Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Stone Lifting Saved a Jerk - By Roger LaPointe

Originally posted on on June 20, 1999  Roger owns Atomic Athletic

I am not talking about the jerk that started mowing his lawn at 6 AM, Saturday morning, but I would like to see a meeting between his mower and my 225-pound granite Atomic Ball. This article is really about positive mental attitude. Lets face it, lifting alone in a basement all winter can get you down. When I was at Michigan State, we tried any number of methods of curing cabin fever. However, nothing worked better than a genuine sunny day. This happened to me recently. I was training in the basement gym and the lifts were getting a bit stale. I was stuck on my 105 kg clean and jerks. Sure, I was making them, but they were sloppy. Unless I am in a contest, I refuse to add weight to sloppy full Olympic lifts. After all, perfect practice makes perfect.

Standard practice for an Olympic lifter hitting a barrier like that is to go down maybe 10 kilos, easily do that weight and then go back up to the heavier weight. This usually results in improved technique. Yet, that day was a beautiful Saturday morning. So instead of doing another 95 kilo clean, I went outside. I dont think it was more than 60 degrees, and the guy down the street had just finished mowing his lawn. I was still a bit irritated about that. Cutting through the malaise was a shining sun that steadily burnt the mist from our hills.

Out rolled my 225-pound Atomic Ball. I set it up in the grass and made my approach. The amazing thing about stone is our innate knowledge that it will be there long after you are gone. Stone is also referred to from an anthropomorphic perspective where we humans give it life like qualities. How many times have you read, The columns were cut from the living rock of the earth? We all know that the rock is not living, but somehow it seems to sit defiantly. It challenges and dares you to attempt your lift. While you are attempting, it is effortlessly sitting.

With appropriate respect, I got down and drove with my legs. I never even needed to readjust my grip. I had warmed up with my Olympic lifts and developed the proper speed and acceleration to elevate it to a height where I easily placed it on my oak whiskey barrel. It was very satisfying.

That was hardly the end of my workout. I still had to make my goal of a perfect 107.5 kilo clean and jerk. The emphasis is on perfect. I knew I could do it. If you are going to hit a personal record in an Olympic lift, your technique must be perfect in training. Otherwise, there is little chance of perfect technique with a weight you have never attempted. This is where I honed my positive mental attitude. I had just lifted a stone sphere of 100 kilos, or 220 pounds, to the same height as my clean. Why was my technique sloppy on a clean with a mere 11 pounds more? Mentally, I was not focused on my clean and jerk.

Stone lifting is so much harder than cleaning a beautiful Leoko barbell, it is hardly worth discussing. Using the same focus, I loaded the barbell, set my balanced position and made a perfect clean and jerk. It was easy. A mere 10 minutes before, I had trouble making 105 kilos. This is the power of putting things in perspective and creating a positive mental attitude.

Sometimes you just have place yourself in a slightly different situation to help create that proper psychological balance. For my lifting, I have found training with unusual objects, like the stones, is beneficial for my Olympic lifts, and vice versa. Sometimes, it is just nice to imagine how the stones would work on that other jerk and his lawn mower.

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