Oly Gyms

There are a few things I want to mention.

We got a good lead on a facility for the State Championships.  It’s a really good space and it seems like the owners are interested in hosting the meet.  More on this as it develops.

Speaking of meets we have a few shirts left over from Exile Open 2012 for $10 a pop.  I’ll try to get them set up at the store soon or you can just get in contact with us.

June 8th and 9th there will be a USAW Level 1 certification at Edmond Memorial High School.  So if you are interested give it a look.

We got a question about Oly gyms a while back and I’ve been meaning to touch on that.  All I know is the following:

There are 4 registered Olympic Weightlifting Clubs in Oklahoma.  You can find the contact info here.

Bulldog Speed and Strength.  This is Tom Ward’s Club.  It is located at Edmond Memorial High School and is not open to the public.  Tom has let us come by a couple Saturdays and lift.  It is by and far the best equipped gym in the state.

Metro Weightlifting.  This is a garage gym in Norman run by Bob White.  Bob offers his services free of charge for those in school whether it be elementary or a four-year university.  Notable lifters such as Shane Hamman and Chad Vaughn have trained here.

USA Stars.  This is Steve Miller’s club.  USA Stars is predominately a fighting gym but is home to Jessica and Jaclyn Beed and Cole Barnhart.  These three have lifted in national and international competitions.  Steve is also the president of our LWC.  Jeremy has been training with Steve and has improved remarkably.  So much so that I am tempted to join the gym myself.

South Central Barbell Club.  The fourth and latest addition.  This gym consists of a sole platform, a power rack, a decent York bar, and 260kg in rubber plus a few miscellaneous strength training items (kettlebells, throwing implements, tires, etc.).  Hey, it’s a work in progress.

Check around.  Most Crossfits offer some sort of Olympic lifting class.  I cannot vouch for the quality of coaching but it’s a place to start.  Cole Barnhart can actually be found at Crossfit OKC on most Saturdays during their open gym hours (9-11am).

Commercial gyms aren’t really hip to the whole Oly lifting scene.  But, 4-Star Fitness, just north of 63rd and May, does have bumper plates.  So there’s another possible option.

I’m sure I’ve left out a few other places.  I will revisit this issue in the future.  I’d like to do a gym profile of all the possible places to lift in the metro.  But that is for another time.

In science and lazers,


The Shreveport Sessions: Vol. 1

I took some time this week to visit my sister in Ruston, Louisiana. While plotting my course on GoogleMaps, I started scouting for area crossfits and Oly gyms so I could hit some lifts while I was in town. My expectations were pretty low for rural Louisiana. Honestly, I’d be happy to find a cut-rate globo where I could squat a little. Fortunately, we did far, far better than that. I was elated to find LSU-Shreveport just an hour away. This, dear friends, is the Oly junkie’s equivalent of hitting the dumb-luck lotto. Friggin’ jackpot. In terms of reputation and the production of top caliber athletes, LSU-S is easily among the top clubs in the U.S. Pendlay’s group out in Cali is the only one, currently, who can even be mentioned in the same breath with a straight face. In short, I’d be spending the week a mere hour’s drive from the greatest weightlifting mecca this side of Mecca. Time to buckle-up.

Kileaux – LSUS Weightlifting Mascot

The club at LSU-S is coached by Kyle Pierce, a full-time kinesiology professor at the university who volunteers his time to oversee the workouts, which are free to all USAW members. Coach Pierce is a USAW Lv. 5 coach with a who’s who of lifters under his eye. Aside from national champions, Olympians, and elite lifters from across the globe, Pierce also mentors young athletes, local kids, and other lifters of all ages and skill levels. The club in Shreveport is very much a melting pot of all possible sizes, ages, goals, and backgrounds. And there’s a truly unique atmosphere here. I have to say I was absolutely blown away by the openness and hospitality of Coach Pierce and all the guys here in Shreveport. I was welcomed warmly, given the grand tour, introduced around, and invited to chalk up and take a platform alongside the other lifters as if I’d been there my whole life. Within half-an-hour I was hitting heavy-ish snatches to the encouragement of fellow liftees. What a treat.

