Hang Snatch to Overhead Squat

Last week we introduced a new “combination” lift to our workout, Hang Snatch to Overhead Squat.  We occasionally add a combination lift (see post Combination Lift) to our weekly workout as a changeup; most recently I have discussed and shown video on the combination lifts Hang Clean to Front Squat, and Hang Clean to Push Press.

We try to be as simple as we can in our teaching and coaching of these combination lifts.  I know you can go into great detail teaching every part of this and every Olympic lift, and if I were training the athletes to be Olympic power lifters, I certainly would do that.  We are using this lift (and all of our lifts) to efficiently train our athletes, both men and women who participate in a variety of sports, to help improve performance in their sport(s).

When we teach it, we break in down into a few pieces that we have already discussed and taught.  To simplify the teaching, we tell the athletes that we want them to go from the Power Position (which they already know as the starting position for several of our lifts) to the Overhead Support Position (which they know from Push Press and Snatch) to the Overhead Squat Position.  The Overhead Squat position is “new” but we use essentially the same terminology as we do in teaching the Squat or Front Squat; Posture, Base, Full Range of Motion, Feet Flat, etc.

Although it is very similar to both the Squat and Front Squat, executing a squat with the bar in the Overhead Support position takes some getting used to especially in regards to balance.  We do this combination lift with light to medium weight, telling our athletes we want the movement to be a smooth, almost graceful motion.

Below is a telestrated video with audio comments showing a few of our athletes completing this combination lift.

As with the other combination lifts, this workout is taxing, but efficient.  In a recent column for PrepsKC.com, Dr. Daniel Lorenz talks about the benefit of these combination lifts for multi-sport athletes:

“Secondly, workouts can be kept shorter for the kids by doing combination lifts. For example, an athlete can do a hang clean to front squat to a press, or a squat to press. These are extremely fatiguing movements, but because it’s multi-joint and gets both upper and lower body, an athlete can do 4-5 sets of this and be done. Numerous combinations exist and are only limited by creativity of the coaches. “

The rest of Dr.Lorenz’s excellent article can be found here: Training the Multi Sport Athlete

Questions and Comments are always welcome!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

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How Do You “Skin the Cat” ?

  • “There is more than one way to skin a cat”
  • “There are only so many hours in a day”

Those two concepts are often diametrically opposed when coaching, and in particular when implementing a strength and conditioning program.

powers“There is more than one way to skin a cat” – or get a good workout! There are literally thousands of workout programs out there, and information about them all easily accessed.  Free weights, machine weights, dumbbell, kettlebell,  crossfit, sets, reps, cycles, plyometric,  Insanity, dynamic, Olympic, Core, P90X, this list of options go on and on.   And they are all good, all have benefits, you can get good results from them all.   If you had an endless amount of time (or at least 6-8 hours!) to teach and workout during the day, you could really explore and utilize many of these concepts and equipment.

But…..

“There are only so many hours in a day”.  At least with my athletes that is the case.  The are all in school, many are 2 or 3 sport athletes, some have jobs, they have hobbies,  they are in AP classes, they have to study, they have to sleep, they are involved in clubs and other school activities, they attend church and are involved in our community, and they have their families and social life.

So with those two opposing concepts, the trick becomes deciding what type of program to implement.   Here are the reasons we have implemented this training program (A Weekly (not weakly!) Workout Program) at our school.

