but, he had been attempting this PR at 147k for the past month. None of these lifters wasted energy by repeating the PR. I personally have taken the idea of never repeating the PR to the extreme by never attempting again in training my first ever competition C&J of 175k because, I choose to never repeat the beginning. I always try to move forward.

You will notice the first three sets are labeled for a double or one from above the knee and one from the floor. This is to emphasize setting the back tight so that same tight back carries over into the heavier attempts. This is a very smart way to warm-up which also emphasizes bringing the hips through violently. Emily would take 30k, 50k, and 60k from above the knee on her first rep and then put the weight down and go from the floor for the second rep. Once she reaches her fourth attempt she begins to single up. Dan would only clean the first rep for his first three chosen weights and clean and jerk the second rep. The trigger weight usually begins by your first single depending on your conditioning and here remember is where your focus increases dramatically. If you hold this focus, increase the ego, and get aggressive as you flow to the PR this is good training especially if you make the PR.

Let's forget these successful jumps and now look at some example training for each lifter if they miss the PR or the chance to PR. If Emily misses the 82k then she would practice her consistency at the 90% or try and set a PR double. Dan missed his 147k seven times and with this outstanding effort the coach stopped him and had him squat. If you put this amount of repetition in at PR weights it is still good training for the day because there is value in a miss which we will go over later. Sophie had a poor day in training failing to even make her fifth attempt but, she stayed positive and worked on her speed from the hip putting in multiple doubles from this position with 80k. Sophie's next controlled training session after some good rest came back and blew 112k away followed with 113k.

Choosing smart jumps in your training is also a great way to familiarize yourself with the approaching competition. Get in the habit of putting the pressure on yourself for your final three chosen attempts and face this pressure head on. On a ten set template map your attempts out in your mind. Visualize each set before you lift and build your aggression as you flow to the PR. Don't ever go into the gym without a goal. The clearer you see your purpose each day then the clearer your dream will always remain. Don't choose jumps that are sporadic which go up and down to the PR but build the flow and practice it. If the PR does not come don't panic. Use the opportunity to be a deft master and practice your consistency, or next time choose a different series of jumps until you get it. Train diligently. 

You Are Your Own Champion

If you make the PR I recommend you move on and try for another one if you are having that great of a day. For instance, if you snatch a PR then try for a clean and jerk PR, instead of racking up five personal records on the snatch, and having nothing left for the clean and jerk. Collecting one PR and moving on gives you a chance at a three PR day (SN,CJ, TOTAL). After the snatch PR you could even try for a PR performance on the 90% for the clean and jerk. The basic idea being let positives beget more positives by coming into the gym tomorrow to make another PR. You are your own man though so if you want it then who am I to tell you to stop. Go and get it. 

Avoid Stagnant Weights

This is primarily for the weightlifter who has been chasing a stubborn PR for months. I advise you to keep a set of very small ¼ kilo plates in your gym bag to bypass stagnant weights you have been stuck at for a long time. Since weightlifting is largely mental at some point you have to find clever tricks to coax your mind. I will use myself for example when I broke the American Record SN in training. The Record was set at 172.5k and I went 173.5k choosing to bypass 173k because, I knew if I pushed just a little bit more, I would not think about it so much and to my great surprise is worked. Stagnant weights are a pain in the ass that are negatively stained on the brain so avoid them when you find them by skipping them.

Reserve Strength

You actually have reserves that can be tapped into and trained if you push the maximum consistently enough. A weightlifter used to fighting very hard for the PR in training will be able to draw from within himself a new strength called reserve strength to win in competition. These reserves are a part of the adrenal system that come with a rush of adrenaline. Olympic silver medalist Alex Krychev first discussed this with me on a drive to training years ago. I was under the impression I needed to conserve my adrenaline and save it for competition but, found out this way of thinking was amateur. By tapping into this adrenaline each day you create the chance to flood your body with even more adrenaline once you call upon it. Training to maximum effort this way each day trains your reserves for when you need them. You can't tap into this strength unless you plan the PR, flow to it, then fucking crush it.