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Sam Ashen - Olympic Lifts Form Check


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Hello everybody!

 

The Olympic lifts are pretty new to me, but a few weeks ago I was doing a pretty good job butchering cleans and Olympic Lifting jargon.  Here they are:

 

Snatches (set of 5 from the front and set of 5 from the side)

 

Clean and Jerk (set of 6 from the front and set of 5 from the side)

 

The weight on both lifts is 65 pounds - the bar, plus the bumper plates.  I saw one issue on the snatches which I tried to fix on the cleans, but I will reserve my comments since I am looking for feedback and advice on what to do next.

Classless Human Male Warrior - Introduction

Height: 1.77m Weight: 93 kg

Spoiler

 

Current Maxes: (repsxkg)

Squat: 10x122.3, 5x138.2, 3x147; 1x170

Bench Press: 10x79, 5x93, 1x102

Deadlift: 10x152, 5x192, 3x210, 1x229

Overhead Press: 10x52, 5x61, 1x70.3

Current Battle Log: 1707 Sam Ashen Summer Swole Program

2017 Challenges:  1701 1702 1703 1704 1705

Previous Challenges: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 1603 1604 1605 1606 1607 1609  1610 1611 1612

Daily Log:The Daily Grind

Form Check:  Stronglifts Olympic

More FC's:  Pistol Squats

Want to play?  MFPvP

 

 

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You're executing the second pull way too early. That's the main cause of lifts failing and being dumped forwards.

Have you seen the Pendlay snatch and clean tutorial videos? They offer a pretty solid progression to the lifts.

 

Okay, thanks.  It looks like this time I was starting the second pull around the knee when it is supposed to be at the crease of the hip.

 

I am adding link to the Pendlay (Cal Strength) videos for my own reference:

 

Clean

 

Snatch

Classless Human Male Warrior - Introduction

Height: 1.77m Weight: 93 kg

Spoiler

 

Current Maxes: (repsxkg)

Squat: 10x122.3, 5x138.2, 3x147; 1x170

Bench Press: 10x79, 5x93, 1x102

Deadlift: 10x152, 5x192, 3x210, 1x229

Overhead Press: 10x52, 5x61, 1x70.3

Current Battle Log: 1707 Sam Ashen Summer Swole Program

2017 Challenges:  1701 1702 1703 1704 1705

Previous Challenges: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 1603 1604 1605 1606 1607 1609  1610 1611 1612

Daily Log:The Daily Grind

Form Check:  Stronglifts Olympic

More FC's:  Pistol Squats

Want to play?  MFPvP

 

 

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As a pre-req to the Pendlay vids, check out this drill by McCauley.  It's a good primer on learning to fully extend and then quickly retreat the hips (at the end they show it with a bar, which is basically step 1 of the Pendlay progression).  Try to embrace the idea that this is where the power comes from - it's not from pulling with the arms.  In general, practice from the high hang and the hang will help train that motor pattern without having to worry about getting the bar in the right place off the floor, which is a whole new can of worms.

 

Also, widen up your snatch grip.  The bar should rest in your hip crease when holding it at snatch width.

 

Still, it's not all bad.  That's a pretty effortless looking OHS, and in bare feet with a slightly narrow grip at that.

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 and in bare feet with a slightly narrow grip at that.

 

In reference to the bare feet thing..I'm not a fan of doing the oly lifts bare foot. You should consider a good pair of WL shoes, they'll help in pretty much everything you do. 

 

Also, put some weight on the bar. It's one thing to clean a weight that you could probably slowly pick up off the ground and lazily clean it with all back and arms...it's another to do it with a bit more of a challenging weight. I'm not saying you need to jump to 205 or anything like that...but you should at least be able to clean 95-135. Critiquing that form is going to be a lot more beneficial than 65lbs imo. Your form does far different things when a weight is at least somewhat challenging. 

"I've torn a hamstring tendon and re-injured my knee, lower back, and upper back while doing yoga. Don't get me started on shin splints. You're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't, so might as well be strong." - Some guy on the SS forums.

"Heavy is dangerous, but light is no fun." - Mark Rippetoe

"Squats are a good assistance to bring up your curl, as a bonus you can do your squats while your are still in the curl rack." - SJB

 

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^ don't disagree about the value of shoes, but being able to get in the positions he's in without them is still a big positive.

