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Tag Archive: weightlifting

  1. Weight training for women: Lessons from 1957


    “Continuity of exercise is most essential”

    health and strength magazineThe 1950s were the age of physical culture. Jack Lalanne was doing his TV show and “Health and Strength” magazine offered a monthly look at different aspects of training.

    This April 1957 edition includes an excellent article on Weight Training for Women by A.J. Mannix who was the Chief Instructor of Camberwell Ladies’ Weight-Training Section.

    The article looks at five leg exercises that use a dumbbell, a barbell and a chair as equipment. They require balance and co-ordination as well as strength.

    He managed to write the whole article without the word “functional”!

    “It is true of all forms of exercise that regularity gets the results in the long run”. Mannix emphasises quality of technique, as well as coaching points and motivation for the women readers.

    A well written article without gimmicks, fads or “groundbreaking” sport science. Unfashionable nowadays, but sound advice that I try and implement. (You can download our free ebook for women here).

    Prevention is better than Cure

    I got the magazine for its article on weight training for women, but it contained some excellent other articles. The clue is in the title: Health is prominent.

    “Every effort should be made primarily to train our youth so that it takes a keen interest in health; to make it become as fit as possible in the organic sense.” says Capt Knowles principle of “The Institute of Breathing.”

    Coming in the week of the leaked Ofsted report on P.E. in schools, this is the type of education that is needed in schools. Competitive sport is different from Physical Education (as I have discussed here).

    gymnastics triple rollAn article on tumbling and amateur acrobatics by Ken Woodward (Principle of the Woodward School of Physical Culture) shows what has been lost in the last 60 years.

    I am a firm believer in the old saying that in order to get the best out of exercise, one must thoroughly enjoy it.”

    You can see the boys from an Air Cadet force trying the gymnastics triple roll. This requires strength, co -ordination, balance, team work, trust and it is fun!

    Woodward managed to write the whole article without mentioning the word “core”. I can tell you that the athletes I work with (young and old) enjoy this type of training immensely, once they have got the tools. He offers variations and progressions on these tumbling exercises that can be done on simple mats in schools or clubs.

    Basic gymnastics is an important skill, that is why we incorporate that in our Athletic Development programmes and warm ups (read how here).

    Or, you could line your players up, get them to do the plank for endless minutes, tell them to “engage your core” and then bemoan the fact that girls are disinterested in physical training.

    “Chest Size is not important”

    Says Don Doran in an article about the need for an increase in lung capacity. “The size of a man’s chest does not always give a correct sign of its usefulness or efficiency”.  He stresses the need for a “natural action” in exercises.

    Doran then emphasises the need for health first, strength training second. This connection between health, fitness and performance seems to have been forgotten. This was an article written for bodybuilders, an activity I have little time for, but it contained a lot of common sense and sound coaching advice within it.

    John McCallum’s “Keys to Progress” offers further practical advice on pure strength training from this era. Further reading on 1950s strongman training here.

    What now?

    weightlifting for women

    Excelsior female athlete

    I was inspired and frustrated reading this magazine. Where the heck are the Schools of Physical Culture and Institutes of Breathing nowadays? Our Universities are advocating Crossfit and kettlebell training instead of sound programming and development in order to cater to fashion and sell places.

    Physical Education and Athletic Development have many similar aspects. Without a sound health basis, physical literacy and role models in school teachers and parents, our children will never become engaged in fitness.

    Competitive sport is now the universal panacea according to the politicians. I am working hard in conjunction with fellow coaches to try and educate the next generation of athletes and future coaches through our Athletic Development Club. I hope that you can be part of it.

    Further reading: Weight Training for Women A modern female perspective. You can come and train with us if you are interested in weight lifting exercises for women.

  2. How to Get Stronger: Learning from the Strongest.


    How Strong is Strong Enough?

    How much strength training should I do?” is a question I am often asked, or more likely “Why should I lift weights?” But these questions have been around for some time as the following Old School strength gurus like Dave Prowse of Star Wars fame will tell you.

    Our regular readers and athletes will know the approach we take working on all aspects of the Strength Spectrum, but in different degrees according to age, stage and sport.

