T Nation

Olympic Lifting Is Kicking My Ass

So i've started being coached for olympic lifting, and this is no walk in the park. The goals are serious, the coach is tough, and the workouts are brutal.

After 2 weeks my body is having trouble keeping up, especially my upper body. Wrists are very sore, especially at the bottom on an overhead squat. My hands used to get torn up alot but they are getting better. The worst is my shoulders. I am actually getting weaker at the overhead press and i can’t get any sort of explosiveness out of them which makes my coach yell at me for not jerking a squat jerk or locking out, which in turn angers me for not being able to perform.

Every time I do an overhead press, I hear a sharp snap in my shoulder and acute pain in the rotator cuff. any sort of overhead movement actually makes me wince in pain. I’m so pissed that I am not progressing because my whole life right now is based around this.

I show up 45 minute early to warm up, i do arm spins, stretches, dislocates, bar work, i stretch thouroughly after each workout, which last up to and over 2 hours sometimes, 3 days a week. i am taking super high doses of fish oil(25g +) +5000 calories a day, 250+g of protein, tons of good fats eggs walnuts pb etc flax oil, glucosamine, i swallow a a spoonful of shredded ginger each day and drink over 5 litres of water.

off days im doing soft tissue work on the foam or pvc roller, using 2 tennis balls taped together, 1 minutes + stretch holds etc, i alternate days with either a freezing cold/scalding hot contrast shower, or a 20 minute epsom salt bath, and im getting at least 10 hours of sleep with melatonin per night.

this isn’t enough, im feel like im moving backwards and it angers me, what can i do?

is this just something that all beginners have to go through, and after 4 - 5 weeks ill eventually get better? every day i feel like i’ve been hit by a truck, i’ve gained 3 lbs but i look much less muscular and i haven’t gotten a “pump” since i’ve started

If your getting weaker, take a break, rest or just lower your training a bit.

I can’t take a break, this isn’t my own time, this is a school, i have to train and i have to give my all

Take it EASY in the shoulder warm ups before lifting. You are NOT going to get your shoulders “loose/flexible” in 45mins before your training.

I get the same issue too in my right shoulder. But in my case the pain comes from putting the bar back on the ground (can’t drop it unless absolutely I have to, its a commercial gym, and the other is a college gym). A few months ago Front squatting USED to give me issues too, but not thats not the case anymore.

Give it a while… Do rehab type work on ur shoulder AND upperback in your DAYS OFF. Also, make sure your coach KNOWS that your not using the pain as an excuse to get off easy when training. Talk to him in private after training.


I thought this thread title was about me! Think about what starting OL all over again at 50, with a deconditioned body and several already damaged joints. Has it kicked my ass? Of course, it kicks my ass every single workout, I’m trashed the next day, and I just suck it up and keep going. The recovery is slowly getting better, atleast I tnink it is, but then I get a lot stronger and the new heavier weights I use kick my ass all over again!

I'm constantly in search of the magic weapon to make my body adapt better, from fish oil, BCAA's, etc to deep tissue massage, to different kinds of stretching, and now I'm onto foam rolling and such. Does it all help-a little.

You gotta love it. That is the only way. Plus, if youre young, eventually your body will condition to it. Mine may never, and if so I'll just keep getting trashed, but I will not be denied.                   Doc

one caution-get the shoulder checked out. if you have a bad rotator cuff, you can't train your way through that. I made that mistake in the past, and have two shoulder surgeries to show for it.

What is the nature of your training? Do you train with other people? Are you trained alone? Can you talk to your coach about what’s bothering your shoulders?

note : press is strength in the shoulders, jerk is explosive from lowerbody. Once you realize that, jerking will be easier.

your body will adapt to it. Took me ~2 weeks when I was just starting, and then when coach put me on a real routine, it took me 3 almost 4 weeks to adapt to the kind of stress it puts on the body.

if your rotator cuff is hurting, seriously look into that, that could be bad, specially if its cracking like you say it is.

and Dr PC is right, got to love this!! This sport takes a lot out of you. 2hour workout? I had a 3hr workout this week and I was so happy, it was a short one!!

you won’t get a pump and you probably will gain some weight, maybe muscle, maybe not, but your body has to adapt to the different stimuli. OL is low reps, gets your body effecient, not bigger.

