Introduction to Sundog Lifts and Snatch Balance
Welcome to the first of our regular fitness blogs, Sundog Lifts focussing on Olympic Weightlifting. We have some fantastic contributors coming up.
Why choose Olympic Weightlifting?
For those that are here for the first time, I’m Henrietta, founder of Sundog Clothing, an ethical clothing brand. I am a mother, garment technologist, runner, new lifter and fashion lover. This is me finishing a 10k and feeling happy about it!
Olympic lifting came along late in my life and I’m very glad I found it. It’s an individual technical sport which makes you really consider every part of the process in getting something really heavy above your head. It appears simple, believe me it isn’t!
It’s akin to meditation for me. In the breath you take before you lift, you put yourself completely in a place where you can only think about getting the lift and the technique right. Having total concentration during that breath can reap results, you didn’t think you were capable of!
I love how this sport has minimum impact on the environment. Using, your mind, body and some elementary equipment, barbells and weights, you can get strong. Working on what we already have is part of a sustainable lifestyle that requires that we are conscious of our environment. Literally, this has been evident during lockdown, when we’ve had to become resourceful with our training spaces and available equipment, to make it possible to lift. Garages and gardens transformed into gyms feature heavily in social media posts. There’s some pretty tidy garages out there.
The main requirement to take up this sport is good squat technique which can be improved if you’re not there yet. I had to improve my technique; although I was pretty fit from running, I would still fold over in a squat. I managed to sort that out quite quickly with the help of my coach, Danielle and have kept going. Danielle, shows the correct position in her video and Rooni also talks about being comfortable in that bottom position. Also, you will need a pair of flat shoes like Converse or weightlifting shoes aka lifters which are hard soled with a slightly wedged heel to help you get a deeper squat. My lifters are Adidas pictured.
If you’re keen to practice technique outside the gym, use a broomstick or plastic piping. I picked my broomstick up from Wickes. It wasn’t expensive and doesn’t take up much space.
As I didn’t know anything really about Olympic Weightlifting until last year apart from watching the Olympic Games, I thought it would be good to share my experience with fellow novices and anyone interested in knowing more about the sport from a newbies point of view. It’s accessible and a growing sport which features heavily in Crossfit and the recently formed Functional Fitness Union which has contributed to its increase in popularity.
My aim for this regular feature is that it is a quick reference for you for the major lifts with strength and mobility tips to make the lifts and avoid injury. You can takeaway and comeback to it as much as you like. If you are new to lifting, a Crossfitter, or Functional Fitness Union member or just interested in strength training, there is something for you.
To be able to bring this to you, I am delighted and excited to announce the contribution of GB Olympic Weightlifter, Rooni Siraj, a Sundog Clothing sweatshirt owner and our favourite sports therapist and Olympic Weightlifting coach, Danielle Peters from Body Health Clinic who has level BWA 2 certification . Both experts in what they do and both believers in making this sport accessible to everyone.
Lifting technique will come from Rooni and injury prevention tips from Danielle including mobility exercises to help you achieve the best lifting form.
The most important thing before attempting lifting is to be safe
*Always seek the advice and teaching from a properly qualified Olympic Weightlifting coach before you lift. Look for BWA coaching certification or the appropriate national body certification of your country*
So, here’s the interesting bit, a little bit about Rooni and Danielle who agreed to be interviewed during lockdown.
Photo: David Keep
How have you managed lockdown?
With a lot of difficulty! The short terms have changed due to the pandemic, however the long term goals do not. So the key was making sure my body stays healthy and in shape ready to take on those big sessions when I am given the green light to get back into the gym.
How are you managing to work on your goals away from the gym?
By constantly visualising them every day. Nothing greater than putting yourself in the exact environment you will be in and feeling the victory. This allows you to see and feel the seriousness of what you must achieve and not let it go to the back of your mind, which is very easy with current issues. You’re reminding yourself what your job is, regardless of what is happening around you.
How did you get into lifting ?
I came across it on TV, may have been a World Championships and straight away I felt as though I’d be good. I knew I was strong, fast and flexible. As a child I was very active doing as much as I could with my body, and this is mainly where my beliefs came from an early age as to what I can achieve.
When did you discover it was your sport and that you’re good at it.