    I recently met Tony Caldwell, and ex Powerlifter on a Level 1 S&C course I was running. He had some interesting thoughts and stories on his past and that of his peers. I thought it would be interesting to share some of his thoughts.

    We have some shared history as we both trained at the Crystal Palace Weightlifting Centre in our careers (him some time before I was born!).

    Tony Caldwell Training Background

    My own career is fairly unremarkable really but here goes! I played rugby both union and league at school and local club level as I grew up in Yorkshire.

    darth vader

    Dave Prowse

    Around 1966 after moving to Surrey with my parents I started training at the Crystal Palace National Recreation Centre under the tutelage of Dave Prowse who at that time was British Heavyweight Olympic Lifting Champion.

    He later went on to fame and fortune as Darth Vader. The objective was to gain some strength & size to aid me in rugby.

    The workouts revolved around about 6 basic compound exercises including some Olympic lifting such as clean & press, power cleans & jerks.

    At that time the overhead press was one the Olympic lifts but was dropped sometime around the late 60s as it became difficult to referee (a bit like the scrum now!)

    In 9 months I gained from 9stone 7lbs to 11 stone using this routine 3 times per week and basically eating anything that didn’t bite back.

    I would use this approach even now for someone who really needed to gain size and strength.

    Over the years some of my best gym poundages were 330lb bench press, 400lb dead lift and 415lb squat. In competition these were somewhat less 285, 380 and 365 respectively at a body weight of just under 13 stone. I only competed at local level and also dabbled in some bodybuilding competition, although I never liked the extreme dieting and was not willing to take the steroid route.

    Old School Strength Training Methods

    As a Powerlifter, I used some of the methods advocated by these legends over the years.

    Bill Pearl. A 4 time Mr. Universe winner who during the 1960s planned and delivered the fitness training for NASA astronauts and who also has a background in wrestling.

    Pearl is 80 yrs old now but is still in great shape training every day. His website contains much information including a complete free course entitled 20 months to a championship physique.

    His teaching is very much aimed at bodybuilders & people who just want to improve their appearance therefore is fairly high volume and time consuming. The routines are well explained however and are useful for the very good exercise illustrations.

    Old school strength

    Bill Starr

    Bill Starr.  He was a USA national Olympic lifting champion in the 1960s and was probably the first S&C coach in the NFL when he joined Baltimore Colts around 1970. I believe he was also fitness coach for Washington State University football around this time.

    He developed the 5×5 system whereby he utilised what he called the “Big 3” namely power clean, bench press and squat and had his athletes working with heavy weights on a 5 sets of 5 reps routine.

    He would also change things around occasionally and use exercises such as rows and incline & overhead press.  He also wrote a book called “The Strongest Shall Survive” Read Starr’s Starting Strength Article here

    old school strength training

    Reg Park

    Reg Park. Park used a 5×5 system in the 1950s before Starr developed his own and I think you can still purchase his course. He was a 3 time Mr. Universe winner and one of the strongest bodybuilders ever with lifts such as 500lb bench press 600lb squat and incredibly 300lb press behind neck.

    This was pure old school strength as Park had no background in Olympic lifting. There is a website but sadly Reg passed away about 3 years ago at the age of 79 as a result of skin cancer. (Old bodybuilders spent their whole lives in the sun!)

    HIT Training.  At the other end of the spectrum is High Intensity Training or HIT.  Basically this is the complete polar opposite of what Pearl recommends and refers to the performance of 1 or at the most 2 sets taken to complete failure. This after warm ups.

    Generally the exercises used are heavy multi joint exercises such as squats, leg presses for legs benches & inclines for chest overhead presses for shoulders etc etc.

    Rest periods are short and for this reason most advocates of this type of training do not include any aerobic training as they feel that this makes inroads into the recovery system when the workouts themselves are extremely taxing on the central nervous system. Workouts are brief (usually less than 30 minutes) and infrequent (2 per week average)

    Proponents of this are people such as Arthur Jones (Nautilus) Mike Mentzer, Ellington Darden and Dorian Yates. The system first surfaced in the 1970s, is quite controversial and does generate a lot of discussion.