  • I believe in it – our athletes believe in it
  • Lineage – The roots of this program, sets, reps, percentages, can be traced back to the work Hall of Fame Strength Coach Boyd Epley has pioneered
  • Individualized – Every athletes workout card is tailored to and based on their strength level
  • Efficient – Using the Workout Card (The Workout Card – Motivation and Efficiency) the athlete does not have to constantly consult a percentage chart.  The amount that they should lift is already calculated and printed on the card for every set/ rep.  They can finish the entire Core Lift part of the workout in 45-60 minutes.
  • Whole Body Workout – Most of the major muscle groups are worked daily
  • Combination of Power (Bench, Squat) and Explosive (Clean, Push) Lifts
  • All sports benefit from the workout.  It is not strictly a “football workout”. (In The Spotlight – Roy Bay)
  • Both Men and Women athletes benefit from the workout. (Training Women Athletes)
  • Flexible – 3 or 4 day a week lifting program (Problem Solving)
  • Flexible Cycles – Each card has a 3 x 8, and 5 x 5, and a 3 x 3 cycle printed on it. (Sets, Reps, and Cycles)
  • Flexible  By changing the supplemental lifts (Supplemental Lifts) you can keep the workout fresh, and tailor it to specific sport or athletes needs.
  • Motivation – Athletes see clearly from the workout card (The Workout Card – Motivation and Efficiency) where they started, and what their current results are.  Each day they enter the weight room with a goal of “breaking” (Breaking, it’s a good thing) on one of their Core lifts.
  • Easy for a Coach (me) to manage – We have over 300 athletes come through the weight room a day.  As coaches, there are only so many hours in the day for us as well.

All of our situations are different.  What works for me, may not work for you.  But it is important to know WHY you are doing what your are doing regarding your strength and conditioning program.  Doing something just because the University of Alabama does it is not reason enough.

Remember – You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you… Don’t Believe It!

Thanks for your questions and comments!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Supplemental Lifts – The Hang Snatch

snatchAnother lift that we use to supplement our four Core Lifts (Bench, Squat, Clean, and Push) that make up our weekly (A Weekly (not weakly!) Workout) is the Hang Snatch.  The Hang Snatch is a variation of the Olympic Lift, Snatch, and is essentially the same lift except we start from the hang position as opposed to starting with the weight on the ground.  It is an explosive movement that is going to work many major muscle groups – hamstrings, glutes, gastrocnemius, quads, delts, and traps.

We talk about the hang snatch as being a combination of the hang clean and push press.  The starting position is identical to the hang clean, which is the fundamental athletic position.  The finish position is identical to the push press finish, which is the overhead support position.  We teach each position, and then ask our athletes to move explosively from one position to the next.

We use light to medium weight, typically doing 3 sets of 8 reps.  We stress that the lift should be smooth, explosive, almost an “elegant” type of movement.  If it gets too “herky jerky” and slow, we tell the athletes to use less weight.  If it looks bad – it is… use less weight.

Just as discussed in the Squat, and Push Press breakdown, the athlete will begin with a good athletic posture; good base with feet about shoulder width apart and toes pointed straight forward; stand tall with shoulders back and head forward. We use just a slightly wider grip than in the hang clean, with the hands a few inches outside the shoulders, with the bar hanging from straight arms.

To begin the lift, the bar should slide down your thighs as you bend at ankles, knees and hips and (slightly) at the waist. Chest should be tall with shoulders back. Descent of bar should stop at the top of the knees.  Shoulders should be directly over the hands at the bottom of the descent.

As soon as the bar gets to the bottom of the descent (top of knees) the athlete will explode, extending the ankles, knees, and hips. These three joints are linked, as they all will fire at the same time to produce a force great enough to move the load explosively towards the chin.  We tell the athletes to try to jump, drive their hips to the bar and explode the feet off the ground.

After this explosion or jump phase, the athlete will enter the pull phase, shrugging with the traps, and pulling the bar with your biceps and lats.  We tell the lifters to try to “bounce the weight off the ceiling“.  Just as in the hang clean the bar should remain close to the body during the shrug/ pull phase.  A common mistake is to swing the bar out in an arc away from the body.  The athlete will move the weight, in one continuous motion, through the shrug/ pull phase into the overhead support/ finish position “dipping” to catch the bar with bent legs, while fully extending their arms overhead.  At the top of the lift the bar will travel slightly back, with the lifters head moving forward through the “window” that is formed with their arms being the side of the window and bar the top.  To finish, the athlete will stand or squat back to a fully erect position.

We position our spotters as we do with the push press, at each end of the bar.  Because we are using lighter weight than when doing push press, the spotters should not have to assist the lifter moving the weight from the overhead support position, back down to the start position.

