Increasing Proficiency in the Olympic Lifts

TAGS: weightlifting, Supported squat, Straight arm counter-weight squat, Squatting Progressions, Split squat, snatch, Pulling Progressions, pulley squat, Progressing to Proficiency in Olympic Lifting, overhead squat, Overhead split squat, Overhead reverse lunge, Jerk, Greg Potter, front squat, Front split squat, Clean and Snatch, clean and jerk, back squat, goblet squat, Olympic lifts, prilepin, flexibility

Today I'd like to touch on some options in progressing an individual towards proficiency in the Olympic lifts. Along the way, we'll also look at a variety of Squat and Split Squat progressions, as well as several of ideas related to developing flexibility.

Why Include the Olympic Lifts?

If you ever wish to witness a compelling display of an enviable combination of agility, flexibility, power, and stability, then attend a high-level Olympic Weightlifting competition. It is no surprise that the Olympic lifts are held in high-esteem by many athletes and coaches alike (given the skills necessary to perform them efficiently). While I am not suggesting that any one exercise is a panacea for anybody—unless the exercise is the competitive event itself for an athlete—when pressed for time in the gym, the selection of lifts that demand and develop high motor unit recruitment and a multitude of physical qualities can be an efficient strategy provided that an individual has the requisite training background to perform these lifts safely.

For those without orthopaedic or anthropometric issues, variations of the Olympic lifts can be worthwhile inclusions for those with the inclination to incorporate them into their physical preparation. Olympic lift derivatives may be of particular value to athletes who must generate high-velocity muscle actions against large masses such as American football linemen, rugby Union forwards, and wrestlers. Arguably the most specific application of Olympic lifting to other exercises is vertical jumping, given similarities in the kinetic features of the propulsive phases of vertical jumping and weightlifting exercises (Garhammer & Gregor, 1992). Indeed, significant relationships are evident between weightlifting exercise performance and vertical jumping power output (r = 0.58 – 0.93) (Carlock et al., 2004). Associations with sprint running performance have also been documented (r = - 0.57) (Hori et al., 2008).

It goes without saying that while these studies are correlational, it is not possible to infer that improving weightlifting performance would necessarily improve vertical jumping or sprint running performance. Moreover, associations are, of course, dependent on the exercise in question, the level of the athlete, the athlete's training history, etc.

When assessing the efficacy of a training modality on selected biomotor qualities, controlled intervention studies are particularly useful in elucidating causal relationships. Few such studies assessing Olympic lifting exist; however, significant improvements in countermovement and squat jump height as well as 10-meter sprint performance in untrained men were apparent after eight weeks of training with weightlifting exercises (Tricoli et al., 2005). In this instance, the improvement in countermovement jump performance was also greater than the improvement evident in another group of participants following eight weeks of jump training.

Individuals who do not deem the Olympic lifts worthy of the initial time invested in learning them can acquire many of the benefits gained through weightlifting via other exercises including barbell, jumping, and medicine ball throwing exercises. Many other non-barbell Olympic lift derivatives (e.g., a single-arm dumbbell hang snatch) also exist that may be selected and prove effective in developing certain biomotor qualities (although these will not be considered further here).

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This is not intended to be an introduction on how to perform the Olympic lifts. Rather, what follow are some ideas as to how to prepare progressively towards competency in the Olympic lifts for those who do choose to incorporate them.

Safety First

A quick word on safety is in order. When learning or teaching the Olympic lifts, it is inevitable that not all lifts will be completed (due to loss of balance, for example). Therefore, it is useful to first learn how to miss a lift safely. Olympic-size plates are designed so that if an individual fell backwards during the performance of a lift with the bar on the front of the shoulders, there would be enough space to ensure that the throat region will not be trapped between the ground and the bar. It then makes sense to practice this motion several times when starting out so that the trainee is comfortable and confident with missing lifts once heavier barbells are lifted.

