Olympic Weightlifting - Don McCauley Guest Blog

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Those that know me as coach, know that I am always looking to better myself and learn more. This lead me to the path of stumbling across an Olympic Weightlifting Coach in the United States called, Don McCauley.

I came across Don’s content on YouTube, which is brilliantly simple but so effective (I’ll add a link to his channel at the bottom of the page). I then followed MuscleDriver USA were you will see Don coaching on their videos. I decided to contact Don about my own lifting and asked him for some advice. He was more than happy to help and asked for a video of my lifts to assess and give me feedback. There aren’t a lot people that will happily give up their time to help others out these days, especially for free!

Don has been kind enough to write a blog for me to put on my site. Hopefully his advice and content will help many more lifters become better and ultimately increase the sport of Olympic lifting. 

Don McCauley's Blog:

I got into weightlifting in the mid-70’s at the urging of my best friend and roommate at that time, Tom Marchand.  I had been training as a long distance/cross country runner in my early 20’s but came down with allergy related asthma.  It pretty much ended my plans on returning to college and competing in cross country, although several years later I was able to return to running and did ok at the longer road races.  I competed as a 60 and a 67.5 kg lifter for about five years and was brilliantly mediocre.  I did have good leg/back strength but lacked speed, mobility and flexibility and, I suspect, a large percentage of slow twitch muscle fiber.  But, what I did get out of competing in Olympic weightlifting was a great love for the sport and its community/family. 

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In the mid-80’s I opened a gym and moved into competing and coaching in powerlifting.  And, I started coaching the throws (discus, shot, hammer and javelin).  By the mid-90’s I worked with several good Olympic lifters and coached one, Suzanne Leathers to a Sr. World Team in ’98.  This led me to end up coaching with Team Savannah for several years with all of their great lifters.

Since then, I have worked with several more national and international athletes including Cheryl Haworth, Anthony Martin, Josh Squyers, Anthony Hernandez and Holley Mangold, who stayed at my house for a couple of summers at the urging of her coach, a good friend of mine, Dan Bell.  And, in what seems to be my final destination, I have come to MuscleDriver USA to work with their lifters and coach Glenn Pendlay over the last two years.  This has afforded me the opportunity to work with lifters on this great team, including James Tatum, Sean Rigsby, Morghan King, Ariel Stephens, and the rest, who are a fantastic group.  This has been the greatest experience of my coaching life.  It is, by far, the best training atmosphere I have coached in and it is at the forefront of expanding our sport in this country by supporting athletes with stipends while they grow and reach their potential as weightlifters.

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I want to talk a bit about the lifts and their variations and the value for athletes.  Let me be perfectly clear about this. If you are a competitive athlete and do not use the classic Olympic lifts or variations (Power Clean/Snatches, Pulls, Hangs, etc.) in your training program, you are cheating yourself of  reaching your potential and making yourself more prone to injury on the competition field.  Simple as that.  The speed, agility, rhythm, muscle and bone growth, balance force output, etc. that can be gained by doing these lifts properly and in a well-designed program is valuable beyond description to the athlete.  Going through an athletic career without this tool in your toolbox simply means an incomplete job will be done.  I will add that as an exercise type for anyone wishing to retain power and strength as they mature, a small amount of these lifts will be more valuable than a lot of cable machine work.  They will help you maintain movement from the hips and quads better than any exercise, even if done as a minor part of a total program for long term fitness.

These days, the road to learning the lifts, and they should be learned at an early age, seems to lead through CrossFit Kids and then CrossFit.  We have some good Olympic weightlifting coaches but there are so many CrossFits, it has become the easiest road to find the sport of Olympic Weightlifting.  And, I have said in my book, Power Trip: a guide to weightlifting for athletes, parents and coaches, that the lifts should first be taught to young people as a part of a total program which emphasizes GPP and includes technical training in the Olympic lifts.  Many Olympic coaches are working with CrossFit gyms as consultants now and when an athlete shows an interest in their teenage years of specializing in the sport of Olympic weightlifting, I think it is a lot easier to find a well versed coach in the sport than it used to be, between Crossfit trainers who have made it their business to learn how to coach the lifts better and these Olympic weightlifting coaches who have partnered with CrossFit gyms.  I am very optimistic about the future of weightlifting now that the sport has been introduced to a major part of the athletic community by Crossfit.  We have seen already the number of competitors increase 10 fold and the technical expertise of these lifters is quickly improving.

When lifters do decide to try weightlifting as a sport, I have a piece of advice.  DON’T WAIT UNTIL YOU’RE READY.  I’ve seen athletes who seem to be always waiting for some sign from above that their lifts are perfect enough or the weights they are lifting are impressive enough to bring to the platform.  Nonsense!  Once you or your coach conclude that you are technically sound enough to complete the lifts safely, by all means find a local meet and get going.  You’ve got to find out whether you like competing in the sport, being onstage alone, falling down in front of people, being successful in front of people, all of it.  And, when you are a novice compete often.  You do not always have to be going for PR’s or even lifting at 100%.  Get onstage and make attempts.  Make your nerves, which will always be there, work for you instead of against you.  It really is a great sport with a very knowledgeable following that will support you make or miss.  So, I advise you to get on with it and have some fun.  

If you'd like to send me videos to have your technique reviewed or if you have any questions related to Olympic Weightlifting please feel free to send me them on social media sites. 


Instagram: d.j.mac. 

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/xftcoach47

Hope to see or hear from a lot of you and hope some of this has helped any of you considering competing in our great sport.