Starred getting flu shots at 37. It was mandatory at the fitness facility where I coached. No flu for 20 yrs
Nah, just the flu. But it always hit me hard. Feeling a bit better today.
Hey coach. Happy new year and get well soon!
Question. I am having some trouble with my jerks. Both Split and power variations. I believe my 2 biggest issues (1) failure to completely lock out the weight overhead resulting in a lot of press-outs which I believe to be a result of poor shoulder mobility and (2) pressing the bar over my head too much when I should be pressing my body under the bar.
Do you have any drills/exercise that might help with these problems I am having?
Ps- I saw somewhere on here you recommend jerk grip overhead squats. So I’ve been doing 20 rep sets of those with an empty bar trying to get my hands as close as possible. I think they should help but I haven’t been doing them long enough to see any carryover yet.
I find the jerk to be the nemesis of many crossfitters. I think there are two reasons for this:
In WODs the clean is done A LOT more frequently than the jerk. Even the snatch is done more frequently. In fact in a WOD you almost never have to do a jerk. It’s normally a “shoulders to overhead” and since the weight is normally not super heavy people either chose to go with a strict press or push press.
While they don’t do a lot of jerks they do a ton of push press, strict press and thrusters. In all of these you are trying to push the barbell up as high as you can, which becomes your “default” action when trying to bring a bar overhead.
Because of these two elements when they attempt a jerk or power jerk they are essentially doing a “push press with a split” or a “push press with a quarter squat”. In other words they are trying to push the barbell as high as possible then try to move under.
The result is that they are going under when the barbell has stopped its upward momentum. So they can’t move down fast enough or low enough to catch it with locked elbows.
In reality in an efficient jerk the barbell should be driven just above your head. no more.
I don’t have videos on the progression that I use (I should film it) but I’ll try to be as precise as possible:
Starting position: standing up, barbell ON your head, jerk grip
Action: Rise on your toes, hold for a second then jump down in a split while simultaneously punching the ceiling
Objective: To get under the barbell while it (the bar) stays as the same height during the whole action. Even you are punching the ceiling the bar should not move up. Focus on trying to having the elbows lock at the same time as your feet contact the floor.
Starting position: Same set-up as a regular jerk
Action: Bring the barbell to the top of your forehead while simultaneously going up on your toes, pause for a second then jump down into the split while punching the ceiling
Objective: Same as above… punch up hard without having the bar actually go up higher. Lock elbows at the same time as the feet hit the floor.
Starting position: same as regular jerk
Action: It’s the same as drill #2 BUT you precede the going up on toes and pressing the barbell to the forehead with your regular jerk dip and drive.
Objective: same as previous 2 drills
Do 4 reps of Drill #3 and end with 1 regular jerk focusing on not getting the bar any higher than on the previous drills.
On these drills only use a barbell. Do about 3-4 sets of 5 reps of each or until you feel that you did the drill perfectly. Better do more sets if you didn’t do it perfectly. Only move on when you mastered the drill.
When you get the action move on to practice sets of jerks with light/moderate weight. Only add weight when you feel that you are punching yourself down under the bar.
I recommend this as part of your warm-up at least 3x a week until the problem is fixed.
NOTE: your problem could also be the same one as Alex Vigneault had. He was stuck at around 315 and his problem was always that with heavier weights he wasn’t fast enough with this arms to lock-out. In one session he went from 315 to 355 and up to 370 within 3 weeks (he had been stuck at 315 for more than a year).
The cause was that in the starting position his arms were relaxed. He had an open hand grip on the bar (finger tip grip), and his arms were relaxed. He would drive the bar up in the air and when it passed his face he would start to drive with his arms (this is actually how many coaches teach the jerk). The result is that his arms were firing a tad late and with maximal weights that prevented him from locking out fast enough (the bar had stopped moving upward and it wasn’t high enough for him to lock under).
The changes I made on his technique was 1) take a full grip on the bar (at first it might be hard due to mobility issues); I recommend not jerking with an open hand grip. 2) apply force on the bar as soon as you set-up for the jerk. In the set up push against the bar (as if trying to do a military press) don’t push as hard as you can, just get the triceps and delts firing. Keep that tension while dipping down and accentuate it (push harder) as soon as you begin to drive up. Imagine that the force you apply to the bar with your arms is like a rocket: the higher you go, the harder the engines fire.
