Monday June 26, 2017

ALL YOU NEED IS A BROOMSTICK

by Coach Kelly

No, no it’s not Halloween. I don’t mean a witch’s broomstick, although I guess that would work.

What I’m talking about is a singular tool that you can use to improve your Olympic lifts… we’ll get to that in a minute.

First, the Olympic lifts consist of the snatch, the clean and the jerk. The snatch is the one that goes from ground to overhead in a single fluid movement with a wide grip. The clean is the one that goes from ground to shoulder with a narrower grip. The jerk is the one that goes from shoulder to overhead, usually with your feet split apart. Everyone still with me?

Second, why can’t I just power clean or power snatch? When you catch a snatch or clean in a power position, it means not in a full squat.  Snatch or clean implies catching in a squat. Is it easier to power clean/snatch? Maybe. If it’s a light weight or your mobility is not great, yeah. If you’re really going for max amounts of weight though, you want to receive the bar in a squat because you won’t have to pull the bar as high to get under it.

Third, hook grip – use it. This is placing your thumb around the bar and fingers around thumb. This helps for a faster turnover of the bar to get to its finishing position and keeps the bar more secure. It’s uncomfortable, I know. I resisted for years. But you need to do it. Start now.

Fourth, there are three basic positions for the snatch and clean. We drill them in class.

Position 1 (dip in your knees, bar at waist)
Position 2 (hinge forward at your hips til bar reaches your knee, no further bend in knees)
Position 3 (close your knees til bar is mid shin/plates resting on floor)

The biggest difference in the snatch/clean is starting position (where your hips are in position 3 – slightly higher for snatch), your grip (wider for snatch) and receiving position (overhead for snatch, shoulders for clean).

The single most important thing you can do to get better at Olympic lifts are to practice. Every single day. This is where the broomstick comes in.

Grab your broomstick, get your hook grip set, and drill positions over and over and over until they become muscle memory. You want your lifts to be fast and fluid. You don’t want to be thinking about grip, footwork, positions, transitions, pulls, timing, and so on during your lift. You want to take a deep breath and let your body take over.

I hope this helps simplify the lifts for some of you and gives you some simple ways to get better at them. They can be frustrating but there is nothing more awesome than PRing a lift and showing that barbell who’s boss!

What you don’t want to do is continually put in time and effort practicing and solidifying the WRONG way to move the barbell. Have a coach watch you. I am always happy to do skill sessions with you. We can perfect your technique, help you get comfortable dropping under the bar and help you come to love the barbell as much as I do.

Okay so maybe you do need a little more than a broomstick, but it’s a great way to improve your Olympic lifts without a lot of investment, other than your time.

Wednesday June 21, 2017

Does This Make My Butt Look Big? by Coach Kelly

So, the other day I was trying on clothes (and maybe some cute things for our trip to the beach next week). I usually just avoid jeans and pants altogether because of my quads and butt. Seriously, #thestruggleisreal In addition to the fact that the “petite” sizes are too long for people who are 5’0″ tall like myself, there’s no room for quads that can squat double body weight. Anyone else relate?

So many clothes fit weird since doing CrossFit. I tried on a button up shirt, you know the kind where you can roll the sleeves up and it fits loosely (and comfortably) around your forearm. Hah, I only rolled up the sleeves two times then I thought I might Hulk out of it. Okay, let me try a different style I thought. This one had an off the shoulder look with straps which could highlight my shoulder nicely. Um, no. The shoulder strap was so tight, I had scap-muffin. Not a good look.

Next! Oooh, a fitted dress. This will be great to show off all my hard work. This dress hugged in all the wrong places. Apparently it’s supposed to gather around your waist and not your quads… I felt like a stuffed sausage! So not the look I was going for. Oh well.

All said and done, I left with one tank top, one sweater and one pair of pants. Three out of twelve items is actually pretty good odds for me. All in all, not a bad shopping trip. I much prefer my Lulus where my quads can be free, my butt can get all the way down to my ankles and my lats aren’t squished. Apparently at The Root Cellar, Chad is known as the guy married to “the girl with the legs.” Can you believe that?! I’ll take that over a stupid pair of jeans any day.

Tuesday June 20, 2017

image1(1)

 A Missive to the Hook Grip Haters

By Coach Emily

Hey Locals, I have a request: start using the hook grip. Please. Pretty please.

Check it out. I love watching competitive, Olympic-style weightlifters doing their thing. The top athletes each move a little differently, but do you know what they all have in common? The hook grip! They all use it. Even the little guys with small stubby hands! Even the ladies! All of them! It’s time for you to quit making excuses and start using it, too.