Practicing the lifts over a sufficient time frame with any great intensity may leave the trainee with unnecessary lingering soreness after sessions, that is if certain criteria are not adhered to. For example, it is commonplace to see lifters release the barbell in the overhead position at the end of a Clean or a Snatch variation only to ‘catch’ it in the grip as the bar bounces off the thighs. This produces a high-force, high-velocity lengthening action in muscles and other soft tissues, such as those of the upper back, which is likely to induce significant muscle damage and thereby produce severe delayed-onset muscle soreness. This practice could thereby predispose the trainee to an injury that could easily have been avoided. Therefore, when possible, just drop the bar!

When preparing for the Olympic lifts, many individuals share common flexibility restrictions that prevent them from being able to perform Olympic lifts effectively. These often include restricted ankle dorsiflexion, hip flexion, hip horizontal abduction, shoulder flexion, and wrist flexion. Through careful exercise selection, it’s generally possible to address several of these simultaneously. Logical squatting progressions can be particularly effective in accomplishing this.

Squatting Progressions for the Clean and Snatch

The Squat has a special place in the hearts of many strength training enthusiasts and often for good reason—squatting is a motor task that is integral to daily life among the physically-able and can be an effective means of improving the appearance, physical function, and performance of many. Numerous variations of squatting exist, but arguably those most specific to the Olympic lifts are the front squat for the Clean, the overhead split squat for the Jerk, and the overhead squat for the Snatch.

Manipulation of the position of the load relative to the body is arguably the easiest way to develop the flexibility required to squat proficiently. The following exercise sequence can be implemented in accordance with this; the trainee selects an exercise on the continuum that he/she can nearly perform with correct technique and progresses to the next exercise in the sequence upon mastery of this exercise. The earlier exercises in the series require less flexibility to perform adeptly and often do not lend themselves to high loading. Therefore, alternative exercises that the trainee can perform with excellent technique can be used to strengthen muscles such as the ankle plantarflexors, hip extensors, knee extensors, and spine extensors in the interim.

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Most of the exercises can be performed to a bench or box in order to ensure consistency and progression of range of motion (ROM). If performing these, the aim should be to brush the object with your rear-end as lightly as possible. Pretend that the object is a set of bathroom scales and you are trying to register the lowest reading possible.

With respect to footwear, Olympic weightlifters favor purpose-designed shoes with rigid soles and raised heels. These heels allow the knees to move farther forward as the trainee squats, thereby permitting a more upright position of the torso and often a greater squat depth in those with flexibility restrictions. The shoes can thus facilitate superior technique in individuals without the requisite ankle dorsiflexion flexibility to perform the lifts proficiently without a raised heel. If you are primarily concerned with learning the lifts, then I’d recommend acquiring a pair of these shoes. Nonetheless, striving to be able to perform the lifts proficiently without a heel is a worthy goal, and I’d suggest periodically including un-shoed Squat derivatives for most, primarily to facilitate ankle dorsiflexion flexibility development. The lifter should not feel dependent on these shoes to execute the lifts efficiently.

Related to this point, such shoes can be worn for all of the exercises outlined below, although I’d suggest you use them only when you deem them absolutely necessary. With respect to bilateral, relatively symmetrical squatting (e.g., the front squat), some prefer to practice such exercises with the heels raised on small plates if they do not have such shoes, at least until ankle dorsiflexion flexibility improves to the point where the plates are unwarranted. Thus, progressively smaller plates can be used (e.g., 5-kilogram plates initially, then 2.5-kilogram plates, then 1.25-kilogram plates, and finally no plates). If the progression detailed herein is performed meticulously, this method will be unnecessary for most.

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Squatting Progressions for the Jerk

As these Clean and Snatch squatting progressions are being performed, various squatting exercises aimed at improving the trainee’s ability to Jerk proficiently can be performed concurrently. These exercises will also help develop some the biomotor qualities required to perform split variations of the Clean and Snatch if these are pursued. When practicing any split lifts, it is generally good practice to alternate which leg is forward to facilitate learning and try to ensure symmetrical flexibility and strength development.

