A little work can go a long way.

Elysha Olver

Coach - Olympic lifting

For many of us who have been lifting for some time, we hit that glorious PR in our C&J or our snatch and then we are stuck there for what feels like an eternity.

I can speak from experience – until recently, I had the same 1 RM snatch for over a year, and although my C&J slowly inched up, it stayed within 10lbs of the last 1 RM I got, which was around the same time I PR’d my snatch.

It can be the most frustrating process to understand where to improve, whether in technique or strength, and where those “quick wins” might be. Now don’t get me wrong, if you want to commit to improving your lifts and your strength, there will be hard work; but there are plenty of ways to focus your efforts on improving overall lifts.

Below are a few of the common areas that I see lifters lacking:

  1. Core strength

And no, I am not talking about sit-ups for days. Core strength in lifting refers to the ability to maintain an upright, strong position in the bottom of your squat, when dipping for your jerk, and when receiving the bar.

Every time I train or train another lifter, there will be core work incorporated. It might be part of the squatting portion (pause squats, jerk dip squats) or it could be separate accessory work (dumbbell overhead walks, weighted planks, tabata hollow holds, back extensions, weighted good mornings, etc.), but it will be a part of the training for that day.

I can’t say that prior to shifting my focus to weightlifting that I cared much for core work – actually I quite despised it. I still don’t love doing the work (it can be a mental hurdle to keep doing tabata hollow holds!!) but I see the benefits on a daily basis with my lifts. Put in a little hard work for core and you will see the stability in your lifts (receiving and driving upwards) improve to the point that you might just hit a number that is only limited by your ability to squat…

  1. Squat

A perfect segue into my next point – you can never work on your squat too much. So many of our members have great technique and can pull the bar and receive it well, but can’t stand up. In order to continue to hit PRs, you have to continue to move your front squat and overhead squat numbers up. In almost all of my programming, I ensure that we are squatting daily, or at least 2-3 times per week.

This doesn’t mean that it is always heavy squats – sometimes we do waves (4, 7, 10 reps), sometimes we practice perfect squats with low weight to improve position, and sometimes we practice slow eccentric movement (count to five down) and powerful concentric movement (drive out of the bottom).

As Greg Glassman said, “Regardless of what the problem is, the answer is to squat.” I couldn’t agree more; however, it is imperative that you are squatting correctly. For many of us, a perfect squat can be limited by our body’s flexibility.

  1. Flexibility

For any of you who follow Mattie Rogers (and if you don’t, you should…), you will notice that ROM WOD is a big part of her training. Building regular flexibility work into your training can benefit positioning in your squat (hip and ankle – and many of us struggle in this department), upright body posture, and overhead position and stability. As I’m sure you have heard from a number of Insight’s coaches, you can never be too flexy.

So take the opportunity to add some of the items above to your training on a regular basis and look forward to ringing that PR bell!