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Reading Louie Simmons’ postings on the internet and reading through his book, it seems like his basic point is that U.S. Olympic lifters spend too much time and energy perfecting their technique with not enough time and energy put into strength building.
This line of criticism of U.S. Olympic lifting is just not true. Of course U.S. Olympic lifters spend lots of time practicing various pull and squatting exercises as well as various hyperextension, good morning, and pressing exercises. Also, it should not be forgotten that snatches and clean & jerks are splendid exercises for developing strength and power themselves. It’s not all technique.
I don’t think there’s much difference in the way U.S. lifters train than the way lifters in Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle east train. The difference in the performance of the top U.S. lifters and the top lifters from many other countries has to do with the way children in these countries are tested and selected for the sports they are most predisposed for. This plus more thorough medical attention for the top athletes from these countries.
Here at Coffee’s Gym, we’ve gotten used to medical personnel showing up at the gym totally unannounced to get urine samples from some of our top ranked lifters over the years. U.S. Olympic lifting is one of the most thoroughly tested sports in the world.
U.S. lifters lift very well considering they are all pretty much drug free. Today, top U.S. lifters lift about the same weights U.S. lifters were able to lift before testing became so efficient.
Last year was one of the rare years when the Senior World Weightlifting Championships was held in the USA. I attended for the whole 10 days it took to run it off down in Houston, Texas. Each day I would spend several hours watching the athletes in the training hall go through their pre-competition routines. I never did see Louie Simmons there. Even an expert like him may have picked up some tips watching these top men and women in the world train.
In particular, he may have wanted to observe the way these world class weightlifters perform their squats: torsos totally erect and perpendicular, chest and head held high, all the way top to bottom, hips on heels. No doubt very different than the way squats are performed at Westside. Almost a totally different exercise. Of course I’ve seen these world class men and women weightlifters train many times before. They all possess very prominent quadriceps development. This is the kind of leg development Olympic weightlifters get doing their squats so upright and deep. When the bar is held low at mid delt, the feet placed very wide apart, trunk inclined forward as powerlifters do, then you get development in the hamstrings and hips, in contrast to the quad and glute development Olympic lifters get squatting the way they do. Olympic lifters get their hamstrings doing various snatches and cleans, pulls, and bend overs with the legs held straight. The quadriceps and the hamstrings are both worked very effectively during the course of an Olympic lifting workout.
Many ex-Powerlifters who become ‘experts’ at various CrossFits and gyms teach this low bar form of squatting under the mistaken impression that this is the way weightlifters should squat. This is incorrect.
Louie brags about how many 1000+ lb squatters he has in his gym and I assume all these men are wearing multi-ply suits, holding the bar at mid delt with feet set so wide that they can only barely break parallel, and it goes without saying that these gentleman are all well-steroided.
In the May June 2015 issue of Power Magazine, Stan Efferding is interviewed by Mark Bell. Mr. Efferding states that squatting with vertical shins would not transfer very well to sprints, “for that you want to be doing things like a front squat or a high bar squat”.
Perhaps Louie having conquered the powerlifting training world now wants to become the strength guru to Olympic lifting. Sorry Louie, this arena is already taken care of.
I did go to the trouble and expense of buying Louie’s book. There is absolutely no useful information in the whole book. Only complaints about how Olympic lifters don’t do strength work in this country.
Doing a classic powerlifting type workout does develop some general strength, but this type of training would have very little usefulness for any athlete including Olympic lifters.
I assume that Louie is angling to become some kind of strength training guru for Olympic lifting. Unfortunately, he will probably succeed in getting some people to take him seriously. Based on what I’ve seen that Louie has posted in the internet, Louie Simmons has absolutely nothing worthwhile to offer to Olympic lifting. Please don’t pay $500 for a weekend Louie Simmons Olympic lifting seminar.

– John B. Coffee

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Robin Goad, ’94 Senior World Champion, amassed 20 medals at the Worlds. John Coffee mainly employed the lifts, squats, and pulls in her training. 

 

Commentary on Louie Simmons Debacle
By John Coffee and Edward Baker

Edward Baker:

A few weeks ago, powerlifter Louie Simmons released a book providing his interpretation of strength training for weightlifters. This literature is falsely written under the premise that a bunch of random exercises are going to be the answer to make American weightlifting great again. Louie confuses the trend of a routine consisting mostly of the lifts, squats, and pulls to a lack of knowledge, when there is a general consensus that the movements that most similarly mimic the snatch and clean & jerk correlate to improvement of the respective lifts. John Coffee and I felt the need to put out this article to make sure that nobody actually takes this book seriously.