Below is a brief video of some of our student-athletes doing the hang snatch during class last week.  It is telestrated, with audio comments included.

As I have mentioned before, the Central College strength and conditioning site is a great source for training videos.  Below is their video of Hang Snatch technique

Questions or Comments are always welcome!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

In the Spotlight – J.T. Hayes

hayesAs part of the “In the Spotlight” series, I have tried to highlight athletes in our program that have excelled in their sport(s) in part due to their dedication in the weight room.   I have also tried to select athletes that may participate in a sport not typically thought of as one that would benefit from a strength and conditioning program.  The strength and conditioning program that I have shared (A Weekly (not weakly!) Workout), and detailed in this blog, is designed to make ALL athletes faster, quicker, and more explosive.

Today In the Spotlight is a senior two sport athletes at Truman High School, J.T. Hayes.  J.T. is a 3-year starter on both the football and baseball teams.  As QB on the football team, his senior season was cut short due to a Lisfranc foot injury in the third game of the 2012 campaign.  Up until that point, he had rushed for 182 yards and 2 TD’s in 36 carries (over 5 yd per carry average) and completed 24 of 39 passes for 240 yards and 1 TD.  This was against some good football programs in the Kansas City Metro Area – Blue Springs South, Liberty North, and Park Hill South.

In baseball, J.T. has earned the following awards:

  • 2nd Team All-Conference 2011
  • 1st Team All-Conference 3rd Base 2012
  • 2nd Team All -Conference Pitcher 2012
  • 1st Team All – Area 3rd Base 2012
  • 1st Team All –State Utility 2012
  • 1st Team All-Metro 3rd Base 2012
  • Examiner Player of the Year 2012

J.T. is a tireless worker both on the field and in the weight room.  His training over the past three years, particularly in the winter months between his two competitive seasons, has been outstanding.  We are expecting a great senior baseball season in 2013.

Below is J.T.’s most recent workout card.  Some of his estimated 1RM’s were adjusted down after the surgery to repair his Lisfranc injury.  You can click on the card to download the full size version.

jt hayes

Below is a brief video showing J.T. training, utilizing the 4 “Core Lifts“, and also the “change up” combination lift Clean to Front Squat to Push Press

Questions and comments are always welcome!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Combination Lifts

combo liftNormally, as part of our weekly workout routine (A Weekly (not weakly!) Workout) Tuesday is Heavy Squat, Medium Push, and Light Hang Clean day.  As mentioned in a previous post, about once a month we like to throw the student-athletes a “changeup”(Throwing a Changeup)  and vary from this normal routine.

Today in our Advanced Strength and Conditioning class we did a combination lift, Hang Clean to Front Squat to Push Press.  In essence we combined all the lifts we normally do on a Tuesday into one motion.  More detailed descriptions of these individual lifts can be found on previous posts

Whenever possible I like giving the student-athletes an exact weight to do on each set/ rep, rather than saying something like “do a weight you can handle relatively easy”. We determined the weight they would workout with by using the following process.  The student determined by looking at their card, what their lowest estimated 1RM was on the following lifts – Squat, Push Press, or Clean.  They then went to the “Light Day” sets/ reps/ weights for that lift.  If their lowest 1RM was Squat, they used Friday’s weight, Push Press Monday, Clean Tuesday.  These are the weights they used in completing the workout in class today.

On the sample card below, Lexi Hart’s estimated 1RM (the “Now” column) for Push is 165 lbs, Clean 130 lbs, and Squat 160 lbs.

Hart Card

Clean is her lowest 1RM, so she goes to her “Light” clean day (Tuesday) and uses the weights shown there for her 5 x 5 Clean to Front Squat to Push Press workout which would be:

  1. 5 x 80 lbs
  2. 5 x 85 lbs
  3. 5 x 90 lbs
  4. 5 x 95 lbs
  5. 5 x 105 lbs

Below is a brief video showing some of our student-athletes completing today’s combination lift workout.

