I have recently completed a 10 week Olympic Weight Lifting course at my box, under the tuition of the amazing coach Holly Gehlcken. I absolutely loved it and I can’t recommend this kind of course highly enough to people new to CrossFit and Olympic Lifting. Here’s what I learned:
- Progress is not linear. There were times when I was delighted with the progress I was making and could not have been happier with my performance. Three days later I could go in and struggle with every lift. You have to remember that patience is essential and that, even when it doesn’t feel like it, you are making progress. Don’t be deterred by an off day; if you consistently train you will see results, they just may not happen with every session at the box.
- What you do outside of the box makes a massive difference inside it. All of those things that we all know about health and fitness like staying hydrated, getting enough sleep and eating a balanced, nutritious diet do actually make a big difference. If you are tired and hungry, chances are you will not have a good lifting session.
- Mobility is key. I have talked before about how lucky I am to be very mobile. Others, my husband for example, really struggle. Without good mobility it will be virtually impossible for you to achieve the proper position in movements such as snatch and clean and jerk. Kelly Starrett’s book Becoming a Supple Leopard has an enormous amount of first class advice on this issue. Having said that being hyper mobile is not ideal either as I have discovered over the last 10 weeks. I am definitely guilty of switching off in the bottom of my snatch position. Arse to grass is only beneficial if you are able to maintain core strength and tension.
- The proper kit makes a big difference. I have found that having wrist straps, a velcro lifting belt and good quality shoes have made a significant difference to my confidence. I am trying to ensure that I’m not reliant on the belt by lifting without it at times, however I do think it makes a big difference when I am lifting heavy, even if that is just psychological.
- You can over think it. My husband is a very smart man and when we first began CrossFit he over analysed every single movement. Whilst it is really important to think about what you are doing, sometimes when you think too much you can do more harm than good. An excellent way I have found to overcome this is doing drills. The more drills you do do, the more natural the movements become for your body.
- Recording your training sessions really helps (especially if you are a woman). I talked before about how hormones affect my performance. Keeping a detailed log of your training sessions, with not only what you lifted but how you felt, is extremely effective in making progress. It is also a great tool to feel good about yourself as you can look back at where you were months ago and see how far you have come.
- However you feel at the start of the session, you will always be glad you went. Even on the days where I have dropped the bar again and again, and felt weak and clumsy, I am always glad that I went to Oly class. Feeling bad but knowing you have tried is always better than feeling bad, sitting on the sofa, and comfort eating.
- It is so much fun. Maybe I am just lucky but the class at our box is full of really funny, happy people that it is a pleasure to train with. You see people at their best (PB town!) and worst (those days where you are just not feeling it), but it is so much fun. The feeling you get when you do a really good snatch is so exhilarating because that shit is not easy! It is an extremely technical and difficult movement but when you do it right it feels great.
- A PB is a PB if its 1 kilo or 10. With movements like snatch progress can be slow. In the ten weeks course I have just completed I have made 2.5 kilos progress. Initially disheartened I realised from talking to others that a PB is a PB and I have to give myself credit where it is due. I know that I have worked as hard, if not harder, on my snatch technique as I have on all my other lifts and however small that number may be, it is heading in the right direction.
- You will get addicted. Olympic lifting is addictive. It is such a rewarding and exciting thing to do and the results you can achieve in such a short amount of time are fantastic so give it a go, what have you got to lose?!
Photographs by Rx’d Photography
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