Squatting in a split stance as per the Jerk is generally less demanding of one's flexibility than squatting with a more symmetrical stance. Therefore, fewer exercises may need to be progressed through. These progressions share some similarities with the Clean and Snatch progressions but differ in many ways. The early exercises in this sequence can often be trained with relatively heavy loads beginning in the early stages of a training program.

1. Split squat

I favor performing this exercise until the rear knee just brushes the ground—so as to encourage improvements in flexibility if the athlete has restrictions that would limit the ROM of this exercise.

2. Front split squat

This is performed as per the split squat but with utilizing a front squat grip. Prior to loading these with heavy loads, a useful test is to see if the trainee can perform these with a barbell resting on the anterior shoulder with the shoulders flexed and elbows extended out in front of the torso. In this test, the thumbs should be pointed upwards in order to prevent upward rotation of the scapulae that would not be evident in the rack position.

3. Overhead split squat

By holding the barbell at arm's length overhead throughout the exercise, the overhead split squat can be an excellent lower and upper limb flexibility exercise.

4. Overhead reverse lunge

The addition of the reverse lunging motion adds a locomotive element to the exercise that increases the balance demands of the exercise, particularly in the sagittal plane. This also strengthens the hip extensors further into extension than split squat variations.

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Pulling Progressions

Throughout the development of squatting exercises, the lifter can also incorporate various forms of pulling exercises aimed at developing the first pull, transition, and the second pull. We can divide the lifts into these three phases:

  1. The first pull comprises the initial knee extension portion of the lifts from the floor until the bar is just above the knees.
  2. The individual then enters the transition during which the knees flex momentarily. This phase is characterized by a temporary reduction in ground-reaction force (Souza et al., 2003). As soon as the knees begin extending once more, the second pull begins.
  3. The second pull finishes at the position of maximum hip and knee extension and is characterized by the highest ground-reaction forces evident in the pull, at least at relative intensities of 60-70% of a one-repetition maximum in the Clean (Souza et al., 2003).

On completion of the second pull, the individual aims to descend under the bar in preparation for the Catch. One logical way to learn this sequence is to break it down into its respective components. (The transition does not often need to be taught systematically, however). If a trainee statically assumes the position reached at the end of the first pull and then simply jumps, the transition will occur naturally since no matter how flexed the hips are, it’s hard to jump with the knees close to being fully extended! These pull variations can, of course, be performed with either a Clean grip or a Snatch grip and with/without a countermovement depending on the specific strength qualities sought. If the trainee intends to learn both, it makes sense to train both concurrently.

Those with insufficient flexibility to perform the first pull may wish to begin by learning the second pull and working on the flexibility required to pull from the ground. Next, the first pull can be included with a deliberate pause at its completion. After this pause, the individual performs the transition and second pull components. Throughout this period, the trainee is working on various squatting exercises. Once sufficient flexibility to squat proficiently is in place, the individual is ready to transition into practicing variations incorporating the Catch.

Dropping into a Classy Catch

Now that the requisite flexibility to perform the squatting for the lifts is in place, the next step is to focus on developing the Catch portions of the lifts. Rather than progressing directly into ‘hang’ versions of the lifts, which require the complex tasks of transitioning immediately from powerful ankle plantarflexion and hip and knee extension (often collectively referred to as ‘triple extension’) to high-velocity ankle dorsiflexion, hip and knee flexion (sometimes collectively referred to as ‘triple flexion’), it is possible to focus initially on the latter, hopefully making this learning process easier. This is accomplished with what I refer to as ‘drop’ versions of the lifts.

To perform the drop variation of the Clean, the individual statically assumes the end position of the second pull before rapidly pulling himself/herself under the bar into the Catch position of a front squat (or a front split squat if learning the split clean). This same principle can be applied to the Snatch. However, it makes more sense to begin with the bar resting in a back squat position with a snatch grip and the ankles in plantarflexion (rather than at the end of the second pull since the bar must reach a higher point in the Snatch before the individual catches it). The Drop jerk is performed from the rack position—the trainee plantarflexes the ankles before pulling himself/herself under the bar and catching it overhead in the split position. Performing this exercise from the Back squat position with a Snatch grip can also be used in preparation for the Split snatch.

