Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Redwood Empire Olympic Weightlifting Championships and more ..

I had intended to get this meet write-up last week however my engineering work has had me swamped since arriving for integration support in our big lab out west. Here is a roll up of almost two weeks worth of training including a fantastic meet and a great get together with my cyber-space partner in iron, Ed "Middle Age Fitness Dude" Pierini of the excellent and eclectic blog read "Pierini Fitness".

The Redwood Empire Olympic Weightlifting Championships, Saturday July 11th, 2009

Having only started snatching last Tuesday after laying off all OH work for a month, I was pleased to be back here in Northern California and in particular having an opportunity to train at Freddie and Nicki's "Myles Ahead". After arriving late on Wednesday, I was able to squeeze in a light session on Thursday that went so well I decided to compete in "The Redwood Empire Olympic Weightlifting Championships". With so little time having practiced the full lifts due an aggravated right shoulder, my plan was to be very conservative and use it as training session to get more competition type exposure regardless of outcome. As I will explain shortly, both the event and my results far exceeded all expectations.

First of all, this is probably the greatest venue possible for a summer Olympic Weightlifting competition. Because of the consistency of the beautiful Northern California weather, this meet, the 3rd annual one to be held, takes place in center of downtown Cotati in the park. Lifters performed on an outdoor Amphitheater with a ice sized raised open stage. There were also three warm-up areas to the left of the stage which under the cover of a large tent, protected the lifters from too much sun exposure. Large bales of hey were setup in rows for very comfortable seating and viewing. There were food and beverage stands available including freshly grilled burgers, vegan burritos and a variety of delicious baked goods, soda, beer. A nice selection of glasses of the some of local Sonoma county red and white wines added a real California touch. As is typical for northern California summer day, it was a beautiful sunny day in the low eighties cooling down to the low seventies by late afternoon.

Although new to the sport and this only being my third competition having viewed numerous on-line result of other meets, prior to this meet it appeared there seemed to be very few women competitors attending local meets. However today, of the total 60 lifters, 24 were women providing some very high caliber exciting performances.One of the reasons for this is nature of the Myles Ahead training studio, where top trainer Nicki Myles, finishing 2nd in Nationals last year in the 56kg weight, proves that being beautiful and feminine is not at all at odds with being powerful and strong. Thus with Freddie Myles, a superb trainer and one of the top national 94kg class lifter as well, complementing Nicki, the balanced mixture of loyal male and female clientele is of no surprise.

I also had the opportunity to meet some of the legends of the sport who reside out this area: Butch Curry (1980 Olympian, and active coach), Jim Schmitz , Derrick Crass (1984 Olympian), Mark Hazarabedian (105+ 50 yr old master lifter extraordinaire, aka the humorous Mark Haz on goheavy) and Dr. Randal Strossen from Ironmind. Randy, always with camera in hand, was shooting photos of some of the top lifters. I would have introduced myself to National Champion, Donny Shankle, the winner of the 105+ super-heavy weight class and Olympic hopeful, but in all honesty he was so intensely focused on lifting combined with the fact his physical presense is intimatating. I also had the opportunity to talk to the 15 year old wunderkind, Ian Wilson, who in the 94kg weight class snatched 120kg on his 2nd attempt missing what would have been a PR of 125kg. I incorreclty thought the 125kg was his clean and jerk attempt but fortunately Mark "Haz" corrected me that he decided not to do the meet c&J. Apparently, 125kg would have been a warmup for him as he had previously cleaned and jerked 150kg! This kid who apparently has grown four inches it the last three months has already shattered all the lifting records for kids his age.

Snatch Warmups (kg):
40 x 2 x 2
50 x 1 x 2
57.5 x 1 x 2
62.5 x 1 x 1
65 x 1 x 1

Competition Snatch lifts:

1st Attempt: 65 good lift (meet PR)
2nd Attempt: 68 good lift (meet and training PR)
3rd Attempt: 70 no lift (both arm press-out)

Clean and Jerk Warmups (kg):
40 x 2 x 2
50 x 1 x 2
60 x 1 x 2
70 x 1 x 1
75 x 1 x 1
80 x 1 x 1
85 x 1 x 1

Competition Clean and Jerk lifts:

1st Attempt: 88 good lift (tied meet PR)
2nd Attempt: 91 good lift (meet and training PR)
3rd Attempt: 94 no lift (failed to rack bar)

Holy Mackerel .. meet and training PRs in both lifts! I'm still shocked. Maybe all the extra rest and lighter training of late is something that should become more the norm and not the exception. This would certainly jive with the a lot of threads posted on goheavy by many of the seasoned master lifters. This philosophy is certainly espoused by the great Tommy Kono for all lifters .. he has gone on record that in general American lifters are training too much volume and heavy assistance lifts. Back in March I had set goals of 70/90 for this event and this was before recovering from pneumonia and shoulder injury keeping me from training overhead lifts for almost a month prior to the meet. Although I didn't make it, I came very close and am really encouraged by my steady progress.

