Coaching Coaches

Olympic Weightlifting is probably the most popular it’s ever been, this rise in participation is largely due to Crossfit and their significant use of media to promote it.

There is more and more Weightlifting style events at their games, if you are not proficient at lifting you may not do that well. This has resulted in a lot of Weightlifting coaches being hired into CF boxes for “Barbell” sessions or seminars.

Coaching at these is slightly different to being at my club, there is a different set of people each week. Sometimes there are large numbers in quite restricted time.

The sensible ones book in every week to gain coaching, it works out quite good value that way. It also allows me to build a relationship with them in order to make progress.

There are plenty of “Weightlifting Clubs” at CF boxes with good coaches, not all of us can afford to join though.

As there is an increase in people who participate in Weightlifting there becomes a need for more coaches. Not just at CF boxes but also at original Weightlifting facilities, who have also benefited in the rise of lifting activity. It’s is fair to say that you cannot be a good coach by sitting a weekend course, what you do after is what really makes one a coach. For me, I spend as much time in “Coaching” activity as I did in my career.

I have also probably made as many mistakes in programming and cues over the years, but the willingness to become better over time is very important. Both in lifting and coaching, so I view both of them in the same light.

Coaching decent level lifters is quite personal, for instance you have to know who you can “ball out” in order to get the desired response. Some people do not like being shouted at, you need to know who you’re dealing with in order to coach them properly. Again this takes time, months of contact in fact.

The only exception is our “Elite” level coaches or national team coaches. They can take on and coach lifters having had little history with them, they are selected for the job because of this. It is also likely that the national coach would know the lifters home coach, with the fact that elite lifters are used to doing as they are told and probably quite a hardened individual makes this temporary handover work well.

So along with more people taking up “lifting” we need more coaches, preferably hands on coaches, like the ones that take you to comps.

If a Weightlifting club grows as we all have, you will undoubtedly have situations where two comps are happening. You may even decide to go on holiday (selfishly).

Do all your lifters get enough time with you? Take for instance at my club we could have 15-20 team members passing through in one night. We also have national level, regional and beginner lifters all the facility at the same time.

All of our members are programmed, quite often hitting goals/comps at different dates.

The need for more coaches to share the work has long been with us. When you begin to look at sharing work out anywhere, either at work or at a facility you can quite quickly tell who you can approach. It’s normally the ones that would put someone else’s weights away or joins “gym fix it days”

Some of my lot have been with me over ten years, I get the same people turning up for said days every time.

Shadowing a coach is a pretty good method of learning. It is likely that if you are like me, a “Himbo” you haven’t noticed the person that has been shadowing you for years coaching wise. If you are confident in your coaching this is the individual you send to BWL for certification in order to become licensed.

It is also worth considering that you don’t relate to everyone, I have had some quite nervous lifters that needed particular guidance, which I don’t have.

I found someone else that is good at that, these lifters have now progressed and overcome nervousness to a point that they can cope even with me. Grumpy!!

I have mentioned different tiers of programming. There was a need to program for the general team member whilst individualizing for the national lifters. This has become one of the assistant coaches duties, which frees up actual gym time for myself.

Beginners inductions are still being dealt with by myself, once programmed they join the facility and are guided by assistant coaches. Sometimes me. This system works well as the “newbie” doesn’t have to hope that I am there, they know they have a number of coaches at the club. The lifters also share knowledge as they have always done, I think this makes for a good unit.

You will have to guide these coaches of course, on programming and exercise prescription. Perhaps allow them to make they’re own mistakes (not at the British) so they can learn for themselves

Above all share your workload, before doing too much badly!!


Getting fucked up and recovering.

Early November 2014 I landed up in a hospital in rainy Chelmsford, I had sustained a couple of injuries racing that day.

I had both knee and shoulder damage, the shoulder was an obvious one as it wasn’t where it should be. After the medics had collected me from where I crawled off the track, it became evident something was wrong with my knee. As I walked away with them every step was met with a clunk in the joint.

This was later diagnosed as a grade 3 MCL tear, about as bad as it gets before it completely separates. Evidently, with this type of injury you can walk away from it, not so for the next 3 months though.

Along with the MCL there was grade 1 LCL and grade 1 ACL, these lot hang out together it seems, do one and likely you do them all.Mine was caused by the knee bending inward and twisting, something that I used to feel sick watching when playing Rugby.I must say it didn’t hurt at the time, it was horrendous the following three weeks though.

I had great care at Chelmsford but quickly returned to my favourite Hospitals “John Radcliffe” and “Nuffield Orthopedic” Lots of x-rays and consultancies followed, which resulted in a three month period off work. In this time I couldn’t walk unaided, or bear weight on the left knee. Bear in mind, I also had a left shoulder that didn’t work, so was left with only a crutch to walk on with the right hand, a rather hideous leg brace made of metal from ankle to mid thigh. Along with this I had my left arm in a sling, what a mess.

For the first week I didn’t much make it out of bed, this is miserable enough if you like exercise and the outdoors as I do.

It gets a lot worse than this though, having to rely on someone to shop for you is awful, there was quite a few weeks of this until I found a way to drive a car, an Auto.

So my first trips out alone were met with people politely opening doors as I obviously couldn’t. Now I like that people are helpful and care but after a while for people like us (I am presuming sporty types are reading this) it gets frustrating looking so shit.

My reaction was to remove the sling, get mobility back earlier in the shoulder so I could use two crutches and kind of looking less injured. Feeling a little better about myself I took myself off to do my own food shopping.

Standing in Sainsbury’s and realising you cannot push a trolley was demoralising, I must admit I felt a bit stupid at this point.

So back home I returned, the reality of my situation is beginning to set in. This is around week four by the way, at this point mental lethargy is setting in. Instead of using my time to programme or work on other gym stuff, I settled in and watched horror films.

Quite quickly in my absence my garden company began to loose contracts, a lot of them in fact. Around fifty percent of my yearly income had disappeared.

In this time I had always worked hard on re-hab, but the improvements were so minimal. It pretty much took all my mental energy. I stuck with it and it improved to a point where I could go somewhere else and do physio, I was sick of being home at this point.

So I spent some hours reading on the internet on the knee injuries I had, found the exercises that made the best sense to me and implemented them.

I had a good Physio looking after me called Ryan from the “NOC”.

I did everything he gave me. I also reported back to him what I was doing.

I even began to take my own measurements of flexion and how they were improving. I did this with brace they gave me, which you can set the range of motion on. One notch on the brace was a big deal at this point.

I was told this was a bad injury by the surgeon, I let it gloss over me as usual.

I found that adding self-massage in the sauna was beneficial, avoiding bad scar tissue really helped. I spent weeks in the sauna with Lavender oil -being on my own it wasn’t as exciting as it sounds. It worked though!

Caution obviously needs to be taken acting on your own like I did, but remember I am surround by Physio’s and people who had the same damage, all quite high level. Plus I had Ryan who is an “adventure racer” type and understood my need to get back and how much work I put in.

Around week ten I had enough mobility that I felt I could squat. The “Supermarket” feeling came back sharply. At this point I am in a heath club, full of the normal people with headphones on. Talk of eating 4500 calories if you want to “get big” when it is clear that this individual is partly responsible for the increase in Steroid abuse in the leisure sector.

It’s worth noting at this point that with this injury your leg muscles switch off, not in a “go soft” way, I mean it looks like someone else’s leg. Completely turn off.

Along with the glute, I don’t need to explain this to the Weightlifting people.

So the need to Squat becoming VERY important.

Looking for a way to improve the musculature and function of my dead leg(s)

I found a really good glute machine, leg extension, hamstring and leg press.Normally I avoid this stuff, but have always understood it has a use for re-hab. A lot of people use them just for aesthetics. I work on these machines willingly now.

My sessions were now looking like this;

  • Mobility/massage – I would do this sat on the Plyo boxes, which annoyed the OAP ladies not the young Bodybuilder types.
  • I would then just rotate around the machines with sets of 20-30 reps.
  • Leg press
  • Glute Thingy
  • Leg Extension
  • Seated Hamstring
  • First single leg then both.

One session I noticed the much ridiculed “Smith Machine” I watched people bench, press, upright row, partial bench and deadlift on this versatile thing. Yes “deadlift” I bit the bullet and tried a squat in it as I couldn’t even get a quarter squat with a bar, because you can squat with limited knee movement over the toes I could really start to improve my mobility.

I also thought it a good idea to walk on a treadmill, after all I haven’t walked unaided for three months. Recently I walked twenty kilometers in Slovakia for “Pierogi Ruskie” – a type of dumpling with cheese and vegetables, covered in crispy Bacon chunks.

After a few weeks of this stuff the progression of my recovery has taken off, I am back at work and squatting with a bar. It’s no where near where I want to be but I can actually train, I’m confidant it’ll all come back quickish. I was given a nine month re-hab period, It is month four now. I have work to do but I want to be “back” to normal in a six month period.

I was discharged from Physio yesterday and it’s made me happy. It was suggested that I write about these last few months, I resisted thinking my injury is of not much interest.

The best part of my ongoing recovery was sparked by “tales” of amazing recovery periods in professional sports teams.

So I thought it would be ok to write my recovery, Unlike the “Pro” sports team guys, I was treated within our NHS system.I am fortunate however to have had years of functional training and good advice around me, which has helped.

There is no doubt someone who is “Fucked” at the moment. If it helps, that’s good.

Just do the work.

Don’t let mental lethargy get hold of you like I did.

Also, go race something.


OXP squad training dates.

At Oxford Powersports we held a squad training session which was well attended, both by my regular team and also a few lifters that are in contact with our programming and me as a coach.

With around 20 lifters attending this session, my plan was to set some dates for further squads. I have set the following dates:

  • 4th April 2015
  • 7th July 2015
  • 26th September 2015
  • 24th October 2015

The first squad session in April will be followed by an OXP affiliates “night out” in the Zabb Thai restaurant.

The remaining three will hopefully have some food after training, I need to talk this through yet but it worked well last time.

I have set only four dates for a couple of reasons, one is I quite like a weekend off now and then. Another is the early part of the year everyone is busy with “Lifting League” activity, I feel we need to let lifters concentrate on this ever growing competition. Find the lifting league here.

I have placed the later ones close together towards our regionals to give an opportunity to make good progress towards the championships. This is where a lot of people are trying to qualify for various Comps.

As I have said it’s pretty much open house to anyone wanting to come. Email me if you wish to attend first though –

A chance to come and train in a different environment alongside other lifters, sometimes from different regions. It is also a chance for my contacts via seminars and Crossfit Barbell classes to train outside the “Box” and meet new contacts.

See you soon.


Lifting League Final 2014/going forward 2015



The lifting League finals were held quite late for 2014, I had a difficult time collecting results. Results were not sent to one particular place, instead scattered amongst different media/text/email.

Some not even reported or taken place.

I will come back to that later, first 2014s final!


Because the League is now “national” we had decided on a middle venue, that being Sammy Hayers Oldbury Academy. Thanks Sammy.

A late afternoon meet in the sunny Shire of Birmingham for me, whilst Giles coped with incessant rain in a little village called Barcelona.


The following teams could reach this venue “easily” setting regions and venues are always a bit of a problem.

League winners St Birinus, Core Weightlifting and CF Exeter. St B is a specialist lifting club, the other two are CF facilities. Both the CF teams have quite a serious lean toward weightlifting though.

Thanks to Shaun Harrrison and Alan Court who I presume had it set up before we got there.


We ran two groups as usual, this time though we had three teams involved each group. I quite like the flexibility of the league which allows to change format. Changing the format could be read as making it up as I go along, it isn’t of course.

I decide to score matches with the “Sinclair” formula, adding the 1.3 coefficient to female lifters from the male Sinclair.


Rank 1 lifters;

Nick Cantwell-St B

Ben Harnell-CF Exeter

Stef Owens-Core Weightlifting


Rank 2 lifters;

Robert Green-St B

Tom Collinson-Cf Exeter

Shane Williams-Core Weightlifting


Our “round Robin” system brings lifters out from top to bottom of the order, gives a specific rhythm to the competition. A hard day for the loaders, one of which was Ben Watson medalist from the games.

In the Snatch Nick Cantwell won rank 1, Rob Green rank 2. Both St B lifters showing typical consistency from that team, missing nothing.

Worth noting that 14 lifts were achieved out of 18, in the whole group.


Clean and Jerk showed the same winners, our points system was 2 for a win, 1 for second, 0 for third. So already St B had 4 points, Core 2, CF Exeter 0.


Rank 3 lifters;

Eddie Chambers-St B

Leah Clarke-CF Exeter

Mike Bakewell-Core Weightlifting


Rank 4 lifters;

Josh “Captain” Cox-St B

Ellie Skinner-CF Exeter

Dave Mckay-Core Weightlifting


Again the two St B lifters missed no Snatches, as it’s the most technical lift of the two disciplines it shows the amount of work St B do on this lift.

Winning the first section again, continuing on to win the Clean and Jerk phase too.

Leah Clarke grabbing CF Exeter’s only point, the results were;

St Birinus 8 points

Core Weightlifting 3 points

CF Exeter 1 point


Although late in the season the Final was of a very good standard, it was my first time meeting a lot of these lifers. I don’t know their previous form, I am sure that a few PB attempts were being made though, this makes for an enjoyable comp. With a high percentage of valid attempts, it showed why these teams had made it this far.


The 2015 season is about to kick off;


Lifting League web;


Homepage and South East booking