A compilation of the Instagram videos I took in China.

This is the preferred tech. Butt low. Body moves first and bar trails along immediately. Bar passes knee, body in a powerful position to drive the knees upwards. Quick follow up of arms to bring self under bar instantly giving the smooth transition. The coach reminded me to push my hips through and up, giving it full power. He adjusted my initiation of pull, allowing me to punch my hips without hitting it forward. Adding the quick arm pull allowed me to "snap" under the bar. Maximum internal rotation of shoulder to drive it into the socket. Their doctor (who knows weightlifting technique really well) says it's a safer position as more muscle surrounds it and are active. External rotation is highly frowned upon. They kept adjusting my shoulder saying it wasn't deep inside enough. Now my traps are sore The lifters rarely stand in the snatch during heavy weights. Only light weights they would stand. They say it's pointless and tiring. #150kg #weightlifting #crossfit #snatch #china

A video posted by Kirksman Teo (@lifthard8) on

I can't remember this fellow's name, but he was the former Asian champion with a 215cnj at 85kg. Whoever said Asians are tiny ain't seen this guy. 3 words for him. Jacked. Fierce. Kind. This guy has more muscle in his left toe than an average guy on their whole body. He had a knee injury for an entire year, and is just coming back so he's taking it "light". 170kg for multiple sets. After training he began staring at the younglins for messing around and I nearly pissed my pants from across the room. Then he adjusted their positions, rep after rep. No other coaches did that, so he just kept helping everyone. Really nice fellow as I got to know him. This is also a good video to see what i mean by bar trails the body as it moves back to create the platform for the quads to extend. Hips always go through and on the toes.

A video posted by Kirksman Teo (@lifthard8) on

This is a 20 year old kid doing a 300kg controlled descent squat. For 2 reps. They have to place the bar back without a sound. This is to improve their back tightness and quad strength. To protect their knees, they stretch the ankles all the time to ensure the hips can sit as closely as possible to the ball of the foot. We are talking knees about 10 miles in front of the toes for maximal protection of knee joint and strength in the quads. I asked them about balance between quad and posterior. They showed me their program and the amount of pulls and posterior isometric/dynamic work. Its right about 50/50. The coach's programmer (they don't program it. Another lady upstairs, oh wait till U hear about the lady upstairs's job) makes sure they have front back left right balance. That's why they have tons of trunk, TVA work. To ensure no lateral shifting or twisting happens. Even the way they walk is observed. Edit: trust me, there are things I'm extremely challenged to understand or believe at this moment. This is just one of the many. #fitness #lifthard8 #weightlifting #crossfit #squat

A video posted by Kirksman Teo (@lifthard8) on

170kg for 6 sets of 1 clean + 2 jerks. 69kg lifter. Did 140kg for a snatch yesterday) I asked his coach (different guy, 6 coaches in the room, 4 in the female room) about teaching the squat jerk. He said, "If u can do it, you can do it. There is no teaching a squat jerk. You must finish on the toes and then duck under so the timing and position CANNOT be played around with ." The squat jerk may be easier at first but the risk of missing is extremely high at heavier weights. It's not save'able if anything happens. He is in the opinion, that its more suited to girls who are more flexible and always finish their movements and get the bar in place. This is, unlike boys who are typically more explosive and quicker so they cut their movements often. I also asked about Xiaojun toes not extending, so isn't that cutting short? He says watching a limit lift to learn technique is like learning to shoot a gun perfectly, from watching a soldier who is under a rain of bullets. Competition lifts, just lift. Imperfections will happen. Training, should be done perfectly. #lifthard8 #weightlifting #crossfit #fitness #cleanandjerk

A video posted by Kirksman Teo (@lifthard8) on

This guy is the former national champion and I believe Asian champ for 2007. I can't remember his category but if they're saying he's the only guy that can challenge Tian Tao, I'm assuming he's a 85kg. Guy is muscled to the teeth. This is his first heavy cycle and ended up with 150kg triples for 2 sets. The coach said since I came with a camera, the athletes have performed exceptionally well. I ever heard one say, "Lets put a show for them shall we?". He said to me, "You're so skinny and you've a damaged spine. Make sure you do more bodybuilding and core work daily. Pull everyday and lessen your squats till you can move evenly. Pull heavy cuz light pulls you tend to move too quick. Heavy pulls are safer (huh??) Less than 3 reps, 8 to 12 sets. What a confusing day. Also, I think I'll get the last Nike China weightlifting jacket from the national team tomorrow. Stupid stoked. #lifthard8 #weightlifting After this lift, he won 12 bottles of beer. Last I saw him, he was drunk. They have tomorrow off, so they're having fun tonight.

A video posted by Kirksman Teo (@lifthard8) on

So what do Chinese people do before dinner? They talk squats, MRI, ligament tears, and squats. My mate has a ligament tear, they discussed how it happened. He was taught to push the knees out and sit back. Ended up with a tear in the ligament. The doctor (his dad was a weightlifter. He went to study physiotherapy) explained how load is forced into the knee causing a grinding effect. With time, it tightens all the lower body muscles and causes… Hyper-tonic or something was the term. Basically, super tense muscles. Something I personally experienced pushing my knees out. He then explained with the coaches how pushing the knees forward and allowing the hips to naturally sit between the ankles is the safest way to squat. Considering the head coach's coach that came yesterday was 80 years old and did lightning fast squats, its safe to say I'm a lot more confident of teaching knees forward squats. Or just… Really #squats. #weightlifting #lifthard8

A video posted by Kirksman Teo (@lifthard8) on

This guy (I named him 62kg eyebrows) was doing power snatches this morning. He was programmed to go up to 90% but towards the end, he power snatched 120kg which was his old 2rm snatch. His mates poked him into trying 125kg and he dropped right in without a problem. This 127kg is his PR. He eventually attempted 130kg for a close miss. Then finished off with 8 singles at 110kg for power snatches. He just switched between the catching heights. Not a problem. Many people have 2 different techniques for power and classic work. To know if you are one of them, just power snatch and then classic snatch and see if you are able to make that lowered catch instantly. If you cannot, it means you're likely hitting the bar in a loop, or you have lazy arms, or an improper understanding of these power to classic technique. In this case, eliminate power snatching completely. The younger athletes never do power variations for at least 1 year into training. They aren't even allowed to warm up using the power variation. The power variation always messes up the technique for newbies. #weightlifting #crossfit #lifthard8 #snatch #pr #weightlifters

A video posted by Kirksman Teo (@lifthard8) on

Pay attention to this fellow. This is an example of "pulling too straight, disengaging the lats, using arms". When the torso isn't over the bar enough, the lats turn off. Simple right? You have to be over the bar for the lats to engage and arms to dangle. Otherwise, the arms will pull to compensate. That's why a T-bar row is different from a barbell row. He has a weak back (but clean pulls 200kg for reps…) but strong legs (230kg squats), so he wants to keep his torso more upright. But his first pull becomes extremely difficult so he has to pull more often. In fact, I only saw him squat once, but pulls daily. His coach dislikes it, but he can't change his habit. Nevertheless, when he gets into a powerful second pull position, it's stupid powerful. If he misses it (leans back), he does not even bother second pulling. Each lifter has his/her own nuances, so training has to be built around these nuances. This is why all templates need to be customised. And yes those are ironmind straps. He wanted to try it, but it was too slippery. Gave it back after this and went back to his old ones. #weightlifting #lifthard8 #crossfit #weightlifters #deadlift #cleanpull

