Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. This blog is a unique perspective of one persons journey into fitness. Not all clients and participants at Parsons Training undergo the same training, and each person makes his or her own decisions regarding dietary discretions.
By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
July 9, 2017
So when the idea of strength comes to mind, you start thinking in very focused and simple terms. What exactly constitutes as power? Right now, one of the current definitions of pure power is the behemoth that is Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees. The guy stands at 6-7 and 282 pounds, dwarfing the former biggest guy in the league in Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton, who is listed at 6-6 and 245 pounds. When you see these guys smash 400-foot home runs, you imagine they are the pure definition of power. You also see that in the annual Steroid Olympics….errrr The Strongman Competition on ESPN every year. When you see these guys pulling semi trucks and tossing massive kegs of weight over a ten foot bar, then you can believe that is the true definition of power (with a little help of course). So while these guys are the certainly good examples of strength and stature, are they truly the definition of “strong.” I would venture to say that Tia-Clair Toomey is just as strong as these two giants. http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/health-and-wellbeing/fitness/why-your-size-has-nothing-to-do-with-your-strength-20170628-gx09tx.html While Tia-Clair is barely 5-2 and 127 pounds, you have to believe that pound-per-pound she may be equal or better than Judge and Stanton. At the Rio Olympics, she snatched 180 pounds and made her biggest leap in the clean and jerk, lifting roughly 236 pounds as he final weight. Toomey was a distant 14th in the competition, for the winner Sukanya Srisurat of Thailand killed the competition with a snatch at 238 pounds and the clean and jerk at roughly 287 pounds….and she was not much bigger at 5-1, 126 pounds. So what am I saying here? Well, you don’t need to be huge to be “strong.”
The very word gets thrown around a bit too much these days, and their really is no one definition of its meaning. For me, it used to be whether I could get a huge ladder on my dad’s truck by myself. These days I actually have some weight definitions in regards to my goals. One thing Parsons Training has been seeking to do is shake the stigma that strong is defined by some static and stationary definitions of weight lifting. Strong is so many things. Strong is being able to work on a roof for an entire day and not feel like your body is going to fall apart. Strong is jokingly carrying your lady over a puddle, kinda like in the old time stories grandma and grandpa used to tell you or in the old screwball comedies of yesteryear. Strong is being able to withstand a full day of yard work and still have some energy and strength to go out dancing that night. Strength is a function of life, not a function derived in a complex equation of measurements. One of the first steps of achieving full, functional strength with your body is the clean and jerk. Last week, we talked quite a bit about Olympic weight lifting, and the clean and jerk is the first step you need to take to that ultimate journey of inner and outer strength. The clean and jerk is pretty simple, for it is a combination of multiple movements forcing you to use multiple groups and burn energy at a much faster rate than you could actually imagine. Starting from the floor, you do a standard power clean, bringing the bar to your chest and bringing the bar to a standing position. You then do am action that utilizes your arms and shoulders, powering the bar over your head and then straightening your body to stand fully erect with the bar over your head. You’ve seen it before, and it can be a pretty impressive feat to see in person. https://youtu.be/sTbRIJVdyGE
Now I could just give you a run down on how this is a great exercise and blah, blah, blah. Well, technically that is what I am going to tell you! When done properly, this can be a very good exercise when it come to the overall movement of your body. Now last week, I mentioned the full body potential of Olympic weight lifting, and the clean and jerk is really the first step to getting yourself functionally strong. Think about the movement necessary to get this done. Wanna get better in your hang clean and your front squat? Well, the clean and jerk can really help you put a dent in those to areas as well as the standard power clean. The first motion of getting underneath the bar is essential in regards to getting the movement down. Since you have to exhibit flexibility and quickness to get your body underneath the bar, this will improve your coordination. Also, since you have to get in a low position in order to get the bar up on your chest and rise, this will significantly improve your ability to do the front squat, which is something I really need to work on quite a bit myself. And that first movement doesn’t really stop there. Getting into those low positions from the power clean portion of the movement can also help stretch your tight and or underutilized legs. Truth be told, the first half of the movement is really the most beneficial, for the second half is merely extracurricular. Now I say that because you can either do a full clean by kicking your primary leg out or doing a standard two leg power jerk (which is typically called the clean overhead press). Either or is good but at Parsons Training, we prefer to do the Olympic method. When you extend your ankles, hips and knees, you are partaking in the time honored “triple extension.” By using all combined efforts of the muscle group, this is the force that allows you to not get the bar up to your shoulders, but also aids you in the movement of getting the bar above your head. The biggest benefit I see with this exercise is especially in the confidence department. Think of it this way. Doing the clean press, getting the bar above your head and feeling the rush of doing the lift. This is the reason why I am trying to get better at these particular lifts. I really love the fact that I am utilizing my body in different ways and getting functionally stronger, but the visual distinction of progress is also a huge factor in my own personal journey. Other people might have different feelings when it comes to the realization of your goals and the clean and jerk, but I take a much more direct interpretation. When I see the weight getting bigger and the movement getting better, that is progress in my mind. And since so much has to work for you in one movement, starting your Olympic Weight Lifting journey with this movement is an exceptional start.
I could be more technical on the subject I guess, telling you how many muscle groups will be affect just by this one exercise movement. Heck, I will tell you anyway. Feet, ankles, calves, quads hips, shoulders, biceps, forearms, wrist and even your fingers will benefit from this particular workout. You chest will see improvement as well. Your core will get stronger and more loose. So many mechanics are put into place when doing this stuff, and it is not like this particular exercise is not taxing. Try doing 20-25 of these at one weight and you will see the amount of work your body will be put under. There is a reason why Parsons Training is getting so many of its clients into these lifts. After a proper foundation has been set with the standard weight lifting movements, advancing and breaking plateaus will happen with these more advanced movements. Don’t be afraid to get that bar above your head. Trust us, you will not regret this journey.
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About Parsons Training
Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company.
About Our Blog
Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.