    Tony Caldwell (Old school strength coach)

    (Strength training tips from Strongman Glenn Ross here)

    See our Get Stronger programme here

  3. Excelsior ADC Club Update December 2017

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    Merry Christmas to all our club members

    weightlifting coaching devon

    Our new assistant coaches

    Thanks to all our athletes, parents, volunteers and suppliers for a great 2017. A lot has happened over the last year, and more is planned for 2018.  Here is a summary and update for January 2018.

    Please share with family and friends, you never know who might want to take up a new activity in January, or help at the club in some form. We couldn’t have foreseen our 4 level 1 weight lifting coaches a year ago!

    As Head Coach I shall continue to strive to improve what we do as a club and my own coaching. In 2o17 this included:

    • Level 2 weightlifting coaching qualification
    • Became a weightlifting coach tutor
    • coaching course devon

      James presenting

      Completed the Damien Walters movement course (Parkour)

    • Attended and presented at the DAASM (German Academy of Applied Sport Science) conference in Cologne.
    • Attended and ran practical workshop at GAIN conference in Houston.
    • Attend weekly Adult Gym sessions at Orchard gymnastics to improve my practical knowledge.
    • Completed the Level 3 Gymnastics Somersault module.

    These experiences and sharing ideas and asking questions of World Class coaches are invaluable in shaping how and what I coach for our club members.


    Training and competing in the Summer seems a long way off.

    athletics club willand

    Pre race warm up

    Every athlete competed at some point and in more than one event. This avoids early specialisation and gives everyone the opportunity to run, jump and throw.

    It was nice to start running sessions at Willand school too and see those pupils become club members.

    Thanks to Cullompton Community College (CCC), we could practice our long jumps and discus throws safely. Thanks to Sainsbury’s vouchers donations we bought new javelins, discus, and hurdles.

    Winter Athletics has moved from monthly to weekly due to demand. We now run 2 sessions a week and the new members have really liked being taught how to move properly.


    gymnastics wellington

    Grace, Amelia, George 50th caps

    After last year’s expansion of classes and move to the excellent Willand Village Hall, this year saw a focus on expanding the Freestyle Gymnastics and improving the class design. Our Summer display was the best yet, and it all came from the design of the gymnasts themselves.

    Thanks to fund raising efforts, we have bought even more equipment: a “rockin robin” tumble trainer, a junior springboard, a round off mat and an extra landing mat. All of these are used weekly.

    In September I took Flora, Grace and Jack to the somersaults and aerials workshop. We now have several gymnasts who can do front or side somersaults. It is just as pleasing to see our new intake mastering the forward rolls, thanks to Harry Washington for helping with this group.

    We now have a waiting list in Willand, but unfortunately we still seem unable to gain more members in Wellington, especially in the Free G (Parkour) class. If you know anyone who would like to take part, please let me know.


    weightlifting devon

    Love to lift at CCC

    A big year for the weightlifting section thanks to the Sport England grant.

    • New competition equipment
    • 4 new assistant coaches
    • Love to Lift” outreach sessions at CCC
    • Beginner daytime sessions for Ladies (19 tried it out).

    have all been completed.

    Zara and James both represented the club at weightlifting competitions in the South West, Zara finished 4th in the Bristol Open.

    We have more “Love to Lift” sessions that are running in January, so if you know any females who want to try the sport, please let me know.

    weightlifting competition devon

    Zara competing

    The main comment was “It looks so easy, but it’s really hard“! As you can see from the picture above, it isn’t all about heavy weight, it is about speed, co-ordination, mobility and no small amount of courage.

    We held three p.b. nights over the year and will host our next club competition in February 2018.


    A lot has happened, sorry to see some members leave, but delighted to welcome a lot of new ones. I hope everyone enjoys their Christmas break and look forward to coaching you all in 2018.

  4. Excelsior ADC Club Update September 2017


    Autumn Term means new beginnings

    gymnastics wellington

    Gymnasts receiving funds

    School term has resumed which means the end of Summer Athletics and the resumption of gymnastics and weightlifting in Willand and Wellington. Here is a brief synopsis of what is happening.

