Notes from Coach Mike Burgener’s O-lifting workshop

Olympic weightlifting coach Mike Burgener gave his third annual O-lifting clinic at CrossFit Seattle last weekend. We use a piece of PVC pipe as a barbell all day. It’s a very light weight but it’s taxing anyway. I took detailed notes afterward on the information and exercises Coach Mike gave us, and drew a little more from his website. With his permission, here’s what I took away.
Coach Mike teaches the snatch first because it’s the hardest. Once you know it, it’s easier to learn the clean and jerk.
Coach Mike Burgener’s “Burgener warm-up” for the snatch:
1-2-3: Snatch grip and hook grip; jumping stance; down and up, bending knees only (no butt back) (later this turns out to be the transition/scoop)
4-5-6: Down and up, shrug, elbows high and outside; keep it close to body
7-8-9: Muscle snatch: shrug, elbows high and outside, pull bar overhead with elbows locked and shoulders shrugged; feet haven’t moved
10-11-12: Jump and land in landing stance in quarter squat, bar overhead, arms locked.
Jump and land, creating momentum and elevation on the bar, and pull yourself under it the instant it starts moving up.
Always keep the bar in the area of the base, i.e., over the feet and not out in front of the feet, through the entire lift. This is another way of saying “keep the bar close to the body.”
Skill transfer exercises:
Snatch press: Bar on back of shoulders, press yourself down under it to receiving position (OHS)
Snatch drop: Bar on back of shoulders, drop into landing stance in quarter squat without initial dip (like a trapdoor opened)
Heave snatch drop: Bar on back of shoulders, dip and drop into landing stance in quarter squat
Snatch balance: Bar on back of shoulders, snatch grip, dip and drop into receiving position
Jump, jump, jump, snatch: Stand straight with the snatch grip. Do the 4-5-6 three times, then snatch: Jump, jump, jump, snatch. Repeat. Don’t forget the shrug! When the bar is going up and is virtually weightless, pull yourself under the bar.
Parts of the snatch:
On the ground (“below the knees” if working with PVC): Snatch grip/hook grip. Cover the bar with your chest.
First pull: Pull to mid-thigh. Knees not bent much and were out of the way of the bar traveling straight up. Slight leg bend maximizes the “snap” in hams. Back angle hasn’t changed. Cover the bar.
Transition/scoop: This is the “down” of the “down and up” and the beginning of the second pull. Upper body straightens up with knees still bent (back angle has now changed). Knees are now under and forward of the bar, i.e., in its way if it were going downward.
Second pull: With the scoop, jump, extend hips, shrug.
Third pull: Bend the arms with elbows high and outside and pull yourself under the bar with the jump. The instant it starts up a single millimeter with your jump, you’re pulling yourself down. Land in the receiving position, receive the bar and stand.
Hang (as in hang clean or hang pull): Bar at mid-thigh (see first pull, above).
High hang: standing straight with straight arms, bar higher than mid-thigh.
Hang snatch or hang clean: Start the lift from the hang position.
Power snatch or power clean: Receive the barbell in a quarter-squat instead of full squat.
Pull (as an exercise drill separate from the lift): Jump and extend with hard shoulder shrug but not continuing to the rack or receiving position.
Sotts press: Presses from the OHS position.
Footwork: Practice snatch drops to get from the jumping stance into the receiving stance.

Skill levels testing

Last week, V-ups were tested. Level II requires 30 of them. Before I attempted the 30, we worked out, and the workout involved 100 hanging leg-raises… so forget the V-ups. I got 21.
This week it was kettlebell swings or snatches. For Level II requires 30 snatches each side, changing hands only once, with the 16 kilos for the women. Again, we worked out first, and again there were hanging leg-raises, as well as pull-ups in the warm-up. The problem this time was the grip and general overhead fatigue caused by those two exercises. I tried to suck it up and do the 30 snatches each side, but in my sense of impending failure I switched hands whenever I needed to. I achieved 60 reps total, but almost as soon as I was done I realized it hadn’t counted. Rats! I waited ten minutes and tried again, and got 20 per side. It is amazing how hard that gets, metabolically (that is, panting and gasping and sweating until you can’t see straight) and on the grip.