This past weekend I participated in my first USAW sanctioned Olympic Weightlifting meet. I’d like to take the time today to share my experience with all of you. Maybe just one of you will catch the weightlifting bug.
First of all, I’ll admit it was a bit of a challenge to get back into training after the holidays. After more than a week off at home, it was a challenge to dive right back into training (even eating a very clean diet at home). However, I definitely don’t regret kick starting my year with something to get me motivated to improve for the rest of the year.
In the week leading up to the meet, it was a lot of skill work at fairly light weights to reinforce only perfect movement. We also spent more time on areas of the lifts that I was uncomfortable, such as getting under the bar with my head through for the snatch, to give me more confidence on the day of the meet. The hard part of that week was the mental side of things. In the week before a meet, there’s not really any opportunity to make major changes to technique, so it’s important not to over-think your lifts. For me, this was the hardest part. Constant problem solving is my day job and it’s really hard to shut that side of my brain off. Plus, it was kind of hard to watch everyone else doing metcons and working on other skills without being allowed to join in. After training, I would go home and spend the rest of the nights working on mobility.
I’ll be honest, that week was really tough. All I wanted to do was work on more skills and strengthening work to get better, but I had to be patient. At this point, I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to do the meet or any meets anymore.
The night before the meet I did some mobility work without overdoing it. I also tried to distract myself with anything and everything that would prevent me from thinking too much about the lifts. I ate dinner relatively early and tried to get about 9 hours of sleep that night, enough to feel very well rested without feeling too lethargic.
When you go to a meet, you weigh in about two hours before the lifting begins. I am pretty close to the top of my weight class, so I didn’t eat or drink anything before weigh in. However once I weighed in, I ate whatever nerves allowed. I managed to get in some fat and carbs, and a little bit of my SFH protein shake. By the time I went into warm ups, I was feeling hydrated and fueled, without being too stuffed.
I was very nervous all morning, and everyone wanted to talk about our opening attempts, PRs, etc. Ruth and Sean told me not to think about it, so I tried to avoid those conversations as much as possible and just enjoy watching the junior and masters lifters compete. Sean was my coach for the day, so once he got there he instructed me on when to start working on mobility, when to start warming up, loaded my bar and told me exactly when to do lifts and how many. Being so inexperienced and having the ability to trust Sean so well, it was much easier than I thought to turn my brain off and just do what he said. Right before I went to do my official lifts, Sean had me do some light weight skill work with the couple of cues I needed to focus on, and that would be my routine before each lift. My nerves were so bad heading up to the platform that I was worried I wasn’t going to be able to focus. However, when I stepped onto the platform that all went away. I had my cues in mind and it was time to lift that weight in front of me.
The cues Sean selected for me worked very well and I hit my first two lifts for both snatch and clean and jerk with confidence. While I missed both of my third lifts, which were PR attempts, they felt much better than previous PR attempts…and of course made me hungry for more lifting. By the end of the meet, my attitude went from I don’t know if I want to do these, to when can I sign up for the next one!?
Fortunately for all of you, there’s another informal meet coming up at the end of January at CF Code 3. Be sure to talk with Ruth or Sean if you’re interested in trying this out, and be prepared to dedicate some time to just Olympic lifting. We’re extremely lucky to have coaches as well educated and dedicated as Ruth and Sean, so I highly recommend taking advantage of their coaching and knowledge.
With that long-winded post, I’ll leave you all with a great pointer from olympic lifting coach, Diane Fu. Follow her on Facebook, she posts great quick pointers all the time: https://www.facebook.com/FuBarbell
“When initially learning how to full snatch/clean, many new lifters will loosely dive into the hole and count on the bar being in balance with their bodies. Learning how to meet and fix the bar before sitting to depth will not only make the transition into the bottom smoother, it will also prevent the bar from crashing down into the rack. A smooth and seamless transition from the point at which the bar is fixed and then ridden down into the bottom should be of primary focus.”