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Ask Greg: Issue 139
Greg Everett

Scott Asks: Do you suggest doing powerlifting/body building assistance work?
 
Greg Says: I assume you mean do I suggest doing these things for weightlifters. Bodybuilding assistance work definitely has a place and time for most weightlifters. Properly programmed bodybuilding work is helpful for gaining some weight when that’s necessary, maintaining better body composition, and can improve joint strength and stability by strengthening tendons. It can be done during preparation phases of a cycle; that is, the higher volume period farther from a significant competition. Generally it should be phased out within the last two weeks before a competition, or at least reduced in volume and intensity significantly in that time.
 
Stick with simple protocols and one day per week per bodypart or movement pattern (e.g. upper body pulling, upper body pushing, and lower body). Be sure to perform all movements through the complete joint range of motion to ensure the preservation of mobility, optimal tendon strengthening, and the avoidance of tendinitis.
 
You can read a lot more about what I recommend for bodybuilding in this article.
 
Regarding powerlifting, absolutely not. This is a maddening misconception that won’t seem to go away—that weightlifters need to train like powerlifters to get strong because weightlifter programming is only about technique. Weightlifters on average train the squat more frequently, with more intensity and with more volume than powerlifters, and if you compare the top weightlifters to the top powerlifters in the world of similar bodyweights, you’re going to find that weightlifters out-squat the powerlifters the majority of the time, even with full depth squats and minimal to no gear. The idea that powerlifters are stronger than weightliffters is a myth created and propagated by powerlifters who know nothing about weightlifting and can’t stand the idea of being outdone.
 
Just like with anything else, if strength is an issue for a given lifter, his or her programming needs to reflect that and prioritize strength development. For a lifter who has a surplus of strength (yes, such a thing does exist), his or her programming will need to emphasize other elements that will help bring up the snatch and clean & jerk to more appropriate levels relative to the lifter’s basic strength.
 
This idea too is predicated on an idea of what weightlifting programs are that is completely inaccurate. Guys like Louie Simmons and Mark Rippetoe repeatedly tell the world that weightlifting coaches don’t care about strength or get their lifters stronger when neither one—despite what they claim—has ever coached an actual weightlifter or worked with an actual weightlifting coach. Instead, they just craft imaginary coaches, lifters and programs to support their nonsensical arguments.
 
Squatting, deadlifting and bench pressing are all weightlifting exercises originally, used to improve the lifter’s ability to snatch and clean & jerk. Powerlifting is a sport that splintered from weightlifting and decided to compete in these accessory lifts. So to claim that weightlifters need to train like powerlifters is fundamentally silly.
 
 
Aaron Asks: I'm having trouble extending my hips, which ends up making most of my snatches coming forward. What can I do to help me reach full extension in the clean and snatch lifts? My coach mentions keeping my weight in my heels and recently a teammate mentioned squeezing my glutes through the second pull. What do you think? Any recommendations on accessory work too?
 
Greg Says: First of all, if your weight was supposed to be all the way on your heels, God would have given you peg legs. Your weight should be balanced just slightly more toward the heels than the balls of the foot—just slightly behind mid-foot. Being too far back will actually prevent you from extending your hips completely because if you did, you’d fall over backwards and your body by nature prefers not falling. Generally speaking, shifting your weight too far back will result in the end with overcompensation and the weight being too far forward. So that’s step one: find more balance across the foot through the pull.
 
Next, try some simple drills that will allow you to feel the proper movement first. In this case, I would suggest a complex of hang snatch deadlift + hang snatch, both from the knee. Starting in the hang position at the knee with your weight balanced properly, stand slowly and extend into the position you want to achieve in the extension of the snatch itself—this should look like vertical legs, weight only slightly more on the heel than the balls of the foot, and the hips hyperextended to bring the shoulders behind the hips. You’ll remain flat-footed in this movement because you have to; just keep in mind that in the actual extension of the snatch, you’d be up on the balls of your feet at this point. Do three of those, then return to the hang position and perform a hang snatch. It’s very important to not pause longer between the last snatch deadlift and this snatch than you did between the snatch deadlift reps—preserve the same rhythm. This will give your body the feel of what it’s supposed to do, and then give it a chance immediately to do it.
 
In addition to that drill, you can try training complexes with heavier weights such as a snatch deadlift + snatch, where the basic idea is the same as the previous drill, but you’re starting from the floor and using training weights. More likely this would be a 1+1, 2+1 or 1+2 complex.
 
Finally, a couple miscellaneous things that may help: when squatting, pulling and deadlifting, focus on that final hip extension with the glutes and quads both tight—don’t stop short. Stretch your hip flexors before snatching and in between sets.


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