A video posted by Kirksman Teo (@lifthard8) on

190kg at 17 yo, 56kg.. Why not? Again regarding squats. Trust me, it'll end. Something amazing happened. After discussing with the doctor, Master Ma (head coach), Mr. Nicecoach, and some other athletes, they concluded that my spine & hip weirdness was due to how I squatted and caught my lifts. I sat back in my squats subconsciously. This caused my hips to load and hips aren't like legs where they can press. They just shift to the stronger side. Because of my previous years of reading online stuff, I had a movement pattern that was ingrained which was wrong. I went backwards instead of forward when squatting or receiving. I could not "press" my hips through. After a bit of work on the massage bed, needles, electricity (I actually have a video and pics of this), and some squashing around, I squatted evenly. First time I ever squatted 190kg so easily. I even went down, and yelled till the gym look at me because i thought i was going to fail. Ended up I launched past the sticking point, and my quads just pressed. Done. The athletes looked at me and said "Maxes don't look that easy dude. You've been squatting wrongly all these years." I explained how I always lose power and can't even grind a squat if i wanted to. And one smirked and said, "Duh… You squat with your ass and back. How can you fight a sticking point? Your quads need to be in good position, before it can consider working." It was a tight slap having something I teach, thrown back at me. Oh well, live and learn. After squats, coach checked my back and gave me the a-okay. He said if I could squat 200kg with my old tech, build my trunk up and I'll be looking at 220kg in 6 months. Challenge… Maybe accepted! #squat #weightlifting #crossfit #fitness

A video posted by Kirksman Teo (@lifthard8) on

120kg almost for 2 reps at 56kg. Most entertaining guy to watch This will be my last post until I return to Malaysia. I'm writing an ebook, which was my plan since 2012 but things don't go as planned. Let's just say.. There's a reason why my ex coach works with other people and I work alone now. I won't ever reveal what happened between my ex coach and I. Just maybe think , cultures clash. For me, coming to China has confirmed many of my thoughts, connected the dots, and built new ideas. I finally confirmed my suspicion on the mechanics that creates a good pull, and a good jerk receiving. But those are just concepts. They're easy to understand. Cueing. Feeling. For me, that is the most important thing. The lesson of cueing happened when I heard the coach say, "Make it happen". One thing many many many recreational weightlifters do is ask, "How do I do that?". That's the problem. It's a question you ask yourself. Not to the coach. One highly complex brain, millions of ways of thinking of something, an instruction given from the coach, it's then the lifter's job to figure how to make it happen. The coach told a kid, "Too slow. Move faster. Make it happen". Boom! That was the moment that makes this whole trip worth it. Over reliant lifters get eliminated really quick. They think too much, do too little. This is why "thinking" lifters are not suitable to be lifters. Those get taught to be coaches (I'm one of those). In the end, how you're taught isn't the problem. It's how you comprehend something and execute it, your way. Simplicity is key. #lifthard8 #lessons #weightlifting #crossfit #fitness #training

A video posted by Kirksman Teo (@lifthard8) on

I'm moving to a different province tomorrow where I won't be allowed to record. But the learning will be immense. That place has no strong athletes, but plenty of beginners. I've heard things like an entire hour of abs, lumbar, core work, hours of pulling, pausing, and bodybuilding work. My posts in China are meant to provoke the mind. So many people have answers to weightlifting. Yet so few have questions. Its astounding how many don't understand why they do what they do, and why they miss a lift. Every rep you miss, you MUST know how you missed. Else how will you solve it? Here's one athlete doing behind neck weighted pull ups. Many cringe at the shoulders position, I did not see a single shoulder injury. They use this, to PROTECT their shoulders. Coach explained their POV, which also seems legit, just much less complicated. Their results speak for it. Build the body, to do the impossible, not be limited by what another says. If it hurts, stop. So many people have hip pain from squatting, yet still squat the same way after all. Stop if it hurts, or feels really awkward even after weeks of trying. Find another way! Key thing I learned. Try, succeed, good. Fail, find another way. The coaches, before they bode farewell to me, told me "Never stop questioning and learning. Come back and challenge us with more questions. Ask, so we learn too". These are coaches, 40 years in the sport. At the moment, my Chinese weightlifting experience is truly filled. I'm travelling to Uzbekistan next year to learn their methods, and hopefully Iran. More adventures and education! #lifthard8 #weightlifting #crossfit #pullups #student #teacher

A video posted by Kirksman Teo (@lifthard8) on

The importance of tempo regardless of load %. Here you see Brother David (he named himself that) doing an empty bar snatch and a 140kg snatch. The speed of his lift, is largely the same. EDIT : THINK about fishing. Big fish, more force. Small fish, less force. But enough to bring it on the boat. Throughout the time I saw him train, his consistency was at 99%. He almost never misses. Only time he missed was when he tried to show off with a 155kg snatch on his deload week. Because weightlifting is a mixed bag of skills like coordination and rhythm included into the strength and speed, you must treat the 2 competition lifts like that too. With skill. Especially the snatch. Too many people out there, rip the bar, like they're trying to rip a lion's head off, ( I actually heard someone cue this before) when its light and look like a turtle crawling at heavier weights. In my opinion and discussions, I've found that this is not only detrimental to heavy lifting but the development of the overall skill and feel. If you're lifting 70% in a way that is different from your 50% and then your 90% is completely different from your 30%, and obviously your 100% or 102% different, how do you propose the transfer of skill happens when you move from your preparation phase, to max phase, and adjustment phase? Keep your rhythm consistent. Think skill. Not brute strength (not that that's unimportant). And yes I'm in the opinion that's relevant to all other lifts. His 1rm in competition is 170kg. When he misses, he said his back hurt. His coach says, he's full of excuses. When he misses, he says something hurts. When he makes it, he still says something hurt to make it sound like his lift was so tough yet he made it. Puffery. Apparently professionals not so different from me either. Haha! #lifthard8 #weightlifting #crossfit #fitness #snatch #technique #tempo #selfgratification

A video posted by Kirksman Teo (@lifthard8) on

Besides back extensions, this is their other favourite exercise for the core. Or what they call "Deep muscles". The coach explained to hold this, until the body "vibrates" from within. If you hold it for a whole 10 minutes, and you still don't vibrate, its time to add load. For some reason, my brain went stupid for a moment, and I asked how long to hold it for beginners. I got "Tsk'ed" and scolded for asking a question before trying. Haha! Occasionally I slip. When Coach was willing to talk to me again, he explained the big movements like weighted back extensions, pulls, squats, train the big muscles and patterns in the head. However, deep core muscle take longer to work, thus recommending isometrics. Lu Xiaojun is a prime example for stable deep core muscles. I said he looks almost too slender for 77kg but coach explained he's all muscle. At 85kg, he'll hold some fat. Not good. Lu is bloody short actually. Like 165cm short. They recommend doing it post training but some weaker athletes do it pre training. Quite fun seeing them sit and poke each other while at it before coach yells at them and they scurry off. #core #weightlifting #crossfit #fitness #isometrics #china

A photo posted by Kirksman Teo (@lifthard8) on

One of the coaches say "Zhe ran, yao, pei, zing" which means "Naturally spine, back, tight". He explained that even when the back is kept tight (which is the only thing they cue during squats), it can't be "tense tight". Its gotta have some allowance, 50/50. Reason being is when the weights get heavier, and you're too tight at the top, when you descend there is no "space" in the spine. You've already used it. Also, keeping the back too tight at the top, shifts the butt backwards a bit and creates an arch in the back, turning off the abs. Thus you wouldn't be able to squat straight. It'll definitely be a 45 degree back angle instead of the preferred straighter one. None of the guys, even when doing partial squats or jerks, arch the lumbar. They just keep it tight and straight. And natural. This guy as you can see, descends, looks like he's about to fail, and then tightens the back and squeezes his way up. I sa this happening to a lot of the boys where they looked like they would die, as they descended. Then suddenly when ascending, some random power comes out of nowhere. I tested it and yes, it definitely works. Weight is 250kg. Lifter is 105kg. #lifthard8 #weightlifting #squat #squats #crossfit #fitness

A video posted by Kirksman Teo (@lifthard8) on

This guy is He Shuyong, Chinese national champ, IWF world cup champ, and runner up in Asian games. Best lifts of 180/220 at 94. They kids say he's done 185/230 in training. You can see how easily he snatched 150 for triples down on my feed albeit not training for over a year. When I asked him the best knee protecting exercise (he stopped for a year cuz of his knee) , he showed me this exercise. He'd do them all the time after training, paused, slow, many reps, heavy, whatever combination he could think of. I told him the internet says this will destroy knees. He looked confused as shaved sheep. He couldn't get it, and I didn't know what the hell "shearing forces" and "torque" was in mandarin. I think the internet calls it "Quarter front squats". Aka "Quarter squats for quarter gainZ" or "Not a single squat was done that day". This is the issue with stuff online. There is too much "alpha talk". Sport is a combination of science and art. I've learned one thing learning from different coaches. "UNTIL you try it, and understand it, you've no business commenting on it. " Every movement can have a purpose, can be included. His max front squat is 271kg mind you. The extra 1kg cuz he doesn't like even numbers. #lifthard8 #weightlifting #quartersquat #squats #chineseweightlifting #crossfit

