The Concept of Unweighting

Last week during Friday’s clean & jerk ladder workout I finally grasped something I had learned about a year or so ago.  I coached the noon class, and it was full of strong people who have also been CPM members for a while.  As I watched everyone performing the clean & jerks (which there were lots of) something clicked in my mind about moving weights.  One person made the clean & jerk look effortless, and obviously so.  What struck me wasn’t that the person’s strength was powering the barbell around their body, but rather that the person was using their strength in such a way that they were in harmony with the bar.  Others in the class were using more weight, and by the looks of them comparatively are much stronger, but they were battling with the barbell to make it move from the ground to over head.

This reminded me of something I had watched in a phase where running interested me greatly.  I’ve embedded the video below if you want to check it out:

In this video Dr. Romanov (Russian….of course) attempts to explain a concept he refers to as “unweighting.”  This is a difficult concept to explain, and I don’t know that I can do much better at explaining it but I’d like to say a few things I feel he missed.

The more muscle we accumulate and the stronger we become, the more we grow to rely on that strength to do work.  Oftentimes we don’t use all or our strength either, but a specific portion of it.  Romanov demonstrates this to Dan via the hang snatch.  You’ll notice that he cleverly asks Dan what a hang snatch is, and Dan’s reply is “bringing the bar from my waist to overhead.”  Simple enough, and he is correct.  However, Romanov points out that his thought reflects his behavior and how he performs the hang snatch.

I’ll try and say very little here so as not to confuse myself (and you), but this concept of “unweighting” your body or base of support is crazy effective.  When you watch two people move (running, lifting, whatever) and one of them understands the concept and the other doesn’t the differences are so unmistakeable it blows my mind.  One person is battling against gravity, load, or other effective forces.  The unweighted person simply works with them, and can even use them to their advantage.

Think about this next time we’re running, rowing, or lifting weights.  Don’t fight against the resistance, but learn how to move with it.  Next time you’re early to class and you’re watching people move see if you can tell who’s learned to unweight their body.  I’ll bet you’ll be able to make the distinction.

The Oboard Says…

A. 3RM Thruster
4 prep sets @ 90 seconds
3 attempts @ 2 minutes

B. 3 rounds for time:
400m run
21 DB Thrusters (35/25)
rest 2 minutes

Posted by: Stets