Seriously? Do you use ELEIKO bars in your gym? That is the question I was recently asked by a young man that was considering training with me. I turned to him and asked if his current coach was going to take him to the Olympics to represent Canada in the 70Kg weight class. He looked at me dumbfounded as if he didn’t understand the question, and then he replied in a rather aggressive manner, “that’s a weird question, of course not!” So then why do you need ELEIKO bars? I agree that yes the ELEIKO brand is by far the Rolls Royce of weightlifting when it comes to bars, and yes they are quite expensive per unit. But if you go through some historical data, you’ll read stories out of Russia, a powerhouse in the weightlifting community; had generally one, maybe two bars in their gyms and lifters used to race to win the bar. Yet they produced champions, and continued to for decades to come.
I’m writing this blog because the young man ended up at a Crossfit gym that had more ELEIKOS than I did, but no champions to name, and it was the third time that someone’s asked me this during my career, so I felt it was time to be cathartic and let the world know that there are a myriad of things that will get you to where you want, and equipment may be the last thing on the list if at all on there. Let’s start with genetics, and NO, it’s not necessarily just how strong you are rather a combination of flexibility in the right places, torso to leg height ratios. The femur to tibial lengths, acetabular depths help. And let me hit you with the fact we dare not speak of in this day and age; certain cultures have these assets in spades! I’m going to leave it there just in case this overly sensitive society decides to throw stones at me for discrimination.
Ok now let’s start at the years of training experience; I asked this young man how long was he at his gym? He said, he’d been training for roughly 2 years. I asked how many phases did he see in those “2 years,” and he had no idea what I meant by this. I asked what periodization was he working with, what sort of volume was he doing weekly, as well as tonnage, and again he looked at me like I had a third eye on my forehead. So from this part of the conversation you can ascertain that there was no rhyme or reason to his training, and sadly a major factor that was much more important than the quality of the bars they wanted to use was missing; programming… That’s right, how do you think you’re going to make it to even a city or local meet if you don’t have a proper program to follow! His age may have been in his low to mid twenties, but his training age was definitely less than 2 years, yet the ELEIKO bar was the priority? Hmmm…
Last but not least I asked him where he was being coached since it was obvious he didn’t work with a proper program. He replied, “we’re coaching each other”… Wow! So to back track the why behind this blog, it’s mainly because I’ve had this conversation a few times now over the years with college students. They’ve heard of me from here and there and when training has come up, this is a subject they want to talk about, and it’s starting to get old. To be honest I’ve never had the privilege to take a young athlete to a competition but mainly because weightlifting isn’t the most popular sport. It offers no monetary future and in this country an athlete will usually pay his own way to go across Canada to hit up a provincial meet, let alone a national meet with the slightest hopes of representing our national team internationally.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve added weightlifting within my sport programs whether for rugby, football, hockey and soccer or any other power sports requiring this type of training. I find that the neural adaptations are fantastic when added to the right phase of their programs and have seen great success in most if not all of my past and present youth athletes. But just because they are presented in increments to the athlete of a different discipline, they still have to be taught well. These young men and women have looked to me for the right type of coaching and guidance, and NO they did not walk into any of my past spaces with their buddies to train each other; sorry, but there’s a Goodlife down the street! They’ve come for the programming, because it is the essential ingredient to the success of these athletes.
In the midst of our conversation I already knew that the kid wasn’t going to train with me, but I decided why leave him hanging to fail later and offered free advice for an hour of my time at no charge. I watched him warm up, and he asked me where he should start, I told him I’m not his coach so start where ever he usually did. When the work commenced I will only say that his snatch looked like he was humping a bar, the bar did not travel up his thighs and yes I just said hump. For those of you who don’t know what that means, let’s just say the bar bounced forward about a foot from his hips which means he’ll plateau sooner than later as far as lifting more is concerned. Also he deadlifted his cleans, That’s right, deadlifted, which means his feet positioning was all wrong, he didn’t pull or push his knees during bar travel, and he was one lift away from a lower back injury since there was no real extension in his body before the catch. Oh and, he couldn’t snatch or clean, rather the whole time he was doing powers of each, which means that in all the that time spent training, he never actually learned the snatch or the clean.
At the end of the session, I gave him the pointers he needed, sent him towards some great resources, Tommy Kono, Bob Takano, R.A.Roman, and of course Catalyst Athletics Olympic Weightlifting by Greg Everrett (the fullest resource around in my opinion), etc. I finished the hour with one last dig, “sorry kid, but the ELEIKO bar is the least of your worries.” I know I should be more professional, but I couldn’t help myself, and word around town is, he’s not doing much weightlifting anymore. I hope I wasn’t the deterrent, it wasn’t what I wanted but I was tired of the same ridiculous question. Let me be blunt, if you’re a shitty driver, a lamborghini won’t make you a better driver, it actually may kill you.
Therefore take your time, learn, and continue learning more after you’re done learning, as you’re never done learning. I personally went out of my way to get a coach to help me fix what I learned on videos first and trained for 3 months with him. I later took what I had learned and continued in my gym, trained day in and day out and played with programming so that I can then hone my skills incase a young athlete wanted to walk through my doors someday and ask me to specifically train him on the lifts. I pride myself on technique because it is the only way you will progress safely; the two key words here being progress and safely. Now to answer every other kid interested in training the lifts with me; I use YORK barbells from johnedeals.com right here in Calgary.
I support local business and I do it because in my opinion he carries the best bars. They are American made steel bars proven time and again for over 50 years. They come warranted by YORK Barbell, and they have great competitive prices against ELEIKO, ROGUE, WERKSAN, Pendlay, etc. I’ll take YORK Barbell over a run of the mill Chinese bar saturating the markets today, so that I can trust what my clients work with. Also, I run a business that is still growing organically, so every penny counts. So I chose the best bang for my buck and with it, I’ve produced great little college athletes that can go forward and succeed in their discipline possibly enough for some of them to get a nice ride in secondary education. And that my friends makes me very proud. The next time you ask a coach, Do you use ELEIKO bars in your gym? Ask yourself instead, where are you in your training? What do you aim to achieve from your training? And can the coach in front of you get you there safely? Anything else is a broke down Lamborghini that drives like shit. (excuse the expletives today)