A video posted by Kirksman Teo (@lifthard8) on

During the time I was in China, I mostly did 50kg snatches or an estimated 30-40%. It is the percentage they use to tweak technique. He wanted to "kill" the wrong "feeling" first so I did tons of pulls, snatch balance, jerk footwork with few classic lifts. Here, the feeling I felt… In words would be "Past knee, heels OFF asap". If you ignored all the other mini essays, because you disagree with it etc, this you might still want to read . "Feeling". They actually say, "That's the right feeling! Recreate it", when they see a pattern that they like. If they dislike the pattern, they'll say "That was wrong. Find the feeling again". The body needs to understand WHAT you want from it. This is why understanding the REASON is very important before a lift. Once you understand the reason, create the pattern. Once you get the pattern, remember the feeling. 1. Reason 2. Pattern 3. Feeling that comes with pattern. Let's say I cue "pull straight". You can't do it. Ok, find another one? Body straight? Open chest? Okay, let's try a different type of cue. Shoulders to ceiling! Drive from toes? Does my cue matter? NO. Your results matter most. I'm just the assistant. You're the superstar. That's the one mistake I did too. I wanted people to do it my way. My way suited me, not anyone else. It's the most complex thing, to figure how to transfer the feeling in their minds to the athletes. This is coaching. This is why I always ask my clients, "How did U feel?", "What were you feeling?". I want them to recreate that feeling, that creates the movement. #lifthard8 #weightlifting #crossfit #fitness #weightliftingtechnique #snatch #sport

A video posted by Kirksman Teo (@lifthard8) on

When I asked them the most important exercise for good second pull position, all, each and every one of them, the "Panda pull". And I really agree after 10 years of doing these. Weight is typically 10kg heavier than from the floor. So he got up to 200kg eventually. It's really called "Fa li la" but you know how many horribly accented mispronounciation will occur. Trust me, I had a reason why I named it "Panda pull". This exercise has people identifying various important point like hearing the double-tap of the heels, pulling it to the neck, strengthening the arms, etc. Great interpretations, and some I've never heard of like the double tap of heels. So listen up. I said to the coach, my interpretation of this exercise is in order of importance ; 1. Rhythm. Timing to pull under 2. Strengthening the pulling under muscles and movement 3. Keeping the bar close 4. Fully extending The athletes and coach blinked momentarily. Intense. I swear this was so awkward. I thought I got it all wrong. Then he said; "Er… You're not wrong… But I've been doing this for 26 years, I didn't even think of all those. I just teach it to help build the timing." #lifthard8 #chineseweightlifting #weightlifting #pandapull #overthinking #crossfit

A video posted by Kirksman Teo (@lifthard8) on

I believe this guy is a 105kg lifter, 17 years old. Just clean and jerked 200kg for a 5kg PR. His coach got pissed and scolded him for the next 2 minutes which I summed it as; 1. It's a PR weight 2. So you must do it even more perfectly because perfect technique is built for maximum weights, and minimise injury risk. 3. He made a cascade of mistakes. First leaning back as the bar passed the knee in the pull. Knocking the bar forward so having to step forward to receive it. And then not keeping his back tight enough in the jerk. 4. I said to the coach, isn't it common that max weights would have technical breakdown? He said "Maybe in a comp when you're scared shitless. Not at all acceptable if mistake's done, in your comfort zone, surrounded by your mates, having attempted this 3x in a controlled environment. That's careless" Because he's got a sharp nose and cool eyebrows, and a 170kg snatch and 210 jerk at 77kg, I accept his logic. #mancrush #mygfwantstomeethimtoo I actually notice this extreme strictness is feature of a few provinces in China. There's this particular head coach, whose all his former athletes turned coaches are like this. Including my ex coach. I think its because he's ex-military. Edit : I asked the kid why he got scolded later. He said "He's never satisfied. He's super talented so he makes 170kg look like 20kg. He expects everyone to be like that" No wonder he didn't dare celebrate his PR. #weightlifting #lifthard8 #crossfit #crossfitweightlifting #cleanandjerk #prcity #fitness

A video posted by Kirksman Teo (@lifthard8) on

Someone wanted to see the full CNJ sequence, so here it is Mistake 1. See how when the bar passed his knee, he didn't keep it close any longer? Mistake 2, was a compensation where he had to lean back to get it close. Mistake 3, was the hip. He ended up hitting the bar forward, because he extended with his hip. He later claimed he used his legs, but the coach refuted it saying he wouldn't run forward if he used his legs. Mistake 4, was the jerk reversal. He didn't lock his back enough, so he couldn't use his legs properly. Ended up just squeeeeezing under the bar. Now if you're wondering why these guys aren't as efficient, technique wise, its because they're new recruits. Most have been lifting for less than 8 years. They come here, to get further development from the living conditions. #lifthard8 #weightlifting #cleanandjerk #crossfit #crossfitweightlifting #fitness #squats #chineseweightlifting

A video posted by Kirksman Teo (@lifthard8) on

Dips are another favorite accessory exercise. Typically done for sets of 6 to 8 reps for 8 sets or so. Often weighted. They considered these worthy of attention exercise and were thoroughly impressed seeing Lu Xiaojun 100kg dips. Dips were considered very good for faster pull under speed, lockouts, and jerks. They believed triceps and shoulders are for speed and stability. Coach explained the more strong and stable these 2 components are, the more aggressive and unhesitatingly hard you'll pull under or punch under. They use a rack thats very far apart. I'd say about 60cm apart from one arm to the other arm. Twice a week I see this done. I'll explain my short hiatus in a post after this #lifthard8 #weightlifting #dips #crossfit #crossfitweightlifting #crossfit_weightlifting #bodybuilding

A video posted by Kirksman Teo (@lifthard8) on

Cupping is another of the therapy methods that they use. Highly effective to loosen the muscles and improve the flow of blood. I asked him roughly how it worked and he explained you would be best, with a bit of understanding of anatomy and finding for a facilitation. This guy was having shoulder pain so the kind doctor looked into his back, and then traps to find signs if facilitation. He did a bit of tests, and determined the traps were stuck, causing him to constantly shrug and giving his shoulders a hard time (I roughly think that's what he said). It seemed a little kinesotheraphy'ish. A lot of scraping of his skin, touching to see if it feels pain when he touches something else. Almost looked like voodoo magic if I hadn't known better. In the evening, our mate ended up snatching 140KG SO..guess it worked! #lifthard8 #chineseweightlifting #weightlifting #traditionalchinesemedicine And before anyone says it, yes yes. This was not created by the Chinese. The Egyptians probably did this before and taught the Chinese during trades.