Talking Shop with Kendrick Farris

Even with all the generosity and accommodation in the room, I couldn’t help but feel fairly uncomfortable and intimidated in the deep waters at Shreveport. I’m used to being the big dog in my neck of the woods and being exposed to this kind of talent pool was pretty eye-opening and extremely humbling. National champion @ 85 kgs and current Olympian Kendrick Farris was two platforms over preparing to compete in the 2012 Olympic Games in London. He is arguably the best pound-for-pound weightlifter in America. Actually, I’m not even sure if it’s arguable anymore. The guy just crushed the National Championships, won his class with his openers, won the outstanding lifter award for the entire meet, and totaled more than anyone in his weight class, the weight class above his, and all but one guy in the weight class above THAT. That’s what happens when you bless the gym. I was able to chat with Kendrick for a bit and we discussed his competition lifting strategy. His take on tactical attempts is very similar to my own and I was happy to be in such good company. One thing we noted after nationals was the extraordinarily high percentage of lifters bombing out. More experienced lifters will tell you that you essentially have three chances to hit a big lift, and warm-ups are unlimited, so take three shots at a big number rather than working up to it. The risk here, of course, is that failure at an opening attempt adds a considerable amount of pressure and anxiety into an already tense situation. Missing an opener can chip away at confidence, open the door to panic, and often lead to bombing out. To all but the select few, ice cold, international freak-beasts, there is still a considerable difference between a warm-up lift and a stage lift in terms of nerves, pressure, and tension, and opening with a 98% attempt is really rolling the dice. You can’t back off once you’ve declared an attempt and if you start missing it can snowball out of control rapidly. I was glad to hear Kendrick echo my own philosophy on building up toward a big final attempt with a series of strategic jumps. He told me he likes to open with a challenging lift, but one that he knows he can hit. The follow-up attempt is tailored to the competition. Here you want to medal or win your class. Finally, if things are going well, you finish with a PR- or venue record-attempt. This logical progression makes each attempt unique and valuable and allows the lifter to build confidence throughout the course of the meet. Looking forward to London, Kendrick plans to do exactly that: 1) hit something solid; 2) get on the podium; 3) attempt a world record. 

Kendrick at the 2011 PanAm Games

Elsewhere in the gym, elite 94 kg badass Jared Fleming was center stage working heavy back squats. Local 105 kg bruiser Shaughnessey McDermott was one platform in front of me hitting monster snatches; I think he worked up to 130 kgs. On the far end of the room, 85 kg Canadian lifter Thomas Lower worked heavy CnJs in preparation for the PanAm games; he hit 160 and missed the jerk on 165. You want an ego-check? This is the place. And that’s exactly what the Dr. ordered for someone with enough sand to call himself Diesel.

The Shreveport sessions have definitely made a big impression on me. It’s something I’m going to take back home and use to push through barriers. One thing Coach Pierce said that stuck with me is that nothing is heavy to the kids who grew up in his gym because they’ve seen it all, usually just one platform over. Just being in that big, competitive atmosphere has already done wonders for my focus and perspective and I think it must be quite something to train there regularly. I will absolutely be back any and every chance I get and I look forward to the day when I can step into Shreveport and hold my own with the big dogs at LSU-S.

Here’s a little clip I threw together from Monday, March 12, 2012:

Upcoming Events: March

Couple of things.  Right now we are in the process of designing a new website.  We have a pretty talented individual on board and I’m pretty pleased with where things are going.  Once this new site comes online we will also begin publishing a monthly newsletter.  So let’s go ahead and look at what’s coming up.

March 24:  Bill Starr Memorial  Weightlifting Meet, WFAC, Wichita Falls, Texas.  This is a tentative date.

March 31st:  The “Light Weights Baby!” Ronnie Coleman Strongman Challenge.  Mesquite, Texas.  Contact Rendy and Christine DeLacruz 817-891-6261/ 807-713-7718 or mexhercules@gmail.com

March 30th – April 1st: USAW National Masters Championships. Savannah, Georgia.

March 31st & April 1st:  NASA High School Nationals.

April 7th:  NASA Oklahoma State Championships in OKC, OK.

April 13th – 15th:  USAW National University Championships.  Shreveport, LA.

April 14th & 15th:  Honey Badger Challenge at Crossfit Native in OKC, OK.

April 27th – 29th:  6th Annual Iron Thistle Highland Games.  Yukon, Oklahoma.  I plan on throwing here.  Highland Games are fun as hell and you should try it if you can at all.

May 4th – 6th:  Texas Scottish Festival.  Arlington, Texas.

May 5th:  Fitness 1 on 1 Strongman Contest.  Cypress, Texas.  I have no clue where this is.  Contact Roger Ortmayer 832-723-9993 or ortmayer@gmail.com

May 5th:  2012 Yellow Brick Open.  Onaga, Kansas.

May 11th – 19th:  Junior Olympic Weightlifting World Championships and Pan-Am Championships.  Antigua, Guatemala.

May 17th – 19th:  USAW Level 2 Coaching Course.  There will be a free referee course held in conjunction with this.  I’d like to get a decent group together to get referee certs.

May 19th:  Lock and Load.  Van Alstyn, Texas.  As usual this will be held at the Van Alstyn Fine Arts Center.

June 8th – 9th:  USAW Level 1 Sports Performance Coach Certification at Edmond Memorial High School in Edmond, Oklahoma.

June 8th – 10th:  Starting Strength Seminar at WFAC in Wichita Falls, Texas.

