Today we welcome Dr. Quinn Henoch, Doctor of Physical Therapy and author of Weightlifting Movement Assessment & Optimization: Mobility & Stability for the Snatch and Clean & Jerk. He is also the founder of ClinicalAthlete, which is a network of health care professionals who understand the performance-based needs of athletes. Since 2011, he has trained exclusively for the sport of weightlifting, having competed in the 2014 American Open and posting qualifying totals for the 2015 National Championships, as a 77kg lifter.
In this episode he discusses how to achieve weightlifting specific positions and why just trying to stretch to increase your mobility may not be the best way. He’s a damn smart coach, this episode is loaded with great advice and suggestions for you if you’re working to improve your snatch, clean or jerk.
Note: timestamps are based on YouTube version.
Quinn’s book: Weightlifting Movement Assessment & Optimization: Mobility & Stability for the Snatch and Clean & Jerk
In May 2017, Quinn released a book to help weightlifters assess their olympic weightlifting movements, breaking down lifts phase-by-phase.
Quinn is a physical therapist by trade. He sees patients for physical therapy (PT) work, trains clients in strength and conditioning, and competes in olympic weightlifting himself.
In high school and college, he played football and did olympic weightlifting. After college, he became a strength and conditioning coach, but quickly realized he wanted to offer more than written training programs and teaching lifts. Today, he’s living his dream as a PT, with his office attached to a barbell gym.
Load and stress is what causes adaptation
Quinn previously spent two hours at the gym warming up for workouts with passive mobility exercises, but after a while realized he wasn’t really getting anywhere. Nothing was changing. When Quinn delved into the science, he discovered all those lower level PT exercises weren’t benefiting long-term training and health. Instead, he found evidence that load and stress is what causes body adaptation.
Practice movement patterns in warmups
Instead of foam rolling and static stretches as a warmup, Quinn suggests doing the movement you’re going to train in different variations. While passive exercises like foam rolling only help prime tissues on a local level vs. the whole body, warmups help increase blood flow and core temperature. When you practice the patterns you plan to train, you make the most of your warmup.
For example, if you’re going to squat, just start squatting. The first five squats will feel grindy and won’t be in full range of motion, but after enough reps, your body will naturally find itself in better positions.
“The first squat always feels like dog shit. ALWAYS.” — Quinn Henoch
Corrective exercises have a wide variation
Corrective exercises come in all shapes and sizes. Whether someone is injured or needs to gain confidence in a movement, Quinn takes a top-down approach. The idea is to practice the closest variation of the movement under load.
For example, for the snatch, the first tier corrective exercise is snatch balance. The next tier is an overhead squat, etc. Quinn won’t make someone do dead bug if they have some pain in their shoulder. Instead, he would use dead bug for someone who has issues just moving.
Quinn teaching Mike corrective exercises
Tune in to the video podcast to watch Quinn teach Mike corrective exercises under load. Watch the video podcast from minute 16:12.
Mobilize actively, with intention, under load
Current research shows low level mobility exercises (i.e. foam rolling or static stretches) are only good for short term changes in perception and range of motion. Short-term changes means your mobility is going to bounce back into the default unwanted position.
To make long lasting changes on tissues, tendons, and tolerance, the body needs volume and intensity on top of range of motion. Only then will it adapt to the new position and movement.
To make the most of your mobility, do a combination of isometric, eccentric, and tempo work exercises with the range of motion that is comfortable for you at the time. Perform the movements slow and under load, but not too much load. And always control the movements.
Figure out your symptoms’ trigger
When one of your body parts is firing up, try to figure out the symptoms’ trigger. Triggers can be induced by volume, intensity, range of motion, or a combination.
For example, volume trigger could be induced after a certain amount of reps. If you squat 5 sets of 8 reps, and towards the 4th or 5th set something is fired up (i.e. your knee or ankle), you might have a volume issue. On the other hand, if a certain number on the bar gets your body part fired up, then it might be an intensity issue.
“Best mitigating factor for reducing injury risk is monitoring overall workload.” — Quinn Henoch
Teaching principles to experiment yourself
Quinn’s goal is to empower athletes so they can control their own situations. His philosophy is to take an individual approach, even at bigger groups, by teaching athletes principles on how to experiment themselves. Check out his new book on how to assess yourself.
Don’t be shy to mobilize with decent load
Quinn likes to mobilize with heavy loads, so the body gets adapted to the range of motion in the position while getting strong. Similarly, Stan “Rhino” Efferding (Episode #281) likes to do the same.
“Calf raises could be your best mobility drill.” — Quinn Henoch
Tune in to the video podcast again (minute 44:00) to watch Quinn demonstrating loaded ankle mobility exercises.
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