A video posted by Kirksman Teo (@lifthard8) on

At the end of this 150kg jerk, the coach says "Still not enough" in regards to his spine not being locked enough. I went through a myriad of thoughts as to why he saw it wasn't locked well enough. When I asked the coach why, his answer was…. Different. I'll post the answer on my Fb page tmr, along with a quick guide on how to enjoy the experience of learning from my little adventure a little more. For now, why not take a few jabs at how the coach saw that it wasn't locked enough. I'd tell you, but I figured I'd give everyone a chance to think like those coaches a bit. To see the lifting world from their eyes. Here's a hint. Teachers and students of sports with grace, will pick this up quicker. #lifthard8 #weightlifting #crossfit #crossfitweightlifting #crossfit_weightlifting #jerk #technique #chineseweightlifting

A video posted by Kirksman Teo (@lifthard8) on

Previously I said the "Weight on heels", squat is used as a rehab protocol. And here you have it Notice the toes are elevated, and the athlete moves very slowly, keeping his knees behind the toes, and torso still straight These are to ensure the ligaments and tendons get the flush of blood to promote its growth. Usually done for sets of 6 to 8, 5 sets, they also focus on feeling for any twisting of the hips. If they feel any unilateral twisting, this exercise helps them realign it I personally have a bit of a messy hip and I loved what these little fellows did for my hip Just doing squats on the heels alone doesn't fix my problem with twisting because my torso is so far leaned over Doing it like this helped #lifthard8 #weightlifting #chineseweightlifting #crossfit #squats #crossfitweightlifting #hip #balance

A video posted by Kirksman Teo (@lifthard8) on

One exercise, that I don't see ENOUGH attention on, are pulls. Even weightlifting enthusiasts, don't discuss enough about pulls @rickygulyamov here, is a former Uzbekistan athlete who moved to #Australia (#Sydney). For the past 12 months, he has not squatted because of a knee injury. All he does is pulls, but a week ago he did a 155kg snatch. 9 weeks ago, his PR was 140kg. The guy's been climbing up without any squats and have only recently started doing them. 15kg snatch PR in 9 weeks He does those pulls with 40 or 50kg more than his max snatch and clean, for 5 triples. If you have the guts for it, go try. But remember, your torso can't go behind the bar, and you gotta really kick that bar up. This isn't a deadlift. Follow Ricky to see what he's up to Articles and research that were written in the 70s that may have made pulls sound less important. I know of the 110 – 120% recommendation. But I see research results as a systematic way to find other questions. They don't give me answers alone I always say on this channel, experiment and challenge the ideas regardless who said it. Play devil's advocate. A quality individual, would never be offended by opposing questions. They'd be curious to learn your POV. To learn. You should however beware he who has all the answers. And gets offended when you question #lifthard8 #weightlifting #crossfit #snatch #crossfitweightlifting #pulls #atletikaweightlifting

A video posted by Kirksman Teo (@lifthard8) on

There's something about this coach. He's the only one that didn't take a moment to decipher what he saw. All the other coaches, stopped and did some thinking to figure what caused the problem He just critiqued while the barbell was still on the lifter. He repeatedly moved here, there, and everywhere looking at different sections of the lifter I found this really amusing and when I found out why he did that, it was actually pretty amazing. Trust me I spent a LOT of time discussing with this guy about how to be a better coach He was actually analysing the portions like the hamstring and calves in this case, or the torso and shoulders in another. He was looking around for the breakdown in the feeling Like I said, these coaches and athletes work a lot into feeling. I know some older coaches that do this as well. They "feel" their lifters from how their lifters eyes look, the demeanour, the way they approach the bar If its slightly different from their other successful attempt, they know something does not feel right He explained that as coaches, when we begin coaching, we look at the hip, the legs, or a big muscle or joint or a pattern that we as former lifters "connect" to. However as he got older, he realised he couldn't get the correction just by looking at what he always looked at He began moving his point of focus and albeit being uncomfortable at first, because he no longer had his old reference point, he found other answers. So he told me to look elsewhere, and you might find different solutions But.. Of course to do this, you need to know how the lift feels and looks even as your lifter is doing it. Told you this coach was a ninja #lifthard8 #weightlifting #cleanandjerk #chineseweightlifting #ninjacoach #crossfit #crossfitweightlifting #asianwithfacialhair

A video posted by Kirksman Teo (@lifthard8) on

I was going through one of my favorite instagram accounts @papayats, and found this video. In his post, he was talking about how the Chinese technique is basically called the Asian technique in Poland where he's from. I love his account cuz he's so direct It's characterised by a low hip start, pulling smoothly, keeping bar close, and almost looks like speed takes the back seat for smoothness There's also one more thing that you can observe from this video. It's what makes Lu xiaojun a better snatcher than Tian Tao in my opinion and based on discussions with other coaches Look how this lifter (Bartolmiej Bonk) actually "sends" the bar up. He gets in contact, then pushes his legs up a tiny bit more. In English, I think the best term for this is "follow through". After the push , he just pulls his arms and finds himself under the bar, nice and smooth Many people I've coached, seem to think the best way to get under, is cut the pull short. This works up to a certain weight, but will eventually hinder progress An easy way to see if you cut the pull short or not, is to do high pulls, muscle snatches, and panda pulls The purpose of these 3 exercises are to extend long and help the arms pull under. If how you snatch differs from how you pull, you might be cutting the pull short and not using your arms to pull under well enough Ps: yes this lifter messed up his third rep #lifthard8 #weightlifting #snatch #chineseweightlifting #crossfit #crossfitweightlifting

A video posted by Kirksman Teo (@lifthard8) on

My martial arts teacher taught me, to ADD or REMOVE a variable to ensure the trainee does what the coach wants While holding a pose, my coach makes me stand on empty tin cans. It is only strong enough to hold your weight, IF you don't overly contract your muscles and shake. If you crush them, do it again For my lifters that move too far to the heels, I like to make them squat and pull like this. When trying to fix something takes too much time, I find ways to remove the "wall" that they've been leaning on Now note that this is my preferred way to do the lifts. My experience and discussions have pointed to this being something I'm comfortable with. If you read my other posts, you'll get me For people who prefer being on the heels when lifting, just do the opposite. Stand on the heels and let the forefoot elevate Remember, like all things, try both. Do the opposite of what I say, then do what I say, and find your preferred method. You're the star. I'm just the makeup artist #lifthard8 #squats #weightlifting #stable #crossfit #crossfitweightlifting #legs

A photo posted by Kirksman Teo (@lifthard8) on

So about the lady upstairs. Lifters will send their logs to lady upstairs. She was former world champion in the 1980's. Cui Aihong I believe is her name. What she does is, she programs for the lifters, and gives it to the individual coaches. The coaches then adapt the program for the week, before passing it on to the lifters. First week, many a time, I saw them disregarding the program rep and set, and taking more volume in. The phase I was there, was maximum phase so there were some PR'S. About crazy looking lady upstairs. She analyses the athletes results in the week, the feeling, the mistakes, and prescribes them solutions. Understanding how she did it, made me think even more simple in terms of programming. I think programs to make rocks become sand is more complex than mine now. HOWEVER…. she does have one difference. One huge difference. She monitors the stress levels, the fatigue levels, how they feel etc, takes the performance for this week, and estimates what happens in the next week. I'm thinking saliva, heartbeat at rest, post training. Reason I'm guessing it's because I didn't have an opportunity to speak to her, nor was I terribly interested at that time. My host just told me in passing. It didn't seem terribly relevant at first, but I immediately regretted the second week because I saw a very noticeable drop in everyone's morale and performance, on the second week after maxing out the first week I was there. It seemed they may have went overboard the first week we arrived and had to back off tremendously the second week. I saw 155kg snatchers dropping to just 130kg. Saw 290 squatters dying at 270kg. One guy who followed what was written and didn't go mad though, maintained his lifts. They didn't drop. Now I gotta go figure out how she knew…. #lifthard8 #weightlifting #crossfit #crossfitweightlifting #chineseweightlifting

A photo posted by Kirksman Teo (@lifthard8) on

270kg back squat double @ 94kg. I call him "Chubby Rudolph" cuz his nose and cheek turns really pink when he's in the sauna. I later found out this kid is only 16. He still has school to go to. Now, see him shifting his hips back when ascending. To give you an idea what you're up against, I sat him down and said his second rep was pretty heavy eh? He said; "No. Its because my spine (torso) couldn't stay upright and I leaned forward. This caused me to shift my hips back to counterbalance. It was very bad, I could not use my legs" At 16, I was happy to be able to squat 120kg let alone know WHY I'm failing to such detail. Also, to read the 19 questions I got about China, go to bit.ly/lifthard1 #lifthard8 #weightlifting #crossfit #squats #crossfitweightlifting #chineseweightlifting #fitness #booty #sillyhashtags

A video posted by Kirksman Teo (@lifthard8) on

There we go! Up to 23rd January videos.