As to adding weight...meh. There's a reason they drill the Chinese kids to death with bamboo sticks. Having seen Sam's clean at 205, the problems are the same. That's not to say that the lifts won't feel different (and possibly better) at moderate weight, but step 1 is getting the basics right.

Check out one of J's trainees learning the snatch here. See how she feels the difference between arms too soon and arms at the right time, and all with a pvc - no added weight required.

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Thanks, everybody!  I made a list of about 8 points that I took from all of this.

 

1. Second pull executed way too early.

2. Study the Pendlay videos.

3. Also watch Dirty Dancing.  Learn that hip movement.  See 1.

4. Practice from the high hang position.

5. Then we can learn how to get those lifts off the ground.  See 1.

6. Widen the snatch grip.

7. Get weightlifting shoes.

8. Put weight on the bar.

 

About the weight - I chose a minimum to see if I could execute correct form with a minimal weight.  A higher weight might be 95 pounds (more than I can comfortably upright row and press) for snatch and 115 pounds (more than I can curl) for clean.  However, we are getting at some issues already.

 

There's a reason they drill the Chinese kids to death with bamboo sticks.

 

Confession:  I cannot get a rack position with a bamboo stick.  The weight of the bar helps a lot.  Hmm.  On second thought - I can sort of get it with my empty hands, but my hands are more towards the back of the shoulders.  Might be something else to practice.

Classless Human Male Warrior - Introduction

Height: 1.77m Weight: 93 kg

Spoiler

 

Current Maxes: (repsxkg)

Squat: 10x122.3, 5x138.2, 3x147; 1x170

Bench Press: 10x79, 5x93, 1x102

Deadlift: 10x152, 5x192, 3x210, 1x229

Overhead Press: 10x52, 5x61, 1x70.3

Current Battle Log: 1707 Sam Ashen Summer Swole Program

2017 Challenges:  1701 1702 1703 1704 1705

Previous Challenges: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 1603 1604 1605 1606 1607 1609  1610 1611 1612

Daily Log:The Daily Grind

Form Check:  Stronglifts Olympic

More FC's:  Pistol Squats

Want to play?  MFPvP

 

 

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Also, put some weight on the bar. It's one thing to clean a weight that you could probably slowly pick up off the ground and lazily clean it with all back and arms...it's another to do it with a bit more of a challenging weight. I'm not saying you need to jump to 205 or anything like that...but you should at least be able to clean 95-135. Critiquing that form is going to be a lot more beneficial than 65lbs imo. Your form does far different things when a weight is at least somewhat challenging. 

 

Here are a couple of examples of cleans to front squats that I just posted in my Challenge, along with my self-critique:

 

 

Here is a clean to 5 front squats with 175 pounds, followed by some box jumps.  This was taken from behind.  

 

Here is a power clean to 5 front squats with 185 pounds, followed by some box jumps.  This was taken from the side.  It looks like I have gotten a bit better at getting the hips down.  I stumbled getting the weight up.  I am going to chalk that up to (still) starting the second pull too soon and therefore had to compensate.  Then I decided to catch it high.  The fourth front squat got a little compromised and I am going to chalk that up to fatigue.

 

So part of the motivation here is to get the front-squats in and delay having to get squat racks.

 

It looks like the mistakes I was making at 65 pounds transfer to 175 and 185 pounds.  I believe the second pull is still starting way too early - and I staggered in the second video.

 

Having seen Sam's clean at 205, the problems are the same.

 

I hope this is at least a little bit less ugly than before.  :)  Spine is more neutral.  There is a second pull and maybe some hips going on.

 

Am I getting anywhere with the "Dirty Dancing?"

Classless Human Male Warrior - Introduction

Height: 1.77m Weight: 93 kg

Spoiler

 

Current Maxes: (repsxkg)

Squat: 10x122.3, 5x138.2, 3x147; 1x170

Bench Press: 10x79, 5x93, 1x102

Deadlift: 10x152, 5x192, 3x210, 1x229

Overhead Press: 10x52, 5x61, 1x70.3

Current Battle Log: 1707 Sam Ashen Summer Swole Program

2017 Challenges:  1701 1702 1703 1704 1705

Previous Challenges: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 1603 1604 1605 1606 1607 1609  1610 1611 1612

Daily Log:The Daily Grind

Form Check:  Stronglifts Olympic

More FC's:  Pistol Squats

Want to play?  MFPvP

 

 

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It looks like the mistakes I was making at 65 pounds transfer to 175 and 185 pounds.  I believe the second pull is still starting way too early - and I staggered in the second video.

