Lately we've been hearing a lot of people ask "Is it worth it for me to take an Oly Seminar?" While the answer to this question depends on a few different variables, we thought it would be useful to go through the format of a typical seminar so you know what you are getting yourself into.
This summer our box CrossFit 201 offered an Olympic Lifting seminar with our very own Coach Alon. Aside from being an awesome guy, he's also a great all around coach and off the charts when it comes to teaching the Olympic Lifts. He is a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer and CrossFit Olympic Lifting Certificate holder.
The one-day seminar was broken up into three two hour blocks, with each block devoted to one of the three major Olympic Lifts - The Snatch, The Clean and The Jerk portion of the Clean & Jerk. Each block would start with Coach Alon going through the movement and pointing out key things for us to focus on. We then broke break into groups of two or three to drill specific parts of the movement and observe each other. With about twelve people in the group, our coach was able to spend a significant amount of time with each of us.
Position One: We started with Snatches at Position One, the Power Position. With an empty bar we repeatedly went through them over and over with out partner watching to make sure our shoulders were active , knees were out and our core was tight.
Position Two: Next we moved onto Position Two, above the knees in the hang position. All this work was still being done with only the weight of the bar. The same routine went on during Position two with partners sharing a bar and watching each others form. In some cases, they would use a phone to record a video of a movement so that the person performing it could see what they were doing and how to fix it.
Position Three: was introduced and practiced much in the same way as the other two. Position Three is mid-shin, or with weights on the end it is from the floor. This section started out slow, practicing moving your knees out of the way as the bar came up to Position Two. The slow pace was then kept until hitting Position Two from which you wanted to speed up a bit into Position One and up overhead.
Bringing It Together: Once we had gone through positions one through three, our instructor had us put everything together and we practiced The Snatch in it's entirety. He stressed the fact that we should not be going overboard on weight and should instead focus on the new skills that we had learned. Once he felt like we had all improved on the movement, about two hours from the start, we took a break before starting on the next one.
The next position covered was the Clean. At this point, some of us changed up our partners for a fresh perspective.. The movement progression was very similar to the progression through the snatch in the previous session. We started at Position One (The Power Position), worked our way through Position Two (Above The Knee) and finished with Position Three (Mid-Shin). As with the Snatch, we spent the last twenty minutes of the session practicing what we had learned through the entire movement.
LR and DBJ teamed up at this point and had some fun with slo-mo video’s so they could see if they were doing everything properly.
After an hour break for lunch, we covered The Jerk portion of the Clean & Jerk. By this point, everyone was getting tired, but powered through because we were all there to get better and weren’t going to give up at the tail end of the seminar. This movement moved differently from the rest since we were starting from Rack position. We worked on Split Jerks so first, sans bar, we worked on where our feet should hit during our split. Coach Alon showed us how to find our ideal foot position and then we marked the spots with some tape so that we could see if we were hitting our marks. From there, we worked on getting to that same position with a bar.
Like the prior segments, this one concluded with approximately twenty minutes of us working on the entire movement.
Should You Attend A Seminar?
We hope that reading about our experience has given you a better idea of what to expect at a seminar. We enjoyed the entire day, and at under a hundred bucks the price was definitely right. If you are a beginner or have had limited experience with Olympic Lifts, attending a seminar will probably do you a world of good. The Snatch is a good example of a Lift where even small changes in technique can lead to big PRs.
For those of you who already have a background in Olympic Lifting, make sure you talk to the instructor beforehand to see if the class will be worthwhile. It's probably not worth it to take a seminar geared towards beginner or intermediate lifters if you are looking for more advanced coaching.
Have you attended an Olympic Lifting Seminar? Let us know how it went in the comments!