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Ask Greg: Issue 102
Greg Everett

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Chris Asks: Do you emphases consistency or eliminating technical faults in your beginning lifters? I am a beginning weightlifter. I started my dedicated training 4 months ago and have been training 4 days a week since. I am currently deployed to Afghanistan, so I have been self-taught and coached. I started off by reading your book on Olympic weightlifting and watching your DVD. I use a digital camera to provide myself feedback. First, I did the learning progressions for 6 weeks and improved my squatting strength and flexibility, and now I am about 2/3 of the way through the Beginner Template from Olympic Weightlifting- a Complete Guide (2nd ed.). I have noticed a number of technical faults in my performance, most concerning to me backwards foot sweep, a donkey kick, and my upper back collapsing during my Jerk Dip. However, when I try to correct these faults, my lifting becomes less consistent and I am not able to lift as much. I know that if these and other faults go on uncorrected, they will limit me later. In this stage of my lifting, should I focus on consistency, or should I try and fix the faults now? Thanks for any advice you have.

Greg Says: Technical proficiency is always an emphasis in any stage for me. Of course, the newer the lifter, the more work in that area there is to be done. Consistency is only desirable if the lifter is consistently doing things well; if you’re consistently doing things poorly, it’s not something to emphasize. Technical inconsistency is part of being a beginner that just needs to be accepted.

The trick in your case will be to know when you need to allow yourself to diverge from the technique you want in order to push yourself in terms of strength development, and when to reign yourself in. Generally speaking, spend your warm-ups really focusing on technique, and as you move into the heavier lifts, worry about it a little less. In this way, you’ll still get the majority of your training volume done with the best technique you can muster at that time, and you won’t restrict yourself to never lifting heavy.

You also need to spend some dedicated time training to correct the problems outside your normal program. For example, doing some snatch/clean pulls + snatch/clean, snatch/clean with flat feet, snatch balance focusing on moving the feet only out and not up and landing flat-footed to help correct the donkey-kicking and foot sweeping; jerk dip squats, jerk drives, more front squats and back and ab work to help with the jerk dip.

The sooner you correct technical faults, the easier it will be. Think about the difficulty of correcting something you’ve done wrong 50 times versus something you’ve done wrong 500 times. Sometimes you have to set aside the ego and work with lighter weights temporarily. But you can always continue pushing your strength with pulls and squats—that will easily make up for any temporary reduction of snatch and clean & jerk weights.

Rocky Asks: Firstly, thanks for providing such a great resource in your website, blogs and programs. If someone (like myself) can only lift twice a week due to time, what would their program look like? Understandably, programming to achieve goals may require more time commitment. But for somebody who wants a bit of progression in the lifts over time and has minimal time to train during the week, what areas should they focus on?

Greg Says: I would probably make one day a snatch day and one day a clean & jerk day. Obviously each day would consist of one of those lifts and their respective assistance exercises, technical work, etc. For example, a basic layout might be something like:

Day 1
Snatch
Snatch Pull
Front Squat
Snatch Push Press + Overhead Squat

Day 2
Clean & Jerk
Clean Pull
Back Squat
Push Press

From this basic template, you can make all kinds of modifications to address your individual needs. You might do complexes instead of the classic lifts, such as power snatch + snatch, or you may do snatch and clean deadlifts instead of pulls if you want to spend a couple weeks really emphasizing basic strength.

I would stick with a basic progression of weights and volume. For example, starting with doubles or triples in the classic lifts, 4-6 reps in the squat, and working down to singles eventually. Then throw in a taper week after you’ve squeezed out what you can and test your snatch and clean & jerk (and squat if you want).

A basic taper week might look something like:

Monday
Snatch – 85% x 1 x 3
Clean & Jerk – 85% x 1
Clean Pull – 90%x2, 95% x 2
Back Squat – 80%x3, 85% x 2

Tuesday
Rest

Wednesday
Snatch – 80% x 1 x 3
Clean & Jerk – 80% x 1
Snatch Pull – 85% x 2 x 2
Front Squat – 80% x 1, 85% x 1

Thursday
Power Snatch – 70% x 1 x 3-5
Power Clean & Jerk – 70% x 1 x 3

Friday
Rest

Saturday
Snatch/CJ max


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