Shrugged Collective

The road to Weightlifting mastery

I believe that you only know what you know, until you know something else.

In weightlifting, I gave up believing in concrete truths a long time ago. When I first started my journey with FuBarbell, the question that I set out to answer was, “Is there really one best way to weightlift? If so, what was this magical way that’s going to get me to the Olympics? If not, why was there so much debate within the community of who’s right and who’s wrong?”

It was this question that led me to seek out conversations with the best coaches within our community. Learning, listening and applying. I’ve always learned best through doing, so I found myself changing my technique every 4-6 months trying to internalize all these different styles of movement. I would then share what I picked up along the way with the greater community. Combine that with still very actively coaching a club of my own and you have a journey that resembles playtimeΒ at Disney Land.

My last “a-ha!” moment on the platform occured just last week. I’ve been studying under the Singaporean national team coach, Coach Wu Chuanfu, since January of this year. Coach Wu came up professionally in the Chinese weightlifting system having been a national medalist for China. Being curious to how the Chinese viewed and trained weightlifting, Coach Wu and I started hanging out via Skype on an almost weekly basis. The months came and went and we finally got to a point where we were able to bring Coach Wu out to the states for a couple seminars in Los Angeles and San Francisco. During this time, we got to hang out as I picked his brain, and he also spent time coaching me one-on-one.

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The Chinese value the use of their quads and lats as prime movers (the engine) within the system. Understandably the whole body is at play, but emphasis is on these parts during Coach Wu’s teachings. It was during our last session of last week. We had already been training for a very long 3 hours that evening, and I was also tired from having trained many days in a row on a technique that was rather foreign to me. Coach Wu kept taking me through drill after drill asking me to “push the bar up with my quads” and to generate a “longer momentum on the barbell”. Every few reps, he’d be like, “Yes, you feel that?!” And I would respond, “Yes,” but really in my mind I wasn’t so sure.

Finally, Coach Wu saw something peculiar. He asked me where I exploded/extended the weight from. I pointed to my hips and said, β€œHere, my hips.” Coach Wu came over and said, “That’s not your hips. This is your hips.” And pointed to the junction right above the quads at groin level. See, Coach Wu would tell you to, “bring the bar to your hips and push up with your quads” and that’s exactly what I did or so I thought. Turns out the hips for Coach Wu meant something different. And the difference of the two points is rather negligible to the naked eye, but created a difference that was easily expressed in the quality of the bar movement.

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After I realized where Coach Wu wanted the second pull to occur, I was able to create the type of extension he was looking for rep after rep. Clean, crisp, powerful. Mind you, it was only with an empty bar, but everything he was saying for the past week suddenly clicked in my mind and I could literally envision every cue, sensation, purpose of all the drills he was teaching. It’s like I unlocked the mystery of Chinese weightlifting. Not really, but you know, I was stoked. IΒ could tell in Coach Wu’s face as well he was rather dumbfounded, surprised and enlightened.

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It was this “a-ha!” moment that made me realize that there really are so many ways to use the human body with everything still arriving at the same purpose. I’m sure a wise man somewhere once said, “Keep your belly full, your mind open, and who knows what you will come to discover.” Maybe that quote had wine in it too. Either way, the more you learn, the less you know.

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Mike Bledsoe

7 comments

  • Is great to see how we are going from using just one style of training, to using the style of trsining that is best for each individual.

    Thanks for sharing this πŸ™‚

  • Question here!:

    Are Weight Lifting shoes a MUST??!

    I understand the need and use for them for stability and thus when your going into competition or training for competition. I understand if your training heavy or trying to go for a PR.

    I understand the need for it. But is there any truth to the idea that you should be able to do the movements of a snatch, squat or C&J without the use of an elevated heel?

    Your input(s) on the subject would be valuable. Thanks!

  • As a newbie I’ve actually worked hard to be somewhat close minded. I started by picking a program and sticking with it, I wouldn’t allow myself to look at anything else for a while because I know how overwhelmed I get with a ton of new information.

    Once I completed my first program I slowly started to allow myself to explore some more. It can definitely be overwhelming to see all of the different exercises or workouts you ‘should’ be doing. I’m doing Wendler’s now so I can incorporate a variety of accessory exercises and I can feel that old overwhelmed feeling sneaking in. Might be time to stick to some basics, like core work, for a while.

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