Thursday, February 19, 2009

Child's Play

Alexeyev breathed deeply as he gazed upon the room. He said, "I have done it with my own hands. I have a talent for carpentry. I have clever hands--I have what peasants used to call 'hands of gold.' I have laid the bricks in much of the courtyard walls. I have cleaned stones for my garden. I have built stools and tables here. I have built this room." At the rear of the building is a gazebo that Alexeyev also built with his golden hands. It contains a Ping-Pong table and a chinning bar. Asked if he used the chinning bar in his training, he looked surprised and scoffed, "Nvet. It is for the children, but even they are too wise to use it."

Friday, February 13, 2009

Classic Complexes

My conviction that Alexeyev's priceless experience will not be lost was strengthened when I saw that at the end of 1976 he conducted a trial get-together at the Podolsk sports base to train the young heavyweiahts. I won't try to describe in depth Alexevev's method (he has written about it in his dissertation as a science degree candidate) but I'll explain the reason for its great effectiveness.

Usually the athletes lift barbells and then immediately drop them. This takes several seconds. According to Alexeyev's method, the sportsman finds himself under the weight for a period of two or three minutes. The entire organism must sustain this prolonged effort, as the athlete completes several consecutive exercises without letting go of the equipment. The weight of the barbell is relatively light, but the varied work with it affects every muscle cell.

By the end of the two-week session, all Alexeyev's students had increased their bodyweights as a result of muscle growth and at the same time they'd increased their abilities. Here is what Sultan Rachmanov said: "At first I trained in mv own way. I didn't believe that Alexeyev's advice would help me. Now I believe ... My shoulders, my back, everything is filling up with strength. There is this to consider. Not everything will come my way, but I'll take the most important! (At the USSR championships in Karaganda, Rachmanov, who up until then had not been a 400 man, became the third prize winner with the distin- guished sum of 420 kilograms. In the fall this athlete took the USSR record in the snatch. And who is to know, perhaps he will be the successor to the glory of the hero of the Munich and Montreal Olympic Games!)

Each of Alexeyev's students noted that thanks to this unusual system of working they have acquired a good amount of self-confidence in their own strength. Yes, and I too have noticed with what incredible ease the athletes picked up the 160-kilo barbell in the snatch at the end of the training session.

The 1976 annual Heavy Athletics ran a detailed article which Alexeyev called "The Experience of My Training.' In this first scientific publication of the strongest athlete, the author refutes some unsound (although they've existed for ten years) methodological concepts about how to develop strength in athletes of the heavyweight class.

He writes: "In the first years I trained according to the accepted methods. But then, from 1966, I decided to significantly increase the size of my training weight. This immediately brought results. By the end of 1967, I had gained 32.5 kilograms in my triple sum total and by the end of 1968--42.5 kilograms. For athletes of the superheavyweight class, the average rate of growth had by this time significantly increased."

Vasili includes a great variety of exercises in his training. "Besides exercises in the-· snatch, jerk, or press, pull and squats, I have used many other exercises with the barbell and weights. Bends with the barbell on the shoulders; bends with the barbell on the shoulders while Iving on the 'horse' bracing one's hips, with the legs secured; jumps with the barbell on your shoulders; press on crossbars with weights; bending and unbending the arms in the elbow joints; squats on one leg; throwing the bar upward and behind; and other exercises. In addition, in the first year of the time span analyzed, these exercises consisted of, on the average, 360 lifts in the preparatory period and 158 lifts during the competition period. In the second year, correspondingly 841 and 506 lifts, and in the third 880 lifts a month."

From The Science of Winning.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Yuri Zakharevich - 210kg at 110kg Snatch (1988)

Undoubtedly one of the greatest lifts ever.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Jeff Scott's Thoughts on the Jerk

I trade e-mails quite frequently with Jeff Scott where we discuss weightlifting technique and training progressions. Below is a recent exchange we had about the jerk and foot placement.

Q (Me): On stepping through in the jerk: Since the initial movement (dip/drive) needs needs to be as close to vertical as possible, how does one best attain a sufficiently forward foot placement when there should be little movement in the horizontal plane?

It often feels like my foot can only go so far in front relative to where my torso is. Do I need to work on pushing myself forward under the bar once it has been thrown off the shoulders?

A (Jeff): Some would say that since the jerk should be thrust upwards and backwards, there is no need to step forward. Dennis Reno offered photographic evidence vis-a-vis Ilya Illin that showed him with no forward displacement of the front foot. His split was strictly down and to the rear...or at least it appeared so in the photos. Wherein lies the truth?

Joe teaches the step through technique which is predicated, in part, on the assumption that when the weight is very heavy, it will slide forward and the throw will be forward too. If you always throw it up and slightly back, then your forward displacement can be less pronounced. The jerk is very technical and few people practice it enough to become very proficient at it. If you are having technical difficulties in your jerk performance, I would suggest more jerking and more exercises to help the jerk. Make it a movement of emphasis for a twelve-week cycle and see what happens. If you aren't doing any concentrated work on the jerk as a movement unto itself, then it is difficult to draw any meaningful conclusions about your technical issues.

The most important thing is this: do you lose most of your jerks to the front or to the rear? If it is to the front, then you need to step through more. If it is to the rear, you may be stepping too far forward and/or throwing it to the rear too far. I think from observing you that you lose most of your jerks to the front which means you are throwing the weight slightly forward and "short stepping" your split. The weight is not aligned in a vertical plane with your hands-shoulders-hips. The only way to correct this is to mark the platform (chalk, for example) and split to the markings, front, rear and sufficiently sideways, every time you jerk...or throw up and back to the same point every time.

Also, consider this -- what exercises, other than the jerk from rack and C&J do you do to improve your jerk? Are you doing jerk drives? Are you doing jerk supports? Are you doing behind-neck jerks? Any partial front squats? If the answer is none of the former, then you are not doing enough to improve your jerk.