Tag: Leo Totten

Featured Book – The Physically Prepared Weightlifter

Leo Totten Writes Foreword for James Tatum’s Book

“The Physically Prepared Weightlifter: A General Physical Preparedness Program to Build Your Base”

It was an honor to write the foreword for James Tatum’s book The Physically Prepared Weightlifter. Check out why this book is so important, read an excerpt of my foreword and head over to his site for more information!

“I wrote this book because one of the biggest problems that I see in Weightlifting, CrossFit, and Sports Performance training is a lack of general physical preparedness for the weightlifting movements. Although your sport may utilize a barbell and weights often times you are not developing the base of general strength required to perform well & stay injury free.

That is why I wrote The Physically Prepared Weightlifter. Up to this point there has not been all inclusive guide for generally physically preparing your body for sport. This book fills that void. With over 100 pages of programs, instruction and theory, this is the go to guide for making your body ready for any demand your sport has.” – James Tatum


When James Tatum told me that he had written a book on physical
preparation for the weightlifter, I was pleasantly surprised. I already
knew he was an outstanding weightlifter himself and one of the nice
guys in the sport, but an author too? I had known him through several
years of competitions and had always known him as someone who was
well prepared himself. When the notion of him writing a book came
about, I knew it would be a good one. Because of the high regard that
I have for James in all aspects of his life, I was honored when he asked
me to write the foreword to his book.
The word Quality is used in a variety of contexts and I myself use that
word a great deal. The word depicts Excellence. I always tell people
that long ago I developed the habit of hanging out with quality people
and it has done me well over the years. Hang out with quality people
and it rubs off….

To Read the rest of the Foreword and check out James Tatum’s Book head over to the website here

Work Your Weak Areas


Leo Totten, M.S., USAW 5

“A chain is only as strong as its weakest link”.  I use that term in almost every seminar or clinic that I do.  It is human nature to avoid working on their weak areas, instead overworking their strong suits.  They continue to make progress that way, but as long as they ignore their weak areas, they will always be holding themselves back from reaching their full potential.

I’m not saying to go the opposite way and only work on what you aren’t good at.  If that was the case, it would be difficult to be motivated to even come into the gym.  But instead, continue to refine your strong areas, but make sure that a significant amount of work on the weak areas are included to try to work that balance and to make sure that the weak area isn’t what is holding you back.

Take an honest look at your current status of your weightlifting strengths and weaknesses.  From a lifting standpoint is it a Technique, Strength or Flexibility issue that is your weak spot?

Technique –  Is the bar path or bar trajectory the most efficient?  Is your start position or setup as it should be?   Do you have the issue of early arm bend?   Does your technique break down only in certain positions during the lift?

Strength –  You may have really good technique with lighter weights, but as the weight gets heavier, do you have the strength to hold the correct positions?  Are you not able to keep the back and shoulders in the correct position when the bar is at the knees due to poor posterior chain strength?  Do you lack the overall leg strength for proper pulling power or to recover from those heavy cleans?  Do you have the technique to get under those snatches in a quick, efficient manner but lack the overhead strength to support the weight?

Flexibility –  You may be strong as a bull, but do you have the flexibility or mobility to get the body in the correct positions?  When the bar is overhead in the snatch or jerk, do you have the requisite shoulder flexibility to keep the bar behind the ears so the center of gravity of the bar is where it belongs?  When you “rack” the bar on the shoulders in the clean, is the bar on the clavicles and shoulders where it belongs or does the bar slide down the chest due to lack of flexibility?

Another thing to consider is the balance between the competition lifts, training lifts and assistance exercises.  When I do my clinics and seminars, I often have the lifters fill out my Strengths and Weaknesses chart.  With all the numbers in front of them, they can see what they need to work on.  For instance, we typically look for the snatch to be about 80% of what they clean & jerk.  When they calculate it, if the snatch is below that 80%, then they need more focus on the snatch in their training.  If that is the case, then we determine what part of the snatch is holding them back.  Is it something with the strength of the pull, is the speed of the movement, is it the bar path, is it the overhead supporting strength or is it the speed of getting into the receiving position?  Once we determine that, we can arrange the programming to deal with that issue head on.