The Photos at the Top

The top photo is a group shot of the entire Myles-Ahead crew including lifters and volunteers. Freddie made my day when he asked me to join in the photo as an honorary member, an honor I will always remember. The Myles-Ahead lifters took the team championship for the 3rd straight year since the meet started. It was a very balanced win. Here is a list of the team's individual medal winners:

  • Kelly Reinhart 58kg women's silver
  • Kim Kraal58kg women's bronze
  • Sara Flynn 63kg women's gold
  • May Rodgers75kg women's bronze
  • Tristy Taylor 75+kg women's bronze
  • Chad St. Clair 77kg men's gold
  • John-Logan Coots 85kg men's silver
  • Freddie Myles 94kg men's gold
  • Scott Shepherd105kg men's bronze
  • Justin Hunter105+kg men's silver
  • Tom LaFreniere men's master gold (77kg)
  • Glen Hammack men's master silver (85kg)
  • Joe Rodgers men's master bronze (105+kg)

Of special note:
  • Kelly Reinhart's totals (PRs) qualified her for a spot at the American Open.
  • Sara Flynn continued her dominance in the 63kg class; she had previously qualified for the American Open.
  • A sweep of the men's master division.
  • Freddie's gold medal performance was truly inspiring especially in light of the huge amount of work he put in setting up the venue, keeping things running smoothly, coaching and mentoring.

The complete set of results can be found here courtesy of Butch Curry's PWA site.

The 2nd photo is the recovery from my 68kg snatch PR. The 3rd and 4th photos are start and finish of my 3rd snatch attempt with 70kg ..its not obvious from the photos but I did get three red lights due to fairly large press-outs with both arms. This was still a moral victory of sorts just to get it over my head .. I now know this weight is doable once I learn to get under it and trust my bottom position more.

Along with meeting more members of the extended Myles-Ahead crew including Freddies's brother Jim, and his parents, Niki's mom and dad, Tom LaFreniere, the master gold-medalist, I was pleased to have met the renowned Jim Schmitz of the Sports Palace, Randall Strossen of the incredible IronMind site (who was shooting photos of some of the top lifters), Derrick Crass, 1984 Olympian, who 1) did a superb job of MC-ing the 2nd half of the meet and 2) kept me entertained with many of his hilarious lifting stories at dinner that evening. Finally, I got to meet a few fellow goheavy forum posters extraordinaire: Dave Corbin, Butch Curry and Mark "Haz" Hazarabedian. Mark, a 105+ 50 yr old master lifter, was in top form as he took home the bronze in the open section with some very strong lifts.

Monday July 13, 2009

With the meet over I was really looking forward to my three sessions at Myles-Ahead. Freddie had planned three solid days of technique work.

Morning Olympic Lifting Session at the Myles-Ahead Fitness Center

Z-Health Neural Warmup Level II Dynamic Joint Mobility

Snatch on Toes (kg):
20 x 2 x 3
25 x 3 x 3

Three Position Snatch (kg):
20 x 1 x 3
30 x 2 x 3
40 x 1 x 3
45 x 3 x 3

Snatch High-Pulls (kg):
60 x 3 x 3

Front Squat (kg):
50 x 1 x 5
60 x 1 x 4
75 x 3 x 3

Freddie relayed to me that he learned the snatch on toes assistance from the 1984 82.5kg class Olympian Derrick Crass. While standing on the toes, holding the bar with a snatch grip, arms extended with shoulders held in the shrug position, the lifter explosively pulls the bar straight upward while dropping under the bar into a full receiving OH squat position. As with finishing the regular snatch, the arms should lockup out while pushing the bar upward as the wrists try to spin the bar OH. Don't be fooled by the low weight as this lift is extremely difficult and was designed specifically to teach how to aggressively perform the 3rd pull. This is a real weakness of mine and I will continue to add this lift to my weekly snatch sessions.

The three position snatch:

  • above-knee hang snatch
  • below-knee hang snatch
  • from the floor snatch

was also a great challenge for me especially the below-knee. It took me quite a while to realize I needed to finish my clean dead-lift before exploding into the 2nd pull. These were followed by snatch pulls and front squats of light to moderate intensity. I was very glad that this session was not too heavy as I was still recovering from the meet.

Wednesday July 15, 2009

Morning Olympic Lifting Session at the Myles-Ahead Fitness Center

Z-Health Neural Warmup Level II Dynamic Joint Mobility

Clean on Toes (kg):
20 x 2 x 4
30 x 1 x 4
35 x 3 x 3

3 Position Clean (kg):
40 x 2 x 3
55 x 3 x 3

Clean High-Pull (kg):
75 x 3 x 3

Overhead Squat (kg):
40 x 1 x 5
50 x 1 x 4
57.5 x 2 x 3

Another great technique session. Just as snatch-on-toes is designed for help get under the snatch explosively, clean-on-toes does the same to get under the clean. Again even with very light weights, this is a very demanding lift. Similarly the second position below-knee hang clean felt very awkward just as with the snatch. Knowing that is weakness I will continue to work these once back east.