19 Answers to Questions Asked On Instagram.

Screen shot 2013-09-28 at 8.46.14 AM

This is the medical section of the Chinese athletes. They have a mix of both traditional Chinese medicine and modern medicine. They’re aware that certain things, like eating a tiger’s testicle is not going to help them in any way. The athletes in China also have specific doctors that are more involved with the sport that they’re treating so you won’t get a gymnastics doctor treating the sprinting athletes typically. This is because being an athlete is about that fine balance of pushing, and recovering. Sometimes, you get a doctor that doesn’t understand what you’re doing and tell you to stop the moment he or she sees a potential for injury. Is there anything you guys and girls want to know about? I’m running out of things to write about actually. #lifthard8 #weightlifting #chineseweightlifting #sport

A photo posted by Kirksman Teo (@lifthard8) on

So, over here, I posted a question on what would you like to know, about the Chinese weightlifters and their coaching beliefs, theories, etc. These are the questions, and I’ll address what I can, to as much detail as I can.

Now before reading, I’d like to share a true story about my friend’s ex-girlfriend.

She, is an artist. A very talented one too. She drew very well, and went to arts university. Many people enjoyed her drawings and she worked hard at it. However, in university, she was told that her drawings did not line up to the theories in art school that was already determined.

The eyes and appreciation of the mainstream crowd, were not shared by her professors in art. Guess what? Today, she’s a very, very successful artist based in Singapore. 

My point here is, our stream of “education”, practices, cultures, differ tremendously around the world. What may be considered absolute blasphemy in one region, can be considered, commonplace someplace else. For example? The consumption of animal innards, fish heads, chicken feet, cow lungs, etc. You wouldn’t get a second look doing that here. In some places, that, might cause uneasiness amongst the people around.

Just enjoy the stories if you disagree regardless. This isn’t a competition of knowledge. This is a sharing of information, that can help or be purely, entertaining. Trust me, you get slammed as often as I do, you watch your butt. 😀 With this, I address the questions. I’ll skip the questions which I’m totally incapable of answering like, physiotherapy questions.

Get a hammer for nails. Don’t use a spanner mate. It’ll work, but it isn’t the best. Btw, every picture you see, means it’s time to take a break. Ok?

1. @blazelysack –More accessory work they do

@nschnur105 – Accessory work? 

@cyrusfocus – tendinitis
@Rossleigh11 : Explain the use of bodybuilding as assistance exercises

I’ll give the concept. Muscles do work. Brains fire muscles to do work. At first, you create powerful, strong movements, with the snatches, the clean and jerk, the pulls, the jerks, etc. After that, your brains are fried, but your muscles can still go go on.

I LITERALLY (Ping! 1 point for using literally, correctly. Queenie be proud) heard a 17 year old say; “If you don’t feel fatigued yet, you go on. Another 6 reps, 3 more sets.” When do you know it’s enough? You’re tired. You’ve a pump. What movements to choose? Ones that you struggle to hit properly.

So like partials? Yes.

What about full range of motion? If you squat, deep, with your back rounding, are you training your ability to squat heavy and deep? Or your ability to round your back when squatting heavy and deep?

What about joint injury – Come to my seminars, you’ve too many questions.

2. @DSUNG23 – Anything about scapula not working properly. Stability on right side is wonky?

From an NKT perspective, you probably have an inhibition, or a facilitation somewhere along the chain. Find a practitioner, and you probably have a higher chance of getting if fixed. If you’re in Sydney, or Australia, check out “Physiodetective” and say I sent you. From a weightlifting coach’s perspective? Find a doctor.

3. @michuull @Oscartyrberg – How do the Chinese program?

I was told this very sternly; “Do NOT share the program. Ever. Share the idea, but never the programs”.

You’d think the program’s magic right? It isn’t. It’s pure hard work that will likely injure a non-professional. The magic, is in how they identify errors. It really wasn’t that complex. Let’s put it this way. Prelipin’s chart says that the optimal rep for 90% load is 4 reps, up to 10 reps.Take the max range of Prelipin’s chart, and repeat daily.

That’s really why he didn’t want to have it shared.

a. Adjustment – They work to a heavy weight, form breaks down. Then they move to a lighter weight, and figure out what’s wrong, and spend 2 hours doing one exercise, at one particular section of the movement. Or they log down what the mistake was, to fix in the next phase.

b. Intensification – They begin to add more work. Exercises are prescribed based on the mistakes in the previous phase. Eg, one’s overhead balance is problematic. Find out what causes it. Faulty pull? Faulty overhead position? Traps not strong enough to hold position? Read my old posts to find out more.

c. Maximum – Get heavy, try to hit PB/PR’s. I can’t tell you the details like percentages, weight, reps, etc, but I can say, it’s much much simpler than a lot of the programs I see out there. The magic is in finding WHAT is causing the problem. And, there is a lot more volume at percentages above 90% than most writings agree is appropriate. If your coach is from Rudolph Plyuckfelder’s lineage of coaches, ask them. There’s one in New York.

4. @2freejohnny – How to be healthy in the long run? 

Nothing terribly different from a typical athlete preparation design if you want to build an Olympic athlete really. Just the usual stuff.

You need, good flexibility. You need to be strong in the core. If it hurts, don’t do it. If it feels awkward, figure out why. If your body seems to WANT to do something, despite how you keep telling it no, figure out why your body’s telling you that. You NEED to have the ability to do your exercises with high reps first, and still have good technique.

Then worry about heavy weights, because perfect form at sub-maximum weight with high reps, protects and builds. Heavy weights, close to maxes, demonstrates. Be skilled in many many movements, directional changes. Be great in your sport, but still be good at other sports. Ping pong is often played for hand-eye coordination and directional changes.

Do they like saunas?

They……LOVE saunas. I was actually dragged into the sauna the first time. They put their saunas to 80C and stay in there for at least 15 minutes, tossing water into the “steam making apparatus” every 2 minutes or something.  Then they get into a “pool’like” tub and attempt to drown you in there with their -whatever celcius water. Every night I ended up eating 2 giant bowls of noodles because I was so hungry. That variance in temperature gonna make any Southeast Asian wanna go home.

5. @jimmyebertowski – How to improve ankle mobility

Honestly, I can’t say this enough, but if it’s tight, stretch it. If it’s tight because of a restriction due to an inhibition or a facilitation somewhere else, find it, and eliminate it. Then stretch the tight joint again. Or smart people call it “mobilise”. You get the point.

6. @sanputra – Do they drink and smoke often

Not drinking, most are too young to drink. Some are Muslims, so no alcohol for them. Truthfully, I didn’t actually see any of them smoking while I was there. But I was in an academy with a university, and hostel with very young children, so I’m thinking they probably don’t do it in campus.

7. @Admiralbullfrog @bdgvang @ammar_zolkipli – Recovery

They sauna, daily. They massage daily. They get their buddies to step on their thighs, on their back, everyday after training. They stretch a heck load. They sleep I’d say about 12 hours/day. They eat a ton of nutritious food (which I sometimes ponder if it’s really nutritious). They have absolutely no stress, except for the stress of winning. If they get injured, they’re sent to the medical department that sorts them out. They have the almost perfect life I’d say. Eat, sleep, train, game

There is a funny room with IV drips though. It’s right downstairs when you enter the medical academy. I see a lot of the endurance athletes going there after training.

As for having only 3 meals a day, I’m not sure why someone cannot recover with 3 meals. I’d bet they eat 3500 calories a day of food. Plus their food are all government controlled, checked food, so it’s actually real food. Good quality.

8. @jenswillgard – What is the role of abs?

It is the (antagonist?) to the back. So weak abs=weak back. You can’t separate one or the other. In one provincial team, they make the young athletes train an entire hour of abs/back/core daily. Just like how you’d see MMA fighters train, tons of abs, 1000 reps of sit-ups, crunches, planks, oblique twists, directional changing exercises. If it works the abs, it doesn’t look or feel too awkward, and can be done for tons of repetitions, they’ll probably do it. I saw one kid doing a dragon flag randomly for 7 seconds after he saw a picture I showed him of someone doing it.

