If no assistance exercises at all is the ‘perfect’ training program, why do so many people do so well using assistance exercises for the bulk of their training? Some people try a program with a brief exercise list, do badly, then switch to a program more like the Russian system, with a ton of assistance work, and do much, much better. Why?
The answer is simple. Most people are not genetically ideal for weightlifting. As I sit here writing this blog, I am looking at James Tatum. A very good lifter. But far from a ‘perfect’ lifter. His legs and arms are too long. He is not a very good squatter because of this. Recovering from the clean is very hard for him. Recovering from a heavy clean and having enough energy left to complete a jerk is even harder. On the other hand, with a 160kg (U77) snatch in training during the last training cycle, he is a pretty good snatcher. And he is tough as hell, and sometimes able to pull off lifts that look so hard, they make my teeth hurt to watch. But even so, if I was God and trying to design the ideal olympic weightlifter, it would not be James.
Jared Fleming has done some great lifting here at Muscledriver. He is one of the most exciting lifters to watch. Definitely one of the most exciting that I have ever coached. But his torso is too long. Because of this, the pull off the floor is really, really hard for him. True, once he gets the bar close to his hips he can make some crazy things happen. But the pull off the floor is sometimes so slow I doubt he is ever going to get it to his hips! But in spite of this, he owns the American record snatch in the U94 class.
Travis Cooper has got to be everyones favorite. He is such a nice guy. And that goes way beyond weightlifting. He is genuinely one of the nicest and best people that I have ever known. But his arms don’t lock out quite right. So the lockout on both the snatch and the jerk are always very hard for him. We do a lot of extra work trying to make his lockout as strong as possible. In fact all three of the athletes I mentioned do assistance exercises to help them build up their weak points.
Cooper is always trying to improve his push press, James knows his success or failure as a lifter is going to depend on getting his squat up higher, and Jared does deadlifts, a lot of deadlifts, to improve his bar speed off the floor.
Figure out what your weak point is, and pick assistance exercises to help bring the weak point up. If your parents did not give you the ideal body for weightlifting, build it yourself.