 

Agreed, it looks like you're starting the 2nd pull damn near below the knee. Just as soon as the bar clears your knees, your shoulders are almost on top of the bar already instead of still in front of it. A big part of that I think is that you're letting the bar fall WAY too far forward of mid-foot. At one point it's out in front of your toes. This is going to make starting the 2nd pull problematic. 

 

Just my two cents. Looks like you're pretty heavily using your back and shrug to get that up instead of the pull. 

"I've torn a hamstring tendon and re-injured my knee, lower back, and upper back while doing yoga. Don't get me started on shin splints. You're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't, so might as well be strong." - Some guy on the SS forums.

"Heavy is dangerous, but light is no fun." - Mark Rippetoe

"Squats are a good assistance to bring up your curl, as a bonus you can do your squats while your are still in the curl rack." - SJB

 

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Agreed, it looks like you're starting the 2nd pull damn near below the knee.

 

This probably means I am starting the second pull below the knee.

 

 

Just my two cents. Looks like you're pretty heavily using your back and shrug to get that up instead of the pull. 

 

I did not think I could upright row that much.  I wonder if the two points you make above are related.  (ie finding a way to use the back instead of the hips)

Classless Human Male Warrior - Introduction

Height: 1.77m Weight: 93 kg

Spoiler

 

Current Maxes: (repsxkg)

Squat: 10x122.3, 5x138.2, 3x147; 1x170

Bench Press: 10x79, 5x93, 1x102

Deadlift: 10x152, 5x192, 3x210, 1x229

Overhead Press: 10x52, 5x61, 1x70.3

Current Battle Log: 1707 Sam Ashen Summer Swole Program

2017 Challenges:  1701 1702 1703 1704 1705

Previous Challenges: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 1603 1604 1605 1606 1607 1609  1610 1611 1612

Daily Log:The Daily Grind

Form Check:  Stronglifts Olympic

More FC's:  Pistol Squats

Want to play?  MFPvP

 

 

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Trying again.  I have my own opinions from watching the videos which I will leave off this discussion, but include in my Challenge thread.

 

Set of 5 Snatches at 43 kg  This features a fail at the second rep and very likely illustrates the point in Post #2.

 

Set of 5 Overhead Press at 48 kg  Finally a stagger at the last rep.

 

Set of 5 Clean and Jerk at 61 kg

 

Set of 5 Front Squats at 84 kg

 

The comments and Rx I am thinking about is:

 

Keep watching the videos.  I tried halting the motion in an effort to force a delay in the second pull.  I think I am still getting too much upper body in the motion and not much hip.  Therefore, lifts fail and get dumped forwards as explained in Post 2 - or I end up staggering forwards.  Work on the Dirty Dancing.

 

So far, I am planning to work on it once a week.  I might be able to sneak in practice with a broomstick on rest days.

 

30 kg might be more appropriate for working the Snatch and 43 kg for the Clean and Jerk.  (I will get the 25 pound bumper plates so I can drop the weight and not feel bad for the bumper plates.)

 

Five seems to be a lot of reps for the Olympic lifts.  I really get winded.  I measured the length of each part of the motion as I broke it down.  The entire range of motion is about two and half times the length of the squat, so 5 olympic lifts is like 12 or 15 squats with the same weight.

Classless Human Male Warrior - Introduction

Height: 1.77m Weight: 93 kg

Spoiler

 

Current Maxes: (repsxkg)

Squat: 10x122.3, 5x138.2, 3x147; 1x170

Bench Press: 10x79, 5x93, 1x102

Deadlift: 10x152, 5x192, 3x210, 1x229

Overhead Press: 10x52, 5x61, 1x70.3

Current Battle Log: 1707 Sam Ashen Summer Swole Program

2017 Challenges:  1701 1702 1703 1704 1705

Previous Challenges: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 1603 1604 1605 1606 1607 1609  1610 1611 1612

Daily Log:The Daily Grind

Form Check:  Stronglifts Olympic

More FC's:  Pistol Squats

Want to play?  MFPvP

 

 

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Try doing high hangs: just bend at the knees and keep your torso straight, no forward lean. That's the position you want to be doing the second pull. Anything earlier will make the catch a pain in the ass.