When he came down, he said “I didn’t straighten my legs completely. I had to open them. I’ll try again when I’m stronger”. They don’t just have strong abs. They’ve a strong attitude.


As 2014, draws to an end, and I’m still in China, I figured I’d say my thanks and share plans for 2015. I’ll be opening a gym, called @lifthardph in the Philippines (thus the PH) in mid January. I’m writing the book of my Chinese weightlifting experience which includes my 12 year observation and lessons in this sport and physical training. Hopefully by June. I’ll be teaching weightliting seminars as usual to fund the travels, and share some funds to be fair to weightlifting teams whose coaches and athletes have taught me heaps. They globally don’t take it, but a meal together is always nice. Sharing more info to the masses on these largely undocumented but genius methods. Also, 2015, the long delayed trip to USA. Above all, most importantly I’ll be revamping LiftHard.com so you’ll see more great content in 2015. Special thanks to the GF for pushing me and supporting me to learn more this year, so I can be a better teacher next year. She literally FORCED me to go to China, though we originally wanted to spend Christmas and the new year together. Can’t thank her enough. I SINCERELY thank the new followers on my account and I promise to continue sharing more thought provoking methods and discoveries as I go along. Without social media, I would not push to learn so much. So thank you. Really. Thank you. Stick around! 2015, will be a great year. Now where’s that steak restaurant? Been craving one since I got here. #lifthard8 #weightlifting #crossfit #fitness #newyear #philippines

A photo posted by Kirksman Teo (@lifthard8) on

9. _davelee_ – Partying 4 times a year. No alcohol on campus

10. Benjamin.andres.acevedo – Are they big on supplements?


The big guy (130KG bw, 185KG/230KG) actually asked me “Do supplements actually work? How long must I wait before it works?“. He asked me that because they got a bucket of supplements and tea leaves. 

Everyone ended up fighting for the tea leaves while I scanned through their supplement list.

There was protein shakes, some creatine stuff, BCAA (I think), and a bunch of other nonsense in there. I believe the only supplement that they’re very big on is actually B1 and B12. That they believe works. What does it do? I got the same answers.

Make you stronger, recover faster. I could have sworn I’ve used B12 before competition once, but the only thing I remembered was my tongue tasted like metal. I’m still clueless as to what it actually did. What do you think? Do supplements really work?

11. chrisyang150 –How about going over the receiving of the jerk? I know you talked about the driving through the toes, but what are you looking for in the shoulders, elbows, etc? A stable, strong, immovable position.

12. @musselsglasses – Maybe expand on things we could do on off days to recover? Stretching, myofascial release, heat/ ice treatment..

All of the above. They dislike when athletes train despite injuries. If the knees hurt from squats, don’t squat. Does it hurt during pulls? No? Then you can pull. You must find a movement that doesn’t hurt that particular joint or section. They dislike it, because it creates a compensatory pattern. My host hurt his knee.

At the end of the week, the coach scolded him for trying to snatch because he was already moving sideways when snatching. Compensation pattern. They rather you take the entire time off, just doing high repetition work (which is the base of athletic development anyway) with light weights to build tendon, ligament connectivity.

Isolation work. No compound movements. When I asked about getting weaker, I was shooed off, to former Chinese number 1, who stopped squatting for slightly over a year. He said it’s rubbish that your strength can drop so significantly over the course of a year that 3 months of solid training can’t build it back up. He told me that if the weight creates pain, or broken form, that’s the weight you need to do, properly without pain, without form breakdown. That’s getting stronger. Not just kilos.

I always say, “Weight on the barbell, is the indication of your technical deficiency. Stop, when your form breaks down“. I think this is the same concept.

13. @trevor.a.chung – Hand care Moisturiser. And a razor blade which they use to shave the callouses when it gets too thick. And for shoulder presses, they do it quite a bit. Often with dumbbells too.

This guy is the former national champion and I believe Asian champ for 2007. I can’t remember his category but if they’re saying he’s the only guy that can challenge Tian Tao, I’m assuming he’s a 85kg. Guy is muscled to the teeth. This is his first heavy cycle and ended up with 150kg triples for 2 sets. The coach said since I came with a camera, the athletes have performed exceptionally well. I ever heard one say, “Lets put a show for them shall we?”. He said to me, “You’re so skinny and you’ve a damaged spine. Make sure you do more bodybuilding and core work daily. Pull everyday and lessen your squats till you can move evenly. Pull heavy cuz light pulls you tend to move too quick. Heavy pulls are safer (huh??) Less than 3 reps, 8 to 12 sets. What a confusing day. Also, I think I’ll get the last Nike China weightlifting jacket from the national team tomorrow. Stupid stoked. #lifthard8 #weightlifting After this lift, he won 12 bottles of beer. Last I saw him, he was drunk. They have tomorrow off, so they’re having fun tonight.

A video posted by Kirksman Teo (@lifthard8) on

14. @juanitosmalls – Joint care

High rep, partial, pause work

15. @danielscherwitzel – Wave loading techniques. How to be more stable in the jerk. Increasing overhead flexibilty.

Refer to Q11 for overhead stability. Refer to Q5 for flexibility.

Wave loading techniques. If it’s heavy, go lighter, do more reps. If the groove starts coming in, go heavier. If the groove goes away, go lighter, find it again.

There is no pre-determined program to this wave-loading.

16. undisputed_weightlifting – I would love to know more about general training atmosphere. Athlete and coach interaction. Athlete to athlete interaction. Mood. Music, if any. Daily challenges. How they deal with specific attitudes in the training hall. Things like that. Thoughts?

General training atmosphere is fun. It’s like these guys generally enjoy training and pushing each other. Athlete and coach, respectful. It’s the typical Asian culture, where the coach is seen as father. They pour tea for their coaches, boil water for the seniors to drink, use a platform closer to the edge letting seniors lift in the middle. Normal stuff.

No music. Not in the places I went to. Some have them.

There aren’t any real peculiar attitudes. Everybody’s there to learn, to achieve something worthwhile, the coaches would be capable of shutting down any behaviour that’s inappropriate. In China, they’re paid to train, which gives the coaches greater control over their behaviour.

Furthermore, they’re not positively motivated at all, so anytime a positive comment is slipped it, it’s like these guys found gold on their barbells. It actually means something, because they rarely ever get it.

In my 2 years with a Chinese coach, I was complimented twice. Throughout the entire time I was in China, seeing about 50 weightlifting athletes, I saw one athlete complimented. By his teammate. Coaches don’t compliment. You haven’t won anything worthwhile. You don’t deserve anything.

I did have an opportunity to speak about positive motivation to the coach, and he says it’s unnecessary. They should be driven enough in the first place, without need for positive motivation. If you need positive motivation, you don’t belong amongst them. They call these “Village champions“. Only good within the village, throw them to an international competition, they can’t perform.

17. lllih – I would love to hear more about chinese lifters having additional height added to their heels and the chinese weightlifting shoe Liao Hui uses.

It helps with their ankle flexibility. Helps them push the knees further forward which helps sit between the hips more easily.

18. niel.patel – Anything on tendon care, rhythm/timing, core exercises (I suspect they don’t do whatever is propagated in fitness), and scapular/rotator cuff related movements. Also, I’d like to hear more about the lady upstairs who does the programming.

Refer to Q.4


So what do Chinese people do before dinner? They talk squats, MRI, ligament tears, and squats. My mate has a ligament tear, they discussed how it happened. He was taught to push the knees out and sit back. Ended up with a tear in the ligament. The doctor (his dad was a weightlifter. He went to study physiotherapy) explained how load is forced into the knee causing a grinding effect. With time, it tightens all the lower body muscles and causes… Hyper-tonic or something was the term. Basically, super tense muscles. Something I personally experienced pushing my knees out. He then explained with the coaches how pushing the knees forward and allowing the hips to naturally sit between the ankles is the safest way to squat. Considering the head coach’s coach that came yesterday was 80 years old and did lightning fast squats, its safe to say I’m a lot more confident of teaching knees forward squats. Or just… Really #squats. #weightlifting #lifthard8

A video posted by Kirksman Teo (@lifthard8) on


19 rayzorfit –  what would you say is the fundamental difference between the Chinese way of training and everybody else? Not just training, recovery, auxiliary exercises(that would be great too), but their philosophy behind what they do, their approach, what are the things that set them apart?