This workout is taxing, but efficient.  In his most recent column for PrepsKC, Dr. Daniel Lorenz talks about the benefit of these combination lifts for multi-sport athletes:

“Secondly, workouts can be kept shorter for the kids by doing combination lifts. For example, an athlete can do a hang clean to front squat to a press, or a squat to press. These are extremely fatiguing movements, but because it’s multi-joint and gets both upper and lower body, an athlete can do 4-5 sets of this and be done. Numerous combinations exist and are only limited by creativity of the coaches. “

The rest of Dr.Lorenz’s excellent article can be found here :Training the Multi Sport Athlete

Questions or comments are always welcome!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Don’t Take the “Light” Day Lightly

hartI have written quite a bit so far about the “Heavy” day in our weekly workout (A Weekly (not weakly) Workout Program!) and the concept of breaking (Breaking – It’s a Good Thing) on your heavy day lift.  Probably equally important, though, is our philosophy and how we approach our “Light” day lift.

A quick review/ reminder of what a week’s workout looks like in our program.  We have 4 Core lifts, Bench, Squat, Push Press, and Hang Clean.  We lift four times a week, each day doing one lift at a Heavy intensity, one lift at a Medium intensity, one lift at a Light intensity, and omitting one lift each day.  The way we have our week structured is this:

  • Monday – Heavy Bench – Medium Squat – Light Push (no Clean)
  • Tuesday – Heavy Squat – Medium Push – Light Clean (no Bench)
  • Wednesday – Heavy Push – Medium Clean – Light Bench (no Squat)
  • Thursday – OFF
  • Friday – Heavy Clean – Medium Bench – Light Squat (no Push)

The challenge with many of our athletes, because of their competitive nature, is making sure that they stick to the set/ rep percentages that are on their card for their Light day.  The percentages on the Light day start at 60% (of their 1RM) on the first set, and increase to only 80% on their last set.  Inevitably they will try to do more, or come to me and say “Coach, I know I can do more than what my card is saying for my light day!”.  They will be tempted to add weight and do more.  And they are right, they could do more weight than is on their card, but that is not what we want on the Light day.

We try to educate our athletes to the importance of sticking to the workout and the philosophy behind having a Light day.  The way the program is set up, the lift intensities cycle between Heavy – Off – Light – Medium.  After a Heavy day, we take day off from that lift to give that muscle group time to recover.  When the lift comes back into the rotation, it is only at a Light intensity.

The Light day is a great day to really concentrate on form and technique.  If they are having any technique issues on any of the lifts, their light day is the day to work on those problems.  It may be going through the full range of motion (past parallel) on squat, working on their “dip” when they Push Press, really working a controlled descent on their Bench Press, or improving the “Drop/Catch” phase of their Hang Clean.

If we are going to change things up (as was discussed in a previous post Throwing a Changeup”), the Light day is typically the day we will do it.  Here are some examples of what we might sub in place of a Light day lift:

  • Light Squat – substitute front Squats.
  • Light Hang Clean – substitute Power Clean from the floor.
  • Light Push Press – substitute Hang Snatch.
  • Light Bench Press – substitute Incline Bench.

Staying with the percentages on the workout card, and using the Light day to recover and work form and technique is an important concept in our strength and conditioning program.

Any questions?  Just comment or email… I always respond!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

In the Spotlight – Roy Bay

I have heard many different iterations of this same conversation… just fill in the blanks.   I don’t want to do the “football” workout because I don’t want to get big (bulky, muscle bound, tight).  Do you have a track (volleyball, basketball baseball, soccer) workout because I just want to get faster (jump higher, be more explosive, hit the ball farther, get leaner).

The last thing I want to do is get any athlete, bulky, tight or muscle bound.  The workout that I have shared (A Weekly (not weakly) Workout!) is designed to make any athlete more explosive, quicker, faster and stronger.  Sometimes bigger is a side effect, but like was discussed in a previous post (Does a Purple Cow Have to be Big?) I would not want to exchange speed for size. We are fortunate that at our school, all of the head coaches of the varsity sports, both on the men’s and women’s side, have “bought into” what we are trying to do with our strength and conditioning program.  It is the expectation that all of the athletes will take part in the strength and conditioning program, either during school as part of a class, or after school as part of an off/in season program, or both.  All of our athletes do essentially the same program, although each sport will “tweak” the workout using various supplemental lifts and conditioning drills.