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A commonality in improving all of the lifts is developing the ability to catch the bar in the lowest position as is safely possible if the intention is maximizing the load lifted. While performing these drop variations, power rack pins can be used to teach a rapid Catch. If the trainee was performing a Drop clean, for example, the pins would be set just above the highest point the bar reaches when standing statically at the end of the second pull. The individual then practices the Drop clean in the rack so that the bar will contact the pins if it travels above a certain point, thereby necessitating a rapid Catch.

Troubleshooting Specific Biomechanical Issues

*It is worth noting that flexibility impairments can, at times, be due to factors that will not be considered here such as neural issues.

Lower Limb Flexibility

Passive stretching of muscle-tendon units such as the ankle plantarflexors and hip extensors may be all that is required to perform the various types of pulls and squats proficiently. If not, contract-relax stretching may suffice. Beyond this point, it is worth considering the specificity of the stretches. For example, if ankle dorsiflexion is restricted while the knee are flexed, then performing ankle plantarflexor stretches with the knees flexed may be preferable to performing them with the knees extended.

Continuing from the previous suggestion, if you wish to improve your flexibility in a squat position, then it makes sense to perform stretches in this position. The same thing holds true for pulls. For example, if the knees do not track over the center of the toes during the Catch portion of the Clean and Snatch, moving medially instead due to inadequate hip horizontal abduction flexibility, then try holding the bottom position of a squat with the hands in the same position as a Goblet squat and use your elbows to push your knees outwards, moving your hips further into horizontal abduction. If ankle dorsiflexion ROM is insufficient to squat proficiently, then a supported squat can be performed with a focus on maximizing ankle dorsiflexion. With stretches such as these, the individual may prefer to try to increase the ROM at a joint temporarily before relaxing briefly in the squat position. The trainee then tries to surpass this preceding range. Needless to say, these exercises can also be performed with a weighted implement.

Bands and pulleys may also be used to facilitate improved flexibility. In the hip horizontal abduction restriction instance, the trainee can secure bands on either side of himself/herself at knee-level and loop these around the inside of the knees so that they are exerting a pulling force, working to move the knees away from each other. The same strategy can be tried with pulleys. In the ankle dorsiflexion ROM restriction example, the bands can be secured in front of the trainee at knee-level and looped around the back of the knees so that they are exerting a pulling force, working to move the ankles into dorsiflexion. Again, the same strategy can be used with pulleys. These exercises can be progressed by using more extensible bands or lighter pulley loads, both of which reduce the contribution these implements make to encouraging greater ROM at the target joints. Needless to say, these exercises can also be performed with a weighted implement.

Alternatively, you can assume a squat position and wrap a single band just below the knee around the front of the shin. Stretch the band behind yourself and pull it around your lower back region before wrapping the other side around your other leg in the same position so that the band is now pulling your knees away from each other with the center of the band wrapped around your spine.

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Sometimes the trainee may execute strength training exercise with sub-optimal motor strategies even if the individual possesses sufficient mobility to perform the task with superior technique. A common example of this is seen in those whose knees deviate medially while squatting, rather than tracking over the center of the toes. This may be a product of the fact that some hip adductors are also hip extensors. In this instance, simply cuing the trainee to try and spread the knees will sometimes suffice. When it does not, wrapping a band around the outside of both knees so that the band is exerting a pulling force, working to move the knees towards each other, can be used to encourage greater neural drive to some of the muscles that ensure that the knees track over the toes during the squat. Again, this exercise can also be performed with a weighted implement.

To augment the flexibility of the lower limbs in split stance exercises, both feet can be elevated on sturdy boxes while performing split stance exercises so that the knee moving inferiorly towards the ground during the descent can pass beyond the level of the feet.