One of the major corrections Freddie helped me with my clean was to bring in my clean grip off the floor. I was too wide and then having to adjust inward on the catch. The result was a very jerky catch motion which has since been eliminated. We followed these with clean pulls and Overhead squats. My shoulder was still a little tender so Freddie helped me re-rack the bar once I got to 50kg.

My Afternoon Trip to Sacremento to Meet and Train with Ed "Middle Age Fitness Dude" Pierini

Since undertaking Olympic Weightlifting last October, I had discovered the excellent forum, strictly dedicated to this sport. From there I was led to the blog, Pierini Fitness, which tells the story of another middle age "Fitness Dude". Ed is a very gifted writer and his blog covers a diverse set of topics beyond the iron game .. a highly recommended read. Well, having realized that Sacremento is less than I two hour drive from where I was staying in Petaluma, I drove out to meet him in person and we had a great time discussing a variety of topics, training together and ending with a healthy dinner. For a great blog post up together with a picture of us, a video of some of my lifts where we trained that evening at the non-nonsense BodyTribe fitness center, see Ed's write up here.

Evening Olympic session at the Body Tribe Fitness Center

Snatch (kg):
30 x 1 x 4
40 x 1 x 3
50 x 1 x 3
55 x 1 x 2
60 x 1 x 1 Above-knee hang snatch PR

Clean and Jerk (kg):
50 x 1 x 2
70 x 1 x 1
80 x 1 x 1
82 x 1 x 1

Front Squat (kg):
50x 1 x 3
70 x 1 x 3
80 x 1 x 2
82 x 1 x 2

Since this was the 2nd session of the day, I keep the volume and weights fairly low. However, I did surprise myself with a solid above-knee hang snatch with 60kg.

Friday July 17, 2009

Morning Olympic Lifting Session at the Myles-Ahead Fitness Center

Z-Health Neural Warmup Level II Dynamic Joint Mobility

Lunge Jerk (kg):
20 x 2 x 5
30 x 2 x 3

Rack Jerk (kg):
40 x 2 x 3
55 x 1 x 2
62 x 1 x 1
67.5 x 3 x 1

Snatch (kg):
40 x 2 x 3
45 x 1 x 2
47.5 x 5 x 2

Clean (kg):
50 x 2 x 2
62.5 x 3 x 2

Back Squat (kg):
60 x 1 x 5
85 x 1 x 4
95 x 1 x 3
100 x 1 x 3
105 x 1 x 3 (PR)
95 x 1 x 5

With my meet recovery almost complete, we went a little heavier today culminating with back squat triple PR. The work with the lunge jerks and rack jerks were especially helpful in getting me to push under the bar just before completing my extension. As with the clean and snatch, the jerk must be done explosively as possible.

This is was my last session at Myles-Ahead for this trip and just like last time, I will miss it greatly until I get back out west later in the year. When I do get back, Freddie and Niki will have moved to a new location that features street frontage and three times the floor space. I wish them both the very best in their new facility.

Sunday July 19, 2009

With no time to get the club today, I had a short session in my basement. It was very tough as the six hour return flight from California took a lot out of me.

Morning Olympic Lifting Session in my basement dungeon

Z-Health Neural Warmup Level II Dynamic Joint Mobility

Snatch on Toes (kg):

20 x 2 x 3
25 x 2 x 3

3 Position Snatch (kg):
40 x 3 x 3
45 x 1 x 3
46 x 2 x 3

Front Squat (kg):
50 x 1 x 6
60 x 1 x 5
70 x 1 x 4
80 x 1 x 3

Tuesday July 21, 2009

Evening Olympic Lifting Session at Excel Sport and Fitness

Snatch on Toes (kg):
20 x 2 x 3
25 x 1 x 3

3 Position Snatch (kg):
31 x 1 x 3
35 x 1 x 3
40 x 1 x 3
45 x 1 x 3

Snatch (kg): (95%)
50 x 1 x 2
55 x 1 x 1
60 x 1 x 1
63 x 1 x 1
64 x 3 x 1 one-no-lift

Snatch Pulls (kg): (100%)
68 x 1 x 2
70 x 4 x 2
83 x 2 x 1

Front Squat (kg): (85%)

50 x 1 x 5
70 x 1 x 3
80 x 1 x 3
90 x 6 x 3

This was the heaviest snatch session I had in over two months and my shoulder felt great. The snatch pulls were very explosive and I managed to get through six sets or triples with 90kg front squats. These were the heaviest front squats in over a month.


pierini said...

That is a very long read Franklin. I'm exhausted and may have to go take a nap. It was refreshing to read about this Pierini guy from someone besides him!

Looking forward to reading about your upcoming August competition.

Franklin said...


Thanks for taking the time to read through it .. and yeah, that Pierini guy is all right in my book!