Obviously, if the snatch is higher than that 80% mark, then some part of the clean or jerk needs more focus.   We use the same principle to decide what part of the c&j needs work and that gives us a better idea of how to set up programming.

From the “non-lifting” side of things, there are many other factors that can negatively influence progress.   Away from the platform, are there stresses in your life that are taking away from your recovery time?  Too many hours at work, stressful work, family issues, boss issues, etc.  I always say that the one hour you spend on the platform isn’t nearly as important as the 23 hours off the platform.  If the “non-lifting” issues are something you need to work on, then it is important that you recognize that and make it a strength, not a weakness.

If any of these issues are determined to be the culprit, then take the time and have the self-discipline to work on what is holding you back.  Its not easy, but, hey, if lifting was easy, everyone would be good at it!

Up Next: In future articles, I will hone in on specifics to make each of these weak areas better for you – practical, down to earth methods for setting up your training to attack your weak areas while still maintaining your strengths.  A strong, overall program that hits your strengths as well as your weaknesses is the key to ultimate success.


Tottenism Tuesday – The Lone Wolf Goes Hungry

Recently, I attended the Sorinex Summer Strong conference down in South Carolina. It was my first time that I was able to make it down there and it was one of the best conferences I had been around (and I have been to a lot!) I always like going to these strength conferences because there is so much knowledge out there and I want to soak up as much as I can. The Sorinex conference had some awesome speakers including Bert Sorin who, in my mind, gave one of the best. In his talk he mentioned the lone wolf. Most people think of the wolf as a predator that you certainly would not want to meet on a late evening trek through the mountains. But the point he was making was that wolves go around in packs for a reason. They count on their brothers and sisters to team up on their prey so everyone in the pack gets fed. The lone wolf goes hungry. He brought that concept into perspective with the team that has developed around he and his Dad, Richard, for the company. Obviously, those two guys are the head of the organization, but they have developed a strong team around them to make the company the success that it is. I’d like to think that the culture of my East Coast Gold Weightlifting Team has developed with that same concept in mind. I try to surround myself with good, quality people to help with coaching, medical, education, marketing and athlete identification. That concept has spread to all of our satellite centers so the team continues to grow and prosper. So, whether it is a weightlifting team, an athletic team or a business, the “team” is what its all about.

Tottenism Tuesday – One Lift at a Time

Bruce Lee once said, he was not concerned about someone who had practiced 10,000 kicks. He was more concerned about a person who had practiced one kick 10,000 times. He was concerned about the opponent that had put in the deliberate practice to make one move as perfect as possible and therefore as efficient and effective as possible (and in his case perhaps deadly). For those of you who know me, I am a huge Green Bay Packers fan. Back in Vince Lombardi’s day (you young whipper snappers won’t know who he was, but Google him) he had the Packers run the Green Bay Power Sweep. They practiced it to perfection and even though the opponents knew it was coming, they couldn’t stop it because it was that efficient and that effective. They drilled it over and over again until it was perfection and a beauty of a play to see. The key in both examples is deliberate practice. For the weightlifter, that means focusing all of your attention on that one lift in front of you in your training session. It is important to focus in competition when there is more pressure and each lift means more, but I’m talking about doing each lift with that same focus, that same intensity in practice. That is hard to do with everything else going on in the gym, the music, the training partners and other distractions. But the key is to make every lift as focused as possible, whether it be a 50% warmup weight or a max attempt. The mind and the body have to be deliberately trained to hit that perfect lift every time. Get into the mindset where every time you step on the platform and touch the bar, it is the same routine, the same focus. The more you practice in this deliberate way, the more it becomes automatic and you get into that zone more easily. Most importantly, when the competition does come around, it has become second nature to be focused and “in the zone” every time.

Real Time Web Analytics