    Fundraising: we have been short listed from over 700 applicants for the Skipton Grassroots Giving Campaign. In order to gain £500 for the club to buy equipment, please vote here. Every vote counts, so thank you.

    We were also kindly given £450 from Viridor for equipment and £240 from Willand United Charities to subsidise our uniforms.


    Summer training and competition has finished now. The last event was the Exeter Open where we had several personal bests in hurdles, sprints, javelin and 1200m. No long jumpers this time due to conflicting events. Archie Ware won both his events but got listed as an Exeter Harrier by mistake!

    Winter training will resume in October and will consist of technical work and physical preparation for next spring.



    3 of our weightlifters

    Sessions have started back this week after a quiet Summer. We have spaces available on Monday nights for anyone aged 13+ who wishes to learn a new activity and be physically and mentally challenged. Other times are available, including two day time slots. Full details on our weightlifting page.

    Four of our members will be doing their Level 1 coaching course starting in 2 weeks’ time in Willand. Topsy, Sarah, Laura and Zara will then be able to help James coach in the upcoming funded “Love to Lift” sessions which will start in October.


    We ran a volunteer workshop last Friday for the new and existing volunteers who help out at the club. This gives everyone an idea on basic handling, safety and an introduction to good coaching practice. We looked at handstands,  headstands and some beam work.

    gymnastics wellington

    End of a busy day somersaulting

    These workshops are designed to help improve what we do and give confidence to parents that they can get involved and help out.  We have a good mix of parents and Duke of Edinburgh volunteers, without whom we would be unable to operate.

    James attended his first Level 3 technical module in Honiton on Sunday with 3 of our gymnasts. The syllabus included: front, back and side somersaults, with aerials and aerial walkovers.

    We will be able to work towards these skills with our more accomplished gymnasts.

    We have vacancies in Freestyle Gymnastics in Wellington and Willand and still have some spaces left in our Primary gymnastics class in Wellington. All details are on our gymnastics club page

    Thanks to everyone for supporting the club, we are looking forward to improving everything we do to create the best environment for our athletes and coaches.

    We are looking to recruit a new Welfare Officer. If you know anyone who might want to take on this important, (but low workload) role to help the club, please let James know. Would suit a retired person who is willing to attend a 3 hour course (paid for by the club) and have a DBS check.

  5. Olympic Weight lifting Tips


    Learning from a WeightLifter

    Coomonwealth medallist Neil Taylor gives some tips on hot coach the Olympic lifts. Neil has recently been appointed as Performance Manager for South Wales with Welsh Weightlifting. I know Neil from our days working together at the RFU. Here are his tips.

    I have been performing the Olympic lifts since the age of 11. My coach at the time kept it simple, didn’t over complicate the movement and allowed for errors early on. Here are some of my Olympic Weightlifting tips.

    With his expertise he helped me lift MY way and not the way the books said. 30 years down the line I have watched those lifts turn into a menu of biomechanical myths and mind numbing terminology.


    power snatchIn my opinion it is always easier to teach the Power Snatch first, the pulling phase is the same as the Power Clean and the lift a little less problematic. (Becky Brown in pic).

    • Demonstrate the lift without a verbal description then ask athlete to perform the lift and observe their interpretation of that lift, they may be near perfect, they may be not, treat each one on how THEY lift
    • At the start position instruct your athlete to push the chest out and through whilst pulling the bar off the floor this will encourage correct lifting posture with the back being slightly in extension
    • Depending on your athletes’ training age you may wish to break the lift down into stages.  Start with the first pull by deadlifting the bar to the waist position and returning it back to the floor, encourage the athlete to push their chest through to retain good posture.
    Olympic weightlifting tips

    Clean Pull

    Repeat this until your comfortable with what you see, be patient

    • Once confident with the first pull,  move to the high pull.  It is important at this point for your athlete to work on pushing the hips forward and extend up on to the toes. (James Marshall in pic).