With regards to the execution, snap your back and butt hard, kinda like a really, really, REALLY snappy deadlift lockout from the above-mentioned position.

And yeah, stick to 1-3 reps. Do more sets instead. Keep in mind that you're still developing technique so the set/rep/rest scheme that will let you sink in the most amount of practice with as minimal fatigue as possible is your best option.

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My Battle Log: A Weightlifting Story

 

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Try doing high hangs: just bend at the knees and keep your torso straight, no forward lean. That's the position you want to be doing the second pull. Anything earlier will make the catch a pain in the ass.

 

I call these hip cleans (not to be confused with the "technique" of arm bending to bring the bar into the hip crease) and they are a great exercise. I will differ a little bit from Papa on the emphasis of execution however. The top of the pull is not a deadlift - indeed the goals of each are orthoganal to one another - and it probably should not be approached as such. I use hip cleans extensively not only to work on the position and timing of the top of the pull but to also reinforce using the legs to finish rather than excessive back and hips.

 

Finishing with the legs involves forcefully pushing through the floor and keeping everything moving straight up, which is exactly what we want. Being too hip and back dominant at the top of the pull pretty much always leads to the "bar hump" which generally sends the bar somewhere out into space in front which may or may not be savable, depending on the loads and creative acrobatics involved.

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I call these hip cleans (not to be confused with the "technique" of arm bending to bring the bar into the hip crease) and they are a great exercise. I will differ a little bit from Papa on the emphasis of execution however. The top of the pull is not a deadlift - indeed the goals of each are orthoganal to one another - and it probably should not be approached as such. I use hip cleans extensively not only to work on the position and timing of the top of the pull but to also reinforce using the legs to finish rather than excessive back and hips.

Finishing with the legs involves forcefully pushing through the floor and keeping everything moving straight up, which is exactly what we want. Being too hip and back dominant at the top of the pull pretty much always leads to the "bar hump" which generally sends the bar somewhere out into space in front which may or may not be savable, depending on the loads and creative acrobatics involved.

Yeah, I guess that "fast deadlift" cue does sound a bit off. "Jump" with emphasis on keeping a vertical torso and staying on your heels for as long as possible would probably be more appropriate. The heel bit helped me a lot to fix my bar trajectory, early second pull, and missing lifts forward, something I misattributed to not using my hips enough.
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My Battle Log: A Weightlifting Story

 

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I bet if Elijah just did this he could lift as much as that Cummings guy. *shifty eyes*

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I almost fell over in my chair when that presentation came out about Cummings. The squiggly brace barpath is insane-o x9000. But it looks like he's sorted that out for the most part now, thank Baby Lifting Jesus. 

Eat. Sleep. High bar squat. | Strength is a skill, refine it.
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Somewhere I got confused.  Elijah?  Cummings?  Did I miss an article somewhere?

 

Did two weeks of work with snatches, overhead squats, clean and jerk, front squats.  Planning work about once a week with something that looks like:

 

Hang Snatch, sets of 3.  Lift.  Halt.  Hang Snatch.  Drop.  (My shoulder is still on vacation.)

 

Overhead Squats, sets of 5 to 10.  Lift.  Halt.  Hang Snatch.  Squats.  Drop.  (Ya, I like how the lift is over as soon as the bar is stabilized overhead in a squat position.   :))

 

Hang Clean and Jerk, sets of 3.  Lift.  Halt.  Hang Clean.  Jerk.  Drop.  (See above for shoulder.)

 

Front Squats, sets of 10.  Lift.  Half.  Hang Clean.  Squats.  (Front squats seem to have so much transfer for me.)

 

Dirty dancing should be added to the warmup.  At the commercial gym, I see one guy doing Olympic lifts and he spends a lot of time with just the bar.  So that looks like something I should be doing as well.  The last time I talked to him, he said it will probably take me a year or so to get the technique down and one day it will just click.

