Decrease Reps To Increase Performance

It has become increasingly apparent to members of the community that in order to increase one’s performance, focus must be taken off the stopwatch and put on to the movement itself. When working the snatch or clean & jerk, it is no secret that high reps inevitably lead to poor performance.

For the purposes of this article, we will define performance as “the execution of a particular action or work“, in this case, the performance of a lift. Performing 75 power snatches or 30 clean & jerks as fast as possible is not only a terrible way to work on form, but also leads to forming incorrect movement patterns (Stephanie calls them “brain tattoos) that can be extremely difficult to break.

When working with current or ex-Crossfit athletes, breaking the movement pattern of the power snatch or power clean can be one of the more difficult tasks presented to a Weightlifting coach. It is important to realize early on that the amount of reps must be decreased in order to focus on fixing errors in the movement itself, rather than finishing a workout as quickly as possible.

It is also important to break up more dynamic movements into small, progressive pieces. This not only keeps the athlete from becoming to confused as to what piece goes where in the movement, it also instills confidence as the progression gets closer to the full movement of the lift.

I personally like to coach progressions working in reverse. For example, when teaching the snatch, I like encourage the athlete to start at the top of the lift and work their way down, ending at the starting position of the lift. Last week the athletes came to visit, and I worked with Streaky for 3 days on her snatch.

Below is a video of her working through my snatch progressions that I learned from Dave Miller. She starts out a little rocky, but gets progressively more confident in the movements as she moves through them:

You can see that her hips start off extremely tight, but as she moves through the movement, she starts to open them up. By starting at the top of the lift, she goes through each section of the lift. By the time she reaches the bottom, she is ready to rock and roll.

Below is a video of Streaky throughout her three day visit:

Even though she still has a lot to work on, you can easily see the progress she made in just 3 days. By working in sets of two and three reps, she was able to focus on her form issues, such as lockout, wrists back, and getting under the bar. She still needs to work on the early arm pull and sweeping the bar back, but if she makes this kind of progress in just three days, imagine what can happen in a month!

Try shutting off the stopwatch and working with your athletes on their form issues. You can watch deteriorate on most people once they pass four of five reps with the dynamic lifts. Decrease the rep schemes and you will watch their form improve and their PR’s increase!

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