Ilya, Vasya, Yasha: A Trifecta of Awesomeness, Part 1

We had the pleasure of hosting Ilya Ilyin, Vasily Polovnikov, and Yasha Kahn this past August at Black & Red, where they spent the day hosting a training session that had un-freaking-believable energy to it and then continued with an afternoon session of technique breakdown for each and every single attendee that lifted. Below is a recap of the day and a glimpse into a minuscule piece of what they dub as “Professional Weightlifting”, with the obvious connotation being that this is roughly how professional weightlifters train–heavily influenced by Eastern European practices that have spilled over into Asian countries with strong weightlifting programs.

I think it’s important to note that they started the seminar at 0800 AM, meaning, you had to be geared up, strapped up, and ready to roll to warm up, the implication here being that professional athletes treat what it is that they do exactly as it sounds: It’s a job and you show up and you’re expected to do your work.

They quickly changed upon arrival shortly before 8am and Yasha gathered everybody around to give a breakdown of the day: AM training on the Snatch, a 10-30 minute break, depending on schedule, AM training in the Clean & Jerk, break for lunch, followed by a long afternoon session of technique breakdown for every attendee, and then finally Q&A.

Ilya led the group the warm up, which lasted about 15-20ish minutes, give or take, including joint prep, muscular warm up, and then specific positional warm up and practice. Without going into too many details, most of it was a standard joint warm up commingled with some priming of the muscles to get the body warmed up to hit near terminal ranges of motion. If you search for videos of this nature, you’ll know what I’m referring to.

This is where I want to take a moment to get on a soap box and talk about the importance of warming up and the value to being aware of what you’re doing during.

Your warm up should be helping you with several items of note:

  1. Your warm up should be kicking up your global body temperature so that your muscles and nervous system are primed for activity.
  2. Your warm up should help you diagnose postural, mobility, and stability deficiencies and help you quickly identify what you will likely need to focus on during your pre-training prep, your actual training, and your post-training rehab/homework.
  3. Your warm up should be fairly comprehensive, but not so comprehensive that it takes you 30+ minutes to get done.
  4. Your warm up should have you sweating a bit and breathing a little harder than you started.
  5. Your warm up can vary from day to day but generally have a structure that addresses global preparation followed by localized preparation for areas of improvement, followed by context-specific preparation.

Getting back to the recap, Ilya walked everybody through a general full-body preparation phase, then jumped into a positional warm up that prepped the nervous system and body to move the way we want it to move in the snatch and CJ. What I found delightfully affirming was that their style of warming up and how they approach the lifts are pretty straightforward and similar to pretty much any other country with a fairly well developed weightlifting program.

In part 2, we will talk more about our general fanboy excitement over watching Ilya and Vasya generally perform feats of strength that aren’t terribly uncommon, but more that they were simply performing their feats of strength un-freaking-believably-commonly well.