I want to address this straight from the start – heavy Olympic lifting can have risks, (although has lower injury rate than gardening!). It can be noisy, you need the right plates to safely drop them, you need space, you need a facility where you are allowed to do them and highly skilled coaches like here at Absolute to teach them. On top of that they take an incredible amount of strength, power, stability and mobility for the full body. And that right there is exactly why we should all be striving to be able to do them safely and proficiently, instructed of course by a highly skilled coach to ensure you progress safely and effectively only when you are truly ready. You don’t need to be aiming to compete to gain incredible benefits for your long term health, wellbeing and fitness by doing them.
If you are able to do a full Olympic lift, Snatch or Clean & Jerk from the floor, in to a deep catch position, stabilise yourself and then drive out of a full depth squat with a barbell fully extended overhead, there is a very minimal chance that there is any strength, flexibility or mobility imbalances or postural issues. Now I am not saying go out and load a barbell up today with 150kg and try throw it over head then you are sorted. Olympic lifting and the amazing physical capacity that comes along with starts with a broomstick, with dedicated stretching, with technical and strength development in key patterns such as squatting, deadlifting and overhead pressing, all of which will develop a bullet proof body for long term injury prevention.
Mobility and Flexibility
Olympic lifting takes incredible amounts of stability through full range joint movement, from tip to toe, back to front, and every which way. As you work towards full Olympic lifting you will have first developed incredible dorsi-flexion at the ankles, strong and bullet proof knees, incredible hip mobility with deep front squat technique, mobile shoulders for that catch position, posture to make any desk worker jealous, a bullet proof lower back and posterior chain from all the pull pattern derivatives from deadlifts to high pulls, and the most injury proof trunk from all the explosive overhead work.
As you work your way through the Olympic lift derivatives and progressions, you will be able to pick up on asymmetry, weakness and instability as it is a wonderful screening tool. From this with guided supplementary work and stretching, you will ensure that your body is truly ready to handle the complete Olympic lifts of the Snatch and the Clean & Jerk. Starting with just a broomstick or unloaded barbell of course.
Fitness, Physique, Strength and Power
Now when I say fitness and conditioning I’m not talking about CrossFit here. Olympic lifting is not designed for AMRAP (as many reps as possible) or WOD (work out of the day) circuits or anything of such high volume (it’s no wonder it has extreme rates of injury). What I am talking about is the fact that the 2 big Olympic lifts are incredibly dynamic, powerful full body exercises, with huge range of movement getting the bar all the way from the floor to fully extended overhead. The human body was built in one piece and there is no better way to see it working in action as one as you do in the Olympic lifts. In just a few good reps of a snatch or C&J you will be puffing, panting and sweating like no cardiovascular session will be able to match, and if you are short on time, even better, an Olympic lift session time is all about quality and intensity, so there is no need for 2 hour long gym sessions to reap the rewards.
And what happens when you are stimulating every single muscle in your body? Well the body adapts, and gets stronger, healthier, and more stable in every aspect. You develop greater amounts of lean tissue from the huge anabolic responses, leaving your body leaner, functional, without the bulky look of cell swelling, non-functional hypertrophy. What I mean by that, for the ladies in particular, you won’t end up big and bulky looking, but lean, toned and shapely.
You will be healthier, mobile, stronger, fitter and leaner, but one of the biggest benefits of Olympic lifting is power development. Power development isn’t just kept just for an NFL line backer or an AFL full forward taking a high leaping mark, but is key to everything we do in life, there is no point being strong if you are slow. From a quick dart across the road to get to the bus, to the elderly maintaining independence, power is they key element for daily life function. Develop an incredible power base and set yourself up for a life of healthy activity and full mobility with Olympic lifting, come in and see us at Absolute, 199 William St, to find out more on how it can benefit you.
Read here to find out more about the sports specific benefits of Olympic Lifting and for a more detailed analysis. To learn how to Olympic lift correctly, come on in or call to find out more about our weightlifting courses.
Written by Performance Coach David Smith