Upper Limb and Torso Flexibility: Clean and Jerk

While these issues can be split into several categories, certain exercises can target several limitations simultaneously. Rack holds are an excellent exercise to reinforce correct carriage of the barbell in the recovery of the Clean, and as a bonus they are effective in strengthening the thoracic spine extensor muscles. To perform the exercise, load a barbell that is set just below shoulder-height with your estimated front squat one-repetition maximum on the bar. Un-rack the barbell in the beginning position of the front squat and hold the correct starting position of the exercise while aiming to flex your shoulders (and thereby raise the elbows) as high as possible while minimizing the curvatures of the thoracic and cervical spine. This will also stretch the wrist flexor muscle-tendon units if this is an area with sub-optimal flexibility. Progress this exercise through gradual increments in the mass of the barbell and/or duration of the holds.

If the individual cannot hold this position without excessive discomfort, so-called ‘contract-relax’ stretching in its various guises can help the trainee with flexibility limitations to achieve an improved rack position. These are most easily performed with a partner. Simple, passive, extended-elbow wrist extensor stretches before exercises incorporating the rack position may be sufficient to acutely increase wrist extension flexibility enough to perform the exercises correctly. If this does not suffice, incorporating contract-relax stretching in the same positions could be the next intervention to utilize.

Should the individual wish to increase the specificity of the stretches with respect to the rack position, the trainee can assume the rack position in a Power/Squat rack or Smith machine using an immovable bar. The partner can then perform contract-relax stretching of the relevant soft tissues in the rack position. For example, contract-relax stretching of the shoulder extensors would be performed with the partner clasping the underside of the elbows as the trainee attempts to pull the elbows down so that they are at his/her sides.

To improve mobility in positions relevant to the Jerk (and also Split snatch), performing overhead presses from the bottom position of a split squat can be effective in improving upper limb and torso flexibility. These can be done from either the bottom position of a split squat or front split squat. Performing them from the front split squat position is more specific to the Clean and Jerk itself. To increase the flexibility demands of these exercises, use a progressively narrower grip.

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Finally, so-called ‘Shoulder dislocates" can be included to develop shoulder flexion flexibility. To perform these, adopt a Snatch grip using a very light bar (or even broomstick) with the bar resting in front of you. With the elbows extended throughout, lift the bar overhead and back behind yourself until the bar contacts your lower back. Return to the start position by reversing this arc-like motion. As your flexibility improves, adopt a narrower grip. Next, add a little weight and move the hands out to a wider grip once more before repeating this progression.

Upper Limb and Torso Flexibility: Snatch

As with the Clean and Jerk, simple passive stretching of muscle-tendon units such as the shoulder extensors may be all that is required to perform the Snatch proficiently. If not, contract-relax stretching may suffice. Prone contract-relax barbell shoulder extensor stretches may also help. In this exercise, the individual lies supine on an elevation (preferably on a bench) with a bar of any sort held with extended elbows overhead. The partner supports the center of the bar. The trainee then tries to extend the shoulders and thereby return his/her elbows to his/her sides as the partner resists this motion. If no bench is available, this exercise can also be performed prone on the floor. If no partner is available, the supine exercise can be performed in a passive stretching manner.

To improve mobility in positions relevant to the Snatch (and also a Jerk in which the legs are not split), performing overhead presses from the bottom position of bilateral squats can be effective in improving upper limb and torso flexibility. These can be done from the bottom position of either a back squat or a front squat. Performing them from the front squat position is more demanding since it will necessitate a more upright torso. To increase the flexibility demands of these exercises, use a progressively narrower grip.

Further Methods to Improve Flexibility

Performance of pulling and squatting exercises can be modified in order to focus on flexibility. A simple way to accomplish this is by incorporating pauses during the most stretched position of the joints that have flexibility restrictions. For example, if the trainee wishes to improve hip extensor flexibility in the Catch position of the Clean, but is not yet ready for this exercise and is currently performing Goblet squats, then the individual can include deliberate pauses of several seconds at the bottom of each repetition of the exercise. The duration of these pauses can be increased over time in order to advance the demands of the exercise. Including these pauses is particularly useful early in the development of the Olympic lifts since it is easier to achieve correct positions during certain parts of the lift when they are performed statically than if the exercises were performed dynamically.