Absolutely nothing in terms of training. I won’t comment about any other nation’s method of training, as every nation has great coaches. There’s really, nothing the Chinese do that’s particularly special while in training. I’ve seen the Malaysians do what the Chinese do, I’ve seen the Polish do it, the Russians do it, it’s the same old thing.

The biggest difference, I’d say, is just….talent pool size. And open mindedness. Talent pool size, really there’s nothing to explain. When you have a 15 year old snatching 150KG jerking 190KG, you seriously begin to consider burning the posters that say “Hard work beats talent every time

Open mindedness, they’re willing to listen, test, and if it fails, they put it aside. They listen to my concept, pick out what they like, point out what they disagree, and together, we built new ideas. They didn’t have an unkind word to say about other countries methods. They just happen to think they’ve found one that works based on the results they’re achieving. So they just continue doing what they do, while sending their coaches or inviting coaches, from around the world to get back more information and education. Even to me.

I’m 28 years old, I sat with a 39 year old, 270KG squatter, who listened intently on what my thoughts were about training. They’re just very open minded, respectful, and cheerful. Coach did say, “If I knew the answer to everything, I’d be afraid to ask me“, meaning you need to always stay open minded and curious to learn.

I’d say above all, direction. One of the guys actually said, that strength sports are extremely important in the modern world because it’s defiance. It shows something positive, against the usual ideas that media love to align with China. I’m not going to go any further on this, but trust me on this, China doesn’t care what jokes you make about her.


And that’s it!!! I think I’ve answered most if not all. Some I’ve grouped your questions because they’re similar kinds. Now this is just free content. Don’t feel obliged, or challenged by any of this. If you found this helpful, that’s awesome! If not, well, there are other sites out there.


LiftHard.com is currently being “renovated”. These pages will stay up, but in about 2-3 months, you’ll see an entirely different LiftHard.com. I’ve also gotten those straps and finger plasters. Every purchase you make, will help towards the revamping of LiftHard.com as a site. After this new upgrade is installed, I actually have to spend $250/month just to upkeep it. So, all purchases help this site.

I’ll give you a link to buy it very, very soon.

If you want to put a comment, go back to my Instagram page. I know, it’s a hassle but anyone that runs a site will tell you this. People are a lot nicer (or at least, less mean), when they reply on their mobiles.


Why I struggle to answer reps/sets/%

The environment, that you’re raised in, builds the way you understand something. The perception, the reaction to a stimulus. If you’re born in a negative environment, then you have an inclination to become rather negative in terms of how you react to things.

Shit happens to everyone, it’s just how you respond to it that makes the difference.

Now, how in the world can this be an introduction to a blog post regarding “Why it confuses me when people ask reps/sets/%?”.



It can.

When I first began training, I began with martial arts. We just had to repeat an action over, and over and over and over again. Each punch that we put out, there was a mentor looking right next to us, making sure it wasn’t a lazy punch. Each time we squatted in that painful wide squat stance for literally 45 minutes – 1 hour, we had people peering at us, to make sure that our quads were burning and not sitting so much on the hips.

That was training for me.

When I began to lift a little bit of weights, doing the bicep curls because that’s what I saw on TV, I would just do them till my arms felt sore and stiff. Then I’d rest it and do it again.

My father then began training me, and he would make me do push-ups till my shoulders and chest hurt, and then he’d make me do it again the next day, just that he would add the pull-ups this time. He’d just say, “It’s fine. You’re a boy. You’ll survive

So obviously, when I hit the gym, the natural inclination was just to go to a machine or free weight and just do reps and reps and reps until I would get sick of doing it, and throw up. Then I’d come back and do it again. That, was training, right?

Then came along, super intelligent highly complex programs that built strength to no end.

End result? Start with a 120KG squat, end with a 160KG squat.

We never used percentages. We looked at effort, mistakes, and technique proficiency, etc.

Take a look at an average training program back in the day.

Before that, watch Dmitry Berestov squat.

Snatch Day

  1. Snatch to 1RM. If fail 3x, stop. Cut by a few KGs first, and then do triples. Goal is to take a weight, where you can complete all 5 sets of 3. And do them nicely too. If you miss one, you redo that set, or you reduce the weight and cut by 2 sets. So if you’ve done 4 sets and the 5th set, you miss the last rep. You either redo that entire set of 3. Or you take a slightly lesser weight, and do 2 extra sets (at least) for 3 reps.

    The biggest fear for us, was to approach the 5th set and fail. Horrible fear.

  2. Snatch pull from floor. Add weights till the form breaks down. Try at least 2-3 sets to fix the form. If it still breaks down, drop the weight slightly and complete 6 sets of 3 reps or more. If you do more, nobody will complain. As long as the form is right. Don’t break form. Don’t slow down. If the previous lift was 1 second, the other 2 lifts must be 1 second as well.
  3. Panda pull off blocks. Add weights till form breaks down. Reduce. Do until you get bored shitless.
  4. Snatch balance to 1RM. Drop weights, do 3 reps/set. Do 5 sets of 3. If you can do more during that set, do more. If you can do more than 5, add weights.
  5. Behind neck push presses. 1RM. Do 5 sets of 3.
  6. Hops for 100 reps. Same height every jump.


  1. Clean pulls to hip, focusing on shifting weight on ball of foot, 5 reps, at clean 1RM. I did this because my unusually long arms made it a real challenge to get the bar into the spot, with my heels coming off the ground. Usually, my heels would just want to stick on the ground and this posed a massive challenge to get proper bar height. I’d usually just did this to get that feeling in my head.
  2. Clean and jerk to 1RM. Then 5×2-3 reps. Whatever that weight may be. MY jerks were always an issue, so the cleans were not given too much of an emphasis
  3. Slow clean pull to 1RM (technical 1RM), and then 6×4 focusing on getting the heels off the ground and extending. I HATED clean pulls and I still hate them because it would be excruciating to the quads when extending. I regularly got cramps in the middle of the set because I started with the weights in the heels at first. Changed that to starting with weight on the ball and it never happened again.
  4. Power clean + push presses to 6×3
  5. The horriblest, disgustingest, utterly horrificiest (Grammar can go out the window here) exercise in the existence of the universe. Jerk dips. You take a weight that’s MASSIVELY over your squat 1RM, dip and pop this disgustingly heavy weight for sets of 10 until your quads feel like they’re going to explode.
  6. Frog jumps for 100 reps

Usually, the general rule if you can do 5 reps, you should add weight. There was no percentages, there was no reps/sets. There was;

  1. Technique must be perfect.
  2. Weight must be centre
  3. You must demonstrate control, because competition is a performance. You must give “performance” when training. Be stoic. Be calm. Be strong. Psyching up is internal, and scary to the person sitting beside you, not loud and entertaining.
  4. You must know how the weight went up and what your mistakes were & how to fix it.
  5. How can you move, to make your muscles work less?
  6. Above all, you must know, how your body is feeling today and how can you react based on the response your body is giving. What is it telling you? What is it saying to you that it wants more or less of?

If you can identify the last bit, “What is it saying to you, that it wants more or less of?“, you’re sorted. You’ll stop listening to your ego and begin listening to your body.

This is why originally, when people say “What % of 1RM, should I use for the panda pull in comparison to my snatch?“, I get that empty hole in my head going like “……erh……what the hell is %1RM for a panda pull in comparison to the snatch?” Thankfully, I had some good mentors and Zatriosky and Verkoshansky’s book to help me out. Reading Mike Tuscherer’s stuff helped.

Through the years of course, I’ve learned as I need to do my coaching online and these percentages make the clients more comfortable as I slowly wean them off percentages. Listening and feeling your body is the most important thing. If I had learned to do this earlier, many of the issues I have today, wouldn’t be present.

Anyhoo, on that note, I’m off to Melbourne now. Got a new project to run there. This will be exciting.

Don’t forget, if you’re around Europe, you’ve got the 2013 World Championships coming up!

