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Louie Simmons on Olympic Weightlifting
Early this week, I received a book in the mail. The book was entitled “Olympic Weightlifting Strength Manual” by Louie Simmons. I have to say that I was very excited to read the book causing so much talk amongst my peers in Olympic weightlifting.
Some of you might know that I competed in both weightlifting and powerlifting. My first weightlifting coach was two-time Olympian Wes Barnett. Louie Simmons had the most influence on my powerlifting career. Having competed in both sports gives me a unique advantage for bridging the gap between the two. I have also coached athletes to major success in both sports.
Yesterday, I talked to Louie Simmons via the telephone. We talked about performing a dual seminar where we could possible learn from each other. I believe this to be a great idea. You see I take a very different approach to strength and conditioning than most people. I don’t have a system that is 100% set in place. My system continues to evolve year in and year out. That’s why it’s successful.
My goal is to learn from everyone. Heck if my twelve-year-old Morgan McCullough makes a profound statement, then I will listen. Lately I have learned a lot of new concepts from in-depth discussions with 19-year-old Nathan Damron.
I knew that when I saw Louie’s book in the mail that there would be several things to pick up from the book. It’s unfortunate that other American coaches are so shut down and close-minded to learning new ideas. Who cares that he’s a powerlifting coach? I don’t! I learn new ideas and concepts from strength and conditioning coaches all the time. My good friend Coach Joe Kenn teaches me life lessons regarding coaching all the time.
It’s too bad that other coaches can’t continue learning. It’s their athletes that suffer in the end. For all of the egotistical weightlifting coaches out there here is a bit of advice. Louie Simmons has influenced the strength world more than any other coach in the World. You can walk into any strength and conditioning facility in America and find at least one thing that was influenced by Louie. Thousands of collegiate and pro strength coaches all throughout the world use his methods to make athletes bigger, faster, and stronger. Coach Watts (Head of Education at Elite FTS) and Coach Joe Kenn (Head Strength Coach at the Carolina Panthers) are both heavily influenced by Louie. Why is Olympic weightlifting so prideful that we can’t learn? You’re telling me that we are better than the NFL? We know more than their strength coaches?
Look I am not saying that everything he says is golden. I am just saying that we can learn from him. I read the first ten pages of the book, and I have already picked up some good nuggets. I know that a lot of you are going to try and tear me apart for being positive about Louie’s book. However, if my team is already beating you after only three years into the sport, I would be careful. But then again do what you want. Here we go:
1. Variations of the Lifts: Now here is where I don’t think that he is 100% right, but he is on the right track. I am not into box squats because I am more interested in the position of the squat during the catch of the clean or snatch. However, I am definitely into the conjugate method just not quite as extreme. Here are some of our variations:
• Clean or Snatch Paused at knee
• Clean or Snatch paused 2 inches off of floor
• Front Squat
• Back Squat
• Wide Goodmornings
• Unilateral RDLs
• Power Clean
• Power Snatch
• Clean or snatch from high blocks
• Clean or snatch from medium blocks
• Clean or snatch from low blocks
• OH Squats
• Snatch balance
• Power clean or snatch from high blocks
• Power clean or snatch from medium blocks
• Power clean or snatch from low blocks
• Rep maxes with a rep count of 1-5
• Paused squats with a 1-10 second count
• Paused front squats with a 1-10 second count
• Snatch pulls
• Clean Pulls
• High pulls
• Pulls from blocks
• Kang Squats
• Reverse Hypers
• BB Hip Extensions
• Concentric squats from pins
• Concentric front squats from pins
I could easily go on forever with the only difference is that I don’t sway too far from the full depth squats or classical lifts. The list above could be used to configure hundreds of variations to make sure that training never plateaus. I do believe that American coaches are too complacent with their athletes that are plateauing for great lengths of time. I don’t believe that this should ever happen. You need to either get them stronger, switch things up, or move up a weight class.
2. Attacking weaknesses with special exercises- Louie is totally right in my opinion. A lot of coaches will try to alter technique over and over to fix movement issues. However a lot of the time their athletes aren’t able to hold positions due to a weakness. Using special exercises to strengthen positions is a great idea that a few weightlifting coaches are already using.
Look I am not saying that all American coaches are getting it wrong. I am one of you. I know a lot of coaches in America, and there are a lot of great coaches. My friends Greg Everett and Spencer Arnold are crushing things. My partners in coaching Don McCauley and Chris Wilkes are obviously killing it.
I am just saying that his ideas to strengthen weaknesses are right on, and this is where I want to learn the most from him. That man has machines and bars that I have never seen before. Do you think that I am going to shrug them off because I don’t know what they are? Heck no! I am going to learn all about them. If they can help my team, you better believe that I am going to use them.
I know that he has some awesome machines for building the strength of the torso, hamstrings, erectors, and upper back. I can’t wait to find out more. Think about it! If I can increase the lifts of my lifters 1-2%, then I have increased their totals a minimum for 3-5 kilos. That’s the difference in winning and losing during this era of weightlifting.
3. Recruiting Younger Athletes- He talks about recruiting athletes before the age of 13-years-old. He talks about University programs to entice the athletes. I believe that we all agree on these points. The problem is how to we go about it? We need to form groups that go around to schools and communities giving athletic tests to young athletes to identify potential weightlifters.
Once we identify them, we need to have benefits in place to offer them reasons to begin the sport. We need University Programs, financial benefits, and facilities that offer everything an athlete could need to succeed. Only the Lord knows how hard I am trying to do this very thing.
I want the same thing that Louie and a lot of other strength coaches want for weightlifting in America. I want to make it successful too. I just need partners that are willing to help. I can’t do it on my own. Thank God for people like Jay Sharpe that are helping financially, and Jay is trying coordinate Team Mash Elite with other foundations and individuals willing to help the cause.
A lot of people in America have talked about the lack of success in weightlifting. Not many people want to put their money and/or time where their mouth is. I won’t stop until I have helped change the sport of weightlifting forever. We’ve already partnered with another company that I can’t mention for various reasons. We are also working with a supplement company and a barbell company for sponsorship. It will happen.
We are still looking for partners in the following ways:
• Become a Mash Affiliate (email firstname.lastname@example.org for more informations)
• Financial Partner
• Identifying foundations and individuals that might be a good fit
• Help with grant writing
• Administrative assistants
Together we will help change American Weightlifting. My passion for change is the very reason that I read books like Louie’s with an open-mind. There has to be a better way. I am not going to use the drug issue as an excuse to continue failing. This is America. Our other sports are succeeding drug free, and so can we.
If you are interested in partnering, email me at: Travis.Mash@mashelite.com
Let’s team up! We need to quit fighting with each other. Instead we need to put our heads together, and get this thing done. I am going to continue reading Louie’s book, and hopefully I will give you different insights than other coaches. Guys and gals always look for the nuggets in things. If you look closely, they are always there.