Not quite convinced? Good. That was a classic argumentative fallacy. But let’s dig in a little more.

What is the hook grip?
It’s a particular(ly awesome) way of holding the barbell when you lift. How do you do it? Simple! Wrap your thumb around the bar on the inside of your fingers. Yep, it’ll probably ruin your manicure.

When should I use it?
Use it when you’re pulling, especially in a lift with rapid barbell acceleration. This means cleans and snatches. Every. Time. Use it when you’re warming up these lifts, when you’re lifting heavy, and during the WOD. Some athletes eventually become so comfortable with the hook grip that they like deadlifting with it. I find a hook grip deadlift unnecessarily painful and ultimately unhelpful. That one’s up to personal preference.

Yeah, but, this feels dumb and kind of hurts so why exactly do I have to do this?
This is where you have to trust me. I know it feels weird, clumsy, even painful. I know that if you learned to clean and snatch without using the hook grip it hinders you at first, especially when the weight gets heavy. Here’s the thing. Ultimately, using a hook grip will make you stronger and better when you clean and snatch the barbell. Here’s why:

  1. Hook grip increases the friction and the grasp strength between your fingers and your thumb. The tension of the barbell pulls down on your fingers and they lock your thumb into place. It gives you a more secure hold on the bar.
  2. Wrapping your thumb around the bar on the inside of your fingers forces you to relax the muscles around the inside of your elbow slightly. This relaxation allows for fluid, fast arm movement as you drop under the barbell.

Tips and tricks

  1. Stick with it. Most people need four weeks of frequent use to get comfortable with the hook grip but once they get comfortable they never look back.
  2. Let it go. (Singing Frozen in your head now? You’re welcome!) Seriously though, after you catch the clean or the snatch, the hook grip isn’t doing work anymore. Also, very few people have the mobility to continue to hook the bar in the racked or overhead position.
  3. If you’re brand new to Olympic-style lifting, don’t stress out about the hook grip. The Olympic lifts have a lot going on. When you’re a true beginner you get a free pass to hold the bar in a normal overhand grip if that’s more comfortable. Once you stop asking questions like Which one is the snatch? What does a clean look like, again? then it’s time to get down and dirty with the hook grip.

Wednesday June 14, 2017

Have you ever wanted to see yourself the way we see you? Have you heard of Coach’s Eye?

It’s this really cool app we have on the ipad at the gym where we can analyze your lifts and movements frame by frame, give you feedback and help you achieve your goals!

Watch the above video of fellow Local Beth and listen for my feedback on ways she can improve her snatch.

It’s okay… I’ll wait.

Pretty cool huh? Unfortunately during class we just don’t have time to utilize this awesome resource, but… if there’s a skill you want some individualized help with, let me know! We’ll set up a one-on-one skill session and before you know it you’ll be snatching body weight, doing double unders or kipping pull ups!

Coach Kelly

Monday June 12, 2017

chadkenan

Shaping the Future by Coach Kelly

A while back the Vice President of the Carolina Sport Business & Fitness Expo contacted us about serving as panelists. They were looking for professionals in the fitness industry to speak to college students about their future and we apparently came highly recommended by one of our Locals, Sean.

Chad & I are both alumni of Carolina so are always eager to give back to the University that gave us so much. The panel was held in the Blue Zone at Kenan football stadium. Being the “professionals” that we are, we took the opportunity to wander around in the expensive suites upstairs, sit in the cushy seats overlooking the football field and even venture down into the weightlifting gym. I just wanted to skip the expo and lift weights, but it was locked. I mean, how fun would it be to throw down with the UNC football players?

Back to the expo… there were three panels: a professional sport, collegiate sport, and fitness industry. In our panel (the fitness industry), there was Chad, another gym owner, a physical therapist and a marketing executive for a gym. The panelists gave a brief background of how they got to where they are, gave general inspirational advice and answered questions like what’s a day in our life like, how to manage business finances, and recommended books. The audience had about 50 people and consisted of primarily undergraduate students (a mix from UNC and Elon) who were getting ideas of how they could use their degrees.

When we arrived the collegiate sport panel was finishing up and to be honest, lots of the students looked bored. It was rainy outside and early on a Saturday morning so I told Chad he should spice things up a bit and get everyone moving. So, during his introduction he told everyone he was going to do what he did best and teach everyone to squat!

