Friday, April 29, 2011


Look Closely, you can see the bend in the barbell

When I was about three years old, I had my first epiphany. I'm certain it had something to do with the olympic lifts because that's about the time I really started to get serious with my training.

Ever since then, I've been having epiphanies about every 4 days. I'd like to share one with ya'll that occurred just the other morning.

I was coaching a young chap who lifts in my oly club. For now, we'll call him Daddy Long Legs because his legs are so long, they literally connect to his armpits.

Daddy Long legs has the weakest legs in the history of ever. Minus Me. I've been forcing him to catch the bounce out of the bottom of every front squat and clean he performs, because if he settles in his receiving position for even a split second, there ain't no way he's standing up.

So, before we get into my epiphany, lets cover what I mean when I say "catch the bounce"...
Ever heard of the term "bend and snap"? Everyone thinks that it originated from the film Legally Blonde. Guess again. Like many terms that you may or may not be aware of, "Bend and Snap" is referring to the olympic lifts. Specifically...catching the bounce.

The beautiful thing about olympic lifting barbells is that they bend. With light weight on the barbell, I'm sure that the bend cannot be seen by the average human eye.. unless you're my father.. he. sees. EVERYTHING. As the bar reaches it's max bend-age, (it's a word. get over it) it then snaps back up!

If an athlete has fast elbows and great timing, they can actually use that "bend and snap", or "bounce" to help them get out of a very heavy clean and very heavy front squat. It's using the momentum, that YOU placed on the barbell with your great amount of explosiveness, to help you basically get half way out of the squat without ever even pushing a little. (Of course then you have your sticking point where I typically hang out at for seven hours before I decide to stand).

Any Questions? Great. Back to Daddy Long Legs.

As the session progressed, DLL really started to feel what it meant to "catch the bounce" and I really started to feel like I could wait a little longer before retiring as a coach. But, as you know, all good olympic lifts must come to an end as we realize that there is a whole nother world out there filled with hurt and bad technique that we have yet to step foot in.

So. New issue. DLL started hanging out in his extension much too long. He became a floater. (floater: someone who moving lackadaisically whilst pulling themselves under the barbell) His bounce out of the bottom was great, but his change of direction at the top was rubbish. (Man! I am REALLY picking on DLL today! He's still a good person..) So, on came the epiphany!

If DLL could understand "catching the bounce" out of the bottom of the squat, why couldn't he understand catching the bounce out of the top of the extension?! Perfect!!

When DLL finally understood that you must bounce down and then bounce up, his timing was much better. He realized that change of direction (change of direction of your hips, that is. They move up as you jump, and then IMMEDIATELY back down) on the lifts is what makes them fluid. They are fluid because your body is constantly maneuvering itself down and around the barbell as the barbell is moving up. IF you pause ANYWHERE!!.. at the top of the pull, at the bottom of the squat, in the middle, you have taken the natural momentum off the bar and you become a muscler (Muscler: one who muscles the bar with their weak arms).

Don't do that.

Folks, that's a lot of information. Re-read it a bunch of times to process what the heck I'm rambling about and then ask me questions. If I'm going to blog, I want some blogger friends. I'll be official.



  1. I understood it, all too well, on the first read. I do not float, but I have to bounce out of the bottom since my legs too are weak.

  2. Can't wait to try this out tomorrow. I have only been doing oly lifts for about 2 years, so I am pretty sure I am a floater. Knowing this, I will be focusing on changing hip direction.

  3. Sage, I am pretty sure I am a floater and a muscler and I probably don't bounce either. So, I'll be back to your oly club on Tuesday.

  4. Does a floater mean the same thing in the US as it does in Ireland? Great wrk all the same :-)

  5. Helps to have a high quality bar as well!

  6. Here is my issue...I'm solid (fast turn around, straight bar path) at 88% of my one rep, however, become a floating disaster once the lbs are added- I get this makes no sense, but haven't been able to convince my body.

    So training question: Should I stick to reps with good form and lower lbs, or tackle getting more lbs even if form goes to pot?

  7. Chatty-

    GREAT question!

    Heres my personal opinion:
    #1. You should practice good form the majority of the time. Your body needs to know what good technique feels like, so that when you go heavier, it automatically knows what to do.

    #2. Olympic lifting is 99% mental. The reason you are not able to get above 88% is because you tell yourself that you get stuck at 88%. So, have days, when you are feeling ballsy and sassy, that you GET AFTER those heavier weights. The more exposure you get to heavy weights, the more you can train your mind out of self doubt.

    #3. Your form WILL "go to pot", but don't let it. My dad does this great exercise where he takes someone all the way up in weight until they fail. And then he works them back down in weight and back up again. He repeats this a couple more times so that the athlete knows what weights feel like and can be more confident when approaching them.

    Hope that makes sense!

  8. That does make sense!!
    Plan: I'm going to have a friend load the bar up and down; and I will just try to hold form first, and count kgs second :)

    Totally a mental game!!

  9. Perfectly clear to me. Great article. Also hilariously enjoyable. You rock.

  10. Chatty
    May I be your friend?

    Miss your funny ass! Good luck to you guys through the Games season!

  11. Optimus Prime, please be my friend ;p...Lifting Monday night if you are available?!?!

  12. very amusing and beautiful story, i love your blog are taking it very seriously....and i love that