It goes without saying that not all sets must be performed using this method. Perhaps the novice trainee would initially use several such sets early in his/her training on a given day and later in his/her development, only to include one of these sets as the final set of the exercise.

Compiling Progressions into a System

Now that we’ve covered some progressions and exercises to address specific issues, we can begin to devise a model that integrates these exercises concurrently (Table 1).

The more observant among you will notice that the progression sequences outlined above are generally adhered to. However, sometimes consecutive exercises in a sequence will be performed at the same time. On a related note, there is no reason that exercises listed earlier in the template below cannot and should not be performed later as deemed necessary. For example, single-joint passive stretches may be incorporated throughout.

Table 1. Sample Olympic lift exercise progressions—exercise complexity and demands generally increase as you move down each column.

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What About the Power Clean, Power Snatch, Push Press, and the Rest?

You’ll notice that no mention has been made of ‘Power clean’ or ‘Power snatch’ lifts at any point. This is because, for the most part, trainees should probably focus on moving the barbell as rapidly as possible during all Olympic lift derivatives. Therefore, when lighter barbells are lifted, the bar will move over a greater distance when a given force is applied to it. As the mass of the barbell increases the lifter will have to catch the barbell in a deeper squat.

Other exercises such as push presses from behind the neck have not been mentioned since they bear less resemblance to the competitive exercise (the Jerk) than some other alternatives. Exercises such as high pulls are omitted due to the concern that they might encourage the lifter to actively use elbow flexion to lift the bar. This is an area of contention and one that could fill volumes of books, but I won’t consider it further here. I should note that some very different training systems have been used to produce world-class weightlifters; therefore, I’m loath to categorically dismiss most exercises. If you wish to include supplementary exercises to train specific tissues, then by all means do.

I’m not an Olympic Weightlifter, but how might I Incorporate these lifts in my training?

I understand that, like me, most individuals reading this will have no competitive aspirations in Olympic weightlifting. However, staggering time commitments to the perfection of weightlifting techniques are not necessarily required to benefit from these exercises.

Learning the Olympic lifts is akin to learning most other tasks. If you had seven hours each week to commit to learning to play the piano, do you think you’d generally be better off implementing seven 1-hour sessions or one 7-hour session?

This example is a little hyperbolic, but it reinforces the fact that frequent exposure to learning a skill fosters success. On this basis, frequent, short periods of time dedicated to these exercises are an ideal way to integrate these exercises. For those intent on pursuing the lifts more seriously, periodically and progressively adding in additional training units within a microcycle in line with recovery capacity can be an effective way to progress more rapidly.

Incorporation of Olympic Lifts within a Microcycle

The distribution of the exercises within a microcycle should be modified to suit one's needs and intended outcomes. It needn’t be something arbitrary like focusing exclusively on Clean progressions in one training unit, focusing solely on Jerk progressions in the next, and then training the Snatch alone in another.

For weightlifting novices, the absolute and relative intensities of the lifts are unlikely to be high. In this scenario the placement of Olympic lift derivatives within the microcycle is generally of less consequence than the incorporation of the lifts among advanced trainees training at higher absolute and relative intensities. In the latter scenario, the individual may only wish to perform significant volumes of Olympic lifts at high absolute and relative intensities after a day of less strenuous exercise or complete rest.

Incorporation of Olympic Lifts within a Training Unit

It generally makes sense to include Olympic lift derivatives at the beginning of training units (e.g., a strength training session) when the trainee’s readiness is highest. The most complex and highest power Olympic lift derivatives should generally be performed first (right after the warm-up). For example, a Clean would be performed before a front squat if both were included within a session.

