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  • Jesse Irizarry




103 kilos (moving on up)


Competition prep for the winter cycle continues. More frequency of waves where snatch and clean and jerk waves are programmed three times of week. One day the waves will be singles from 70% to 75% to 80% of 1RM. The next day it will be 75% to 80% to 85% and the next may be 80%, 85%, 90%.

At the end of week 13 a planned max out was written in the program for snatch where the program called for a 101% snatch attempt. Clean and jerk percentages went up to 90% on this day. Details on how this all went below.


Week 13 Day 1:

Wall Squats 4(10)

Jumps 3(5)

Snatch 1(1)75% , 1(1)80%,1(1)85%, 1(1)75%,1(1)80%, 1(1)85%, 1(1)75%

Clean and Jerk 1(1)75% , 1(1)80%,1(1)85%, 1(1)75%,1(1)80%, 1(1)85%, 1(1)75%

Front Squat(% based off C&J max)  1(1)80%, 1(1)90%, 1(1)100%, 1(1)80%, 1(1)90%

Bodybuilding – 15 minutes


For the Clean: Start with your weight (without the bar) on your heels

For the Jerk: You’re dipping forward and knees in a bit. Instead stay back on the heels and point knees out more

For the Snatch: Try to extend the pull. Try to pull all the way to the chin before you start going under.

Pull all the way up, staying vertical, keeping the forearms vertical, until the bar reaches the chin. Only then go under. On both snatches and cleans, after the pull meet the bar as high as you can. Don’t let yourself get to the relaxed bottom.

Yeah, so I was relying on straps way too much for my snatches. I know why I did it but I think me knowing and avoiding is probably a fairly weak show of character isn’t it? I’ll allay my concerns for my pathology through a belief that I at least have awareness in the reason behind my actions. So let me share my excuse first before I explain how one session without straps did more good than the previous two weeks of training with straps.

To be clear, I have monkey hands and haven’t had a problem with grip since I first became obsessed with making my forearms as big as Popeyes’ when I was 20 years old.  Seriously, I think there was a point where my forearms were as big as my upper-arm. But I digress once again.

Point being is that even when I lift for a while with straps, I’m never worried that when I take them off to test my snatch that I’ll miss the lift because of difficulty in holding the bar. But when I started on Yasha’s program, I was feeling very weak and so I did every single training session with straps to survive, not to excel. Should of made a better decision. I wanted to base my percentages off my last competition max because I of course cannot bruise my delicate ego.  

But the weights felt really heavy off the floor and I used the straps as a crutch to sneak under some weights and miss the rest.

Straps can be used for higher training volumes to keep your grip from getting worn and allow you to handle a larger workload. It can also help you endure more volume at heavier weights that you wouldn’t be able to do otherwise. They also aide in the emphasis of a certain area of technique you’re focusing on improving because they make the lift feel a bit easier. But I wasn’t using them for any of these reasons. I was using them because if I didn’t, I would have only made maybe 75% of my total lifts. Not a good look.

I would have been better off reducing the weight and not using straps. Mostly because of my specific usual faults in the snatch. Using straps or using a hook grip will change how you interact with the bar. Doing a no hook snatch will require the straightest pull with the closest bar path after contact with the hip. Essentially only the fingers are keeping the bar in hand so any violent propulsion of the bar away from the body will make it very difficult to control, guide, hold on to, and ultimately make the lift. Using a hook grip will allow for a more violent propulsion of the bar because the thumb hooked under the fingers allows the bar to sit in the hand and prevent movement of the bar front or back. Straps allows for the least precise bar path because your hands are literally locked into the bar and you can yank it back into place if you feel it’s out of place as you pull up and under.

But getting back to my personal issues (although a full book would be needed to list them all)  – I have a very hard time pulling the bar higher and straighter after contact. Yasha used to tell me to keep my elbows above my wrists as long as possible after making contact with the hip and pull the bar to my chest before going under. Now, as you read in his coaching points of my lifts, he’s telling me to keep my forearms vertical and pull to my chin. The overemphasizing of this cue is very specific to my problem. But me using straps from the very start of my training without addressing this issue again made this deficiency of mine even worse. As soon as I decided to put my big boy pants on and take off the straps, I was forced to complete my pull with the upper-body because I couldn’t use as much propulsion of the bar without straps. That’s why the snatch I showed for this week looks better than the previous weeks.  

Yasha did however program no contact variations that I always did without straps but it personally wasn’t enough work to address my weak area because of the time I took off from training. So my personal problem aside, I asked Yasha what his general recommendation was for the use of straps and here was his exact answer:

If you have a problem with hand size, then straps should be used less often. In general you should have several exercises per week with no straps (muscle variations). And on the lightest days full lifts should be done without straps (snatches at 70% of something). Straps should be used for al heavier snatches and all pulls through the base phase. The last phase (comp phase) you should not use straps on the final two weeks before comp.

Something to think about… Even with the little self-imposed mental setback, my lifts have been clicking a little more these last two weeks so I’m focusing on the good and what’s in my control. Oh yeah, about that max out. Not too successful. Could not make it within 10 kilos of my last max. But going to focus on this process and focus on the progress that is being made. 

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