Today I am highlighting a track athlete at our school, Roy Bay.  Roy is currently a senior at our school, Truman High School (Independence, MO) , and has been doing this strength and conditioning program as part of his workout for nearly three years.  His accomplishments as a Track athlete are a reflection of his hard work, both in the weight room, as well the sport specific training he does.  All of these times are FAT

  • School record 100m Dash – 10.58
  • School record 200m Dash – 22.06
  • School record 400m Relay – 43.30
  • KU Relays 2012 – 2nd 100m Dash
  • Currently Top 20 in the US High School 60m Dash – 6.89
  • Fastest returning time (2013) Missouri in the 100m Dash
  • District 100m and 200m champion 2012

Here is a video of Roy’s 60m race at the University of Arkansas High School Invitational.  Roy placed 2nd with a FAT time of 6.89.  He is in lane 3

Here is Roy’s current workout card.  As was mentioned in yesterday’s post (Pound for Pound Ratio Data) his Pound for Pound Ratio (Lb/Lb) at 8.19 is over one point higher than anyone else in our school.  This is evidence of the strong correlation between the Lb/Lb Ratio and athletic success.

bay card

And here is some film of Roy doing reps of our 4 Core lifts, Push Press, Bench, Squat, and Hang Clean

Roy’s success is a combination of factors.  He is a very good track athlete to begin with, and trains extremely hard year round in the running and technique part of his workout.  In addition he works tirelessly in the weight room – consistently training as hard or harder than any athlete I have had over the last 30 years.  I will keep you posted on Roy’s accomplishments this, his Senior, year.

You Can Do More…. you brain is lying to you… Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

Correcting Squat Technique

correcting squatI had a very good email question from a young man last week.  He was incorporating the core lift, squat, into his lifting routine, but was having a difficult time maintaining an athletic posture and going down past parallel.  He was a big man, over 6’ 3” tall.   It is not uncommon for a big person to have these difficulties and usually they can be corrected.  Tall people are at a bio-mechanical disadvantage when it comes to lifting weights.  They have long levers, and have to move the weight a greater distance than a small, squatty body person.  That is why it is important not to get caught up in the amount of weight that is being lifted, but rather correct technique and moving the weight through the full range of motion.

The root of this problem (not being able to go through the full range of motion) could be a number of reasons.  It may be a lack of strength in the supporting trunk or hip girdle, or lack of flexibility in the hip girdle.  Often we find that it is just having the kinesthetic awareness, of knowing what it feels like to correctly go through this motion; having correct posture, with head up and shoulders back and sitting back with their feet flat on the floor until their hips are below their knees.  Sometimes when they actually feel what the correct motion is, they “get it”.

Here is a progression, with accompanying video that we use for our athletes that are having these problems.  It will help develop strength, flexibility, and also give them a better kinesthetic awareness regarding correct body position.

Step 1 – Assisted Squat.

We have the student- athletes begin by doing sets of 8-10 reps with no weight or bar.  We position them in the rack, grabbing the rack on each side with their hands slightly below their waist.   They begin the squat , keeping good posture, shoulders back, big chest, assisting themselves by balancing and pulling slightly with the hands.  We have the athletes continue this until they get a feel for the correct depth and full range of motion.  This will also help with flexibility and strength.

Step 2 – Air Squats

Next, we progress to sets of “air squats” with no bar and their hands in front, again working on balance and flexibility.

Step 3 – Simulated Bar Squats

The next step is to do “air squats” with no bar, but the hands positioned outside of their shoulders where a bar would be.  There can be a difference in balance from the preceding set,  since the center of gravity has changed due to their hand and arm position.

Step 4 – Squats with the bar only.

