“You have a fear of commitment”
- Aimee Everett
I love to lift. It’s definitely my favorite part of CrossFit, and I’m fortunate to belong to a box that incorporates a lot of lifting into its programming. And I’m even more fortunate that I have a great coach who has taught me a ton of good technique.
But in the quest for me to be the best version of myself as possible, I happened upon the Performance Menu, Greg’s Book on Olympic Weightlifting, and the accompanying DVD, all of which are excellent resources for you to get more awesome at life.
And when Mr. Fitbomb organized a field trip for the CFPA crew to attend the 2-day Olympic Weightlifting Seminar at Catalyst Athletics taught by none other than Greg and Aimee Everett, I knew I had to do it despite an extremely messed up wrist.
The first things you notice about Catalyst isn’t the nice wide-open space or the lifting platforms or how clean it is. No, the first things you notice about Catalyst are Aimee and Greg. They are an incredibly nice and funny and frighteningly strong couple. We spent a good chunk of the first morning working on squatting and flexibility drills, including the infamous “Russian Baby Makers” which are a new favorite of mine. Then we worked a lot of the basics of the snatch: the hook grip, the first pull, mid-thigh hang position, the scarecrow, snatch balance and more. Most of these progressions are covered in the book and the DVD, so it was mostly review for me. At the end of day one, my power snatches were looking great, but I was still having trouble committing to a full-depth squat on my regular snatches. Talking with Aimee, she explained it was a common trait among CrossFitters, because we’re used to WODs where we’re trying to punch out reps quickly, and that I had a “fear of commitment” with going into a full squat. Absolutely spot on, and once I committed, the rest felt better. At the end of day one, I was exhausted, partially because I barely slept the night before, but largely because of the hundreds of squats and snatches we did throughout the day.
Day two was a lot more fun for me. I got a little more sleep, which definitely helped, but also cause we finally got to clean & jerks, something I had yet to try. And did you know that the push jerk and power jerk are not technically the same thing? I didn’t, and I’m a sucker for semantics. Anyway, the split jerk was definitely my favorite move to learn, though the first few times it was incredibly awkward to perform. So how do you decide which foot to use as your forward foot in the split? Stand up and take a walking lunge. Whichever foot you used to perform it, that’s your lead foot. Try the other one out too just to make sure, but Greg boasts that that method works damn near every time.
After the jerk, we spent some time on the clean, which went by quickly since we were already snatch rockstars (that sounds so wrong). Putting it all together felt great; there’s something immensely satisfying about putting overhead all the weight you just cleaned up. My wrist started screaming again before I could go too heavy, but I did set a PR of 60kg on the clean and jerk (mostly cause it was the first time I had done the whole movement). But hey, a PR is a PR, right?
So was the whole weekend worth the price? In retrospect, I would have loved to do it when I wasn’t injured, but I would have missed out on the group discount, which helped out a lot. Overall, I’d say yes it was worth it. I know what to look for now on my lifts and started feeling myself self-correct. Were there some parts of the seminar that could be improved? Yes, especially the feedback portion from the coaches walking around. I know that expert coaches can look at multiple students at the same time, but there were definitely times where there were two or three coaches sitting around one group, while half the room felt ignored. And other times a coach would provide feedback to one lifter in the group and then leave when we switched. My advice would be to have the coaches continually circling, providing feedback to all the members of a group before moving on. We certainly did enough reps for that to happen, and it’s how other seminars I’ve been in are run. That said, when we did get feedback, it was always spot on and led to instant improvement.
“Never go to the bar, make the bar come to you”
So what were my big takeaways?
- Don’t move your body to the bar, make the bar come to you
- Stick that butt out like J. Lo
- Work the progressions
- That Greg and Aimee would make sailors blush
All in all, I had a great time and look forward to the next time I can go learn from those folks again!