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Yurick Vardanyan

@CT could you please explain why Vardanyan’s style of olympic lifting is considered different from most others?

[quote]nickj_777 wrote:
@CT could you please explain why Vardanyan’s style of olympic lifting is considered different from most others?[/quote]

  1. Bar starting a bit further away in the starting position (3-5cm away from the shins when the bar is on the floor)

  2. Higher hips at the point of barbell/floor separation

  3. Changing of the back angle during the first pull (torso tilting forward, high rising faster than shoulders) followed by a quicker/more pronounced hip extension

Is this common in lifters with long arms and long legs and a short torso?

[quote]nickj_777 wrote:
Is this common in lifters with long arms and long legs and a short torso?[/quote]

Fairly… it’s actually easier for them to keep the bar close this way even. BUT to make it work you ABSOLUTELY need to have a super strong lower back and powerful explosive hips.

In Vardanyan’s training he also incline and flat bench presses; how does the bench press transfer to olympic lifting? Tricep lockout strength?

Would the floor press then be a good assistance exercise for the push press?

Thank you!

[quote]nickj_777 wrote:
In Vardanyan’s training he also incline and flat bench presses; how does the bench press transfer to olympic lifting? Tricep lockout strength?

Would the floor press then be a good assistance exercise for the push press?

Thank you![/quote]

  1. Lifters who competed (or trained as youngsters) in the press-era (when they also competed the overhead press in competitions) did bench press variations since it required a lot of delts and triceps muscular strength. While Vardanyan’s elite career was in the later 70s and early 80s (the press stopped being competed in 1972) his training was likely influenced by the training of press-era lifters; first because he likely trained that lift and the assistance movements as a youngster but also because it takes more than a few years to completely revamp a training system that had been used for years. Maybe the bench press variations were kept in to some degree because they did not yet know the effect of dropping it would have on the jerk.

  2. The bench press is still present in the training of Russian lifters of various levels, especially with female lifters. This is likely simply to balance general upper body strength with the lower body strength. For the same amount of muscle mass/weight a female’s lower body is the same as a man BUT at equal muscle size their upper body strength tends to be only 60% of men’s. So in that case general upper body strength movements might be needed as it could become a weak link. In male lifters this is a lot less likely. Vardanyan had a slight frame with long arms. So it is a possibility that pressing movements helped him have enough upper body strength to handle the weights he was able to “project”.

  3. Why do you (personally) seem to have a focus on “special exercises used by a specific lifter”? It’s not the first time you asked about this. Instead of focusing on an exercise that “the exception” is doing rather than the exercises that everybody good is doing? YES there are some olympic lifters still doing a small amount of bench pressing. But VERY rarely is it trained at a significant level. I have several texts detailing the Soviet lifting programs from way back (when the bench press was more likely to be used) and even when the bench press is included it is as an infrequent remedial lift, to the same level as overhead press from a full snatch position.

  4. From my experience unless you are a skilled lifter with great mobility in the shoulder girdle, the bench press can actually hurt your olympic lifting performance, specifically in the snatch and jerk by making it harder to reach the optimal overhead position. Now, a skilled lifter who has the shoulder mobility pretty much set for life by super frequent practice of the olympic lifts can most likely do bench press work with no ill effect.

  5. Can it help with the lockout? Well, if someone has a VERY poor lockout, OR POOR JERK TECHNIQUE, maybe. By poor lockout I mean someone who can’t fully extend his elbow joint (which is actually somewhat common) and thus require more muscle strength to hold the weight overhead. Then yeah, more triceps strength could help. As for poor jerk technique, you aren’t pressing the weight up at any point in the jerk. You are projecting the barbell up, then PUSHING YOURSELF DOWN under it. So it doesn’t require much triceps strength at all. And if your arms lock properly you will be “bone on bone” and supporting the load will be more about upper back, shoulders and core than arms.

  6. In most of the lifters I know and trained with, there weren’t much correlation (good or bad) between bench pressing strength and jerking capacity. For example I’m training a high level olympic lifter who jerked 190kg and snatched 160kg, yet can only bench press 120kg… and that is a board press. Yet there are others with huge benches and huge jerks. A good comparison is Klokov and Ilyin… the first bench press 500lbs, the other 265lbs… yet they pretty much snatch and jerk the same thing.