The format of the training unit should be based, in part, on considerations such as the trainee’s experience. For example, a blocked, constant practice format might be effective with a novice; however, a random, varied schedule may produce superior motor learning in a more advanced weightlifter.

If you’re unsure about appropriate loading parameters, many individuals continue to successfully implement guidelines put forth by Alexander Prilepin (Head Coach of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic's national junior Olympic Weightlifting team from 1975 to 1980) who devised loading recommendations for a given training intensity range based on his observations of these athletes.

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In keeping with these guidelines, a weightlifter performing Cleans with 80-90% of his one-repetition maximum might perform eight sets of one repetition at 90% of his one-repetition maximum, or five sets of two repetitions at 80% of his one-repetition maximum.

One point that is worth considering is the interaction between bar velocity and relative intensity. Some contend that because the Olympic lifts entail higher bar velocities than other strength exercises, such as the Deadlift, the mean relative intensities can be higher in these exercises. Indeed, anecdotes abound about how long it can take to recover from a maximal Deadlift effort, whereas lifters around the world perform circa-maximal Olympic lifting derivatives on a daily basis. That being said, the recovery from the Catch in the Olympic lifts can also be slow, and some people will not be able to thrive using high frequencies of such high relative intensities. Therefore, I'd contend that the relative intensities of Olympic lift derivatives should be a little higher than less specific exercises, such as squatting exercises, for those intent on focusing on Olympic weightlifting. Don't unnecessarily tax your ability to recover with exercises that are dissimilar to the competitive exercise.

Let’s compare a hypothetical training unit for a novice and a trainee with three years of Olympic weightlifting experience in order to demonstrate some of these considerations at play. Warm-up sets for the lifts are not included.

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*The lifter alternates back and forth between these two exercises (i.e., performs a Snatch, rests three minutes, performs a front squat, rests three minutes, etc.)

In the above comparison, the novice addresses flexibility restrictions using passive stretches prior to and after the lifting exercises. Conversely, the experienced trainee already has the requisite flexibility to perform the Olympic lifts proficiently and therefore includes a dynamic warm-up alone. The two lifting exercises are performed in a blocked, constant practice schedule by the novice and a random, varied format by the experienced lifter. The lifts selected by the experienced lifter are more complex and are performed at greater relative intensities. At the end of the training unit, the experienced lifter incorporates a barbell exercise intended to develop confidence, flexibility, and stability in the Jerk.

Conclusion

Hopefully this has provided you with some ideas as to how to include the Olympic lifts in a training program. With attention to detail, effort, and intelligent progressions, these exercises can be both enjoyable and highly effective in developing a range of physical qualities.

References

  • Carlock JM, Smith SL, Hartman MJ, et al. The relationship between vertical jump power estimates and weightlifting ability: a field-test approach. J Strength Cond Res 2004; 18: 534-9.
  • Cormie P, McCaulley GO, Triplett NT, et al. Optimal loading for maximal power output during lower-body resistance exercises. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2007; 39: 340-9.
  • Garhammer J. Power production by Olympic weightlifters. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1980; 12: 54-60.
  • Garhammer J, Gregor R. Propulsion forces as a function of intensity for weightlifting and vertical jumping. J Appl Sport Sci Res 1992; 6: 129-34.
  • Hori N, Newton RU, Andrews WA, et al. Does performance of hang power clean differentiate performance of jumping, sprinting, and changing of direction? J Strength Cond Res 2008; 22: 412-8.
  • Kawamori N, Crum AJ, Blumert PA, et al. Influence of different relative intensities on power output during the hang power clean: identification of the optimal load. J Strength Cond Res 2005; 19 (3): 698-708.
  • Souza AL, Shimada SD, Koontz A. Ground reaction forces during the power clean. J Strength Cond Res 2002; 16: 423-7.
  • Tricoli V, Lamas L, Carnevale R, et al. Short-term effects on lower-body functional power development: weight- lifting vs. vertical jump training programs. J Strength Cond Res 2005; 19: 433-7.
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