3 Weightlifting Lessons Learnt from My Seminars.
As you know, I have been around Australia inter-state to boxes who have been generous enough to host my Biomechanics Seminars as well as even internationally (the U.S. with Diane Fu and back in Singapore for a few professional development seminars). Not only did we teach people more about the sport, we ourselves learnt so much about the sport in general. So here are some of the more common lessons we learnt and taught to those who attended:
1. Positioning for the lifts.
One of my key teaching tools and one of the things I emphasized in my seminars is the need to attain good positioning. With good positions, you achieve the desired movement. With good movement, you get the outcome you want. Having good positions is not just following the textbook and making sure that you look like the illustrations you see in the instructions. It needs to be suited to your body and it needs to allow you to feel the most stable and most rigid in the torso. Only then will you be able to hit a good position from the start to the end.
Each seminar would start with introducing the positions and us going around making sure that they were adjusted based on their individual characteristics. Limb lengths, torso lengths, arm lengths, grip width, foot stance etc were all considered to allow the individual to feel the ability to remain balanced as well as hold a rigid trunk in any of the positions. All in all, everyone began to understand what they needed to work on in terms of strength or mobility/flexibility to be able to hit the required positions for them to be effective and efficient. What I saw was that there was too much emphasis on moving weight and not utilising leverage to make the lifts feel easier. Teaching them to use more of their legs than their arms was one of the things I did for most places and everyone went away realising how easy the lifts could actually feel.
The understanding of hip contact is misinterpreted as a violent bump against the hip to get force imparted to the barbell. From a biomechanical standpoint, hip contact should be a result of the hips moving upwards along with the barbell moving upwards. Rather than a head-to-head confrontation of the hips with the bar, it should almost be a meeting of the barbell and hips in an upward direction. A direct bumping of the hips to the bar will only result in the bar being projected out and away from the lifter and not upwards which completely defends the purpose of using the hips. Science tells us as well that the amount of horizontal displacement at the point of contact is a determinant of the outcome of the lift.
When we talk about using our legs, we are trying to change the direction of the force created from the hips to a more vertical one rather than a horizontal one. The age-old understanding of the sequence of joint extension in the vertical jump and its correlation to the lifts should be revisited. We used to think that the joints extend in this order: hips, knees, and perhaps abit of ankles, in order for us to create “triple extension” to create leg drive on the bar. However, based on some data that I have (which I had written into a paper but got rejected), the sequence found in the lifts was closer to the order of knees, hips and again perhaps abit of ankles. But this speaks volumes because then we understand that trying to #useyourlegs actually means to drive from the knees into the hips which then transfers to the barbell to displace it. So this is always mentioned when I present my seminars and talk about the correct sequence of movement for the lifts.
3. How to Improve in Weightlifting.
Despite myself coming from a weightlifting background, I have done most of my work within the Crossfit environment. Most of the boxes I have visited were also Crossfit facilities. This opened us up to trying to cater specific weightlifting knowledge to match up with the demands of the Crossfit athlete. The constant struggle with such an environment is the lack of focus on getting better at the lifts without putting in enough time for it. Weightlifters get better at weightlifting because they train for the sport and ensure that the movement skills are practiced consistently. If you want to get better at weightlifting movements, you need to have that same consistency.
Most of the seminars I have presented are not only to coaches to develop their coaching skills but I have also worked with their members whom consisted of mostly recreational Crossfitters. So my efforts were directed to pointing out to them that the stuff we taught them was only the start to helping them improve. Time and effort needed to be set aside to practice the lifts on a constant basis to allow them to get better at weightlifting and subsequently Crossfit. This highlighted to me the need that if you are coming from an environment where weightlifting is not a main focus but still a priority, it is critical to ensure that good movement patterns are developed first to give a good foundation of movement. As much as most of the people at TG Strength are previous Crossfitters whom have converted to weightlifting, my aim in my seminars was to show that focusing on the correct points in your lfits a few hours per week practicing the lifts will definitely help!
Of course there were many more things that I learnt but these were the common few that struck out as a pattern for me. Till this day, I have managed to share some biomechanical concepts with everyone I have met and the content was thankfully interesting enough for everyone! With that, I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to the facilities that have hosted my seminar thus far and everyone else who attended the seminars.