Strong Legs


I have two cool posts for tonight…and a disclaimer.

Firstly, check out this video.  This video is of a 3rd attempt clean at 300# from the Murfreesboro Camp this weekend.  If this is not a case for the need for strong legs then there isn’t one.  This is his third attempt and honestly his best one… which is remarkable considering fatigue.

Why Front Squat?

Also check out this from Coach Pendlay.  Incredible!

“James Tatum, Travis Cooper, and Chris Gute competed at the last chance qualifier for this years Pan Am team this past weekend in Johnson City, Tennessee. We drove down on Saturday afternoon, a nice 3 hour drive through the mountains. After checking into the motel, we drove to the competition venue at East Tennessee State University. We checked weight and everyone was about where they should be, watched about an hour of lifting, located the official weigh-in room and the sauna and headed back to the motel to relax.

The Pan Am qualifier session was set for a 4pm weigh-in on Sunday, so the guys slept in a bit and we left for the venue at about noon.  By then we knew that Travis, who has come into the qualifier as the #1 ranked male could no longer be knocked off the team, so he did not have to compete, or cut the rest of his weight to make weight so Travis and I had lunch while Chris and James did their best to ignore us since they had not eaten anything substantial since Saturday morning.

Both of them got into the sauna about 1pm, with James making his weight by 2:30pm and Chris making weight by about 3pm. We had one little twist at the weigh-in, Chris weighed in fine but apparently James had miscalculated just a bit and weighed in at 77.05kg, and of course needed to be 77.0 or less to compete. So, it was time to throw the sweat suite on and try to break a sweat. Harder than it seems when you have not eaten in 24 hours and have already dehydrated yourself somewhat. Took about 20 minutes of Jogging and some light work with an empty bar to get a sweat going, and he went back to the weigh-in room and made it weighing 76.94kg.

The guys downed a bunch of Pedialyte, then we ran out for some food, and got back to the venue about 5:30 pm, just in time to warm up with the competition starting at 6:00pm. Warm-up went pretty smooth until just about time to compete, then they decided to push the start time back to 6:10pm, which causes James to have to go back down in weight and take his last 3 warm-ups over again which didn’t make me very happy.

When the competition started things went from bad to worse from a warm-up timing perspective for James, as it looked like his opener would be the 3rd or 4th lift, but Chris started out the competition by missing his opener 3 times, each with a 2 minute clock since he was following himself. This caused James who had already basically warmed up twice to have to take another couple of extra warm up attempts. Mike Cerbus was the second lifter, opening at 133kg with James set to follow him at 137kg. Had Mike made his opener James probably would have lifted next, but no, evidently when it rains it pours and Mike missed the 133kg 3 times, again with a 2 minute clock after each one. So, James once again took a couple of extra lifts in the warm up room to stay ready. At this point James was doing more of a full workout than a warm up.

It didn’t seem to bother him though, as he went out and hit 137kg, then 139kg, and finally 141kg like it was his Job. After 9 months of coaching James, I have never seen him miss a snatch in competition. Our original try out competition last summer, the American Open, the Arnold, and now this meet, all 3 for 3 on the snatch. When James snatches in competition he doesn’t just lift the bar, he kicks its ass, takes its lunch money, and leaves it laying in a ditch.

The warm-ups for clean and jerk were even more screwed up than the snatch. James was set to be the third lifter, with his opening lift coming after 4-5 attempts by Chris Gute and Mike Cerbus. About 5 minutes before the clean and jerks started, the competition secretary informed the coaches in the back room that Chris and Mike would not be allowed to clean and jerk because they had bombed out in the snatch. That made James the first lifter, and meant that instead of 15 minutes to prepare, we now had only 5 minutes. So, we really rushed our last warm-ups, and were just about set to go out for his opener when we got another surprise, again at the last minute they decided to delay the lifting by 10 minutes. So once again we had to drop the weight back down and warm up again. And once again, the screwed up warm-ups did not seem to affect James.

His opener was set for 162kg, a weight I was reasonably confident about but a little higher than what would normally be used as an opener given that his all time best in training 1s 166kg, and his all time best in competition is only 163kg. I picked 162kg because that was what we needed for the 303kg total he had to have to put himself on the Pan Am team. James was about as intense as I have ever seen him when he went out to take the weight, and for James that is saying something. He of course smoked it and made the team! I put his second attempt at 165kg, because that would move him ahead of Kevin Cornell and Shane Maier on the ranking list, a mental victory because Kevin is a former teammate, and Shane is currently out #1 superheavy and the person with the biggest total in USA weightlifting. He smoked the 165kg clean and jerk easier than he did his 162 opener, and we moved to 168kg for his final lift. He showed he was actually human there, missing the clean forward.

All in all I have to say mission accomplished after this meet. Our goal was to walk away with 2 of our lifters on the Pan Am team, and for Travis to maintain his #1 ranking. We got both of those things accomplished.”

James Tatum @ Pan Am Qualifying


Disclaimer:  I could care less about grammar and spelling when writing this blog posts… it takes too long to edit them.  Clearly.



5 responses to “Strong Legs

  1. Hey Spencer, I just wanted to say thank you for your blog and all your helpful posts. I do crossfit at home and find your blog (along with others) really helpful. Plus, as a seminary graduate that grew up in the South, I have a certain affinity for your credentials. 🙂

    Keep up the good work.

  2. Commentary is just gold. BTW I downloaded Coach’s eye on your suggestion and it’s pretty cool, wish I could use it for the mac itself rather than just the iphone/ipad. Oh well, thanks for the suggestion regardless.

  3. Hey Spencer, I have a quick question about the speed of squatting. A couple of my friends recently attended the Murfreesboro camp and I, unfortunately did not get to go. Since then I have learned from them that we have not been squatting quickly enough and it hinders our quick drop under the bar for snatching under heavy load. So my question is, when Rudy posts to find a 1rm HBBS, does this mean that we shouldn’t focus purely on how much we can squat but how much can we do while maintaining absolute vertical torso and bouncing out of the bottom? (this being as close to as fast as we can mimic the snatch drop) Sorry if this is a dumb question but my friend went from a 405 squat to 235 and I just wanted to hear it from you. Thank for the info

    • Hey Jon,

      Great question. The squat is an accessory movement to the snatch and clean and jerk. Basically, if you squat and it does not mimic the squat for your snatch and clean then your squatting is of no use. It doesn’t make you better at the lifts to squat different from how your perform the lifts. You can’t think of the squat as its own movement. It is a way to help the Olympic lifts therefore squatting with technique that doesn’t help those lifts makes the squat useless, regardless of how heavy it is. It is better for you to squat less weight but with the technique that allows you to mimic the lifts than to squat heavy weight and waste your time and energy. Does that help?

      • Absolutely! I learned a lot just from hearing what my friends have said and can’t wait until the next tour to get a hands on experience for myself! Thanks for getting back to me and this will help a lot! Your blog helps a lot too. Thanks again!

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