28 Oct The First Pull
Recently I’ve dedicated my training to Olympic weightlifting. Before my long obsession with competitive powerlifting and after I shifted my focus from training for other sports like boxing and my very brief run at bodybuilding, I trained specifically for weightlifting and dedicated my self to learning all there was about the Olympic lifts. While I really enjoyed the competition and complexity of weightlifting, I moved on to powerlifting simply because I got the chance to learn from and train with some very high level powerlifters and didn’t want to throw that opportunity away.
It’s been well over a year since I stopped competitive lifting of any kind. I’ve got the chance to explore other physical challenges and use my body in different ways that I couldn’t when I was an almost 300 pound ball of mass. But a few months ago, I decided to pick up an Eleiko bar again and set out to explore the artistry in moving a heavy barbell from the floor to over my head…aka Olympic weightlifting.
While I kept in touch with the lifts over the years, I definitely wasn’t working towards improving them so when I started focusing on them again it was slow going. Very slow going.
I’ve learned a ton of lessons in the weight room through the struggle to work past pain and resistance and this renewed focus to get my positions back and move fluidly again in the Snatch and Clean and Jerk has taught me something once again. It’s been a struggle, and so it’s been a great lesson in how to approach training and how to approach life.
Fighting Like Hell For Your Position
Any good weightlifting coach or lifter will tell you that the first pull in the lifts must be near perfect if you’re going to have a chance to PR . The bar has to move at the right angle off the floor and you have to keep your posture the same as if you were only lifting 50% of your 1RM. But many times, inexperienced lifters do the opposite and let the weight on the bar change their pull and take them out of a good position.
Practicing the lifts means practicing the first pull. Weightlifters need to be nearly obsessive with the details in their pursuit for perfection, that will always be just beyond their reach. It’s brutal hard work training this first pull and sometimes, no matter how hard you try, everything just seems off when you go to lift the weight.
The artistry involved in breaking the bar from the floor just right and continuing to move around the weight correctly is, to me, an image of other challenges in life. Yanking the weight off the floor as hard as you can with brute strength like you would in a max deadlift won’t do for the Snatch because you won’t be able to pick up velocity during the second pull in a good position. Instead, you have to muster up as much focus, strength, and finesse as possible for this first pull to make sure the bar is in the right place to make the lift.
What about your second step?
As you work towards your goals, you should have this same mindset. Sometimes that first pull, that step to start something seems almost impossible to get right. Doesn’t matter what the goal or project is. Could be business related, personal growth, taking up a new hobby, starting a positive habit, fixing a relationship, whatever.
The motivational writers always talk about the beginning. Doesn’t matter what you do or how you do it, just take a step towards your goal. So they say. There’s definitely power in that. But I think that there comes a point where you need to be more calculated in your approach. Sometimes you have to do your research and set yourself in position for a good second pull, a great second step.
Just like the first pull, your first step toward a goal, an ideal, has to be strong, calculated, focused. It sets you up for a great second step in the right direction. But, no doubt those steps are hard. Sometimes you have to put your head down and grit your teeth to make sure you don’t get pulled out of position just to make sure whatever resistance you’re fighting against in life doesn’t get the best of you.
Grit your teeth and pull like hell.
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