John Coffee:

In his book, Louie Simmons writes about how American lifters spend most of their training time on technique and fail to train for strength. Of course this is not true. American lifters spend hours each week doing pulls and squats, also hyper extensions, presses, glute ham raises, ab work etc. Louie fails to realize also that when a lifter does heavy doubles and triples and singles in the Snatch and Clean & jerk, they’re also working strength and power as well as technique. He also seems to fail to realize that when pulls and front squats with the same technique as the classics lifts are done, he or she also is working technique. I’m not sure Louie quite realizes exactly how Olympic lift training is done.
The latest training method seems to include working almost exclusively with low reps in the classic lifts, plus front and back squats. Many of the world’s top lifters seem to be training this way. Although I personally don’t wish to train my lifters this way, it is worth noting that some of the best lifters in the world do. The trend seems to do less variety of exercises rather than more.

“So how do you raise the Olympic style squatting? Simple: by not doing them. Yes, that means following the Conjugate Method” – Louie Simmons

Louie advises people having trouble with squats to not do squats, and to do box squats instead. How about reducing your squat weights so that you do your squats correctly and strengthen the legs this way? Many individuals have weak quads, this can be corrected by doing both front and back squats as upright as possible.

Edward:

As John stated, when an individual is performing the full lifts, they’re working technique while also getting stronger, and when performing squats and pulls, they’re getting stronger while also working technique; you want to do all of the assistance movements as close to the exact of motion as you can possibly get.

“If you pull your knees inward while recovering from a heavy squat, why do you think more squats will fix the problem? It won’t, of course. If you can’t hold the lockout in your jerk or snatch do you really think it will correct itself? No, you must at the very least do elbow extensions.” – Louie Simmons

If a lifter is performing squats incorrectly as Louie describes, then they would simply focus on squatting without the knees caving in; getting strong in the right movement pattern is the premise of Weightlifting.
Take this comparison for example: Bob Peoples clean & jerked 308 lb and deadlifted 725 lb weighing 181 lb, whereas Isaac Berger clean & jerked 336 lb and never could deadlift 500 lb, weighing 132 lb. Though Peoples deadlifted well over 200 lb more than Berger, he still clean & jerked less than him. Berger was stronger in the right movement pattern. There’s being strong, then there’s being strong in the right movement.

Louie also writes of accommodation:

“When I watch Olympic lifting in its current state, I can only think of one thing: Accommodation. When doing the same training—using the same exercises over and over with the same volume or intensity—a lifter’s performance will slow or even go backwards.”

“In the US, the expectation is that the result of exercise is always an increase in performance, but if nothing in the program is changed, the athlete experiences the principle of diminishing returns. This is a general law of biology and simply means if one does a constant stimulus, that stimulus will decrease over time.”

The principle of accommodation that Louie writes of is absolutely correct; if you do the exact same routine each week with no progression of volume and intensity then your progress will slow and eventually stall. However I know of no coach that has done this. In Vladimir Zatsiorsky’s Science and Practice of Strength Training he writes of accommodation, presumably where Louie got his similar explanation from:

simmons1

However Zatsiorsky follows up in the next paragraph with (and Simmons makes no mention of):

simmons2

Everyone’s progress begins to slow as they go further into their Weightlifting career; In the first couple of months of training a Weightlifter can improve their snatch and clean & jerk weekly, sometimes daily, but as they get further and further into their career, personal records become less plentiful. That’s just the way it is. The stronger you get, the harder it is to get strong. Success in a weightlifter’s training isn’t determined by the number of PRs made in a bunch of random exercises, but by what a weightlifter can Snatch and Clean & jerk on the platform. Ultimately, you have X amount of time and want to do the exercises that are the most productive and that most resemble the Olympic lifts.
There is constant mention in his book of American weightlifters being unsuccessful because they’re not doing the exercises he describes in his book; well what about steroids and the talent pool? In other countries, the most genetically predisposed people are picked for weightlifting, in this country, not more than a few percent of people hear about weightlifting much less practice it. It is certainly becoming better known, and hopefully will continue to. However until the United States develops a beat the drug test or WADA manages to successfully eliminate drugs from this sport, then we will continue to be on the outside looking in. (I certainly would prefer the latter method) The writings of Tommy Kono, Bob Takano, Carl Miller, Artie Drechsler, Harvey Newton, and Jim Schmitz, to name a few, have gifted American weightlifting with the knowledge we need to become a dominant Weightlifting power, we just need to keep finding the talent and get drugs out of the sport to do it.