June 22nd – 24th:  USAW National Youth Championships.  Tentative date.  Location to be determined.

June 23rd:  NASA Strength Seminar in OKC, OK.  Unconfirmed.

June 27th – August 12th:  Olympic Games.  London, Great Britain.

July 7th:  2012 Onaga Blast Chance Open.  Onaga, Kansas.

July 7th:  Liberty Open Weightlifting Meet, WFAC, Wichita Falls, Texas.  This is also a tentative date.  We are looking at lifting here.

August 11th & 12th:  NASA World Cup of Power in OKC, OK.

September 14th – 16th:  ScotFest 2012.  Tulsa, Oklahoma.  This is the place to throw in Oklahoma.  Hopefully I can make it this year.

September 16th – 22nd:  Youth Olympic Weightlifting World Championships.  Kosice, Slovakia.

September 29th:  Falls Fest Highlander.  Wichita Falls, Texas.  Contact Gant Grimes gantgrimes@gmail.com.

October 13th & 14th:  Women’s Highland Team Challenge & Celtober Cowtown Throwdown in Fort Worth, Texas.  Contact the North Texas Heavies for more info on these and other Highland events in the North Texas area.

November 3rd:  Austin Celtic Festival.  Austin, Texas.

November 5th – 10th:  Olympic Weightlifting World University Championships.  Eilat, Israel.

November 17th & 18th:  NASA Unequipped Nationals Dallas, Texas.

November 30th – December 2nd:  USAW American Open.  Palm Springs, California.

December 29th:  2012 Onaga Christmas Open.  Onaga Kansas.

Remember, there is also rugby every Tuesday and Thursday.

It would be pretty awesome for anyone who does compete in any event whatsoever to send in a little write-up with some pictures.

As for the SCBC, we are shopping around for a venue for the upcoming Oklahoma Weightlifting State Championships.  We are looking at holding this in June or July.

We hope to be hosting the Caveman Games pretty quickly.  Right now we are looking for a good spot.  Hopefully we will have everything worked out and ready to go in two or three months.  Get in touch with me if you’d like to compete, volunteer as staff or host the meet at your facility.

We are also in the planning stages of bringing IKFF sanctioned kettlebell competitions to Oklahoma.  Same deal as with the Caveman Games.  If you want to compete or you want to help, let me know.

So there’s the list.  Tweak your programs accordingly and go compete.

Weightlifting White Board: Where do I Stack up?

USA Weightlifting, for all their faults, does offer some really useful features on their website. Members can view a list up upcoming events including meets and certifications. We can also see qualifying totals and start lists for big national and international competitions. For my money, one of the best features of USAW is the rankings system. If you’re familiar with CrossFit, this tool essentially operates as a national white board. USAW members who compete in sanctioned meets can find their results and rankings posted on USAW within a week or so. This is a useful tool for a number of reasons.
Customize the Rankings
The sorting options at the top of the rankings page allow coaches and athletes to see exactly how they stack up with the field. We can set the birth dates to only show us youth rankings, masters’ rankings, open rankings, or any variation thereof. We can see how our total might stack up against competitors at a lower or higher weight class if we’re considering a move. We can answer that question “what if” and see how our rankings might have improved if we’d have hit that last jerk or attempted a higher weight. We can also move the date range to see where we stack up against lifters over the past few months, or over the past few years, or over the past decade, or more. We can see how far we’ve come, and how far we have to go to achieve our goals. Many of those same rewards and motivations that come from the whiteboard at your local box can be found here.
For example, if I look at the 105 class for 2012, I see this:
Now, this I like. But 2012 is just 3 months old and this is not an accurate portrayal of the shark infested waters here. If I move the date field back to include all of 2011, my ranking falls from 21st to 103rd, and I sit rightly humbled.
If I modify the birth dates to remove the youth and masters lifters, I can improve slightly. But, I can also see where a 20 kilo jump would still put me in the top 50 for all active lifters at this weight nationally, and I can set a goal to achieve that by the Liberty Open in Wichita Falls, TX this July 7th. As a coach, I can show my athletes where their PRs stack up and what they might achieve with a little work. We can focus on qualifying for Jr Nationals or placing at the PanAm Games next year. This adds an element of direction and urgency to training that really gets the competitive juices flowing and makes lifting session more fun, often frustrating, but ultimately more real and meaningful to coaches and athletes alike. If you lifted at the Exile Open in Moore last month, you’re on here. Find it. See where you stack up. Set a goal. And start thinking about the Oklahoma State and Open Weightlifting Championships this summer. With 100 days to prepare, what could you achieve if you really want it? 