That approach allowed his arms to fire faster than he wasn’t late on the lockout anymore.
I used the same approach with Carol-Ann Reason and her jerk went from 215 to 230 in one session and to 240 soon after.
Happy new year coach, wish you all the best.
Happy new year CT!
Any special training goals for 2016?
Well I’d like to get back close to my peak strength level, which I have not yet accomplished since my health issues. But besides that all I really want is to be able to help out as many people as I can either with articles, online forum, seminars or books (fingers crossed)
How’s the joint book project coming along? Any launch date yet?
Thank so much for all those jerk drills coach! Gunna incorporate those into my warm up like you mentioned, atleast 3x a week. Happy new year everyone
Hey coach. I know you’ve been a big proponent of loaded carries and mentioned they played a role in your training of Alex vigneault. Do you happen to have any workouts with loaded carries you could reference as an example?
Well it depends… we have weighted carries as a training tool for strength in which we threat them like regular weightlifting. I use the equivalency 10m = 1 rep. So for example a 5 x 5 sets and reps scheme for lifting would become 5 x 50m for carries. So this is planned like we would plan a regular strength exercise.
We also use carries as part of WODs or even use several carries as a WOD. For example:
50m Zercher carry 135lbs
100m Overhead walk 135lbs
200m Deadlift walk 135lbs
400m Yoke walk (barbell on shoulders) 135lbs
50m Zercher carry 135lbs
50m sprint back
50m wheelbarrow (loaded with about 90-135lbs)
50m sprint back
50m Farmer’s walk 72lbs (32kg) KBs
50m sprint back
50m muscle snatch + overhead carry (5 muscle snatch + 10m carry, repeat 5 times)
50m sprint back
Wow those carry wods are powerful tools! Great stuff.
I saw that vigneault snatched 300! Scary really. That guy has one of the best engines I’ve ever seen. The fact that now he’s throwing around that kind of weight. Look out for this guy!!!
Well he has been handling these kind of weights for some time. He snatched 290, cleaned 380, jerked 370, deadlifted 600 in august or September. Tomorrow he and Jason (my other guy who cleans 380, snatches 290, squats 500, front squat 435, deadlift 600+) are starting to train together so their strength should go up even more from pushing each other.
I would have a short question, in an older article (2013 or so) you said that to build muscle you should use the same exercises year around and don’t rotate them to often. So your are neurological efficient at the exercise and your body must build muscle.
How long is my body neuronal efficient at a certain exercise ? 2 weeks?
Thanks in advance,
I hope you understand what I mean.
That is not exactly what I said or mean. This specifically referred to big compound lifts. You should keep some of the basic lifts in your program year round to become really efficient at them.
Less complex exercises, isolation moves, machine work, simpler movements can be changed more often because they are simpler and easier to become 100% efficient at.
For example if doesn’t take much practice to become efficient at machine curls or leg curls/leg extensions.
But squats, deadlifts, push presses, etc take a lot of time to become masters in. So if you change the type of squat and the type of deadlift you do every few weeks how can you master the technique.
How long does it take to become 100% efficient? On some movement it takes a heckuva long time. Much longer than you think! Why do you think you have elite powerlifters still working on perfecting their squat technique even when they are very advanced? Heck I’m still tweaking some things on my squats and deadlift after 20+ years of doing them! Yesterday I fixed a slight technical issue on my snatch… and I’ve been doing the snatch since 1998 and even snatched over 300 several times in the past.
That’s one of my issue with Westside training. You make technical mastery much harder by rotating the exercises too often. You do a certain movement 2-3 weeks (which means 2 or 3 times) … that’s just enough to find the right groove then you have to switch. Being in the right groove doesn’t equal technical mastery and even less neural efficiency… it’s only the first step.
Westside has produced a lot of strong lifters that’s for sure. But most of them were already accomplished powerlifters when they started using the system. They got stronger but they were already efficient in the competition lifts. All they needed was to get stronger and fix lagging muscle groups. And even then a lot of former Westside lifters moved away from the system because many of them lost their marks on the competitive lifts (not being able to squat down to the proper depth is one critique of westside guys you often see).