 

I plan to report back in with videos in a couple of weeks.

 

EDIT:

 

 


Finishing with the legs involves forcefully pushing through the floor and keeping everything moving straight up, which is exactly what we want. Being too hip and back dominant at the top of the pull pretty much always leads to the "bar hump" which generally sends the bar somewhere out into space in front which may or may not be savable, depending on the loads and creative acrobatics involved.

 

This makes me think of a couple of months ago when I was trying to get a deadlift form together.  The weight was 102 kg and I had the nasty combination of too much "bar hump" and way too much upward velocity for locking out a deadlift.  I still have no idea how I managed to smash myself.

 

(And therefore I claim the title, "Sam Ashen the Nuts!")

Classless Human Male Warrior - Introduction

Height: 1.77m Weight: 93 kg

Spoiler

 

Current Maxes: (repsxkg)

Squat: 10x122.3, 5x138.2, 3x147; 1x170

Bench Press: 10x79, 5x93, 1x102

Deadlift: 10x152, 5x192, 3x210, 1x229

Overhead Press: 10x52, 5x61, 1x70.3

Current Battle Log: 1707 Sam Ashen Summer Swole Program

2017 Challenges:  1701 1702 1703 1704 1705

Previous Challenges: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 1603 1604 1605 1606 1607 1609  1610 1611 1612

Daily Log:The Daily Grind

Form Check:  Stronglifts Olympic

More FC's:  Pistol Squats

Want to play?  MFPvP

 

 

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Somewhere I got confused. Elijah? Cummings? Did I miss an article somewhere?

Sorry, that was a throwaway joke. J had mentioned arm bending technique, something CJ Cummings (one of the most prominent US youth lifters) is known for. I was just ribbing J about one of his own youth lifters.

Dirty dancing should be added to the warmup. At the commercial gym, I see one guy doing Olympic lifts and he spends a lot of time with just the bar. So that looks like something I should be doing as well. The last time I talked to him, he said it will probably take me a year or so to get the technique down and one day it will just click.

Yep, dirty dancing is an excellent tool in the warmup toolbox. Empty bar drills/warmups are good too.

As to technique just clicking, well...yes and no. I think there's a certain mental click that gets you "in the ballpark", so to speak, but weightlifting technique is something that you basically never stop working on. I don't know anyone (competent) that believes you can really be proficient in just a year.

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Here is where I am at so far.  I did some work with hang snatches.

 

 

He likes audible counts and double counts - something about audible cue.  Say the number.  Remember the cues.  Something like that.  Until it is automatic.  He also hunts and has shooter's ear.

 

And some jerks.

 

 

The grunt on 4 was - I start in rack position and I try to remember to bring the weight back down in a negative press.

 

Is it getting any better?

Classless Human Male Warrior - Introduction

Height: 1.77m Weight: 93 kg

Spoiler

 

Current Maxes: (repsxkg)

Squat: 10x122.3, 5x138.2, 3x147; 1x170

Bench Press: 10x79, 5x93, 1x102

Deadlift: 10x152, 5x192, 3x210, 1x229

Overhead Press: 10x52, 5x61, 1x70.3

Current Battle Log: 1707 Sam Ashen Summer Swole Program

2017 Challenges:  1701 1702 1703 1704 1705

Previous Challenges: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 1603 1604 1605 1606 1607 1609  1610 1611 1612

Daily Log:The Daily Grind

Form Check:  Stronglifts Olympic

More FC's:  Pistol Squats

Want to play?  MFPvP

 

 

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I'm not a fan of the number thing. I don't always watch these vids with the sound on but with your description I knew I was missing something. When I plugged in I immediately got more confused, not really a good sign. Beyond just being confusing it adds another layer of cognition that's only going to slow things down. Now instead of thinking VERTICAL you have to think ok 27.. oh yeah, vertical.. oh wait, lift over. So yeah, I don't know. If that's the horse you've got, ride it, but this is the internet so I'm just armchairing.

