T Nation

Oly-Training With a Real Coach


I decided that after a couple years of lifting that I would get into Olympic Lifting.

I had been working pretty hard at my snatch technique, but after doing this alone, I knew I needed help.

Although Christian Thibaudeau articles have been very helpful, I knew it was time to try to find a trainer or coach.


I tried contacting a few local training centers: http://www.northeastsportstraining.com
and http://www.ppceast.com/

Although both were almost 50miles away, I still contacted them.....but neither of them returned my email.

After looking around the internet, I found the same organization that Shane Hammon competes in.....the Powerlifter turned Olympic Lifter.

So, I found a coach!

Denis Reno is a 67+ year old Olympic Weightlifting Coach that has been training Olympic hopefuls over his (estimating) 50years involved the sport.

He even has a newletter that been in publication since 1969...and he sents about 7-10 issues out each year. About 1000 sent out for each publication....it's great. He loses money on the publication, but he does it because he LOVES the sport.

So, I met with him and one of his "students"...a 50+ year old Oly lifter with records in a few age/weight categories over the past few decades. (he started Oly-competing in ~70s)

We met at Don's construction shop/garage...where I received a one-on-one session for two hours. Don would get in-between sets training, as he has an upcoming competition in Feb.

Damn I am sore, but I am so frickin psyched!

What did I learn? I am a noob...I don't even know what I don't know. But the coach liked that...he said it appears I am "coachable"....He liked that I didn't ask "what am I doing wrong?"....just repeat, critique for improvement, and repeat.

take-aways from today:
- hand positioning
- chest-over-bar
- ass-out, "duck-ass"
- slip, or "sneak" under
- it's all legs

I think I did fairly well...it'll just take allot of practice!

I may not get to the Olympics, but I have already learned more in one day than months in the gym alone!


And the amazing part is the he doesn't charge for training....he just does it because he loves Olympic weightlifting and doesn't want to see his sport die out.


FREE oly-training from a professional?

wow you hit the jackpot with this one congrats


Denis in a great guy, your in good hands with him.


Not only is he a good coach, but you'll probably have access after a while to the back issues of his newsletter, so you'll get to learn of the history of the sport that appears to be getting forgotten.


I would love to see an interview with this guy (on T-Nation). Just from talking to him for a couple of hours, it seems to me he's in the Legend category...and part of a dying breed of lifters.

Did I mention he's in his 70s and still competes every 5 years?


It's funny you mention the history....as we wrapped up with Romanian Deads, he laughed when I referenced them as "Romanian" because he recalled when RDLs first hit the scene.

he also referenced when the western world first got a glimpse of the Bulgarian training centers....and how it was so old school (think Apollo's training center in Rocky3).

Great Stuff!

And if anyone interviews him (hint,hint), they have to ask him about the Air Conditioner story.

Needless to say, the man likes to talk....and I loved to listen.

Oh...and one time he got a call from someone in Germany, wanting to see the (infamous) Reno's Weightlifting Club. And you have to laugh, since we lift in a garage of a construction company. He told the person that wherever he goes, that's where the "club" is.

Just remember, where ever you go, there you are! (Quote from Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai)


This is just what I am looking for. I have benn doing O-lifts for about 12 years and I have hit a wall. It is my technique. I know it is. Please give me some more info


I PM'd you more info but you should check out usaweightlifting.org and look for a local club.

Denis doesn't like email, so don't bother....just call him or send a (snail-mail) letter.

If anyone is interested in his newletter, he "charges" $26/year (US), he does ship to Canada and Internationally too (for a little more money. And it's a compilation of data, photos, stories from enthusiasts from AROUND THE WORLD. As I said before, he loses money on it...he's retired and it's what he enjoys doing.

Maybe it's time that I modernized his system and got him on "the net" LOL


im jealous.


Hey Strongman, I'm glad that link worked out for you! There were a bunch of NE lifting clubs, I was hoping something would be in there.

I know what you mean about finally having a coach. I have been doing O-lifts for a few years, but with almost no formal training. I took the USAW coaches course last summer at MidAmerican Nazarene University under Tom Cross. It was the last one he was ever doing. Coach Cross is over seventy and a senior internatinal weightlifting coach. He reminded me of Yoda--small, slightly stooped and walked around with a stick (mostly for instruction, sometimes for admonishing). I learned so much from him in that short weekend...technique, history and theory on weightlifting. It was truly priceless.


Thanks for your help!

I know what you mean about Yoda....wise in his years he is. The history of the sport is great. I think this is the start of a beautiful relationship.

And I love his newsletter. not only does it cover the "young bucks", but his coverage of the old-timers is amazing.

There was a picture of a 90year old Deadlifting 300lbs - Amazing....and many stories like it.


We have similar kind of chap in the gym where I normally train in Genesis Gym in London/UK.
at,as far as I remember, 74, he's still doing plenty of O-lifting 3xweek, competes in Power lifting, squatting UN-equiped 160-170 kg (353-370 lb) and deadlifting around 400.

All that @ 70 kg/154 lb body wieght!!

On the top of all this, competes reqularly in discus, hammer, shot put and all shit like it...

these guys are amazing


StrongMan, what part of MA is this guy in? I wouldn't be able to do regular lessons the way my schedule is, but I think I could use some serious work on my technique from someone that knows what they're doing. Maybe he'd be willing to let me just come in every once in a while when I can make it. Like a tune-up.


They practice in Don's (construction company's) garage in Norwood, on the Walpole line.

If there are a few guys that want to join in, call him and ask.

If he's cool with it, I wouldn't mind helping in communications, since he's not an email person....and I am on a computer all day.


That is awesome. My little brother is going there to play baseball on scholarship, and will be working under Cross's protege. He's psyched about it, and I don't blame him. She's a very good lifter and seems to be a very articulate coach, and the baseball coach has basically given free rein to her in terms of training. Not to mention the facility there is clean and very well equipped. This should be interesting....


Thats cool! Whitney really knows her stuff...she is going to do a great job with that program. Definately not losing anything by Coach Cross retiring.

They have great (progressive) ideas when it comes to strength and conditioning. Definatley not the norm in strength rooms around the country. Their entire program is built around Olympic lifting. Every semester they have a lift-a-thon to raise money; last time they had something like 80 athletes compete in it. Good work.

We'll have to keep in touch, as I will probably also be doing some work out there this coming semester (possibly the summer and fall as well)...I am making a jump into S&C full time and hope to do some "interning" before I find my way to a DI or professional spot. That little school produces some great athletes.


Training log week2:

I had my alone practice day on wednesday....it's amazing when you "get it" in front of the coach/teacher and you "forget it" when you do you homework.

Wed was an 'ok' workout, I never felt like I got in a groove....but today I returned to practice with the rest of the club.

My snatch is getting better, but I need to work on my OH Squats, if I am going to pull any more than the 90kgs I was doing today.

My C&J seems to be going pretty well, I worked up to 105kg. I need to work more on the jerk, and keeping my elbows out on the top of the clean.

Practice, Practice, Practice.

The other club members I met were pretty impressive. Weighing in at ~160lbs and snatching nearly 300lbs....makes me feel like a weak/fat bastard =)

Oh well, it was great watching the quick technique of some more experienced lifters...watching/learning technique from demonstration is nice.


You can't put a price on a good coach. I've been trying to teach myself for the past 2 years or so and I'm going to have to find myself a good coach when I have time. I just hope that I haven't taught myself too many bad habits in the mean time. This is a site that has been particularly helpful. http://www.hatchdome.com/home.htm


thanks for the link Darshu42