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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Through The Eyes of an Engineer

Breaking down the Arched Angel on a whole different level.  An email sent to me from Thomas Brown that confirms......its not how high you can pull the bar, Its about who can lift the most weight.  Thank you so much Thomas for this in depth look on the most beautiful creature the weightlifting world has ever seen.

Damn it Jon,

Thank you so much for the kind words of advice regarding my technique. I have to say I cringed at the “Rocking Chair” moniker, being that I’ll be turning 50 day after tomorrow ( add busted up ego to broken hearted). But I’ll just take it at face value and focus on landing on my heels, pulling the bar back harder and going faster under the bar. I think that shoes would help too. The New Balance 780’s are a little squishy.

I’ve also been working hard on not pulling the bar too high. I’ve heard you say that, ideally the bar should go no higher than your belly button. I’ve had a look at 3 weightlifting champs and derived a metric for snatch height in order to gauge my technique against the best. Now, I’m a novice, a beginner, a nobody. I can’t say shit about weightlifting. But, I’m also a design quality engineer, a materials scientist (feel free to yawn) and a curious mutha F&^%ka. I’ve been 25 years measuring stuff. I can’t help but to analyze... everything. So if you care to, or find yourself bored, or just  need something to look at while you’re havin’ a dump, take a look at the pictures below.

The top row shows three weight lifters of note (favorite/hero in the middle) in the Arched Angel with the bar path superimposed. The bottom row is my learning progression between last November and now. By taking the simple ratio of bar apogee and height to the ear of the lifter we have a reliable measure of how high the bar is being pulled.  I first tried to use the top of the head rather than the ear, but Xiaojun’s high top hair-do was skewing the results! The best weight lifters range between R=78% and R=93%. Ilya Ilan is a total freak. You can see he pulls the bar no higher than the very bottom of his lats. My progression began at 124% and is improving over the months (graph) to a current value if 97%.

Anyhow, just things to keep me interested. Maybe you’ll find it interesting too. I know this stuff is intuitive to you; don’t need fancy graphs or science to tell you what you already now. But I hope to expand this to a larger sample of athletes in my spare time. If you are interested let me know. I’d love to share it with you.

Finally, I am really sorry I missed you this time. Hopefully you’ll be back in the North East soon for more seminars. I’ve been listening to your “Weightlifting Talk”  on Spreaker and YouTube. The Shankle episodes are by far my favorites. There’s something really special that comes through when you two produce the show, can’t quite  put my finger on it. But you guys are a real inspiration to  people like me. And for all it’s worth, Jon as a father of 3 (19yr daughter, 17/13 yr boys) I’d be extremely proud if I had a son like you that has a) accomplished as much as you have and b) endeavored to give back so much of yourself to the weightlifting community.

Fuck the Haters!



  1. Could you post the pictures he references (just for fun)?

  2. Does this guy have a blogspot? I'd like to see what else he has to talk about.