Look at what the rest of the powerlifting world is doing. And I’m talking about the REAL powerlifting federation, the one that only allows minimal supportive gear and do real drug tests: the IPF. It is dominated by Russians, Ukrainian, Norwegians… who all share one thing in common: THEY DO THE COMPETITIVE LIFTS YEAR ROUND, SEVERAL TIMES A WEEK. Their whole system is based on being as neutrally efficient as possible on their exercises. And this can’t be done if you rotate your exercises every week.
Look up how Russian and Norwegian powerlifters train.
In that same session Jason almost made 290 several times. He has the strength to do 300-310. He just has a slight technical issue with his catch that we worked on yesterday.
Look out for Quebec City Crossfit this year. We could very well end up having 1 guy (Alex), 1 girl (Carol-Ann) and a team competing at the Games.
Our team will be Jason (285 snatch, 380 clean & jerk, 435 front squat, 500 back squat, 620 deadlift), Ben Hebert (went to regionals as an individual last year), Gab Busssiere (went 3 times at Regionals as a team athlete for another team, great overall athlete), Jessica Cote-Beaudoin (went to regionals 4 times as an individual, finished as high as 4th when Camille was still in our region, former gymnast, 190 snatch, 245 jerk), Alice Guerin (Alex’ girlfriend, former gymnast, VERY high skills and good at the Olympic lifts) and Audrey Paradis (former gymnast and SUPER strong). We don’t know how they will blend together and which teams will be at regionals, but they could very well win the North East.
Another athlete I work with jerked 370 yesterday. He is a former Canadian Football League Pro who switched to Competitive Crossfit (Pierre-Luc Labbe).
Incredible answer, thanks CT for explaining. Even making the “connection” to other related topics.
Are your Crossfit guys , professional athletes that do crossfit full time?
No. Alex Vigneault and Jason Houde (his partner) are college students in police science (in Quebec you have to have a 4 years degree in police science/technique policieres to be able to apply for the police academy) and have 20-25 hours of class per week. Theyi also coach group classes a few hours per week.
P-L Labbe is a full time police officer in the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police).
Jessica Cote-Beaudoin graduated from the police academy (yeah, there is a pattern there) and is waiting for a job (long process in Quebec) and is currently working as a security guard with horrible nigh/day shifts.
Carol-Ann Reason is the closest to being a pro athlete as she is a full time coach at the gym/box.
These are the “best ones”. But all the others are either college students or have jobs (physical therapist, police officer, etc.).
Thanks for answering.
It seems Canada has/will have the fittest police on earth
If you don’t mind this personal coaching question ( feel free not to answer them):
You are their coach. How can I imagine your work with them? Do you train them personally 2 times per week and the other days they train “alone”? Or are you only in person there when they do important training workouts like the Olympic lifts?
And how many clients do you have at the same time on average (maybe 50? Just guessing ) ?
I’m not the only coach. I do the Olympic lifting/strength coaching. My friend does their overall planning (WODs/skills).
And it’s different with every athlete and is dependant on the time of year. For example Alex and Jason I will go see twice a week and it’s mostly technical coaching on the Olympic lifts. Carol-Ann and Jess are usually there too.
Pierre-Luc is in another province. He comes by one week every 5-6 weeks or so and we spend the week together working on his Olympic lifts.
I have other athletes that I see once a week and others that I see 3-4 times per week. It really depends on their schedule and need.
I don’t have 50 people; there is no way I could do good job with that many. When coaching an Olympic lifting session I have to see every single repetition done by everybody. So the max number of people I can have at any given time is 4, ideally 2 or 3, otherwise the pace of the session is too slow.
I also don’t coach anybody online, only in-person training.
I only train people in the AM because PM is for my work writing articles, preparing seminars, answering questions, research and talking shop with other coaches.
Lastly the athletes I work with a spread over 3 different crossfit gyms, two of which are 30 and 40 minutes away from my house.
I have about 20 people I work with regularly and will also fit in some “one time technique correction/coaching” session every week.