One piece of advice Chad gave was that it’s okay to not know what you want to be when you grow up. Keep following your passion and eventually you will find a way to make a career out of it. Hard work and determination are the only tools you need. Hopefully, our advice will help at least one person choose a career path that will be as rewarding and fulfilling as owning Local is for us.

Tuesday June 6, 2017

Why Your Lifts Just Aren’t Getting Better… And What to Do About It

by Mike Gray for catalystathletics.com

Let me try and put together a little scenario for you and tell me how close it is to what you’re going through right now. You’ve been lifting for about 18 months to a few years and all of a sudden gone are the days of monthly PRs and you are now even struggling to get within sniffing distance of lifts that used to be attainable whenever you wanted them. Nothing has changed, you just can’t seem to get any better. You’ve added volume and that didn’t work, you’ve cut back some and that didn’t do anything either.

Well the good news, and there is some, is that you aren’t the new guy anymore; the bad news is, well, you know, the bad news: you’ve stalled. So me being the great guy I am, I’ll give you some ways to hopefully get you back to hitting PRs and keep it going that way for a while. I’m doing this in list format because people seem to like that, and it keeps the grammar Nazis from blowing up the Catalyst Athletics Facebook account and making me angrier than I already am most days.

1.
You’ve picked up some bad habits. This is very probable if you train alone or you train where your coaches are either new or they suck and wouldn’t know a good lift if it landed on them. So how does one fix that? Well, that’s pretty simple: train with people who know what they’re doing. I had to spend a year training alone at an isolated base in Japan, and shockingly enough, I was the only guy doing the Olympic Lifts at a command of 200 people. Guess what happened? I picked up some s***** habits. Guess what happened when I got in front of Coach Burgener after that year? That’s right, I got those kicked back out of me. Point of this? Find somebody who doesn’t suck to look at your lifts even if it’s only a couple of times a month.2. Time to get bigger. Let me tell you a story of a new lifter. We can call this new lifter Greg. Well Greg was right around 85K when I met him and let’s say his lifts were around 90 and 120 at the time. Well Greg decided to put on weight over the years, and I watched Greg do 143/175 last weekend. Morale of this tale: if you get bigger so should your total. Especially you tall guys. Seriously I’m like 6-1”ish and the best thing I did was move up to 105 (granted still a light 105) and my total went up like 20k.
3. Time to get stronger. I am not about to start the debate of this ratio vs. that ratio or Americans suck because we can’t back squat some amount or whatever is being discussed on weightlifting forums right now. I can pretty much guarantee no weightlifter ever complained about his squat or pull feeling too strong. If you’re getting pinned while trying to recover from the clean over and over again then it’s probably time to get some front squat work in. Feel weak coming off the floor? Maybe some pulls are in order. There are plenty of articles all over this website with examples of ways to shore up your lifts.
 
4. You’re starting to believe your own bull****. AKA known as big fish little pond syndrome. At one point you were probably not the best lifter where you were, and that in itself is a motivating factor to get better. Over time, though, you have progressed up the ranks and have surpassed many people and got comfortable to the point where maybe just maybe you aren’t pressing as hard as you once did. Fix that immediately. Feeling good about yourself is important, but it doesn’t take long to find videos of someone doing a lot more weight than you, at probably a lot less bodyweight. If it’s possible, arrange to train with people better than you on a regular basis.
 
5. You aren’t doing the little things. When you get to a certain point in lifting, it gets harder and harder to improve, so what happens is your margin of error gets smaller and smaller. When you’re new, you can show up with little sleep, a bit hung over and eating pop tarts walking in to the gym, and still probably have a legit chance of hitting some of your current best lifts. A few years down the road and you need to have a couple more things going your way for the stars to align. Getting enough sleep, warming up properly, and being properly nourished are more important than ever.
 
6. Get back to the basics. Sometimes as people progress they tend to get a bit fancy in their programming, thus shying away from what made them good in the first place. Take a look back on some of your old programs and see what you were doing at the time and try that. Everyone is looking for that crazy lift or program that some lifter from wherever is using on YouTube right now, but when it comes down to it, all the top lifters do the same thing: snatch, clean & jerk, squat and pull; they just do it better than everyone else.
 
7. Get a coaching certificate and use it. I firmly believe helping other people with their lifting can and will make you a better lifter. Going to a Catalyst Athletics seminar/certification, for example, will not only give you a much better idea of what you’re doing, but will give you the opportunity to start teaching others as well.
 