[quote]romanaz wrote:

you won’t get a pump and you probably will gain some weight, maybe muscle, maybe not, but your body has to adapt to the different stimuli. OL is low reps, gets your body effecient, not bigger.[/quote]

You know, romanaz, we might be in danger of having a mutual admiration society thing going, but you often throw out a comment or two that I really like. Like this one. Since I really decided to go nearly purely OL, I couldn’t keep this stict, clean bodybuilding diet going.

After a typical 2-3 hour tough OL workout, when I go home, my body tells me to EAT and DRINK like crazy. And I have listened to that. Gained ten pounds in the past month, only half muscle, but I don’t care. I am more of an athlete today than I was a month ago, so I know I’m doing something right.
BTW, all of this applies to you too Shultzie. Doc

guys, i absolutely love the training, I’m just frustrated that my body cant keep up.

today i woke up and wanted to die. my neck was sprained from squat jerking (wrong form, all this shit is from fucking up) and i could only lay on one side when i slept. barely got any sleep, my elbows throb with pain etc bascially all the joints in my arm feel sprained. i feel like i was just in a car accident literally.

its not the muscle that’s sore, its the joints, so rehab work could help? maybe. im just deathly afraid that maybe my body just doesn’t have what it takes.

Neo: thanks for the info, i thought maybe with a long enough warm up i could avoid pain, but i think im going to have to do that on off days with a different approach

Undeadlift: I’m being trained at Sabaria Weightlifting school by a Hungarian ex national team member. I train along side people who won commonwealth games medals and one guy actually made it to the 2004 olympics, theres also a few older guys who have been doing it for years, needless to say im the weakest one, with the poorest form etc. The coach is very tough, sometimes after a set if im just dropping the bar of fucking up royally he yells at me and drops hints like “maybe i wont make it so far” but then will later flip around and be nice to me and ask about my life and shit, its a rollercoaster but i think he means well to push me hard. every time he gets angry at me i get angry at myself for doing poorly.

the only time he took it easy on my shoulders was during a set i was yelping out involuntarily in pain and almost crying, so he let me do a few sets of heavy triples in the back squat before moving on to snatching.
snatching over and over and over and over with just 40kg, i must have snatched 50 times, and got maybe 15 good ones in.

im thinking too hard about all the different parts of the lift instead of just luetting it flow into one graceful movement. i’ve been flattened by the bar, dropped it on my lower back, even on top of my head. i just wish i was getting better, i wish i could train twice a day every day and have the physique to sustain it

Hm, this is interesting. I went through a period of serious issues with overhead pressing, but I just worked through it. I had joint pains, but when I told my coach that this pain seemed to be brought about by following [T-Nation Author]'s plans for healthy shoulders, he downright blew his lid. His words were basically “That is ridiculous, do not waste your fucking time with that shit if you have the flexibility and strength then the lifts will come, the power will come, but don’t worry about preventing injury because as soon as you do that you’ve lost”

Go /easy/ with your soft tissue work and prehab work, because it might be doing you more harm than good.

I’m going to see an ART specialist this week, I think you might want to consider doing the same. If you can work the olympic lifts pain free just do them - don’t do any supplementary exercises. Just get warm with cleans/snatches/good mornings/RDLs with an empty bar and do some activation work for the posterior chain: band x-walks, jogging butt-kicks, et cetera, you can even do some light foam rolling on the glutes, hammies, lower back before you get started. Just don’t overdo shit.

You’ll get your “pop” going when you start just working the pulls (forget heavy deadlifts) and the full lifts, you just need to get your technique up. It’s very common for lifters to overthink shit at first, especially now with the information on the internet. Just lift, keep it up, you’ll improve.

shcultzie, your body will get used to it, give it some time. And Stop thinking. You can’t be thinking during the lift, it ruins the explosiveness of it. You can’t be thinking “ok, pick up off the floor using all leg power, then around knees explode and jump and shrug up and pull yourself under the bar.”

