Take a look at this adorable face.
Yes, that’s Don McCauley. Now wrap your mind around this: when Don talks about weightlifting, especially about technique, listen carefully. He is right. If you don’t already agree with most of what he says it is because you have not read what he writes, listened to him speak, seen him coach in the gym or you are wrong. It seems there are a lot of wrong people in weightlifting and CrossFit.
I just came back from the USA Weightlifting National Championships in Cincinnati, Ohio. I expected to see some so-so or marginal technique in the B sessions. To my dismay, poor to disastrous technique ran right up many of the “A” sessions. Yet a large number of USA coaches seem to think it’s not a problem. They, too are wrong. I saw “A” session lifters who did not know how to set their backs, started with hips too high, did not sweep the bar close, pulled too long, pushed their hips too far forward on the second pull, over split on jerks, pushed the bar out front on jerks (on openers), yanked the bar off of the floor and in general did not pull like decent lifters in Europe or Asia. It was hard to watch, sometimes.
Don McCauley has harped on this for years. He’s tried to address it with different language. (The “Catapult” is a different way to describe what’s happening in a good pull as used around the world, not a different technique) He wrote a book focused solely on teaching and learning proper technique. Half the sport has vilified him for what he says. While Don may not be the cuddliest of coaches, he is right.
Yeah, yeah, we’re not strong enough don’t squat enough blah blah blah. Shut up. You’re wrong about that and you’re wrong that we are fine on technique. Lifters do need to get strong (OBVIOUSLY) but weightlifting is a lot like hitting a baseball: no matter how strong you are, if you don’t make contact, it doesn’t matter; you’ll never make it out of A ball. If a lifter does not put the bar in the right place, does not interact with the bar properly, strength will get you only so far. You’ll still be looking up at the winners, who are strong AND lift efficiently.
CrossFiters should listen closely to Don as well. This won’t be news to some CrossFitters, but will be a shocking statement for most: your Olympic lifts look like shit. Consequently, you lift weights far below what you’d like to lift. It’s not your fault. It’s not really even the fault of your coaches. They were taught the “CrossFit Way.” That way is wrong. Just plain no doubt about it absofuckinglutely wrong. If you look like this . . .
or this . . .
don’t just hunt down the local weightlifting coach looking for help. Find the local weightlifting coach or CrossFit coach who thinks Don is right. Or you can go to one of Don’s clinics or the clinic of a like-minded weightlifting or CrossFit coach.
No less a coach than Glenn Pendlay (whose MDUSA team just won the team title at Nationals, putting four of eight lifters on the podium) brings Don in as often as he can to work with his lifters. Glenn teaches good technique, but even he thinks Don can improve his lifters and looks to him to help. If Glenn thinks Don is right, why don’t you?
Learn from Don, listen to what he says and give it an honest try. There are coaches, lifters and CrossFitters out there who ARE listening to Don. As Luke Skywalker says to Jabba the Hut, “You can profit by this, or be destroyed.” Listen to Don, and look like this:
Well, your beard might not be as cool as James Tatum’s if you listen to Don, but you can have that pull.