Coach Newton’s Blog

Olympic Coach Harvey Newton’s blog features insights and announcements concerning technique, training, and competition for the sport of weightlifting, along with relevant topics dealing with strength training for other sports.

Get-A-Grip: How Does Yours Measure Up?

Recent evidence of our society’s gradual loss of gripping strength is very interesting. This writing even suggests there may be a connection between grip strength and one’s longevity.

While I tend to think the average weightlifter today has pretty good hand strength it would be interesting to gauge this against lifters a few years back. Any grad students out there need a research project?

When I was USAW’s executive director (and national coach, at the same time) I started up Weightlifting USA as a member benefit (back when you actually got something for your then very small annual registration fee). This publication remained a hard copy mailing to members until 2008.

In the May-June 1983 Weightlifting USA we published a report on my measurements of Soviet, Bulgarian, and USA lifters, using a standard hand dynamometer, like that referenced in the Nautilus article.

Read more: Get-A-Grip: How Does Yours Measure Up?

Jump Back Snatch: Why?

Coach Mike Rosewell (Superior Athletes, Kansas City) contacted me last year with a question about one of his lifters, Emma Nye, who was the dominant winner at the 2015 USA Weightlifting National Youth Championships.

At the event Emma, weighing 41.8kg, snatched 41 and missed attempts with 44 and 46 (national record). She C&J'd 53kg, missing 57 twice. Coach Rosewell's question to me was about her snatch style that includes heavy contact at the hips, a looping, straight-arm swing overhead, all combined with a significant jump rearward.

Here is Emma's attempt at the snatch national record, as featured on my Dartfish.tv channel. Use the various Dartfish tools to check my analysis and commentary.

Read more: Jump Back Snatch: Why?

Why Not Try the Split Style Lifts?

(This is due to appear in #8 issue of OLift Magazine)

In the earliest days of weightlifting competition the barbell was typically "manhandled" (sorry ladies) into its final position. Rounded back, bent arms, maybe a little press-out… whatever it took to get the weights overhead.

But it wasn't long before lifters came up with techniques that allowed for greater performances. Always on the lookout for an advantage, early lifters quickly adopted the hook grip, for example. In these early competitions it also became obvious that one could lift a heavier weight to a lesser height if one obtained a lower receiving position.

Enter the split, and to a certain extent, the squat styles of snatching and cleaning. Now, instead of simply hauling the barbell overhead we saw the same type of pulling action transition quickly into a split or squat receiving position.

Read more: Why Not Try the Split Style Lifts?

Let the "Games" Begin: A Look at Today’s Anti-Doping Measures (Part III)

Just prior to the Rio Olympic Games the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) released the Independent McLaren Investigations Report, a damning document that calls for strict penalties against the entire Russian sports organization, in Rio and beyond.

The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) removed a small number of Olympic slots from countries (including Russia) due to violations of anti-doping rules earlier. Just prior to the Games the IWF voted to suspend the participation of Russian weightlifters at the 2016 Olympics.

The resulting slots were awarded to representatives of small nations that otherwise might not compete. This action is a quick and effective way to "win friends and influence people" relative to the electoral process conducted near the end of the year.

The recent number of doping violations in weightlifting reinforces the appearance of serious, state-run efforts by numerous countries bent on winning medals. On the other hand we have countries that tend to have solid anti-doping programs in place. These lifters are perhaps not likely to be using PEDs, but what about the possible use of popular and readily available nutritional supplements? This area of concern is often overlooked until it’s too late.

Read more: Let the "Games" Begin: A Look at Today’s Anti-Doping Measures (Part III)

Let the “Games” Begin: A Look at Today’s Anti-Doping Measures (Part II)

Today's anti-doping campaign is often described as a cat-and-mouse game. In other words, one side takes an action, and the other side reacts. As reflected in recent headlines, today's version of the game is taking on new dimensions.

Announced recently by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the Russian track and field federation is not eligible to compete at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The International Weightlifting Federation (IW) has similarly announced that the Bulgarian weightlifting federation, uninvited to the Beijing Games in 2008, is again ineligible to compete this year. In both cases the respective international federations (IFs) have drawn the proverbial line in the sand relative to how much they will tolerate.

Which is winning, the cat or the mouse? To gain insight let's look at testing over the years.

Read more: Let the “Games” Begin: A Look at Today’s Anti-Doping Measures (Part II)

Let the “Games” Begin: A Look at Today’s Anti-Doping Measures (Part I)

Among the many sociology classes I taught at the University of Colorado during the 1990s was one entitled Sport, Drugs, and Society. This followed my eight years heading USAW where I'd been a keen observer of the progress made during the early years of modern anti-doping control. One thing is certain; controlling the use of banned ergogenic aids is a constant challenge.

At the 2016 USAW National Championships I had the opportunity to accompany a lifter to doping control. It had been several years since doing so, and it proved enlightening to see some of the changes now in place.

Coaches and athletes need to be familiar with this process of doping (a classic European term) control so as not to be caught off guard when they meet a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) representative in the warm-up room after their last lift. Another young lifter with whom I had been working at Nationals was whisked off to doping control, but did not have her father accompany her. I discovered later that an athlete's representative is no longer allowed to enter the control room after the athlete's initial arrival.

Coaches, don't let a lifter go to doping control unattended.

Read more: Let the “Games” Begin: A Look at Today’s Anti-Doping Measures (Part I)