You can’t be conciously be doing each part of the lift. This isn’t PL where a lift can take 3-5 or more seconds! In PL the lift is slow and you can think through it. In OL, you have to condition your body to remember what to do at each point in the lift and then, just do it.

are you doing the snatchs from the floor?

and shit man, I’ve hit my nose/chin/top of head and lowerback all within the span of a week. And this was like 2-3 weeks ago.

you’ll get it man, don’t be discouraged. It takes a while to get conditioned to do a twice a day type of lifting. the only guy I know who does two a days, has been lifting at least 4-5 years.

imo, if your just learning the lifts, the hang variants are the way to go.

I suggest getting a GOOD, RECOMMENDED chiropractor. Keeping your shoulders in place and back aligned is key. Your problem sounds like a capsular impingment of some variety. All the soft tissue work in the world is going to be for naught if you are misplaced in your spine and joints and vice versa.

My chiro keeps my shoulders fresh and strong while my training partner grimaces with every OH squat.


Schultzie, you’re getting bombarded with advice now. I reread your posts, and the way you describe your shoulder pain is very graphic and severe. The beat up body thing is probably just not being conditioned yet for intense OL, but the shoulder is very vulnerable. If it were me, despite my distaste for docs and MRI’s, an MRI would tell you ALOT about whether you are doing damage to your shoulder joints. If you are not, then you can explore chiro’s, ART, etc.

BTW, Chris, did your chiro ALONE take you from being stiff and grimacing in OH squats to comfortable, or combined with other flexibility training?                           Doc             

chiro sounds like a great idea, yeah im getting bombarded, but the overhead pressing seems to be the only truly serious issue.

my wrists hurt most when im at the bottom of an OH squat, or when i catch a snatch.

shoulders only hurt when i press overhead, snatch it fine.

and my neck is just something i pulled and will heal in a few days.

my parents are coming up tomorrow to have brunch with me ( i live alone) so ill discuss a chiro appointment with them (i’ve had them before).

as the day progresses i feel alot better, the morning is brutal though after sleeping immobile for a few hours.

thanks for all the help guys!

It should help out to stretch your forearms (wrists), chest and hip flexors BEFORE your workout. This will help you achieve the flexibility required to get you through the session.

Besides that, I can only say to stop sucking so bad and you won’t have anything to bitch about. J/K, bro.

a chiro actually is a good idea. I just switched to a Chiro who is on my WL team, and it helped me out even more.

Chiropractic is one of the best things you can do for yourself, even if your not an athlete.

You may have tendinitis in your wrist. My younger brother developed it in his left wrist during the football season and thought it was no big deal, but it eventually got so bad that after any practice where he blocked/tackled or any session in which he pressed, cleaned, or curled, he would have severe wrist pain for several days afterwards.

He went several months just dealing with the pain, but it got bad enough that he finally went to the doctor. The sports therapist told him that he couldnt do any of the things that were making it hurt for 2-3 months minimum until it cleared up because of a small bony ridge that he has where his growth plates fused and the damage that that could possibly cause to the tendon. Moral of the story: Get it looked at soon and dont think you can always just work through it.

Are you and your coach communicating well? You should have a meeting with him outside of practice, sit down and meet for lunch or something and seriously discuss your concerns with him. Tell him you are seriously worried about your shoulder pain and tell him about about the full extent of it.

If your coach is unwilling to listen to you and to help you with working around pain and injury then I would seriously consider finding a NEW COACH. Because it will invariably be you who will be SCREWED OVER in the end with a broken down body, and the coaches can always say “Oh he was lazy and couldn’t hack it”.

Your body is just not used to the punishment. Olympic lifting is brutal if you are anywhere close to serious about it. When I first got started I jumped right into a 5 days/week routine. My shoulders were in so much pain my entire body trembled sitting in between sets. The pain went away after a month or two.

If the pain keep getting worse, you should get it checked out.