Shrugged Collective

Training Methods of the Russian Champion

The Barbell Shrugged team is currently taking a week off in Amsterdam. Well,  mostly a week off. We do still plan on filming a very cool special while we’re here. How could we not? It’s such an inspiring place.

This is a chance to rest and reflect upon an amazing and transformational year. We’ve spent the bulk of 2014 out on the road, talking to amazing people and learning from their incredibly varied experiences. In many ways, doing this show has felt like a crash course University-level education in training, relationships, personal growth, life, you name it.

It has been an honor to help share those stories, really. Thanks.

People ask me all the time about my favorite episodes and all that. It’s a tough choice, but after a little reflection I’d say our interview with Dmitry Klokov was one of the best. The guy was so genuine, sharp, and excited to talk about lifting. We felt like we knew him right from the start, which was great.

There’s a lot to like about Dmitry, but I love the fact that he’s taken his lifting up to a kind of performance art. Just check out his Instagram feed, he basically puts on a show at his teaching seminars. I find that amazing.

As great as our first chat was, an hour just wasn’t long enough. I wanted to hear more of his story, and more details from his training past. We’ll get to all of that in part two, but until then, we’ve now got the next best thing to tide us over. Dmitry has now put his story down in the new eBook, “Klokov: Training Methods of the Russian Champion.

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The book is more than the title suggests. It actually unfolds in two main parts. The first is a very nice bio from Dmitry that stretches back from his childhood and introduction to weightlifting all the way to his silver medal finish in the 2008 Olympics. The second part is a very practical, media rich breakdown of Dmitry’s coaching and programming philosophy.

The nice and practical bits are just what you need to hear in order to become a better lifter.

The nice bit

Dmitry shares quite a lot about his childhood and early experiences in the sport. I think a lot of people forget that even Dmitry Klokov was once a beginner. More to the point they might not realize that he is the child of a world champion weightlifter, and he struggled in the sport at first.

Like many new lifters he was driven to succeed, but he wasn’t ready to lift big loads. He needed lots of work before he would find any success on the platform.

From Dmitry, “While all of my opponents who had beaten me in these competitions were in summer camps and resorts, I spent all summer in my home with my coach, working on overall physical training. In 1996, overall physical training for me meant morning jogs, throwing kettle bells over head to train my back to be more explosive, walking on my hands with the help of my trainer, pushups, walking with the bar on my back, lunges, and many others.”

With that foundation in place, Dmitry was able to progress and intensify his training rapidly over the course of three years, quickly rising to the national level. In 2002, some six years after committing to basic physical training, he made his very first appearance at the World Championships.

That’s a critical lesson to hear.

As great and entertaining as Klokov is now, his success is rooted in the fundamentals and a rock solid foundation of general strength and fitness. If he rushed through that part of his development then he wouldn’t have ever reached the goal of exceeding his fathers strength.

Real strength takes time.

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The practical part

The second section of the book is essentially a quick reference quick guide to all of the movements that Dmitry teaches in his seminar, including the classical lifts, assistance exercises, and the squat. In total there are 16 method sections with embedded, high quality instructional video, which is very cool.

I love Dmitry’s coaching style for two specific reasons. First, he states quite plainly that most new lifters and competitive fitness athletes are exposed to too much information too soon early on. That does no good. It only causes confusion. People need to know what they need to know, it should be simple.

Dmitry’s methods is just that. You could summarize it in 3 main steps:

  1. Illustrate exactly how each position should look, but more importantly, describe to the lifter exactly how it should feel. You have to develop that connection with the barbell if you want to be a great weightlifter.
  2. Point out the common lifting faults for each movement and how to avoid them. This includes the improper use of assistance movements like the squat. That’s right, if you do this stuff wrong it won’t really help your lifting much. For instance, for the aspiring weightlifter, choosing the low bar squat over the front squat wouldn’t be all that effective due to a lack of position specificity. You’ll just waste a lot of time and energy. Train smart, not just heavy!
  3. All of the position work in the world won’t help you much if you’re not strong! You need to have powerful legs for the first pull and the jerk, for example. If your back is weak you’ll never be able to keep your shoulders over the bar long-enough to get into proper position for your second pull. There is no technique solution to that kind of problem. Dmitry does a great job of showing the limitation, then offering a specific solution.

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A sample section of the practical stuff. 

You should check out the book, I think it will bring a lot of value to your training.

Dmitry, well done. I can’t wait to have you back on Barbell Shrugged for round 2.0 very soon. Maybe we can do it in Russia? 🙂




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Chris Moore is a writer, recovering meathead, fledgling raconteur and rabid imbiber. He's also cohost and resident potty mouth on Barbell Shrugged, a weekly podcast devoted to Crossfit, strength, fitness and all things brash. His experience is drawn from over twenty-years spent training for and competing in American Football, Powerlifting, a bit of strongman and a dash of mixed martial arts. Also, it's possible that he's had one too many cups of coffee. A caffeine fever is a hell of a thing, you know?


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