Jahed Momand is a former Card Monkey who made wagers, clicked buttons and collected bananas until the government took his jerb. Currently he is the Head of Risk Modeling at Personalized Medicine LLC after studying Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of California and Chemical Physics at the University of Illinois. None of that really matters because today I am only going to ask him about Olympic lifting and its application in MMA and the development of “dat ass”.
Sally: Jahed, thank you for joining me today to help me learn more about Olympic lifting and how it can be used to enhance performance in MMA. Tell me a little bit about yourself; how long have you been lifting and where do you train?
Jahed: I got into weightlifting at age 14, when I began strength training for football (the ‘Murican version). However, most of my lifting at that time fell into the category of random derping, as I knew very little about the lifts, and with hindsight, can tell you that the same was true for my coaches. My real education began when I read a thread on the old Tucker Max messageboard by Mike Gill, talking about his beginner program, and the superiority of full body, complex movements (Note: the Tucker Max message board is also how I became interested in training MMA; more on that in another post). That was five years ago. I was a fat, sedentary college student (5’9, ~245 lbs). I started his program, tried powerlifting for 3-4 months, ended up doing strongman for about 2 years to a relatively high level (winning Illinois’ Strongest Man in the 200 lbs class), and then, after a few years of traveling, and the realization that I can’t travel AND do strongman, I switched over to Olympic weightlifting.
I currently train at Crossfit OneWorld in Union City, California, but I am NOT a Crossfitter, though they are, for the most part, genuinely cool, generous, and enjoyable people.
Sally: I’m unfamiliar with which lifts are considered “Olympic” lifts. Are there a lot of variations or are there just a few standard lifts? I recall seeing videos of your lifts, would you mind if I linked examples?
Jahed: The Olympic lifts technically number just two – the snatch and the clean and jerk. There are, as you mentioned, multiple variations and a few absolutely essential assistance lifts. There are the “power” versions, which are essentially the same as the above two lifts, with a slightly shorter range of motion, where you do not squat down into the “full” version of the lift. The essential assistance lifts depend on your particular goals/weaknesses, and usually include the front squat, the back squat, the romanian deadlift, the push press, the snatch balance, and the clean/snatch pull.
Sally: Are there Olympic lifting teams? Do you compete?
Jahed: There are quite a few Olympic weightlifting teams and clubs, be they national or otherwise. In the US, two of the best and the ones I follow closest are California Strength in San Ramon, California and Average Broz Gymnasium in Las Vegas, Nevada. Glenn Pendlay has trained the US’s best 94 kg (207 lb) and 105 kg (231 lb) lifter, and John Broz has almost single-handedly altered the mental approach and landscape of US weightlifting (until a few of his lifters got popped for illegal substances).
I’m pretty much self-coached for the time being, and I have gotten a ton of free and incredibly useful information out of both Glenn Pendlay (CalStrength) and John Broz. I plan on competing within the next 3 months, as soon as I am done cutting down to a svelte 85 kg (187 lbs), as I am currently a somewhat fat 94 kg (207 lbs).
Sally: What is a typical training schedule for you?
Jahed: After much fiddling and nerding about, I’ve settled on something that resembles the Bulgarian method as well as what John Broz preaches. I train just about 7 days a week, with two sessions on some days, and always train at least 6. I squat, snatch, and clean and jerk to a “daily max” every session. Daily max implies that is not my true, ball-busting, save-my-child-from-a-burning-building type max, but the heaviest weight I can move with good form, quickly and explosively. I am well aware of my weaknesses, so after the main lifts above, I do some additional assistance work to target them, usually overhead movements like the push press, or overhead squatting and snatch balance work for my snatch, cause it’s pretty bad.
Sally: Olympic lifts are incorporated in the Crossfit training programs. Do you feel this is the best format for doing these lifts?
Jahed: I have a lot of things to say about Crossfit, so I’ll try as hard as possible to keep it confined to the Oly lifts. I think the way they are taught and incorporated into Crossfit programming is a mistake. I see almost no need for anyone to perform more than 3-5 reps of any Olympic movement, ever. I think once you get into the rep ranges that Crossfit utilizes, you greatly increase the risk of injury in addition to reducing the training stimulus, as by that point, the movement is being performed with very poor quality. I feel it’s probably one of the absolute worst formats for the lifts to be performed.
That being said, I am happy that Crossfit exists. It has managed to get more women the world over to squat and deadlift, to develop dat ass, and has poured thousands of people into the Olympic weightlifting talent pool, greatly raising awareness of the sport. These are all great things.
Sally: It is apparent in the photo of you with your harem that a lot of women are drawn to “dat ass”. How do you define “dat ass” and do you feel Olympic lifting has been crucial to its development?
Jahed: The simplest way to explain dat ass is any round, firm ass that makes the observer adopt the following facial expression:
The Olympic lifts and their assistance exercises (read: the squat) will greatly expedite the development of dat ass. I pretty much think all girls should be squatting. I don’t think that all women should necessarily do the olympic lifts, but if you want that nice, lean “toned” look, the lifts and a good, consistent training regimen will get you that.
Sally: How would Olympic lifting help BJJ and MMA athletes?
I think, if taught properly and incorporated as a small part of an overall strength and conditioning program, they could be a valuable asset to any BJJ/MMA athlete. They teach you how to explosively deploy your hips and glutes while getting a weight overhead. There is pretty much nothing better for the vaunted “core stability” than overhead movements. I haven’t trained a martial art since 2008, but even I know the importance of the hips and posterior chain to MMA. A high intensity, low frequency and low volume approach that strengthens you while helping you avoid injury would pretty much be ideal for BJJ and MMA practitioners in my opinion, minimizing your time in the gym while giving you maximum gains.
Sally: I’ve found that heavy weight lifting has been invaluable in my BJJ training; I’ve seen so much improvement in my ability to roll with larger people and hold position. A lot of that comes with experience but physical strength and conditioning is so important. I haven’t tried Olympic lifting but I follow the four rules: squat, dead lift, bench and military press. Now that I’ve learned a little about Olympic weightlifting, I hope to incorporate the lifts into my strength and conditioning training.
Thank you very much for your time, Jahed, and good luck in your upcoming competition. I will close with one of your favorite quotes:
““Working out without squatting is like saying you had sex but only got a blowjob” – JC Deen
Seriously though you guys, DYEL?