    One coaching tip you may wish to use here is to pull the bar up to chest height rubbing finely against the navel area, this will encourage the athlete to keep the bar close to their body

    • Move on to the full lift when you feel the athlete has mastered the above and never be afraid to revisit the basics.
    • A great tool to use is the video camera but be aware of gaining consent from the parents or guardians of your athletes should they be under 18 years old
    • Compliment the athlete on their good lifting points as it is important to finish lifting on a feel good note, people deal too much with the negative, with what is wrong.

    Try and see positive things, to just touch those things and make them bloom.

    Neil Taylor: Commonwealth games medallist. RFU Weightlifting Coach.

    If you like this, then

  6. Excelsior ADC awarded Sport England Grant


    Excelsior ADC awarded £8756 from Sport England

    weightlfting devonI am delighted to announce that we have been successful in our application to Sport England’s small grants programme. The money will be used to develop the Weightlifting section of our club.

    The grant we will be used in 3 main parts:

    1. Equipment: we shall be buying Eleiko competition bar and plates, a new floor and some technical bars for beginner lifters.
    2. Coach development: it is important to develop coaches from within the club. We shall be sending some of our existing lifters on the British Weightlifting (BWL) level 1 assistant coaches qualification. This is a great opportunity for the young people of Mid Devon to gain a coaching qualification.
    3. Running new sessions for women during the day time in Willand, as part of a programme of helping females get fit and trying a new activity. This will be done in 2 seperate blocks to give as many people as possible the opportunity to try the sport.
    weightlfting somerset

    Young weightlifter

    This project will run alongside our existing evening Weightlifting sessions which run in Willand. Our club is the only licensed Weightlifting club in the South West (outside of Bristol). We accomodate people who want to get fit for their sport (Golf, rugby, hockey and football are the most common) as well as those who want to compete in Weightlifting.

    If you would like to take part in the upcoming Weightlifting sessions, please register your interest with Head Coach James Marshall . No experience is necessary, but being generally healthy is a prerequisite as the sport requires movement.

    This application took a long time to prepare and submit, a big thanks to Chris Brown (one of our lifters) for his efforts in helping.

    Getting Willand healthy and fit

    fitness class devon

    Willand play kit

    Last year we raised and secured £12,171.93 which was mainly used for our gymnastics club  equipment with some going to weightlifting and athletics kit.

    This meant we could expand what we were offering and move into the bigger Village Hall. We also offer a satellite gymnastics club in Wellington, Somerset, 10 miles away.

    I also worked with Willand Parish Council in advising on play equipment for the village. We chose bars and obstacles courses that allow children and adults to play and explore, rather than sit! They spent £20,000 and the kit is well used and is available to all.

    That means in the last 18 months Willand has had over £40,000 invested into it’s physical activity and sporting infrastructure!

    Willand was a sporting hub 100 years ago (read here ) it is on it’s way to becoming so again.

    Hopefully this will make a difference to the long term health of our local population. All we need now are some decent cycle paths in the Culm Valley and we will really see a difference.

    If you would like to take part in weightlifting, athletics or gymnastics in Mid Devon, please come along.

  7. Athletic Development Club Update November 2016

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    grassroots giving

    Thanks Skipton

    Skipton Grassroots Giving Winners!

    Thanks to everyone who voted for our club in the Skipton Grassroots Giving Campaign. We were one of 700 clubs shortlisted, and thanks to your votes we were one of the 163 organisations that will receive £500.

    Read on to see how we are spending your fundraising efforts and what is happening in the Club for the rest of the year. This includes all the relevant information, dates and times for events for weightlifting, athletics and gymnastics.

    Can I please ask everyone who hasn’t already to sign up for easyfundraising ahead of Christmas? It really is easy and FREE and helps us buy more equipment for all the athletes. Don’t leave it for someone else to do.


    Our lifters are preparing for the Graham Cooper Memorial competition in December. We have got 16 people lifting in each week, evcenly split between men and women.

    weightlifting somerset

    Spooky coach

    weight lifting devon

    The lifters

    We have bought a new chalk bowl stand and extra safety collars from our easyfundraising totals. Thanks everyone who is doing easyfundraising.

    We also held our Halloween Weightlifting session for the first time. Hard to tell who was wearing the make up!


