Saturday, April 18, 2009

Myles Ahead -- Northern CA Olympic Lifting at its Finest

Before I left for CA for my two week business, I went to the USA Weightlifting site and located Myles Ahead about 5 minutes from the hotel I'm staying in at Rohnert Park. I was fortunate, that on very short notice and even with a full schedule of clientele, they were able to accommodate me at the Mon, Wed, Fri at 8am and Sat at 9am sessions.

Well, to put it mildly I struck real California Gold while training at their modest facility. Owners for the last five years, Freddie and Niki Myles, in addition to not only being nationally ranked lifters (Freddie: Ranked 6th @94kg and Niki: Ranked 2nd @ 53kg), their approach to coaching is unsurpassed. They seem to have this uncanny ability to offer just the right amount of coaching cues and suggestions that are almost always immediately understandable and implementable. Also, I took to the opportunity to talk to as many of the other patrons I could and it was unanimous that everyone was making measurable progress and loved their training. To get a little flavor of what its like training at Myles-Ahead, checkout the following online article here.

Oh, and they have a large selection of kettlebells at their facility .. a good deal of their clients are trained to use kettlebells to assist them in establishing a solid base of strength and conditioning.

Below are a sample of some of the coaching cues and suggestions that Freddie and Niki provided me that were especially effective:
  • Prior to lift off, a repositioning of the hands on the bar so that the knees are just inside the arms. In the case of my snatch grip prior to this correction, my arms were in front of my knees.
  • Whip the bar with the arms after the pull during the snatch catch .. in done with enough speed, the bar will spin in the receiving position. This made a huge difference in performing muscle snatches and then later setting a PR on my hang-power-snatches.
  • Synchronize the snatch catch with the repositioning of the feet for the squat.
  • Synchronize the whipping of the arms during the clean with the repositioning of the feet for the squat.
  • Choke up on the bar prior to the jerk. This was very uncomfortable at first but just after three sessions of jerking this way, its very natural now.
  • Synchronize the arm lock out of the jerk with the landing of both feet during the split jerk. To this requires a very quick push under the bar .. these really improved over the course of several sessions.
  • Come off the floor slower and smoothly to keep the hips down. Whenever I would try to rip the bar off the floor, I would inevitably raise my hips and loose all power on the pull.
  • Avoid separation of the bar and body during the dip of the jerk. I had a tendency to rush the dip causing separation and loss of power.
  • To deal with too wide squat receiving stance, put some tape on the platform to mark the outer boundaries of the correct receiving stance. My stance improved as the week went to the point were for the first time I felt I could control it. When I get back to Excel, I will definitely try the tape if I go back to bad habits.
Wednesday April 15, Morning Session at Myles-Ahead:

Snatch (kg):
30 x 1 x 3 Hang-snatch
35 x 1 x 3 Hang-snatch
40 x 1 x 3 Hang-snatch
46 x 4 x 2 Hang-snatch
40 x 1 x 2 Power-snatch
50 x 1 x 2 Power-snatch
55 x 6 x 1 Power-snatch

Off-the-rack Clean-grip Push-Press (kg):
50 x 1 x 3
55 x 1 x 3
60 x 4 x 3

OHS (Overhead Squat) (kg):
20 x 1 x 3
40 x 1 x 3
50 x 1 x 3
55 x 1 x 3

I was a little nervous my first day but managed to get through okay.

Thursday April 16, Redwood Club:

24kg x 1 x 2/2 TGU
24kg x 5 x 10/10 One-hand swings

Russian Strength Routine Back Squats (lbs):
135 x 1 x 5
155 x 1 x 2
185 x 1 x 2
205 x 5 x 2
205 x 1 x 5

The Redwood Club is the fitness club my company offers free membership to all its employees. Like a traditional fitness club, they have a ton of Nautilus equipment and treadmills. Fortunately, they also have a power rack and barbells. Thus just like back east, I was able to get my back squat work out of the way prior to my Olympic lifting sessions.

Friday April 17, Morning Session at Myles-Ahead:

Clean & Jerk (kg):
20 x 1 x 4 Hang-C&J
40 x 1 x 4 C&J
50 x 1 x 2 C&J
60 x 1 x 2 C&J
70 x 1 x 2 C&J
75 x 1 x 2 C&J
78 x 4 x 2 C&J
80 x 2 x 1 C&J

Clean Pull (kg):
90 x 5 x 3

Muscle Snatch (kg)
32 x 1 x 3
40 x 3 x 3
40 x 1 x 5

Back-squat Snatch Balance
20 x 1 x 5

Here is where I started implementing a few of the suggestions above. As a result my jerks started to get crisper almost immediately. Also, once Freddie explained the main purpose of the muscle snatch was to enforce the whipping motion of the arms, these finally made sense. At first I was rebending my knees slightly but when Freddie suggested flexing my quads during the pull I started performing them correctly.

