Olympic weightlifting strengthens Iowa


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The room used to be a racquetball court, but the floor in the Field House was strewn with mats, barbells, and chalk during the Olympic weightlifting program on Monday night.

Athletes need to establish an understanding of the fundamentals before they can expect legitimate progression in their results. Small steps taken early in the learning process are essential to mastering a craft.

Olympic power-lifting coach Josh Keller puts willing participants through a grueling hour outlining the basics of this athletically slanted weight-training course.

Keller has dedicated himself to weightlifting since the sixth grade and has been involved the conditioning of numerous Hawkeye athletes. But he doesn't play favorites when presented with someone interested in gaining from his expertise. He now runs a weightlifting class for all types of athletes, which will run through June.

"Everyone catches my eye," Keller said. "I like to keep it individualized so that everyone can develop and understand the basis."

Keller, who has spent years perfecting the complicated maneuvers for lifting the weights, teaches his students to hoist the weights up, to end in a stance with the bar over their heads, and to get the weight back down safely.

The participants were exhausted by the end of the class — what were once quick cool-downs and abrupt catches of breath built up to sheer exhaustion as the hour wound down.

"It's designed to increase explosiveness … it's weight training for the athlete, not necessarily for those interested in lifting for cosmetic gains," Keller said.

He went on to highlight a gigantic part of why he sees this as a necessity for anyone unsure about how to begin a weightlifting regimen. The trainer said he often sees people lifting incorrectly, which can damage their bodies.

The essence of Olympic weightlifting is that the motions that people put themselves through build core strength in a variety of areas. Virtually all athletes with an interest in overall physical improvement can rest assured that their expectations will be met after a month under Keller's instruction.

The training didn't stop when the weights were put down, either. The program ended with a film breakdown to truly give the athletes quality one-on-one advice straight from a power-lifting guru.

Dental resident Ali Pourian is using the techniques learned in the program in order to assist him in training with an online crossfit course.

"A lot of similar movements are used, and I'd just like to be able to improve athletically without hurting myself," he said.

Fellow dental student Alec Hirschauer had a simpler justification for his attendance.

"I just want to learn the movements, improve the form," he said. "I've been weightlifting throughout high school and college, and I was just up for a new challenge."

It's hard work, but it's worth it for the class participants.

When asked how this course stacked up to other rigorous workouts he'd undergone, Pourian could simply muster a deep sigh, a wipe of his shirt on his face, and the gasp a couple words: "An hour of this …"

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