We talked with Anton Pliesnoi a month before the European Championship 2021.
Let me remind you that for this period, Anton’s collection already has bronze medals from the World and European Championships, as well as gold from the U23 European Championships and the World Cup.
O.T. Let me remind all your fans that you are from Ukraine, started training and performing here, were in the junior team, but then moved to Georgia. Tell me why this happened?
A.P. I moved to Georgia 3 years ago, because, at a certain stage, I realized that I would not be able to prepare for the Olympic Games in the Ukrainian national team, since to go to international starts it was necessary to have “the right coaches”, and I had my coach, from which I had no plans to stop working with him, therefore I decided to move to a new country. We considered the offer from different countries for a long time, but the best conditions were in Georgia and for some reason I wanted to go there.
O.T. I understand that you train mainly under the guidance of Georgi Asanidze?
A.P. Yes, I train under the guidance of Asanidze, in tandem with my personal coach Sergei Nikolaevich Romanov.
O.T. Tell us about your warm-up?
A.P. 10 minutes is a regular general warm-up and after that, I take a massage gun. I warm-up additionally the main parts of the body that will work today, this is five minutes, 30 seconds for each part. By the way, for those who trained in weightlifting for themselves, and during working hours are in the office, it is imperative to warm up and relieve the neck muscles and lower back with high quality before each workout, since office workers always have these zones tigh and overloaded. I am sharing this information as I have not had any injuries over the past year. This is because a good massage therapist appeared in my life which really showed me what to do with any injury, where they come from, and how to work.
O.T. How has your training program changed with the transfer to the Georgian national team?
A.P. I would say – it has been corrected. The Georgian team trains according to a general plan, but Giorgi Asanidze adjusts it for each athlete for his problem points and weaknesses.
O.T. Was the foundation school based in Ukraine? Did you have one coach?
A.P. I had a lot of coaches. I started with coach Zhenya Bazhenov, then Eduard Nafanets, with whom we did not part very well, I moved on to Sergei Romanov. Also, in the Ukrainian national team, I worked with a large number of coaches and from each, I took something most important for myself.
O.T. Let us then move on to training questions. We recently recorded interviews with Uzbek athletes. They pay a lot of attention to the snatch with no jump. I saw that you post this exercise on Instagram too. Why? What for?
A.P. I changed my technique recently a bit. I straighten better during the pull when I perform a snatch with no jump. Willing to perform a jump we frequently skip the final point of the explosion phase. Our main goal is to engage our legs to the full and straighten up, but instead of this we just make a little effort with our legs and simply fall down. That’s why a snatch with no jump with moving on the toes at the end of the second pull phase can be considered as perfect. Lately, I’ve been performing a snatch exactly in this manner and jump has been occurring by itself. It happens not due to raising our feet and hitting the platform but due to upward extension.
O.T. What percentage of 1RM do you use in this exercise?
A.P. 80-85% in normal working condition, but if I aim at big weights then it could be up to maximum. I like maxing out non-standard exercises.
O.T. During the snatch warm-up do you increase the weights in 10 kg steps?
A.P. I add 20 kg 90-110-130 within 80%. Then I listen to my sensations: if the weight goes well I lift 150 kg, if I feel that something is wrong then 140. In the snatch, my working weight varies from 140 to 160 kg. What I like the most about the Georgian team is that coaches don’t try to squeeze everything out of you and all workouts are selected to provide intensive work but not break you. But on the other hand, Asanidze accepts only clean performance with no running on the platform and no shaking. You must work technically in every set even when maxing out or he won’t let you take bigger weights.
O.T. Has it ever happened that the athletes hit a wall in one of the exercises? What to do in such a case? How to break through this psychological barrier?
A.P. I always try to set a new record in my favorite exercises. Recently I have been feeling good performing the high hang snatch, for example, so I put all my efforts into improving my result. The fact that you felt this weight and lifted it in overhead will be much easier to snatch it in the future.
O.T. Your fans all over the world discuss your magical clean. Tell us how you see it and what makes it so different from the snatch.
A.P. Snatch is a long movement with much more extended amplitude while clean is a short movement and this is the first thing you should understand. All you need to perform a clean is to use the most advantageous angle to rapidly get up. You don’t need to lift the barbell too high in the clean.
O.T. What takes the most of your attention during the clean?
A.P. I always control the power position and height of the explosion phase. Mine is located very low – slightly above the knee. Mind that there is no common rule as everyone has different arm lengths. Do you wonder where to begin the explosion? You need to get in the most advantageous position for jumping up and relaxing your arms. That’s exactly the right point to start the explosion. And no need to drag your hands to your groin.
O.T. You have a rather short dip in jerk, is this your special trick?
A.P. This is more of a mistake than a trick. I make a jerk with a paused dip, which is a great exercise to fix that issue. You can use it combined with power clean or just taking a barbell from the racks, then you make a smooth dip and hold it for 3 sec to feel the fool foot, not just heels or ball of your feet, and control the position of torso, knees and elbows. It’s very important to feel and remain in this position intact preserving all needed angles.
O.T. Are there any technical moments that have changed since you entered the Georgian team?
A.P. As I demonstrated good progress there were no significant changes in a technical aspect. I was pointed to some minor errors, but my technical base had been founded in Ukraine and it is rather adequate.
O.T. Do you have any lagged exercise?
A.P. I am good at clean, but I have always experienced some problems with the jerk and constantly worked towards its improvement. There was a time when I took 10 kg more in clean than in jerk. I was searching for a convenient position to perform jerk: starting position, elbows height. At first, I always demonstrated a new result after I had found a new interesting way to perform it, but all this soon was becoming uncomfortable and the progress would stop. One of my main problems in junior age was an excessive backward movement of my pelvis during the dip. This position feels very strong on lighter weights, but as soon as weights become serious the dip turns to tilt and the barbell becomes pushed forward but as you have no fulcrum below it moves backward. I solved this problem by strengthening my abdominal muscles and honing my motor skill in this movement. Some united work with rehabilitation specialists to recover my breathing reflex was also very beneficial. And here is another conclusion I made – athletes with good jerk breathe in their stomach, not in their chest. Because it is much easier to keep all core muscles tense. I pay close attention to the clean & jerk because it is the strong side of all my rivals – Fares Ibrahim Hassouna from Qatar and Tin Tao, from China. Yes, I win in the snatch, but I must win clean & jerk too, to win in total.
O.T. Weightlifting belts – yes or no
A.P. I haven’t used one for 4 years already. It bothers me, makes me feel uncomfortable. But this is good equipment if applied rightly. Just understand that it doesn’t hold and save your back for you. It helps to create intra-abdominal pressure.
O.T. The last question: what are your max lifts for today?
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