U.S. VS. China: 4 Main Differences by Stephen Powell

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U.S. VS. China

4 main differences taught between U.S. and China.

by Stephen Powell

It is the opinion of well-known coaches in the U.S. that when it comes to training methods, the U.S. largely develops weightlifters using the same training methods as the top weightlifting countries in the world. A closer examination of training programs from Eastern Europe and Asia reveal an emphasis on flexibility and a much wider range of exercises performed for beginner and novice lifters. The purpose of this article is to examine the training methods of China, and how they differ in their training approach than any other country on top. There are 4 distinctions between the training methods of China and the U.S that I will focus on. I have learned these through years of study and conversations with Chinese coaches and lifters. Specifically coach Wu Chuanfu, Jianping Ma (One of my former lifters accepted a scholarship from coach Ma), Kirksman Teo and Lester Ho. I have provided sources for further reading.

1, Where to begin teaching the snatch and clean. U.S. teaches top down method that starts with lifts taught from High hang, Low hang then from floor. Lifts are taught in concepts of phases that focus on the lifts in sequence, 1st pull, 2nd pull, 3rd pull etc. Technical development focuses on strength and power and is largely defined in these terms.

China Teaches proper set-up from floor first. Then pull to knees, pull to hips/extending quads. Lifts are taught with cues that focus on concepts of action. Close. Fast. Low. Technical development focuses on tempo and precision.

U.S. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJclHiC_HbU&index=1&list=WL
China https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDVJx138KTg

2. Teaching the set-up. U.S. emphasizes shoulders slightly in front of bar, hips higher than knees. Lifter should “feel” tension on lower back and glutes. In the USAW, every set up position from the floor is done with shoulders in advance (in front) of the bar. This is changing somewhat in the U.S. to shoulders either in front or slightly above the bar but generally the set-up with shoulders in front is largely taught by USAW coaches..

Here is the typical US Set-Up:

Pic 1

China Set-Up. Shoulders above or sligtly behind the bar. Chest open and locked, hip height varies so lifter should ”feel” the weight on quads. Some lifters hips are higher than knees, other lifters hips are even or lower than knees before lifter begins to pull.

China Set-Up-

Pic 2

Pic 3

3. Training variations for the snatch and clean and general fitness exercises.. U.S. generally combines a variation of both classical exercises (snatch and clean) in each training session. The U.S. isn’t the only country to combine a variation of both lifts in each training session. General fitness exercises such as pull-ups, barbell or dumbbell rows, curls, ab work etc or done 2-3 times a week. 2-3 weeks before a competition assistance exercises are omitted from training.

China separates training of classical exercises for different days.. 3 days a week are solely snatch and snatch variations, same with the Clean & Jerk.

.The main reasons China trains the snatch and clean and jerk on separate days are, it allows lifters to perform a higher volume of reps per week with loadings at 90%. It also allows for quicker recovery physically and mentally. Once a lifter finishes his/her sets in the snatch or clean, they pick a variation of the classical lift that they need in order to improve technique and speed. 4-5 sets of powersnatch or powerclean from blocks, hang or floor are done with weights at 80% or lighter for sets of 2-3 reps. Complexes that combine reps from the floor and hang are commonly used. General fitness exercises are done at the end of evening training sessions for 30 minutes.. Exercises (some of which are scoffed at or ignored all-together by USAW coaches) such as rounded back deadlifts, seated good mornings, close grip upright rows, handstand push-ups, dips, lateral raises, ab work are done to maintain mobility and structural integrity of joints. These exercises are done right up until the competition.

Pic 4

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4. The training of Men and Women. U.S. women train with identical workloads than men. This isn’t exclusively done by the U.S. Many top countries train Men and women with the same volume of reps and distribution of work loads throughout a week of training. During a competition men and women will work up to 90-95% of their opening attempt in the snatch as the last warmup.

Following is an example of a specific warm up for a competitor starting the snatch with a first attempt of 100kg (USAW Level 1 manual).
Movement Weight Repetitions Power snatch 20kg 3 reps Snatch squat 20kg 3 reps Power snatch + snatch 30kg 2 + 2 reps Power snatch + snatch 40kg 1 + 2 reps Snatch 50kg 2 reps Snatch 60kg 2 reps Snatch 70kg 2 reps Snatch 80kg 1 rep Snatch 90kg 1 rep Snatch 95kg 1 rep

China. Women are given higher volumes of reps per training session along with more warm up sets then man and sustain a higher intensity for a longer period of time in a training session. A training cycle for men will be 2 weeks of training at 90% or heavier followed by 4 days of lighter and shorter training sessions. Women will train for 3 weeks with 90% then back off for 7-10 days. During a warmup for a competition, men will work up to their opening attempt in the snatch before taking the same weight on the competition platform Women will often perform their opening attempt for 3 singles in the warmup area before taking it in competition. The Jr. and Sr. womens teams of China for the last 15 years have been the most dominant team in the world with a commanding lead in overall Gold Medal count in Jr and Sr World Championship and Olympic Games.

Cao Lei warming up for Beijing Olympics. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZzpHiDDOJU

My Chinese Weightlifting Experience – Intro, Programming and Theory

Source: Yatin Parasher. “My China Experience:

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