One of the biggest challenges we face in remote coaching is improving clients movement patterns. Nowhere has this process been more challenging and rewarding for me as a coach than working with Ed Haynes. Ed came to Training Think Tank after competing in the 2014 Asia regional as part of team CSTL out of Hong Kong. He had qualified as an individual but lacked the confidence in his overhead capacity to compete as an individual. It wasn’t that Ed had neglected overhead movements purposefully, rather he had undergone four shoulder reconstruction operations (two on each shoulder) during his rugby career before competing in CrossFit. As a result he had avoided overhead movements in training for years and thus lacked mobility, strength, and stability.
During our initial consultation Ed explained to me that one of his primary motivations for hiring a coach was to make him do the overhead work (pressing, snatching, overhead squatting) that he knew he needed to do but had avoided for the past 4-5 years. One thing that I’ve learned about Ed since then is that he has no fear, and his dedication to improving his overhead mobility has been unwavering. At the time of our consult (early June, 2014), Ed’s 1RM squat snatch was 70kg (154#) and power snatch was 65kg (145#). Together, we identified these as the major priorities moving forward.
What I needed to know, and what a 60min consult cannot tell you is WHY someone has movement issues. I always approach creating an athletes assessment protocol from the standpoint of determining why they have the issues they presented in the consult. In Ed’s case I wanted to present a variety of single-arm overhead tests that would assess his stability and mobility in different positions and then move into some 2-arm tests. Additionally I needed see his overhead Olympic lifts under load and fatigue as these are major components of our sport.
Selected Movements from Initial Assessment:
Analysis & Exercise Prescription
After gathering all of Ed’s testing data the picture started to become more clear. I had an athlete who was strong, enduring, and powerful but lacked a critical element for high-level competition in the Sport of Fitness: overhead mobility. My hunch was that if we could use overhead stability exercises that put Ed into progressively greater degrees of shoulder flexion coupled with a targeted mobility program that we would see rapid improvements.
Our training priorities moving forward were:
- Targeted mobility for lats, rotators, thoracic spine, pecs, and triceps
- Dynamic exercises that required isometric stability in shoulder flexion (i.e. Jerk Grip OHS)
- Isometric core stability exercises (i.e. Hollow Rocks, Wall-Facing HS Holds)
Example week of training during Phase-1 (Starting July, 15th)
By mid-September we had already started to see major improvements in Ed’s overhead positioning. These improvements also came with increases in his training loads for his overhead lifts as well. When we started a 55kg Squat Snatch was challenging but now Ed is routinely using 55kg for multi-rep TnG complexes. While we had not yet seen major jumps in his 1RM overhead lifts, I assured Ed that they would soon follow his improvement in mobility, stability, and mechanics.
Squat Snatch Complex @ 55kg - September 22, 2014
Squat Jerks @ 52kg - September, 2014
Example week of training during Phase-2 (Starting September 15th):
Fast forward to the present. Ed’s focus on attacking his weakness has put him in a position where his overhead lifts are now competitive. He now has the ability to train with Regional level loads overhead and has closed a major hole in his preparation. What’s next for Ed? Ed plans to make a push for the 2015 Asia+Australia Super Regional. With the improvements he’s seen over the past 6 months, I’m confident that he’s doing everything he can to put his name on that short-list of top athletes moving on to Regionals this year.
Snatch Pull + Squat Snatch Complex @ 70kg - January 8th
10 BF Burpees + 10 Front Squats + 10 STOH @ 70kg - January 17th (final set)