Clean and Jerk PR!!! Finally!!! WHY!?!
PR Clean and Jerk (147.5kg/325lbs)
I was fortunate enough this past Saturday to hit a PR clean and jerk (I don’t fist pump for nothing). Now, I’ve PR’d my clean, PR’d my jerk, but haven’t been able to put the two lifts together for a PR since the Honolulu Open in 2012 (been close… check out my 152kg/335lbs attempt). Imagine that, an entire calendar year without a PR. I must have really had a crap year of training. Truth is the longer you play the game the harder it is to make gains. A lot goes into making a new big lift. Recovery (I’m awful at), strength (sub-par), speed (ok), technique (working on it) and nutrition (my guy abandon me) are all factors (I’m in trouble). All those considered, I wanted to take this PR opportunity to talk about one factor that I believed to be particularly important regarding my latest PR; Motor Control.
Motor Control is the process by which the human body gathers information about itself and the world around it to generate some desired movement or action. The process is complicated considering all the moving parts that must work together. You picking your nose and me putting 325lbs over my head doesn’t just happen. The nervous, musculoskeletal, endocrine, cardiovascular and respiratory systems all have their jobs and I’m sure some other biological factors also come into play. Fact is, all the players within the human body have to coordinate their efforts to get things moving correctly. Without the successful integration of normal human functioning and all the sensory information presented at that moment, normal motor control (let alone super Joe standing up with a monster clean and tossing it over his giant head) cannot take place.
Take for instance the PR mentioned earlier, just over a minute before I made the lift I missed it. How? Why? I didn’t get stronger during the minute between attempts. A lot of what I know about muscles in general would be contrary to that. I was probably a little depleted from the previous attempt. I didn’t change my technique or alter my approach. Check the video. The approach, the pull, the receiving position, were as far as I can tell, the same. I didn’t eat a snack, take an injection, or call my wife. All I did was walk around, take a few breaths, and listen to what Coach Powell had to say.
So why the make in the second attempt? Something in the chain of events during that second attempt allowed my back to stay straight as I began to stand up with the bar. Maybe my brain and bones stopped fighting about whose fault it was that I can’t sleep (Its both their faults – my bones hurt and my brain is hyper active). Simple answer on paper but an interesting conversation considering all the factors that went into how I processed what was going on around me, what my body was working through and what the task at hand was. I don’t know, maybe I just knew I’d do it. Maybe I needed to prime my nervous system and grease the tracks. Maybe a cue Coach Powell tossed my way stuck, I focused a little harder and I stood up.
Human performance is a nutty game. More often than not its less about your muscles and your pre workout shake than you’d like to think. What’s going on around you? What happened last night? Are you recovered from your triple hero Christmas wod off? Has the new technique you saw on the internet that you’re coaching yourself to learn taken?
Like I said it’s a nutty game. Find some eyes you trust, eat whole foods, build some strength, sleep when you can and if you’re lucky you just might build a better total.