Cheers weightlifting world!!

, ,

Rounded Back Pulls

Now, you’ve already been exposed to the idea of a squatting and pushing the knees in at a particular portion of the squat instead of pushing it out. You’ve been exposed to the idea of behind the neck pressing and behind neck pull-ups. So, let’s just say that readers of this site are pretty open minded.

Let’s push boundaries again okay? At LiftHard.com, if I don’t push boundaries of what I do, I feel uncomfortable. I’ve only got another 60 years MAX on earth, so I want to make every day count. So I push boundaries. Occasionally, I fall off the cliff, but I climb back. So let’s push this boundary about, “pulling with a rounded back

The History

I first saw this sort of pulling in the conventional gyms where I worked out at, before I switched into weightlifting. I thought to myself “Man, these jokers are setting themselves up for injury. NSCA said so, ACE said, NASM said so. The professionals said so. This is horrible!“. At 19, of course you know everything there is to know about the world, so I would snub my nose at them thinking I know best.

I mean, I was in university, I had a career in logistics coming up for me, no worries. I had finished digesting a book about anatomy. I was reading a super thick personal trainers manual. I am a professional. A …professional dumbass.

As you go along with life, you start to see things that make you question what you know. And now, I’ve come to a point in life where I believe that, every thing has a way of working. It’s just how you support the decisions you decide to take. That’s why I rarely if ever argue about stuff. I’ll listen to what you think. Then I’ll share what I think. And I never attempt to switch someone to how I think. I just share it with a passion and you make the decision.

This is because I’ve found that during the heat of the argument/debate/discussion, our emotions take over so much, that we can’t actually listen to what’s being said. We hear, but we don’t listen. Yes, it’s been a long time coming.

Now, while mechanically and structurally, rounded back pulling is an absolute disaster, let’s consider the fact that muscles are there, to protect us. Help us do work. If you look at just one aspect, this is what happens;

Structure : “If you bend me, I will blow up and die and you will live with eternal back pain”

But what if you consider the muscular aspect of things?

Muscular: “Well….now you’re holding me in an isometric arched, locked out fashion. But what about my dynamic un-arched fashion? Isn’t that another element you want me to work on too? I mean, you don’t just do static squats, static pull-ups….how come with me, you only do static work?

Now, let’s consider what a gymnast does. I like using gymnasts because they defy gravity and many rules of biomechanics. The iron cross.

Now now, before you go saying that, it’s a static position and that it’s safe if it’s in a static position because there’s no dynamic movements affecting the stabilisers, etc, think about what this man’s doing. He’s supporting his bodyweight, with his shoulders! If you think about it.

That’s “not safe” at all. But, we’ve gotta try taking other aspects of training like the body’s ability to mould itself to the movement that you desire to create.

Try not to confuse what personal trainers do at their certifications, as they’re probably going to be working with professional “do-no-physical-activity” people. I think this is the confusion that a lot of people spurt. They think that all rules taught by personal trainers apply to the world of sports too.

IF you want to be an athlete, you’ve got to take risks. You’ve got to attempt movements that are risky, but in the safest possible manner. This is why I don’t believe that trainers can coach athletes without a mentor. And why I don’t believe that athletes can train normal people without first being put into a remodelling course.

One’s physical activity for better health. One’s physical activity, to challenge the boundaries of what’ humans are capable of. When you apply the limitations of physical activity for better health to athletes, you’ll see …limitations. If you apply what athletes do, to normal people, you’ll see injuries.

Take a look at this link to see Lu Xiaojun doing it.

How to perform them?

  1. Understand the rule of 50/50. 50/50 means, not too tense, not too loose.
  2. The back has to be 50/50
  3. Empty bar
  4. Take a grip between a clean and snatch grip (medium grip)
  5. Feel it hinge off the middle of the back, off the lats, off the spinal erectors
  6. Take a 3 second up – down tempo. When pulling make sure you’re still thinking about how to sweep the bar to contact the hip
  7. Start with 10 reps or so and as you get used to it, you can choose to go up or down in rep ranges
  8. Work on feeling the back stretch and contract, and work.
  9. Think like a bodybuilder. Maximum contraction.

Do them right, 3-4 weeks, you’ll see something change.

And don’t forget the webinar on Sunday 9.30PM Melbourne time (+10 GMT)

EDIT: Another option is this

, , ,

I explain the Chinese pull method.

First off, I’m super excited to be talking to some of the lifters that are currently on an American team, that want to learn the Chinese pull. They’ve been improving, just by listening to a friend of mine Stephen off Skype and the telephone and they’re getting better results already. Even their main coach has come to say, they ARE getting more consistent.

It’s likely, that we’ll be doing a video recording and get more lifters on board the Chinese pull. These guys are big names amongst the weightlifting side of things. Big big, names.

This is the gist of the entire video.

In the usual pulls that I see taught around the internet and many places, it seems to happen like this. But once again, and observer’s eye can only be that accurate. Just like how so many people, misconstrue the so called “Chinese pull”, I would also be likely to misconstrue the typical weightlifting pull.

So do feel free to correct me, should you feel it being necessary.

Conventional pull

1. Back straight, and begin pulling the bar by pushing the knees back. This initiates a backward curve to the bar.

2. Right before the athlete tips over, begin sweeping the bar back into the hips and getting ready to explode. The speed of the lift begins to increase steadily

3. As the bar contacts the middle of the thigh, begin pulling up, keeping arms straight and finally, extend the bar overhead, get the chest out the way.

How we teach the pull.
Of course I’l be much more detailed about this. This is the pull which I teach and learn and live every day, so I know this one to a much deeper level.

Concept of the Chinese pull

1. The bar moves straight, not backwards. If it happens to loop out around the knee, that’s perfectly fine as long you can sweep it back to the middle of the body.

2. Bring the hips into the bar while keeping the lats strong, so you can create a “collision”

3. Punch the entire, ankle, knee and hip upwards and boom the bar flies right up.

4. Because you’ll be on your toes, and falling , your natural reaction would be just to pull yourself under and not wait anymore for the bar.

How to do the Chinese pull.

1. Set your hips high, and lock the middle of your back. Pull your shoulders back and down, the entire time keeping your chest flat.

2. Lower your hips slightly with your knees, keeping the weight on the quads the entire time.

3. Tighten the lats slightly.

4. Don’t take a deep breath, or you’ll even up hyperextending the lower back. There’s a 50/50. Take 50/50%.

DO NOT change your torso angle until the bar contacts the hip. If you change the torso angle, you won’t get to maximise this pull’s potential. This is extremely difficult for people who are used to the other pull technique, so take your time practicing the pulls to improve this.

6. Pull the bar in a straight line, as much as possible till it passes the knees. If it loops, don’t bother, because the game begins after the knee.

7. Once it passes the knee, you MUST RESIST the desire to pull back. Ignore the fact that it feels natural. Wanting to dump a 200KG bar over your head, isn’t natural. Naturally, you’ll also feel like shagging every moving thing on the face of earth. That doesn’t make it right.

Begin to really really row the bar into your hips with your lats.

8. While you’re rowing, you must match the speed of that row with the speed of your hip coming forward and getting ready to “slice” the bar up. Do not try to prolong the pull by and stabilise yourself. You will defeat the entire purpose of this pull. It’s MEANT to make you feel like you’re falling because that’s exactly where you’re going next. Under the bar.

Contact the bar by punching the hips up, and finish on the toes. You do this right, the bar will fly because momentum has helped you.

9. At this point, you will feel like falling and that’s correct. That’s why your panda pull becomes so significant. It mimics the pulling down pattern of the snatch and the clean. It will be automatic.

Remember, this technique is significantly different from the conventional pull. Good luck trying it.

And honestly, trust me, don’t ….just don’t bother snatch and cleans with this on the first day. Try to slowly do the pulls with these babies. And then put them together. Remember, decompose and recompose people. Don’t try to do everything perfect right off the bat.

Adios amigos!!

Super excited to be working with these top American lifters! And Melbourne…get ready for this. We’re coming. Crossfit….C********. We’ll announce it soon.