This weekend has been really awesome.
One of my goals for 2014 was to have a go at Olympic lifting. After doing some research online I came across Personal Trainer and Weightlifting coach Sally Moss from Strength Ambassadors. Sally has been voted one of the ten most influential women in the Strength & Conditioning world and I also found her on Twitter (the joys of social media. I have now met quite a few awesome fitness professionals from there in the real world) and saw various videos she had shared on YouTube.
I was first supposed to train with Sally back in October 2013 but unfortunately had to pull out as I had sustained a running injury which had put me out of action for a while. I had always planned to train with her at some point in 2014 and so it was during my birthday week (post bday cake belly, never a good thing!) that I made my way to one of her Introduction to Olympic Lifting workshops.
After a warm up we were asked to partner up and then assigned to a lifting station where we had our barbell and were taken through the techniques for the Snatch & Clean and Jerk. Sally, and her assistant coach Alex broke the techniques down into different stages and then the fun began!
I have to admit that I have always been a little nervous about the wide arm grip needed for the Snatch because I have double jointed elbows and I had visions of myself having a bad accident and appearing in one of those ‘Awkward gym moments’ or ‘When Olympic lifts go wrong’ videos that you often come across on YouTube. However, I needn’t have worried at all thanks to the expert coaching from Sally and Alex.
The Snatch is one continuous movement where you lift the barbell from the platform, the bar goes above your head whilst at the same time you drop into a squat with your arms locked out above your head. You will then stand up with your arms still above your head which is your end position. I’m not gonna lie, it was TOUGH! I actually fell on my butt the second time I did it but thankfully once I got used to range of movement, the power needed to execute the lift and my Bambi like wobbly legs had settled down I really got into it. Infact I found it really empowering to be able to do it. I loved it!
Once we had all had done our sets of Snatches it was time to move onto the next lift of the afternoon.
The Clean & Jerk is executed in two movements. You lift the barbell from the platform and clean it to your shoulders with your arms underneath the bar and your elbows in front of you in a front squat position. You will then stand and have completed the first part of the lift. The second part which is the jerk (I’m so childish, I always think of jerk chicken when I hear this word. Hmmmm, jerk chicken!) is done by bending your knees a few inches and then with one explosive movement you will go into a split stance with your front leg bent and arms locked out with the barbell overhead. To finish the lift you move your front leg backwards first and then your back leg forward to join it so you end up in a normal standing position still with your arms still locked out above you. I also really loved doing the Clean and Jerk!
So that was the end of an amazing Intro to Olympic lifting workshop and whilst I found it challenging I also fell in love with it. Infact I loved it so much that I will be signing up for one of Sally’s Beginners workshops so I can continue with my Olympic lifting. Sally is a fantastic coach, she explains everything really well and is very positive and encouraging, she kept an eye on everyone and our techniques and gave us pointers throughout the session so we could refine our lifts.
I had a really fantastic afternoon of training with Strength Ambassadors, the other workshop attendees were also really lovely. One of the girls I was partnered with asked me what kind of training I did and when I told her I was a martial artist she mentioned she had always wanted to try kick boxing so I will be arranging to meet up with her to take her to my MMA gym so she can have a go at kick boxing. On the tube home we were also talking to one of the guys who was on the workshop and we had such huge smiles and were really pumped up from a great session.
I will actually be training again with Strength Ambassadors soon as I am going on their bodyweight training workshop which is 3 sessions with guest coach Fi Silk who is the UK’s female bar calisthenics champion. I can’t wait for that and I will definitely be posting a blog about that too!
Thank you Sally & Alex for a brilliant afternoon. It was a bit painful doing Muay Thai today whilst having post Olympic lifts DOMS but it was worth it. 🙂