Jacob Tsypkin has been fielding questions on our facebook page about weightlifting/crossfit/training/coffee/beardliness, and will compile 3-4 of them weekly for your reading pleasure. You’re welcome.
Gregor S asks, “Squatting every day: a good idea?”
Yes. No. Maybe. Sometimes.
View the option of daily squatting as a tool. I have used it to great effect in certain situations. It can work to break plateaus, it can work for lifters who are significantly better at volume than they are at intensity, and it can work, surprisingly, for lifters who have knee pain when squatting.
The key is doing it intelligently. You’re working up to a heavyish single each day (occasionally I’ll work in a double or triple instead.) If you feel great, go for a PR. If you don’t feel great, just hit what you can hit without getting ugly and call it a day. If you want daily squatting to be effective, you absolutely MUST check your ego at the door.
Andrew K asks, “What cues do you like to use for the jerk? How about supplemental exercises?”
Predictably, the answer is, “it depends.” It depends on what the lifter is doing right or wrong, what they’re good or bad at, and of course, what they respond to. With that said, some of the most common cues I use are:
“Drive it high and back” to get the lifter to be aggressive in driving the bar off the shoulders
“Move straight” to cue the lifter to keep the hips and torso moving straight down/up/down
“Step in front of the bar” to get the lifter to reach their front foot out to an adequate degree
“Keep driving, keep reaching” to cue the lifter to stay with the bar, driving it as high as possible and to be active, rather than passive, about receiving and holding it.
For supplemental exercises, again it depends on what the athlete needs. Obviously the jerk from blocks is fantastic, and I prefer it from behind the neck for most people, as it teaches the lifter where the bar needs to be and, for most people, allows them to handle more weight. Of course, the jerk from the front rack is also very useful, so we employ both.
A fantastic exercise for improving footwork is Glenn Pendlay’s jerk ladder. This drill will help the lifter get used to the back foot landing first and “catching” himself with the front foot, as well as learning to remain rigid when going under the weight.
Lastly, the press from split is something all of my lifters do both when learning the jerk and in their warm-ups. It’s exactly what it sounds like: with the bar in the front rack, walk the feet out into your split position, and press. The most crucial part is that the press is EXTREMELY strict. There must be no movement of the legs, hips, or torso whatsoever. By doing this, the lifter learns where his body needs to be when receiving the jerk.
Stroup asks, “What is the minimal amount of weightlifting training a CrossFitter needs?”
In a word, plenty. Assuming we are talking about competitive CrossFitters here, my athletes do the snatch and clean & jerk heavy three times a week each, on average. That’s not including what they do in conditioning circuits. I think this would roughly hold true with most competitive CrossFitters.
Rudy Nielsen of The Outlaw Way wrote the following in an article about the importance of weightlifting for CrossFitters:
“Larson also has added up the total point values for every movement tested during both the 2011 and 2012 Games seasons. The snatch and clean & jerk are worth 20 percent of the total point value. If you add accessories, you have 36 percent of the total point value—read that again, except in all caps: THIRTY-SIX PERCENT. I can and will talk about exactly how the lifts develop the athlete from an overall perspective, but strictly from a sporting perspective, that’s a lot of points.”
Between that, and the ability of the lifts to improve an athlete in so many ways, I think it’s undeniable that if you want to be a good CrossFitter, you’ve got to spend some serious time developing the snatch and clean & jerk.
Jacob Tsypkin is a CrossFit and weightlifting coach, the co-owner of CrossFit Monterey and the Monterey Bay Barbell Club in Monterey, CA. He is available for weightlifting seminars and gives excellent hugs imo.