So you were not designed by God specifically to break world records in weightlifting. Yes, that is a tough pill to swallow, but it is what it is. So you probably can’t simply max out on the competitive lifts your whole career. You will have to find a way to fix yourself. Your future probably holds various exercises like squats, push presses, and deadlifts or pulls. But look on the bright side, if you are like most people reading this you have two working hands to grip the bar and a body that works well enough to actually do a snatch or clean and jerk. Some people are not so lucky.
But there remains the question, how to make the things we have to so beside snatch and clean and jerk carry over to snatch and clean and jerk as much as possible? As I sit here writing this, I am watching Rachael Davis do push presses. I have told her and told her to separate each rep with a pause on the shoulders. Yet when she gets a little tired and finishing the set is in doubt she still lowers the bar straight into the dip portion of the dip and drive. This makes the set a little easier to finish. For most people anyway. It is not really cheating, and the difference is slight, but there is a difference.
But, for an exercise to carry over, it not only has to work the same muscle or muscle group as the movement you want to affect, it has to use the same movement speed, the same basic force curve, and the same range of motion. The more similar the two movements are, the more the carry over. So if you want your push press to help the jerk, separate each rep with a pause. Make most of your reps fast, as fast or almost as fast as a jerk. Avoid ‘grinding’, or any reps with a noticeable slowing of the bar. Dip to the same depth on every rep.
If you try to do this it still won’t make your push press carry over perfectly to your jerk. But it will make it carry over a hell of a lot more than if you do them sloppy and slow.
An example that is a little more obvious is the deadlift. In the past I have not been a proponent of deadlifts for weightlifters. But after coaching enough lifters with a long torso/short leg body type I have softened by stance. I am still not a big fan of pulls, feeling that the deadlift can be done heavier and at least in theory should lead to faster strength gains. But if you have a strength deficit on the pull and are going to deadlift you sitll need to not only keep the same joint angles as when you do the weightlifting movements, you need to keep the same bar speed when possible. So there should be very few pulls when the bar is just crawling up your leg. When possible, the bar should be moving at roughly the same speed as it does in the snatch or clean. If the start position is the same, and the bar moves at roughly 2 meters per second, there should be a lot of carry over.
In my next blog in this series I will talk about how Caleb Ward made sets of 5 in the back squat as specific to the clean and jerk as possible.