Ilya, Vasya, Yasha: A Trifecta of Awesomeness, Part 2

NOTE: Part 1 can be read here.

As far as general mechanics and technique goes, Ilya, Vasya, and Yasha all subscribe to a style of lifting that is largely popularized as the “Soviet” or “Eastern European” style of weightlifting. I’m not going to go into all the details of differing styles between countries as that in and of itself is a series of posts that have already been pretty well-documented in other weightlifting sites and also debated in many communities and forums. Let’s just stick to the basics of what we know about this style:

  • Shoulders are generally just over or in front of the bar from the set up until the finish (extension) is executed.
  • Pull as long as possible.
  • Stay over the bar (see first bullet about shoulders) as long as possible leading into extension.
  • Stay balanced through the entire foot throughout the pull, the receive, and–of course–the recovery.

I’m sure others will think of other bullet points to point out but the point is not to discuss mechanics beyond some salient highlights. Back to the recap…

These principles were espoused and repeated throughout the training session with details sprinkled in to drive the point home for each attendee.


Vasya demonstrating balance while staying over the bar with heavy weight

I think it’s important for lifters to understand that as they mature and grow in the sport, they start acquiring these epiphanies that apply to their lifting–what works for them, what doesn’t work for them, and what helps them get stronger and throw up bigger numbers. Ultimately, competitive athletes should learn everything they can, directly or indirectly related to their sport, to gain mastery of him or herself. Ilya, Vasya, and Yasha are indeed masters of their sport and describing, through their own experiences, how they have come to master the sport of Weightlifting.

During the actual training session, and with Lady Waks powering the lifting party, the attendees spent around 90 minutes just snatching.. maybe longer, but what I do remember are some amazing feats of strength from Ilya and Vasya along with them offering great pointers to each and every athlete. During the break between snatches, folks were milling around and making conversation. Ilya and Vasya checked out the Tyson’s Playground facilities and commented at how much stuff the facility had. Needless to say, we were pleased to hear that.

During the CJ session, we got to see Ilya in fine form, demonstrating why he is the king of the Clean + Jerk. First, let me qualify my statement with context: During the snatch session, we watched Vasya muscle snatch an outlandish amount of weight for several heavy singles, then dropped down to start snatching. If my memory serves me correctly, because he was already warm, he basically went something like 70-120-150-170-180-185(?). Ilya was a little more conservative but hit at least 3 attacks (waves) on the snatch–I think the real number was between 4-6 waves–and their pacing was fairly aggressive. Sweating, breathing hard, and challenging themselves and others to keep up a pace with heavy lifts. Very impressive.


Vasya flexin’ on ’em
Ilya enjoying the hell out of himself and life

Let’s get back to the CJ session. Ilya was absolutely the star of the show setting and keeping a punishing pace on his CJ. While these aren’t the heaviest lifts he hit in his seminars, he did 5-6 (!!!) attacks on the CJ and resting MAYBE 90 seconds. It was, quite frankly, really impressive. I think having someone like him and his work ethic alone is a model for success in ANY gym. While he and Vasya represent two differing approaches in workload execution, the principle they drive home is really important:

Work your damned hardest with ruthless professionalism. 

While everybody was having fun, when they approached each rep and set, you could see the switch flip mentally where their game face was on and they were mentally and emotionally focusing on the task at hand. It was incredible and an absolute blast to watch.

In Part 3, we finish the day and discuss some post-mortem lessons with every attendee.