Next, we progress the athletes to just doing sets with the bar only racked correctly across the back.  The athlete should concentrate on posture, shoulders back, head up, feet flat, and not bending at the waist.

Step 5 – Begin adding weight.

When the athletes have mastered all of these steps, then (and only then) do we allow them to begin adding weight to the bar. We continue to stress correct form and full range of motion rather than the amount of weight they are doing.

Below is the video that demonstrates each of these 5 steps:

Using this progression, we have been able to improve the technique and range of motion of our athletes that were having difficulties with technique and form.  A full description of the Core Lift Squat along with telestrated video can be found in this post – The Core Lifts – Squat

Tomorrow I will have some data for you regarding lb/lb ratios of our student-athletes

If you have any questions, just comment or email… either way, I will answer you!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

New and Improved Video

squatThanks to my colleague, Amy Temples, for a suggestion to improve the telestrated video.  She thought it would be helpful to see the “good” points in green text, and the “not so good” points in red text.   I also added a grey masked window behind the text to make it a little easier to read.  Keep in my you can also pause the video if you need more time looking at any particular frame.  I will update the Bench Press video that I have already posted, and use this same technique when I post the Push Press and Hang Clean videos the next few days.

I hope this helps – Let me know if you have any questions, suggestions, or comments.  Leave them here or send me an email

Jeff Foyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

The Core Lifts – Squat

squatThe second in our series of “Core” lifts that are part of our weekly workout (see previous post A Weekly (not weakly!) workout) is the Squat (back squat) .  The Squat is considered a power lift, and primarily works the Quads, Hamstrings, and Gluteals.

When we begin teaching the squat, we start with each athlete doing a set of “air squats” simulating holding a bar on their back.   If they need help balancing, we have them put their hands in front or hold on to the rack to assist them.  We progress to a set using just the bar before we begin adding any weight.

The lifter will place the bar on their back, positioned on the natural platform across the flexed traps and delts.  Care needs to be taken not to place the bar on the neck (this will force the head down and hips out) or too far down the back (this is difficult to hold with much weight on the bar).

We ask both our lifter and spotter to go through this mental “checklist” when they get under the bar, prior to beginning the lift:

  • Base – Athletic stance feet should be shoulder width apart, maybe slightly wider.  Toes pointed straight ahead, maybe out slightly
  • Spread your chest – pinch the shoulder blades together in back- arch in your back
  • Posture – Stand Tall –“Pop” your butt out
  • √ “Eyes on the Red” – Head up (we have a red stripe around the top of our weight room wall)
  • Feet flat – heels down
  • Full range of motion – Go down until your hips are below your knees

If the spotter notices any of the marks missing, they help communicate (as do the coaches) to the athlete.

A good resource that comes from the BFS, Bigger, Faster, Stronger, is a poster detailing what they call their 6 Absolutes. 

When starting the descent, the athlete will sit down, reaching back with their bottom, as if they were sitting down on a chair.  The descent should be made at a controlled speed, stopping when the hips are slightly below the knees, or the thighs slightly below parallel to the ground.  During the ascent we coach the athlete to lead with their head and chest, keeping their head up and shoulders back.  The hips should remain tucked, with a slight arch in the back.  The athlete should “push through the floor” with their entire foot, keeping their heels in contact with the ground.

The spotter should be in a position behind the lifter, attentive and ready to assist the lifter if needed by “fork lifting” up under the armpits and shoulders.

More than any other of our Core lifts, because of the “grey area” (how far to go down) we stress correct technique and full range of motion more than the amount of weight lifted.  It is only when the athlete goes down to a position where their hips are below their knees that the Hamstrings and Gluteals are engaged.  When determining whether the athlete “breaks” ( see previous post Breaking-it’s a good thing) or not on their heavy squat day, they must complete all of the sets, and all of the reps, going through the full range of motion and using correct technique.

The following short video shows six different athletes executing a back Squat.  There are two that are fairly close to perfect, and 4 that highlight various errors in technique.  I have inserted some telestrator illustrations on the video that breakdown each lifters technique

Any questions – just comment or email

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com