    Winter training started last week. We are doing Structural Integrity work in the gym on the first Thursday of the month, with some sprints and jumps. We are working on sprints, throws and middle distance on the first Saturday of the month.

    athletics club devon

    Recovery in the sun

    This is in preparation for competing next Summer. We were lucky with the weather last week. Ages 10-18.


    The Freestyle Gym (FreeG) has taken off nicely at both our Willand and Wellington venues. We currently have 61 members between the 2 venues!

    We shall be increasing the number of sessions to 3 per month at Willand starting in January. Our last one this year in Willand is on 22nd November.

    Thanks to the parents and volunteers who have answered our call for help. Without you the Club simply wouldn’t run.

    gymnastics club cullompton

    Good for flic flacs

    Holly Walker and Laura Lane spent a day at half term on the coaching core proficiency course. Together with Tom Trowbridge and Kristy Popplestone at Wellington, they will be using the new resources we have bought to help make the sessions more structured with less queueing. (That is £200 of funding well used).

    The Skipton Grassroots funding will be used to buy this Tracks 2000 folding wedge It is a handy piece of equipment which doubles as a big block we can use in FreeG and for supporting gymnasts.

    End of term open sessions:

    On Tuesday 6th December we will be holding an open session in Willand for parents, friends and relatives to come and watch what happens in class. We shall be holding a raffle and have refreshments for sale  (Louise Sherman and Sarah Marshall hosting) which will help raise funds for the club.

    On Wednesday 7th December we will be doing the same in Wellington (minus the refreshments). This is your chance to see your child in action and support the club.

    Raffle prizes so far include: Red wine; set of Trolley bags; £10 voucher from Jazzys World Food in Tiverton; bottle of champagne; Dermologica mini-facial voucher. Any more donations would be appreciated (Ella Partridge and Georgina Nicol will be co-ordinating in Willand, need someone in Wellington).

    Finally we have been invited to attend a Gymnastics camp on Tuesday 20th December at Gemini Gymnastics  (13.5 miles from Cribbs Causeway) in Clifton. The cost for the day is only £25. It will consist of games, gymnastics and an opportunity to use all their fantastic kit, including their new FreeG “urban” area.

    I need to let their Head Coach know numbers by next week, so please let me know if you are interested in going. Transport will be required, but I can help coordinate lift shares. This is an exclusive invite.


  8. Bad Science

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    High pulls vs cleans

    High pulls

    Triple extension in the high pulls

    I was asked on Tuesday by an athlete who is quite new to weight lifting why I would teach cleans which are quite complex, if high pulls also work the triple extension.
    The answer is that I have got a lot of time with this athlete, so can afford to work on his technique without sacrificing his work that will lead to strength and power development. The clean will then enable him to perform the jerks without using a rack.

    But, the question is an excellent one, and should be asked by Coaches before they do any exercise or series of techniques, instead of doing something because everyone else is doing it.

    • Some National Governing Bodies specifically want cleans coached – why? If time is limited, then
    • dumbbell cleans
    •  jump squats
    • wave squats
    •  high pulls

    are all useful alternatives for developing power.

    Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science column in The Guardian is a good read and is an example of how to examine wild claims and pseudo science. This type of objectivity is uncommon in a lot of Coaching practice.

    It is especially interesting to read how the over complication of diet has led to a new brand of celebrity nutritionists who are being discredited due to their lack of scientific underpinning.

    I keep telling coaches and athletes that they should look at what they are trying to achieve, and find tools that do that job most efficiently.

    However, many people become attached to the “magic exercise” or “magic food” and then reverse engineer its usefulness to match the aims.

    Further reading:

  9. Weightlifting books review

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    What are the best books to read about Olympic Weightlifting?

    It depends on whether you are a lifter or a coach, and whether you are new or experienced. It might be that you are just interested to learn about the sport. You might be looking for technical information, or for a programme to follow.Here are 6 books I have recently read and used to some degree, it might help you choose.

    Skilful Weightlifting: John Lear. Paperback £7.95

    skilful weightlifting review I got this book from my coach Keith Morgan back in 2002 and I still refer to it now. The book starts off with a brief summary of the rules, what kit might be needed and then a section on biomechanics.

