NAME Dean Lukin
LIVES Gold Coast
OLYMPICS Los Angeles, 1984
WEIGHT CLASS Super-heavyweight
AGE THEN 24
AGE NOW 55
Lukin’s gold-medal clean and jerk 240KG
Current clean-and-jerk world record 263KG
My dad didn’t have much time for weightlifting. He figured it was more important for us to make money from tuna fishing than to go lift barbells. “You can’t eat rubber weights,” he used to say.
But as the Olympics got closer, he relented and gave me a little time off. So I went to Canada for three months and trained my arse off.
Olympic Games are full on and you do feel the pressure of it all. I skipped the opening ceremony because of the heat. Being 140-odd kilos at the time, I didn’t want to waste energy standing around. I was already dropping body weight because the food hall was about a kilometre’s walk from where I was sleeping.
I’d identified the American Mario Martinez as my main competition, and sure enough he went well in the snatch. In fact, at “halftime” he was 12.5kg ahead of me. It was going to come done to what he clean-and-jerked and what I’d need to do to beat him. When he did 225, it was simple maths: I’d need to lift 240, five kilos more than I’d ever managed before.
As I was preparing for the lift, it was my brother David who helped me the most by giving me a big slap on the face and a “giddy up”. Weightlifting is you against the weight. It’s all over in a second or two. For me, it wasn’t about technique. It was about getting angry – angry with the weight and angry with the challenge.
I remember walking out and looking at the bar and thinking. Well, there are only a couple of extra washers there compared to my previous best. I didn’t worry about the numbers.
Oh jeez, I nearly missed it on the jerk. I caught it a little bit in front, and when you do that, 240 kilos is a lot to keep steady. It’s difficult to keep it above your head, but once I was there, I was there, and the rest is history.
When shooting for a new one-rep max, get mad. Lukin’s approach is validated by a 2010 University of Wolverhampton study, in which participants in an angry state outperformed controls in a “peak force” test that involved kicking as hard and fast as possible for five seconds. Worked for The Hulk, too.
Snatch The Advantage
Lukin can’t believe how this Olympic lift has gone mainstream. But he approves: “For core strength and general fitness, the snatch is one of the best exercises on the planet.” Do sets of 10 with a light-to-moderate weight, he advises.
1. Warm up with 4-5 “real light” sets.
2. Feel a twinge mid-workout? “Do not do another set. Go home and see how it feels when you cool down.”
3. “Take a month off a couple of times a year to let your body recover.”
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