If you missed part 1, CLICK HERE
3. Change your habits – there is no difference between 60 and 70kg
For the past six years, my squatting warm up sets have looked like this:
- Empty bar x 10-15ish
- 275/315 x 3
- Another warm up depending on rep ranges
- Working sets
This was always a great progression for me. I warmed up slowly. On heavy days I jumped to 315 and lighter, speed days, I stayed around 275 for my third set. I recently started training with someone that is really strong (600# squat strong). Whenever we train together, he always starts with a red, not a blue. For the past six years 60kg was my first set. Well, now that this really strong guy is in my life, we start at 70kg. This 10kg difference does not sound like much, and it isn’t. The difference however, is that over the course of a squat session, everything I do is 10kg heavier than I am used to. If I average 25 warm up reps, this equates to 250kg (550#) with the exact same perceived level of exertion. With two squat sessions a week, without much effort, I have added over 1,000 pounds total to my weekly squat training. That volume pays huge dividends over a month or a year. The same can be done for every single lift. If you always start squatting with blues, grab a red. If you always start snatching with greens, grab a yellow.
4. Increase the reps of non-work sets in the 65-75% range
Let’s pull away from squatting and move the conversation to the Olympic Lifts. The same ideas apply to the quick, technical lifts as they do to the slow lifts. The concept of increasing volume in warm ups is incredibly important. Let’s assume we are building to a heavy double in the clean and jerk. Most warm ups include small incremental jumps until you reach your max weight. This method is fine and applied by many lifters. Unfortunately, moving through middle percentage weights and only getting a few reps leaves a lot of volume, speed work, and mechanics on the table.
If your 2 Rep Max is 100kg, it is safe to say that 70-80kg, is a made lift every time. At these percentages, lifts are fast, smooth, and at a weight that allows the body to get sufficient volume without exhausting the muscles. Middle percentages are very beneficial to hit a couple sets as opposed to rushing to get to a max weight. Increase the total weight lifted, focus on speed at submaximal weights, and make them as fast and efficient as possible. The results will be outstanding.
5. Focus on position work
One of the most limiting factors in athletes getting strong is an inability to get into the proper positions. The hardest movement in the world, the snatch, is a perfect example. I see far too many people warming up, taking the bar from the floor, and throwing it overhead. We spend so much time in warm ups going over the positions and then as soon as you touch a weight, we forget it all. Have no fear; I used to do the exact same thing.
To combat this, as I mentioned above, I had to make a game out of my weaknesses so I could enjoy working on them. The best way I have found to work on my weaknesses in the Oly lifts is to create a complex for myself. I often struggle with leaving the bar out in front of me because my chest rises too early. To change this, in my warm ups and with light weights, I will create a complex of two snatch pulls, one muscle snatch, and follow it with some overhead squats. This quick complex allows me to work on patience, staying over the bar, and then some overhead squats to work on the full range of motion. There are thousands of combinations that you can throw together to work on weaknesses. Get creative and focus on the things you need to work on before you get into working sets and continue to make the same mistakes.
For the most part, consistency and intensity are the best ways to get incredibly strong. But along the way you should enjoy the process, find ways to get creative, and enjoy the nuances of weightlifting. I enjoy making little mind games up during my warm ups. They help give me focus and break the monotony of back squat number 4,687,982. Now, go get really strong.