When the European Championship was about to start, our journalist contacted one of the most authoritative athletes, Anton Pliesnoi. The man can already boast having gold medals from the U23 European Championships and the World Cup. Not so long ago, he started his collection with a modest bronze award from the World and European Championships, so the breakthrough is obvious. We were just wondering what the secret is.
O.T. I would like to start with a fact that you’re from Ukraine, as far as I know it. You used to be part of our national junior team before transferring to Georgia. Can you explain the reasons for doing so?
A.P. In Ukraine, we have brilliant coaches, but gyms still lack the necessary resources to get well-prepared for the Olympic Games. I mean equipment, approaches, and others. That is why I saw greater opportunities in Georgia. I moved there three years ago. Their national team provided me with everything necessary, including the new trainers and exercises. I have chosen a slightly different approach to training. Along with my UA coach, we used to consider various destinations before realizing that Georgia might be a perfect choice.
O.T. Georgi Asanidze is your primary coach now. Is he the only one responsible for your training?
A.P. He is my basic trainer in Georgia since I moved there. However, he closely cooperates with Sergei Romanov, my last coach from Ukraine.
O.T. How would you describe your warm-up in brief?
A.P. Before doing some massage, I dedicate roughly ten minutes to my warm-up procedures. I concentrate on those parts that will take an active part in the upcoming event. Most of the time, those are my limbs. I dedicate 5 more minutes to every part of my body in addition. It constitutes something around thirty seconds for every separate part. Many of my buddies have to sit days long in the office, so I would recommend office workers to do the same as I do every day. Do some warm-ups and massage the most active parts of the body. Focus on relieving the neck and back muscles as they suffer the most from sitting position. Once the zones become less overwhelmed, I move to the workout itself. I used to obey this principle along with some recommendations from my new therapists and I did not face a single serious injury during the last year. I am totally satisfied with this expert, and I believe that every athlete should have a professional massage therapist by their side.
O.T. What are some of the modifications in your current program? Is it very different from the one in the Ukrainian national junior team?
A.P. I would not say so, but some parts were changed. My new coach rather corrected the existing instructions instead of fully rewriting them. There is a universal plan for my new team, but my new trainer, Asanidze, adjusts it for every member after analyzing strong and weak points.
O.T. Where was the foundation school located and how many trainers did you have so far?
A.P. It was situated in Ukraine. My first two coaches were Zhenya Bazhenov and then Eduard Nafanets, and I am still thankful to them for showing me the basics. After them, Sergei Romanov appeared in my life and taught me a lot. He is still inspiring me. On the whole, I had many trainers, but I used to work a while only with these three people while in Ukraine.
O.T. The next set of questions is dedicated to your specific workouts. Many Asian athletes involve the snatch with no jump as one of their basic exercises. We have noticed you spreading this approach in your social networks.
A.P. My methodology was slightly modified in recent years and even months. The thing is that this exercise allows straightening well. As we attempt to jump, we miss the last part of the explosion stage. The athlete then makes a tiny effort and just falls. That is not correct. It is necessary to engage the lower limbs entirely and train them at maximum. Moving on the toes in the last stage of the second pull phase is way better, and that is what a snatch without jump stands for. Do not worry - the legs will still jump automatically. Still, you are straightening them better than with a simple jump. That is because of the upward extension.
O.T. What is the share of 1RM that you apply in the snatch with no jump?
A.P. In percentage, it is up to eighty-five percent. That is if we talk about the normal working condition where the big weights are not involved. The % might achieve all 100 if the weights are large. I prefer maxing out non-standard exercises.
O.T. Coming back to the same exercise, do you maximize the weights in ten kg steps?
A.P. I would rather call it a warm-up, and, no, actually, I add a bit more - twenty kg within eighty percent. If everything is alright, I lift to 150 kg; in their adverse case, I do 140 kg. In the exercise that we are discussing, it may vary from 140-160 kg. Anyway, my trainers are not pushing or getting at me or other folks. They are here to teach us and make us stronger instead of breaking us. That is what makes the Georgian national team special, especially my coach, Asanidze. He expects to see clean performance without shaking. He does not allow taking huge weights unless an athlete proves that he can work technically and realizes the full responsibility.
O.T. What should one do when he hits a wall in a specific exercise? Is there any way to overcome such a psycho barrier?
A.P. If you ask me, I’d tell you that my goal is to hit new targets and break new records not only in the competitive exercises, but in the additional too. I invest plenty of time and effort in improving the results, and that is what motivates me to fight psychological barriers. I try to feel the weight with all my body and every muscle. That is an amazing feeling when you realize that you can lift it!
O.T. Fantastics, unbelievable, extraordinary - that is what many of your followers can say about your clean. What is the secret behind it? What makes your performance so unique?
A.P. Let’s compare it with the snatch so that it is clear to you. As you can guess, it is a long movement with a high level of amplitude. At the same time, clean is a short one. You simply have to detect the most beneficial angle for your exercise. The idea is to get up as fast as possible to score high. There is no need to focus on lifting the barbell very high.
O.T. What is the first thing to pay attention to in this sort of exercise?
A.P. In a good clean, it’s necessary to monitor the power position and heights of the explosion. Every athlete has a different height. It depends on the body proportions. For instance, my height of the explosion phase is located a bit higher than the knee. All people have various sizes of their limbs, so it is very individual. Just find your “profitable” position/angle. Do not drag your hands to the groin.
O.T. How can you comment that your dip in jerk is very brief? Is it your personal tactic?
A.P. No, no. Unfortunately, I would rather call it my pitfall. While I am good at a clean, I have certain problems with a jerk. That is my weak point that I and my trainers try to figure out. The problem is that I do it with a pause in a dip. It is possible to mix it with a strong clean or grabbing a barbell from the racks, and the dip would be smoother. Hold it in dip position for three seconds to feel the fool foot and watch your torso’s position. Keep an eye on your elbows and knees as well. Preserve all the required angles at the same time.
O.T. Have you and your coach changed any of the tech aspects of your training sessions and performance?
A.P. Such modifications are required only in case of no success and no progress for some time. That is not my case, luckily. The tech base that I have developed in Ukraine is just fine.
O.T. Can you recommend any lagged workout?
A.P. As I have mentioned, I have certain issues with the jerk, so I basically focus on improving that. Once, I used to take ten kg more in a clean than in a jerk. The situation did not change for much as I still need to practice jerk more. What one has to do is define the convenient initial position and the height of the elbows. Each time I thought that I had found it and made it through, I was wrong as the rest of the sessions did not show the same progress. I can tell you what the main issue is - a rather large backward movement of my pelvis during the dip. It works for light weights, but it is no good when kg are added. The best solution is to make the abdominal muscles more powerful. I also work a lot on honing my motor skill. My therapists and massage experts teamed up with my coaches to help me with that. They assisted me with recovering my breathing reflex. That is how I realized that I have to breathe in my stomach from now on.
O.T. What is your opinion on weightlifting belts: are you for and against?
A.P. I cannot call myself a big fan of the weightlifting belts. I have not even used them for four years so far. I just do not feel comfortable with them. However, it does not mean that they are bad or something. The main myth is that this tool saves your back. No. It actually assists with creating intra-abdominal pressure, which is also good in some cases.
O.T. My final question would be: what are your max lifts currently?
Snatch – 182 kg
Clean & Jerk – 220 kg
Back squat – 285 kg
Front squat – 245 kg
Clean pull – 300 kg
Snatch pull – 240 kg
Bench press – 160 kg
Overhead press – 127 kg