 

Lift wise, these aren't bad. I'd still like to see things moving more consistently vertical. Some are good, some are meh. One small thing that might help is trying to recover the bar from overhead in a more vertical path rather than swinging it out front. In addition to saving your legs a little by introducing less mashiness, this will help you groove a more ideal vertical path. To draw another DL analogy imagine how difficult it would be to develop a solid DL if you decided to bump the bar out front and mangle the eccentric after every rep. It might still be possible, but probably a ton harder. Rather ingraining the proper movement/path on the way down helps you build the pattern on the way up - literally learning the pattern backwards and forwards. 

 

So recovering from the overhead snatch position should start more like lowering a press where you lower the bar with the arms keeping the elbows under the bar until around forehead height then reverse the transition and snap the elbows back over the bar and control the descent back to the hip, all the while trying to keep it as close as possible. Sounds like a lot of fuss for simply resetting the bar but as the previous paragraph indicates, there are tangible benefits to small changes like this.

 

The jerks are ok but I'd work on some footwork drills there too. Notably practicing receiving the bar with the back heel elevated and a slight bend in the back knee.

 

Also, I dislike the turf but again, it's better than nothing.

Eat. Sleep. High bar squat. | Strength is a skill, refine it.
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It's been a while since I posted here.  Is it getting any better?

 

5x1x43 kg - Halting Snatch - The last 4 reps were captured on video.

 

Snatches:  (all on video)

1x47.5 kg

1x52.5 kg

1x57 kg

1x61.5 kg - I really do not know the Oly rules, but I had lot of fun stabilizing that weight at the bottom and at the top.  Does any of that get red lights or can you do anything to save that lift?

 

 

Clean and Jerk:

1x70.5 kg

1x79.5 kg

1x84 kg

1x88.5 kg - The last two lifts has a bit of a press-out at the end.  Again.  Not sure how much of a rule issue that is.  It needs a whole bunch of practice.

 

 

Still.  The weight was over my head and it is slightly more than what I weigh.

Classless Human Male Warrior - Introduction

Height: 1.77m Weight: 93 kg

Spoiler

 

Current Maxes: (repsxkg)

Squat: 10x122.3, 5x138.2, 3x147; 1x170

Bench Press: 10x79, 5x93, 1x102

Deadlift: 10x152, 5x192, 3x210, 1x229

Overhead Press: 10x52, 5x61, 1x70.3

Current Battle Log: 1707 Sam Ashen Summer Swole Program

2017 Challenges:  1701 1702 1703 1704 1705

Previous Challenges: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 1603 1604 1605 1606 1607 1609  1610 1611 1612

Daily Log:The Daily Grind

Form Check:  Stronglifts Olympic

More FC's:  Pistol Squats

Want to play?  MFPvP

 

 

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One thing I noticed that was consistent in both lifts is that you tend to tip forward at the catch. Probably because you were already tipping forward prior to the pull because of the hang, or maybe it's an early pull, or maybe something else. I'm more interested in seeing you do the actual lifts instead of the hang variations.

The roll was pretty cool too, showboat heheh!

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My Battle Log: A Weightlifting Story

 

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Love the random gymnastics as well.

 

Biggest thing I saw in both videos is finishing the second pull, when the weight is at the waist.  You don't quite get your hips completely open, so you're losing out on some power.  Try focusing on getting all the way through the second pull and opening the hips. 

 

I agree with Papa about wanting to see the full lifts.  There is a lot that could be fixed/go wrong with the pull from the ground. 

 

Otherwise, it looks like you have great balance and pretty darn good bar path.  :)

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Thanks for checking it out!  Here is something more recent:

 

 
The weight is about 60 kg.  I still halted the clean.  It might take me a few days to come up with some videos of more complete lifts.

Classless Human Male Warrior - Introduction

Height: 1.77m Weight: 93 kg

Spoiler

 

Current Maxes: (repsxkg)

Squat: 10x122.3, 5x138.2, 3x147; 1x170

Bench Press: 10x79, 5x93, 1x102

Deadlift: 10x152, 5x192, 3x210, 1x229

Overhead Press: 10x52, 5x61, 1x70.3

Current Battle Log: 1707 Sam Ashen Summer Swole Program

2017 Challenges:  1701 1702 1703 1704 1705

Previous Challenges: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 1603 1604 1605 1606 1607 1609  1610 1611 1612

Daily Log:The Daily Grind

Form Check:  Stronglifts Olympic

More FC's:  Pistol Squats

Want to play?  MFPvP

 

 

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