Around 2013. I was always fascinated with being strong, especially at an extremely light body weight. So this gave me that extra motivation. The first time I knew I was good, I don’t think there’s a number that can tell you that, no matter what you achieve it still wouldn’t tell me that I’m good. What did was when I first did a beginners course and I was moving well. I’m an extremely competitive person, so I become obsessed in winning. It was more of a feeling than a discovery, more of a belief that give me time and I will show people. Again more of that inner belief than anything, I always felt I had the right attributes early on, before I lifted anything respectable. Some call it ego, some call it arrogance and some will call it confidence. But what you must know is using those feelings for good, to better yourself.
2x English and British Champion. Competing for GB at European Championships and World Championships.
My eyes are fully set on the Commonwealth Games Birmingham in 2022. To achieve anything it’s about sacrifice and commitment. Staying committed to your training, even if you can’t even get out of bed some days.
How have you managed lockdown?
Surprisingly well, I’m not entirely sure how productive I’ve been but I’ve equally not been bored. I definitely am someone who can keep myself entertained and busy.
How did you get into lifting?
It’s a bit of a matter of circumstance rather than something I was originally passionate about. I had signed up to do my Level 4 Strength and Conditioning course and part of that was learning to do Olympic lifts and be able to coach it. At the time I was horrendous as I had never done it before and it hadn’t interested me, so I linked up with a local S&C coach locally to me and we practised each week to get me better, my thoughts being if I could learn to do the movement, I could coach it. Alongside all of this I decided to rupture my ACL so I used Olympic Lifting as a way to do my strength work required for rehab and because it is a sport it meant I was more encouraged to do it regularly rather than just standard power lifts which I found ‘boring’. I then joined an Oly class called Decennia in Hove which had more of a class format and I was in awe (mostly) by the strength of the girls who had been doing it a while. I thought I was strong but I quickly realised I was a massive underdog! From all of this I actually really started to enjoy myself especially as I started seeing results and it get me a sense of competitiveness whilst out injured and the rest is history.
Did your clients affect your decision to train to become a weightlifting coach like your strength and conditioning classes for runners?
Not really, I actually did my coaching qualification to help the martial arts practitioners at my gym as I felt it was really beneficial for competing, as the power aspect is massive for explosive movements. I'm quite surprised though the people who were interested and do come to class though as they are not who you would expect but I love the variation of abilities and levels.
What other sports do you do?
My main sport is Muay Thai and I also used to compete in Brazilian Ju-Jitsu.
What’s been your biggest moment in these sports?
Mostly competition memories, I love the buzz of a fight camp and being so focused on something. It’s a little selfish like any sport with competition goals but when it comes together it is amazing especially when you win. The feeling is truly euphoric.
So initially it’s to re-establish some normality after this years antics. I'm forever looking into courses and going to lectures/ exhibits to progress myself as I don’t think you can truly ever know everything and I'm forever questioning if what I'm doing is enough. I don’t currently have a specific coaching goal at the moment but I would like to start prepping some of my lifters down the competitive route at some point (if they want to), but for now I’ll go in the direction the wind takes me.
Both Danielle and Rooni are qualified to talk about the content included in this blog series and we would always urge you to only take advice from coaches with the appropriate and relevant certification from British Weightlifting,BWL or relevant body in your country before attempting Olympic lifting.
More Olympic lifting Benefits
BWL put it like this:
Weight lifting, in all of its forms, plays an important role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Doing a minimum of 30 minutes of weight lifting related exercise a day can benefit your health in a variety of ways, including:
A stronger, healthier heart
Control of blood sugar levels
A reduced risk of diabetes
The reversal of the effects of Osteoporosis in old age
To name just a few!
All these benefits can be used for other sport and specifically in crossfit which involve lots of lifting elements.
Olympic Weightlifting is an incredible feat of both physical and mental strength. It concentrates on two very technical lifts; the ‘Snatch’ and the ‘Clean & Jerk’.
Here’s the first lift, Snatch Balance which is a Snatch variation, courtesy of Rooni
To contact Rooni direct for 1-1 programming
Facebook Rooni Siraj
Danielle’s top mobility tips to getting good range of movement through this lift are shown in this video:
Facebook Body Health Clinic
Remember to find a trained coach before attempting any lifts