8. Reevaluation. I wrote an article about this not too long ago. Maybe it’s time you sat back and really evaluated what you’re doing and what changes need to be made to get you where you want to be. I was really guilty of that for quite some time: just keeping my head down and trying to put my head through problems instead of looking up and deciding what might be the best way to fix them.
 

9. Nagging Injuries. You might at this point have one of these little nagging injuries that are possibly holding you back just enough to not allow you to get over that hump. Get it evaluated and treated. Where would you rather be in 6 months? Looking back and saying, “I’m damn glad I got that knee squared away and can move on” or “I can’t believe my knee still hurts and my lifts are worse now than they were 6 months ago.” Not a difficult decision, and yes, I have had to make that decision, and yes it did suck at the time.

10. Mindset. Remembering why you are coming to the gym everyday besides the fact it’s just something you have been doing for the last few years is important. Have goals that are attainable and consistently update these to give you a reason for showing up.

It doesn’t take much to understand that eventually you will hit a sticking point and your progression will slow down. It’s normal and it’s going to happen to every lifter at some point. What I have done is come up with some reasons and ways to get your lifting back in the direction you want. If these don’t work, there is always the excuse that your shoes suck and that alone is enough reason to buy some new ones. If new weightlifting shoes doesn’t do it, then I might not sure what will.

Tuesday June 6, 2017

Why Your Lifts Just Aren’t Getting Better… And What to Do About It

by Mike Gray for catalystathletics.com

Let me try and put together a little scenario for you and tell me how close it is to what you’re going through right now. You’ve been lifting for about 18 months to a few years and all of a sudden gone are the days of monthly PRs and you are now even struggling to get within sniffing distance of lifts that used to be attainable whenever you wanted them. Nothing has changed, you just can’t seem to get any better. You’ve added volume and that didn’t work, you’ve cut back some and that didn’t do anything either.

Well the good news, and there is some, is that you aren’t the new guy anymore; the bad news is, well, you know, the bad news: you’ve stalled. So me being the great guy I am, I’ll give you some ways to hopefully get you back to hitting PRs and keep it going that way for a while. I’m doing this in list format because people seem to like that, and it keeps the grammar Nazis from blowing up the Catalyst Athletics Facebook account and making me angrier than I already am most days.

1.
You’ve picked up some bad habits. This is very probable if you train alone or you train where your coaches are either new or they suck and wouldn’t know a good lift if it landed on them. So how does one fix that? Well, that’s pretty simple: train with people who know what they’re doing. I had to spend a year training alone at an isolated base in Japan, and shockingly enough, I was the only guy doing the Olympic Lifts at a command of 200 people. Guess what happened? I picked up some s***** habits. Guess what happened when I got in front of Coach Burgener after that year? That’s right, I got those kicked back out of me. Point of this? Find somebody who doesn’t suck to look at your lifts even if it’s only a couple of times a month.

2. Time to get bigger. Let me tell you a story of a new lifter. We can call this new lifter Greg. Well Greg was right around 85K when I met him and let’s say his lifts were around 90 and 120 at the time. Well Greg decided to put on weight over the years, and I watched Greg do 143/175 last weekend. Morale of this tale: if you get bigger so should your total. Especially you tall guys. Seriously I’m like 6-1”ish and the best thing I did was move up to 105 (granted still a light 105) and my total went up like 20k.

3. Time to get stronger. I am not about to start the debate of this ratio vs. that ratio or Americans suck because we can’t back squat some amount or whatever is being discussed on weightlifting forums right now. I can pretty much guarantee no weightlifter ever complained about his squat or pull feeling too strong. If you’re getting pinned while trying to recover from the clean over and over again then it’s probably time to get some front squat work in. Feel weak coming off the floor? Maybe some pulls are in order. There are plenty of articles all over this website with examples of ways to shore up your lifts.
 
4. You’re starting to believe your own bull****. AKA known as big fish little pond syndrome. At one point you were probably not the best lifter where you were, and that in itself is a motivating factor to get better. Over time, though, you have progressed up the ranks and have surpassed many people and got comfortable to the point where maybe just maybe you aren’t pressing as hard as you once did. Fix that immediately. Feeling good about yourself is important, but it doesn’t take long to find videos of someone doing a lot more weight than you, at probably a lot less bodyweight. If it’s possible, arrange to train with people better than you on a regular basis.
 
5. You aren’t doing the little things. When you get to a certain point in lifting, it gets harder and harder to improve, so what happens is your margin of error gets smaller and smaller. When you’re new, you can show up with little sleep, a bit hung over and eating pop tarts walking in to the gym, and still probably have a legit chance of hitting some of your current best lifts. A few years down the road and you need to have a couple more things going your way for the stars to align. Getting enough sleep, warming up properly, and being properly nourished are more important than ever.
 