    It has very clear instructions on how to perform the lifts, with cues for each part of them. It gives advice for coaches on how to manage beginner lifters and what are the key areas to look out for.

    There are clear diagrams and pictures throughout, which I find useful to show to my lifters (who are amused by the old school outfits). After the technical section, there is information on assistance exercises and how to fit them into your programme.

    There is a section on programmes for 16-18 year olds, more advanced lifters and also a 5 day a week programme for those who are unable to lift twice a day! This is clear information, set out in loads and sometimes %s. I would say that the youth programme lacks variation, which may be necessary to keep them interested and also to expose them to different aspects of the lifting.

    However, this is a very good book, easy to read, contains enough relevant information, a great place to start.

    Olympic Style Weightlifting for the Beginner and Intermediate Weightlifter: Jim Schmitz paperback $16:95

    Jim schmitz weightlifting bookThis is basically a set of programmes for 1 year of training for those new to weightlifting, or returning from a lay off. The book’s strengths are its description of the assistance exercises and how the programme is laid out.

    It is designed around a 3 days a week programme, with each week being on one A4 page which is easy to follow in practice. This does mean that some of the sessions are quite long: over 90 minutes, so be prepared to spend some longer sessions in the gym.

    It starts off with very simple programmes for the first 8 weeks, then progresses to the more varied programme which introduces different assistant exercises as well as increasing the load. In total there are 66 different exercises used.

    The technical information is limited to a few paragraphs on the major lifts and the quality of the photos is poor. The layout of the book is functional to put it nicely, but is basically photocopied sheets bound together.

    This book is best for those who have an existing technical understanding of the lifts, but want some idea of how to plan their year. It does that well.

    The Weightlifting Book; Tamas Feher pdf £29.95

    James doing split jerk

    James doing split jerk

    This is a very technical book and covers more than just weightlifting. It looks at the overall coaching process as well as talent identification for WL. The book starts with a detailed information on training methods, anatomy and physiology and then training processes.

    It then moves to an in depth analysis of the major lifts and their variations. This includes foot positions, hip and back angles and descriptions of how the different muscles are working at each phase. The accompanying pictures are clear, but very small.

    The next section is about strength development, followed by planning of loads and intensity, then overtraining and how to avoid it. These are well written and in depth. The sections on technical coaching for beginners, coaching philosophy and implementation are excellent.

    The training planning and training programmes are more difficult to read. Feher is Hungarian, and they use a system where numbers replace the names of the exercises. This results in the programme looking like this:weightlifting books review

    In a normal book, it might be ok to flick backwards and forwards to see what you are doing, but in a pdf it is just too laborious. The pdf format is the downfall of this book: I avoid screen time when not working, and carrying my laptop around in the gym is precarious. The other books I can just pull off a shelf and put in my bag, or keep them in the gym for reference. This one is strictly reference only.

    There is a dedicated section on coaching females, and another one on the role of the coach. Both of these contain very useful information and philosophies. I am unable to comment on the efficacy of the programmes (Still waiting for Bletchley Park to crack the codes), but the detail of the information around them is excellent.

    This book is strictly for coaches only.

    Preparing for Competition Weightlifting: David Webster Paperback 1 penny.

    best weightlifting bookThis book is from 1986 by the then Scottish Coach. It has some useful technical points, with good illustrations in the opening section. This is the only place that I have seen a weightlifting coach advise that the double knee bend should be coached specifically. Every other WL coach I have met, trained with or read has said avoid doing that (the UKSCA offers a different opinion, but they are not weightlifters).

    Webster offers some useful insights into Eastern European and Soviet training methodologies: remember this was written before the fall of the Iron Curtain and YouTube. He also looks at annual planning and preparation. He borrows heavily from his friend John Jesse (Wrestling Physical Conditioning Encyclopedia) and so circuit based training and interval runs feature prominently.

    At 1 penny, how can you complain? But this book was strictly one of curiosity and historical context with a few useful points.

    Weightlifting Programming A Winning Coach’s Guide: Bob Takano Paperback £20.92

    Bob takano weightlfting book review(Thanks to Topsy Turner for the loan).