BUT it is worthy to note that the olympic lifters who can bench press a lot of weight are also those who do a lot of overhead pressing work (push press, strict press, behind the neck press etc.). The Russian do a ton of overhead pressing work, from very early on. If someone can military press 180kg, obviously bench pressing big weights will be easy even if you never train the bench press.

Which brings me to …

  1. If you lack upper body strength to hold jerks, focusing on overhead work (push press, strict press, etc.) is a much better and more effective than bench pressing.

  2. Now, if you like doing a lift you can do it… but it doesn’t mean that it will have a positive effect on your lifting nor that it is done with that purpose in mind. I do believe that some lifts are thrown in there just for the sake of staying sane… of course they are not done close to a contest.

  3. Just because someone is an olympic lifter doesn’t mean that he doesn’t want to look good. When asked about the value of upper body work for sprinting, Charlie Francis (Ben Johnson’s coach) said that if you like what you look like, you will feel more confident and it will improve your performance. Anatoly Khrapaty used to end his sessions with behind the back wrist curls… when asked about it he simply said that he liked the look of big forearms (the wrist curl has zero effect on strengthening the grip). So sometimes a lifter might very well add in some bonus work just “for show”.

I really appreciate a great response like this and I lack upper body strength to hold jerks. Thank you so much!

[quote]nickj_777 wrote:
I really appreciate a great response like this and I lack upper body strength to hold jerks. Thank you so much![/quote]

Are you sure it isn’t a technical issue. 90% of the problems described as “lack of strength to hold jerks” are really the individual not being able to get under the bar low enough and with the bar in the right place to be able to catch it with straight arms.

I trained a girl who could hardly overhead press more than 55lbs and bench press more than 125lbs, yet she had no trouble squat jerking 190lbs and could do an overhead support with over 315lbs! She hard great elbows lock… if you can catch your jerk with arms that are “bone on bone” you do not need that much arm strength.

When I think about it I struggle with the timing to get under the bar. I mangle the transition out of the clean to the lockout point where the bar is overhead.

[quote]nickj_777 wrote:
When I think about it I struggle with the timing to get under the bar. I mangle the transition out of the clean to the lockout point where the bar is overhead.[/quote]

A lot of people make the mistake when attempting a jerk to basically do a “push press with a split”. That’s really not what is happening. You are projecting the bar, which only travels about forehead height (or about an inch above the initial position of your head). From there you quickly move under the bar.

The later entails the splitting of the legs, but mostly splitting the front leg far in front (most new lifters do not split the front leg far enough) to bring the hips directly under the bar (most new lifters leave the hips behind the bar).

While splitting under the bar you are “punching the ceiling”, not so much to continue pushing the bar up, but rather to push yourself down into the split position.

Really, a properly executed jerk doesn’t require that much triceps or general pressing strength.

A good drill I use for the lifters who do a “push press with a split” is the jerk from a half split.

Stand as if you were gonna do a jerk, BUT split your legs halfway to a full split (move the front and back foot about 8" each), the front foot is flat, on the back one you are on your toes. From there do your dip and jerk the barbell… AS SOON AS YOU PROJECT THE BAR MOVE INTO A FULL SPLIT.

This drill works by:

  1. Getting you halfway to a full split jerk… most “shallow split” jerkers don’t move their feet far enough either because they have not learned the position or aren’t moving their feet fast enough. Getting your feet halfway there will compensate for the lack of speed while you develop it and will get you used to reaching a full split.

  2. Making sure that you dip and push straight. A lot of people bend forward when dipping down and as a result project the barbell forward, making it hard to get under it and having to compensate with the arms. From the half split position it is actually harder to bend forward than to stay straight when dipping down.

  3. Reduces the leg drive, forcing you to move under the barbell

Start using fairly light weights, the key is technique and getting a feel for going under the bar.

A VERY strong guy I work with was having trouble with his jerks even though he was super strong at overhead pressing strength (or maybe because of it). He could push press 350 and 275 for 8-10 reps. Yet he was only jerking about the same as his push press (he was doing a push press with a split). Within two sessions of jerks fro ma half split he went up to 385 on the jerk.

Thank you!

This is awesome stuff coach! Trying out olympic lifts have really sparked my motivation for training again. Being able to add 5lb every week to my lifts brings back fond memories of being a noob who can set PRs in every set of every exercise at every session.