Spotlight on: Olympic lifting

There are various styles of weight training that one can practice, including Olympic lifting, powerlifting, Crossfit and Strongman training. Over the coming weeks, we will dissect each of the aforementioned training methods and discuss the benefits of each. First, let’s consider Olympic weightlifting.

What is Olympic lifting?
This style of weightlifting is featured in the Olympics, whereby athletes attempt two maximum-weight single barbell lifts. The first event is the snatch, which involves lifting the bar from the floor to an overhead position in a single motion.

snatchlift

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The second Olympic lift is the clean and jerk, which involves first lifting the bar to shoulder height and then pressing it overhead after a short pause, while also shifting the legs into a lunge position.

What are the benefits of Olympic lifting?
We have discussed the benefits of resistance training here, but Olympic weightlifting offers a host of additional benefits. Athletes and advanced weightlifters can benefit from incorporating both the snatch and clean and jerk to improve explosive and functional strength.

The Olympic lifts train both strength and power. They are completed explosively and require a great deal of mobility and coordination.

Not only does Olympic lifting build muscular strength, but it is also taxing on the cardiovascular system. Because the bar travels such a great distance in a short period of time, it engages every muscle in the body and leaves the heart racing. They are also therefore a great tool for improving body composition, as they build muscle while accelerating fat loss. These lifts also elevate testosterone levels, which increases muscle growth and fat breakdown.

cleanandjerk

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Athletes who include Olympic weightlifting in their training regime see an associated increased performance in their chosen sport. These lifts mimic movements such as jumps and sprints by requiring explosive extension of the ankle, knee and hip.

Finally, unlike other exercises such as chest presses and squats, it is impossible to ‘cheat’ cleans and snatches. If the weight is too heavy, you will not be able to shift the bar. Furthermore, until you master perfect technique, you will not reach your full potential in these lifts.

How do I start?
The snatch and the clean and jerk are both highly specialised movements that hold a high risk of injury. Consequently, it is extremely important to start under the guidance of a coach who is an expert in these exercises.

You do not need any special equipment when you first start out; however, over time you might like to invest in specifically-designed Olympic weightlifting shoes, a weight belt and knee wraps.

Have you ever tried Olympic lifting?

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