National Championships of Weightlifting

The Arnold’s in Columbus, Ohio played host to the USAW National Championships and Olympic Team Trials this past weekend. The event was streamed live over the web and, aside from a few glitches, the coverage was solid. Results from the event can be found at USAW. The main thing that jumps out at you when watching a bunch of national-level lifters is the speed. Start to finish, men and women, every weight class, the common element was blinding bar speed. Reminds me of a good quip by Tom Cross: I’ve never seen a girl too pretty or a lift too quick.
Here are some highlights from the meet:
@ 56: Darren Barnes snatched 101 and cnj’d 120 for a 221 total
@ 62: Darrel Barnes snatched 111 and cnj’d 140 for a 251 total
@ 69: Caleb Williams snatched 128 and cnj’d 166 to tie an American Record with a 294 total
@ 77: Chad Vaughn snatched 141 and cnj’d 184 for a 325 total
@ 85: Kendrick Farris snatched 157 and cnj’d 198 for a 355 total
@ 94: Ian Wilson, who is 18 and I’ve never heard of, snatched 152 and cnj’d 192 for a 344 total
@ 94: Phil Sabatini also totaled 344, but weighed-in a quarter kilo higher (.25-ouch)
@ 105: Donny Shankle snatched 165 and cnj’d 205 for a 370 total
@ 105+: Pat Mendes snatched 176 and cnj’d 204 for a 380 total
@ 48: Ellen Kercher snatched 62 and cnj’d 76 for a 138 total
@ 53: Jacque Payne snatched 68 and cnj’d 85 for a 153 total
@ 53: Courtney Batchelor also totaled  153, but weighed-in a half kilo higher (.5-ouch)
@ 58: Amanda Sandoval snatched 89 and cnj’d 108 for a 197 total
@ 63: Ashley Perkovich snatched 87 and cnj’d 105 for a 192 total
@ 63: Natalie Burgener snatched 95 but went 0-for-3 on cnj attempts at 115
@ 69: Danica Rue snatched 88 and cnj’d 112 for a 200 total
@ 75: Jamia Jackson snatched 85 and cnj’d 115 for a 200 total
@ 75+: Sarah Robles snatched 114 and cnj’d 144 for a 258 total
Holly Mangold lifted in the Women’s Olympic Team Trials on Sunday and made the cut with an impressive 145 kg cnj. She also made the front page of Yahoo. Her brother is the center for the N.Y. Jets.

Here are some low-lights:

Regional hero Dutch Lowy competed at 69 kgs and hit just one lift in six attempts, failing to total.
Natalie Burgener also hit just one lift in six attempts, and it was a snatch 8 kgs higher than anyone in her class snatched all day. She opened with a cnj attempt 10 kgs higher than anyone in her class hit all day, and went 0-for-3 at it. If Natalie had backed off just 5 or 10 kilos and hit some lifts before going for the big numbers, she would have easily won her class and totaled higher than anyone in the two weight classes above her, too.
Seemed like a lot of people got waaaay too aggressive with openers and ended up bombing out. 23 men and 18 women, 41 total lifters, did not total because they went 0-for-3 on at least one of the lifts.
The climactic battle at 94 between Jon North and Jared Flemming never really took shape. Flemming passed out on the platform after dumping a 400 lb clean before he could attempt the jerk. Sometimes screaming a bunch before you put 185 kgs on your chest is a bad idea. Flemming went on to miss his next two attempts at cnj and did not total. Later, Jon North dropped the bar during the first pull of his final cnj attempt, which would have put him in 1st and won the class.
Donny Shankle cnj’d 225 off the blocks about a week ago, but only hit 205 this weekend. To put this in perspective, I recently saw a training video of Klokov, the 94 kg lifter from Russia, doing barbell complexes with 205.
Farris, at 85, totaled higher than anyone at 94 and all but one at 105.
So, overall a pretty good meet, but certainly not amazing by world standards. I believe Kendrick won a spot at the Olympics based on his total, but our program has a lot of work to do to become competitive internationally. Obviously, there are other factors in play here. Drug testing in the U.S. is far, far more stringent than it is in Iran and China and Russia where they walk around the gym with lit cigarettes and winstrol on an IV drip. But, more importantly, strength freaks in the States go to the NFL, MLB, and other professional organizations where they are showered with fame, fortune, and Kardashians. Strength freaks everywhere else in the world just lift. There are easily a dozen guys right now on NFL rosters who would be Olympic medalists if they devoted themselves to weightlifting rather than linebacking, but they’d be taking a 900% paycut and nobody would know who they are anymore. Not exactly rocket science, is it?

SCBC’s Exile Open 2012: Photos

As many of you already know, True Beauty Images was kind enough to come out to the meet and shoot professional photos of all the action. Those pictures are now up at truebeautyimages.com for your viewing pleasure. Just go to “clients” and enter the password “Exile” to see dozens and dozens of preview images. Find one or two you like and order professional quality prints. For just a few bucks it’s a great way to commemorate the event and to let one of our sponsors know we appreciate their support of Olympic weightlifting in Oklahoma. Here are some of our favorites: