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Pulling From Blocks–a Valuable Training Aid Revisited


This free newsletter is to inform you of events, and thoughts regarding the training of weightlifters and the incorporation of the Olympics lifts and their derivatives into the training of athletes.


They’re mentioned in the Eastern European literature and they were a staple of training during the past 30 years in serious weightlifting gyms. But they are cumbersome, and awkward to store when not in use. Blocks, however, are an extremely valuable tool for both training a new weightlifter in need of technical work and the veteran lifter who is in need of certain aspects of the pulling pattern.

If you refer to Parts 1 and 2 of the articles Coaching Optimal Technique in the Snatch and Clean & Jerk, you’ll find photos of athletes learning the lifts by pulling from blocks that place the bar at appropriate heights along the pulling pathway.

With the current rapid proliferation of Crossfit boxes, and the utilization of snatches and clean & jerks in university and high school weight rooms, there has developed a sudden interest in learning the Olympic lifts, but most of these facilities have not included blocks in their set-ups.

Former Olympian Derrick Crass talks about pulling from blocks at a recent USAW L1 course

Consequently both the Crossfit Olympic Lifting Cert and the USAW Level 1 Cert do not touch on the topic of blocks and instead, all the instruction takes place from the hang if not from the floor.

From my perspective, the greatest advantage of using blocks, is that the muscles involved in maintaining the correct starting posture as it takes place when pulling from the hang are not involved at the start of a pull from the blocks. Instead pulling from the blocks only requires the postural muscles to hold position and without being loaded, and lets the athlete concentrate on contracting the muscles that generate explosive force against the bar.

Recently former Olympian Derrick Crass has begun manufacturing component blocks of recycled plastic that are stackable, and therefore highly adjustable. They can be used for athletes of a great range of heights, and for jerking blocks as well. Because they’re synthetics, they don’t splinter as wood blocks frequently do. These blocks can be a real boon to athletes trying to perfect or further develop technique or explosive power.

Block Pulling Articles: If you are interested in learning more about pulling from blocks and the subsequent benefits, you can download five articles from the Takano Athletics website. The first two are the aforementioned Coaching Optimal Technique in the Snatch and Clean & Jerk, Parts 1 and 2, and then there are 3 articles on Block Training by Derrick Crass. No charge for these articles. Derrick and I have made them available to enhance your knowledge of weightlifting training. Just go to the downloads area

Derrick Crass Interview: I’ll be interviewing former Olympian Derrick on Monday morning, (May 2nd). He’ll be talking about his experiences as an athlete, coach and physical therapist, and also the benefits of block training. We should have it posted in the downloads section by Monday evening. You can download it as a free MP3.


Everything is in place to enable our local meets to move forward with a little more efficiency and a higher level of audience satisfaction.

First Point: The meet will be conducted in two sessions with the results from the two being combined to determine the ultimate placings.

The first session will weigh-in at 8:00 AM and lift at 10:00 AM. It will be composed of lifters who have NOT equaled or exceeded the following totals:

Class II Totals: Women: 48 Kg–85, 53 Kg–95, 58 Kg–105, 63 Kg–110, 69 Kg–115, 75 Kg–120, +75 Kg–125

Class II Total: Men: 56 Kg–135, 62 Kg–155, 69 Kg–170, 77 Kg–185, 85 Kg–195, 94 Kg–205, 105 Kg–215, +105 Kg–220.

If you have equaled or exceeded these totals, you will weigh in at 11:00 AM and lift at 1:00 PM.

Second Point: THERE WILL BE NO WALK-UP ENTRIES! All entries must be filed and paid for via internet at WeightliftingEvents.Com. You will need to open an account with them, and register no later than May 21, 2011. All you need to do to register is go [ here ( ) ]

We’re planning to make this an exceptional event, especially since several of our local lifters will be attempting to put up totals that will qualify them for the National Championships. Leading the way in all probability will be the winners of our American Record Makers, Lindsey Valenzuela and Anthony Pomponio. I look for both of them to
turn in outstanding performances.

If you plan on lifting, sign up soon and get your friends and family members to plan on attending.

See you on June 4th at 219 W. Palm Ave., Burbank, CA 91502.

The Crossfit High Voltage space will once again be the scene of some impressive lifts.


I use to be one of the few voices talking about this topic, but it seems to be getting more and more attention of late. I think this discussion should continue, but before it goes too much further I think that we need to take note of a few items.

This discussion centers around those coaches who would like to coach weightlifting as a sport.The best coaches in the world are university trained professionals. When I say “university trained” I mean they were trained in a weightlifting coaching program at a Sports Institute. They majored in weightlifting coaching. Attending the Crossfit Oly Cert and USAW L1 Cert for one weekend each are not going to make you into a weightlifting coach. If the USAW L2 and L3 were up and running and you took them, you still would not be much of a weightlifting coach. You can learn a lot through dedicated study and thoughtful coaching of athletes, but like in any other field, the chance to intern or be around a veteran coach is going to shorten the time for your learning curve.

I think it’s time for some of us to consider conducting paid mentorships. The question is how to structure them. How many hours, how do we certify competency. How much to charge. Who should be conducting them. This is one pathway that could definitely help us get a number of coaches up to higher levels in a relatively short period of time.

Your feedback is necessary to get this discussion moving. Send me your thoughts at [email protected].


Comparing the Medalists from the European Championships and the AsianChampionships

These two continental federations are the top federations in the IWF. Fittingly the IWF prepared a comparative results of the two continental championships in what could be an intriguing preview of the action that will take place at this fall’s World Championships in Paris.

Since the Paris competition will determine the number of athletes each nation will be able to enter in London, the competitive levels can be expected to be elevated to a tremendous degree.


China won 12 of the 15 gold medals awarded for total. Russia won 9 of the 15. Kazakhstan took 2nd place in Asia, and I see them as one of the top four nations in the world along with the aforementioned Russia, China and Turkey.

Double Olympic Gold Medalist Waldemar Baszanowski passed away on April 29, after a lengthy illness. He was 75. He was the gold medalist in the 67.5 kg. class in Tokyo in ’64 and Mexico City in ’68, and set 25 world records. He won three other world championships and in 1999 was elected president of the European Weightlifting Federation.

Olympic Gold Medalist Yurik Vardnayan is reportedly in intensive care at the Erebuni Medical Centre in Armenia. There were no further details as to his condition. He was the lightest lifter to ever total 400 kg when he lifted 177.5 snatch and 222.5 jerk as an 82.5 kg lifter at the Moscow Olympics.

World Champion Syarhey Lagun of Belarus was killed in an automobile accident on April 24th while driving in Belarus in his Peugeot -206. He won the gold medal in the clean & jerk in the 85 kg class at the world championships in Antalya, Turkey in 2010. His winning lift was 211. Also injured was his passenger, Yawhen Zharmasek, who finished fourth in the +105 category at the recently concluded 2011 European Weightlifting Championships.

World Champion Nazik Avdalyan of Armenia was injured in an automobile accident in Armenia. She suffered a spinal fracture and was due to undergo surgery. She won the world championships in 2009 in the 69 kg class with lifts of 119 and 147.


The Orange Lutheran High School Open Weightlifting Meet will be held at Orange Lutheran High School, 2222 N. Santiago Blvd., Orange, CA 92867 on May 7, 2011. Weigh-in at 8:00 AM.

The 8th International Eleiko-Women’s Weightlifting Grand Prix will be conducted in Styria, Austria from June 23 to 26. Konrad Hogg is putting on this growing event that features some of the top female competitors from Europe, although other participating countries include South Africa, China and Egypt.

Girls and Kids will compete in a Sinclair competition, while the senior and junior women will compete for weight class honors. There will be substantial awards. Preliminary entries must be received by April 28th and final entries are due on May 26th. For more information and entry forms, contact Konrad Hogg at [email protected].

The PHAT Elvis High Voltage Last Chance Qualifier will take place on June 4, 2011 at Crossfit High Voltage in Burbank. Class III and under will lift at 10:00 AM, and Class II and above will lift at 1:00 PM. Only 50 berths available. More details will appear in the blog and the next newsletter.

NSCA National Conference. I’ve been notified that I’ll be speaking at this summer’s NSCA National conference in Las Vegas at the Paris Hotel. The topic will be The Determination and Planning of Long Term Strength and Conditioning Training Based on the Training of Weightlifters. It’s scheduled for 1:00 PM on July 9th. Hope to see you all there! For more details go to

The USA National Championships will take place in Council Bluffs, Iowa from July 15th to the 17th. See you there!

California State Games and State Games of America will be held at the Town and Country Resort in San Diego, CA on Sunday, August 7, 2011. This will be the first time that the State Games of America will be contested in California. It will involve the State Games Champions of each state competing against each. Join the PHAT Elvis Weightlifting Club for this in sunny San Diego! On line registration at See you there!


As this is being written, it’s just one hour before I record the interview with Olympian Derrick Crass. Expect it to be posted before the end of the day. Also posted are Derrick’s 3 articles on block training. These are very helpful for remediating certain aspects of pulling technique and for developing an explosive pull! Listen to Derrick’s wise words and download his articles!

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Copyright 2011 Robert Takano / Takano Athletics ( ). All rights reserved.

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