6. Get back to the basics. Sometimes as people progress they tend to get a bit fancy in their programming, thus shying away from what made them good in the first place. Take a look back on some of your old programs and see what you were doing at the time and try that. Everyone is looking for that crazy lift or program that some lifter from wherever is using on YouTube right now, but when it comes down to it, all the top lifters do the same thing: snatch, clean & jerk, squat and pull; they just do it better than everyone else.
 
7. Get a coaching certificate and use it. I firmly believe helping other people with their lifting can and will make you a better lifter. Going to a Catalyst Athletics seminar/certification, for example, will not only give you a much better idea of what you’re doing, but will give you the opportunity to start teaching others as well.
 
8. Reevaluation. I wrote an article about this not too long ago. Maybe it’s time you sat back and really evaluated what you’re doing and what changes need to be made to get you where you want to be. I was really guilty of that for quite some time: just keeping my head down and trying to put my head through problems instead of looking up and deciding what might be the best way to fix them.
 
9. Nagging Injuries. You might at this point have one of these little nagging injuries that are possibly holding you back just enough to not allow you to get over that hump. Get it evaluated and treated. Where would you rather be in 6 months? Looking back and saying, “I’m damn glad I got that knee squared away and can move on” or “I can’t believe my knee still hurts and my lifts are worse now than they were 6 months ago.” Not a difficult decision, and yes, I have had to make that decision, and yes it did suck at the time.

10. Mindset. Remembering why you are coming to the gym everyday besides the fact it’s just something you have been doing for the last few years is important. Have goals that are attainable and consistently update these to give you a reason for showing up.

It doesn’t take much to understand that eventually you will hit a sticking point and your progression will slow down. It’s normal and it’s going to happen to every lifter at some point. What I have done is come up with some reasons and ways to get your lifting back in the direction you want. If these don’t work, there is always the excuse that your shoes suck and that alone is enough reason to buy some new ones. If new weightlifting shoes doesn’t do it, then I might not sure what will.

Monday June 5, 2017

What’s the Big Deal by Coach Chad

I always get a ton of funny looks when I ask people to ring the bell and write their Personal Record on the whiteboard. The conversation inevitably goes like this:

“Did you PR today?”

“Yep”

“That’s funny. I didn’t hear the bell ring. And it isn’t written on the PR board.”

“It’s just (insert what you did here). What’s the big deal?”

The big deal is that, if you stick with this long enough, new PRs start to get really tough to come by. To illustrate my point, here’s a completely scientific infographic:

Basically what I’m saying is enjoy the process. Celebrate the small victories. Someday you’ll wish that PRing didn’t take months (or years) of dedicated focus just to barely make an improvement.

So when you PR in June, I better hear that bell ring and see it written proudly on the whiteboard!

Monday June 5, 2017

What’s the Big Deal by Coach Chad

I always get a ton of funny looks when I ask people to ring the bell and write their Personal Record on the whiteboard. The conversation inevitably goes like this:

“Did you PR today?”

“Yep”

“That’s funny. I didn’t hear the bell ring. And it isn’t written on the PR board.”

“It’s just (insert what you did here). What’s the big deal?”

The big deal is that, if you stick with this long enough, new PRs start to get really tough to come by. To illustrate my point, here’s a completely scientific infographic:

Basically what I’m saying is enjoy the process. Celebrate the small victories. Someday you’ll wish that PRing didn’t take months (or years) of dedicated focus just to barely make an improvement.

So when you PR in June, I better hear that bell ring and see it written proudly on the whiteboard!

Monday June 5, 2017

What’s the Big Deal by Coach Chad

I always get a ton of funny looks when I ask people to ring the bell and write their Personal Record on the whiteboard. The conversation inevitably goes like this:

“Did you PR today?”

“Yep”

“That’s funny. I didn’t hear the bell ring. And it isn’t written on the PR board.”

“It’s just (insert what you did here). What’s the big deal?”

The big deal is that, if you stick with this long enough, new PRs start to get really tough to come by. To illustrate my point, here’s a completely scientific infographic:

Basically what I’m saying is enjoy the process. Celebrate the small victories. Someday you’ll wish that PRing didn’t take months (or years) of dedicated focus just to barely make an improvement.

So when you PR in June, I better hear that bell ring and see it written proudly on the whiteboard!