Saturday April 18, Morning Session at Myles-Ahead:

Snatch (kg):
20 x 1 x 5
30 x 2 x 3
40 x 1 x 3
45 x 1 x 2
50 x 1 x 2
55 x 1 x 2 1 miss
60 x 1 x 2
63 x 1 x 1
63 x 1 x 1
65 x 1 x 1
67 x 1 x 1 Press-out
67 x 1 x 1 PR
69 x 2 x 1 2 misses

Clean & Jerk (kg):
40 x 1 x 2 Hang-C&J
50 x 1 x 2 Hang-C&J
55 x 1 x 2 Hang-C&J
60 x 1 x 2 C&J
65 x 1 x 1 C&J
70 x 1 x 1 C&J
75 x 1 x 1 C&J
80 x 1 x 1 C&J
83 x 1 x 1 C&J
86 x 1 x 1 C&J PR
88 x 1 x 1 Poor clean with Press-out

What can I say .. I PR-ed in both the competition lifts on the same day. I have never done that before .. hats off to Niki and Freddie!! The 67kg snatch in particular was performed with much better form than my previous PR with 65kg.

Sunday April 19, Redwood Club:

24kg x 2 x 2/2 TGU
24kg x 5 x 10/10 One-hand swings

Russian Strength Routine Front Squats (lbs):
135 x 1 x 5
155 x 1 x 2
180 x 5 x 2
180 x 1 x 4

As before, getting the front squats out of way. While at the club, one of the members, a strong as hell carpenter my age named Jeff was very intrigued with my 24kg kettlebell (which as we later discovered, that he could press easily for multiple reps each arm). Before long I had him doing TGU's with a 20lb dumbbell. Because of a number of flexibility issues I did not have enough time to work through his problems with swings. Also it would have been easier if I had a lighter bell .. I sometimes forgot how long it took me to comfortable with the 24kg bell.

Monday April 20, Morning Session at Myles-Ahead:

Snatch (kg):
20 x 1 x 5 Hang-Power-Snatch
20 x 1 x 5 OHS
20 x 1 x 5 Snatch Balance
30 x 1 x 5 Hang-Power-Snatch
35 x 1 x 5 Hang-Power-Snatch
40 x 1 x 5 Hang-Power-Snatch
45 x 1 x 5 Hang-Power-Snatch
50 x 3 x 2 Hang-Power-Snatch PR
50 x 1 x 2 Power-Snatch

Clean & Jerk (kg):
40 x 1 x 2 Hang-Power Clean
40 x 1 x 2 Hang-Power C&J
50 x 1 x 2 Hang-Power C&J
55 x 1 x 2 Power C&J
60 x 4 x 2 Power C&J

Clean Pulls (kg):
90 x 1 x 2
95 x 2 x 2
100 x 2 x 2

This session I felt completely at home at Myles-Ahead .. at the same time I already a bit sad that Wednesday will be my last before heading back east. After a correction regarding my narrowing catch stance, my hang-power snatches were very crisp and well-timed. I may have be able to go heavier but I wanted to stick to the template especially as this is a de-loading week. My jerks were the best they have ever been, both crisp and quick. Finally, this was the first time I had strong fully extended clean pulls with 100kg. The key here was coming off the floor slowly while fighting to keep vertical. I'm convinced I'll be cleaning 100kg withing another month or too.


Colin said...

Wow - what a week you've had! Bet you weren't expecting 2 new PRs on your travels. You just keep getting stronger and stronger.

Had a look through the Myles Ahead website, looks like a very cool place.

Franklin said...

Hi Colin,

This is what happens after six months of solid training .. you are clearly on the right path and can expect the same if not more!

Sebastian said...

Franklin, thank you for the kind words about the gym we attend. We were very impressed by your energy and enthusiasm. We look forward to seeing you again when business brings you back to California. Sebastian and Jennifer.

Franklin said...


Thanks so much for stopping by. Myles-Ahead and its wonderful patrons took what could have been another routine business trip and transformed it into an experience of a life time. Please give my warmest regards to all.