    A well written, well laid out book which makes a huge difference to this reader’s experience. Takano offers a unique perspective at the beginning, looking at the Human Body and training systems from a Biology teacher’s viewpoint.

    There is almost no technical information on the lifts in this book. Instead it concentrates on how to develop programmes for different categories of lifters and explains the underlying rationale. The categories are:

    • Class 3 (85kg lifter Total 170kg)
    • Class 2 (85kg lifter Total 195kg)
    • Class 1 (85kg lifter Total 225kg)
    • Candidate for Master of Sport (85kg lifter Total 255kg)
    • Master of Sport (85kg lifter Total 295kg)
    • International Master of Sport (85kg lifter Total 365kg)

    The 85kg male lifter gives you an idea of how the classes progress. Takano then devotes a chapter to the programming of each class, followed by a 20 week sample programme from his club athletes. This is very well laid out, easy to follow and well explained. I am unable to verify the efficacy of these programmes, having only class 3 lifters at our Weightlifting Club at present. But, I do like how the categories are sub-divided beyond beginner, intermediate and advanced.

    The chapter on regeneration is insightful, categorising the different types of restorative methods available. I think Tom Kurz in “Science of sports training” is the other book that covers this well. The nutrition section is very short and lacking in helpful real information, talking about macronutrients, rather than food.

    The book finishes on the role of the coach and a call to action for coaches who want to improve what they do. Overall, it does what it says in the title, and it does it very well. One for club coaches I think, and a resource to use over time.

    The Sport of Olympic-Style Weightlifting: Carl Miller with Kim Alderwick. Paperback £30

    The sport of Olympic-style weightlfting

    Carl Miller book

    An A4 size book with 118 pages of text and charts, no images. The sub title is “Training for the connoisseur“, It has an interesting start, looking at identifying different limb and torso ratios and giving advice on how to adjust the lifts accordingly.

    Miller then briefly summarises Selye’s work on stress and adaptation, before devoting the next few chapters to training programmes. There is minimal technical advice here, just overviews of programmes and a list of exercises that should be included.  This part of the book is weak, and is done better elsewhere.

    The last part of the book is based around weightlifting competition preparation including nutrition advice for making weight and mindset. This is better. I especially like this section on coaching at competition:

    Any words should be simple and meaningful. Don’t clutter your mind with a lot of thought. You want a few cues that will allow things to happen automatically. 

    In the heat of the competition, only basic, familiar prompts are meaningful. The rest goes in one ear and out the other.

    Applies to every other sport too!

    I got lent this by Topsy, but would have felt aggrieved at shelling out 30 quid for this. Guess I am no connoisseur!


    These are the 6 books I have read on the subject in the last year or so. If you have any further recommendations, then please comment below. For more technical information, I did enjoy reading Jim Schmitz’s series of article here.

    Our Weightlifting Club trains on Monday and Wednesday nights, and we run beginner sessions. Please contact me if you are interested.

  10. Weight lifting program

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    6 week weightlifting program

    weightlifting programHere is the schedule for the next block of training for the Excelsior Weight lifting Club. 

    The sessions are designed to have some overall athletic movements built around the Olympic lifts themselves. Most of the sports people attending are new to Weightlifting, and so we have to develop their bodies accordingly.

    Whilst the Olympic lifts are great at developing certain aspects of strength and power, I never do them in isolation. Too much specificity leads to a narrow window of adaptation, which may be useful in the short term, but has limited use in the long term.

    6 week olympic lifting program












    Here is an example of the analysis we do. This is one of the Split Snatch. This is useful for people with tight shoulders. I was introduced to this by my coach Keith Morgan when I was training for the Karate World Championships. 

    The split snatch may be better suited to athletes from team sports and those that have excessive shoulder use (i.e punching in Karate/boxing/ MMA) as it requires less shoulder flexibility.

    I introduce the split snatch early and then, as the weightlifters’ shoulders get more flexible, start the squat snatch.

    Sessions are run every Monday night, and we have people from many different sports attend. If you live in Devon or Somerset, please contact me to talk about joining.