Q&A with Professional German Weightlifter Max Lang (2016)
Here at Fitworld exposed we are more into the Bodybuilding/Powerlifting world, but the Olympic weightlifting world is an extremely interesting, technical and strong sport that we would love to learn more about because certain concepts, ideas and tips with this style of lifting could still be implemented in certain routines for a variety of different reasons which is why its good to get curious and learn from these athletes.
As far as the physiques of the Olympic weightlifters are concerned, they have some of the biggest traps (and also upper backs) due to all of the heavy and explosive pulling variations that they do on a frequent basis. Not only that, but they are some of the strongest athletes in the world when it comes to putting heavy weights overhead (along with strongman competitors) which is extremely important.
Max Lang is a famous German weightlifter who competes at 77kg and he was the 2014 U23 European champion. Some of his best lifts are a 153kg Snatch and a 190kg Clean and Jerk.
My philosophy has always been that if you want to get good at something then you have to learn from the best and today we have the opportunity to do so!
Describe what Olympic weightlifting means to you and why you think it is one of the most unique styles of lifting?
Olympic weightlifting means a lot of hard work for me. It’s not just ‘lifting weights no matter how it’s a collaboration of your body and mind. You need strength and also the perfect technique. Strength and technique must work together to be a good lifter.
What is your goal for this year as far as your lifts are concerned?
The biggest goal is to participate at the Olympic Games in Rio. I did the qu
alify for Rio twice: 2015 at the Worlds in Houston with 3kg above the standard and 2016 in Forde at the Europeans. Unfortunately i didn’t make it.
How long do the sessions usually last and how is a typical Olympic Weightlifting program usually set up?
Ex: A typical bodybuilding workout split will look something like:
Monday: Chest + Triceps
Wednesday: Shoulders + Traps
Friday: Arms + Abs
My sessions last between two and three hours with pre- and post- workout session. So basically i train eight times a week. I don’t have special days for special muscle groups. I do pulls and squats nearly every day. My training is full of supporter exercises like power snatches or jerks, snatch balances, push presses and so on… The classic lifting with heavy snatches and clean&jerks is mostly on Fridays because Thursday is rest day and my body is recovered.
What does your program look like without getting too technical? Also do you guys have intensity days and volume days like powerlifters?
In Germany we have two phases for one cycle. The preparation phase and the ‘shaping’ phase.
Preparation phase means to do a lot of repetitions especially in squats and pulls, goal is to get stronger . After a while you go into the shaping phase. That means the repetitions get lower and the weights increase. The shaping phase is really close to the competition.
We have 3 different kinds of training weeks, a high, low and a medium week . A typical rhythm looks like this: high-high-low. Means two weeks of harder training with one week to de-load at the end.
If you had to train somebody who has never done any Olympic weightlifting, but has done bodybuilding and Powerlifting in the past then what kind of programming would you put him/her on to become a better weightlifter?
At first I would check his or her mobility, because that’s really necessary for weightlifting. Another main thing and very important is the technique work. So I would spend a lot of time to teach and drill him/her the right technique.
A lot of people on the internet say that the Olympic lifts are EXTREMELY technical and hard to learn, are they really that hard to learn or are people just exaggerating a bit on their end?
Yes that’s right. I do weightlifting for nine years and I’m still learning. For learning weightlifting you need a lot of patience. To teach your body a new movement takes about 1.000 repetitions.
Powerlifters focus a lot on assistance work for the big 3, what is the assistance work like in Olympic lifting? Also do you guys perform a lot of rowing variations?
It’s almost the same as in powerlifting. We have snatch and clean&jerk, so we have to do exercises that support us in these disciplines. A lot of people ask me about my pb in bench press, but this is not a part of my training. My focus is on my squats, pulls and all exercises which include the snatch and clean&jerk. And maybe a little bit of Crossfit in preparation of a new season;-)
As somebody who is more in the bodybuilding world and likes to do a lot of standing strict presses, do you find that push presses translate into a strong strict press or do they not have a really good carryover?
These are two different exercises, strict press and push press. Depending on what is your goal you can and should use them differently. It’s always good to start with strict movements before using the dip.
As somebody who likes to train for size, I rarely ever do shrugs because I find that my traps grow better from Snatch Grip High Pulls from the hang done for low reps along with other high pull variations. When and where do you incorporate snatch grip high pulls into an Olympic weightlifters program?
Snatch grip high pulls are always a part of my training.It helps you to train the extension and shrugs are also a part of the extension which works fine for a weightlifter.
I have found that there was a direct correlation between my trap size and my SGHP (from the hang) numbers that I was able to pull. If my goal is to improve my Snatch Grip High Pull by 100lb then what would be some go-to movements that you would recommend that I incorporate in order to help achieve this? Do you think that exercises such as clean grip snatches, muscle snatches and clean grip high pulls would help?
Yes it would help, because your muscle will have a different Impulse.
What are a few very common high pull mistakes that you see people make that could be corrected with some simple tweaks?
That’s not easy to say… the most mistakes happen because of the wrong body position or the wrong timing in phases of the extension.
Besides strongman competitors, Olympic Weightlifters are also some of the best athletes in the world when it comes to putting hundreds of pounds overhead. What are some jerking tips that you could give a beginner?
It’s hard to keep the bar in the perfect position of your body’s center of gravity.
You have to try to avoid jerking in front or too much back of it. Furthermore there should not be a pause in an explosive dip or jerk.
Feet shouldn’t be in a too narrow position otherwise you could loose stability.
You need some strong and stable shoulders to do heavy behind the neck push presses, do you do a lot of direct rear delt and rotator cuff work?
Actually i don’t, but if so I might do some delt/ rotator work to prevent injuries 1x a week.
Do you feel like Olympic Weightlifting is getting the respect and recognition that it really deserves or do you find it a bit underrated?
Sadly Olympic weightlifting in Germany is pretty underestimated and underrated. It’s seems old school, because there is not much fancy movements, clothes or looks involved. Sure, it’s a pretty complicated discipline and takes long to learn it and to do it the right way. That’s why people here prefer trying out easier sports with a lot of different movements, something quick to learn and with not many rules included.
I sure like seeing how Olympic weightlifting takes part in other sports, like in CrossFit, but i think it’s a little bit sad that people think that there are two different ways to do weightlifting (Olympic weightlifting style and cross fit oly style).
But as weightlifting is having a little comeback, people in Germany may start to enjoy and appreciate this sport a little bit more.
I am pretty optimistic and exited to see this sport growing and getting more popular and favored soon.
Greetings from Germany!