Olympic Weightlifting Could Be For You!

March 7, 2024

Olympic Weightlifting is a sport that is most recognizable for the use of two of its movements in the Olympic games, the snatch and the clean and jerk. To perform these exercises, an athlete utilizes virtually every muscle to lift a barbell from the floor to an overhead position. These movements can be broken down into individual phases. For example, during the snatch three phases occur, first pull, second pull, and catch. The first pull is primarily a deadlift movement to lift the barbell from the ground to the mid-thigh. The second pull involves a shoulder shrug at the same time that full extension of the body is achieved, ankles, knees, and hips are fully extended. For the catch phase, the lifter must swing the barbell over head, while performing a squat, and finally, stand upright. Broken down even more, we could view this movement as a deadlift, shrug, overhead press, and squat combination exercise. The strength, power, and body control that Olympic athletes exhibit while performing these movements is undoubtedly impressive. However, learning to perform them safely and well is easier than most would believe. 

Exercises such as kettlebell swings, squats, overhead presses, and deadlift variations build a strong foundation of strength and movement that prepare the body for the physical demands of Olympic Weightlifting movements such the power clean, snatch, front squat, push press, clean and jerk, push jerk, and squat snatch. Without realizing, many individuals who currently follow a resistance training routine may be performing the basic movements of Olympic lifting. The direct transfer of ability from the aforementioned resistance training exercises to Olympic movements is visible when viewing the lifts in individual phases. This is the first necessary precursor to beginning Olympic lifting. The second requirement is general mobility. As long as an individual is able to reach full extension in an overhead press, near parallel depth with flat feet in a squat, and the starting position of a deadlift comfortably and without pain, they will be able to learn the Olympic lifts. 

Without the understanding of what Olympic lifts are when they are broken down into phases, some people may think that they are out of the realm of possibility for them. This is not true! Many coaches use the principles and basics of Olympic movements within their training programs for general population clients as well as athletes. This is because Olympic movements are some of the best exercises to develop strength, power, range of motion, coordination, balance, and dynamic stability throughout the muscles and joints of the body. The first pull phase requires a powerful pull from the starting position, developing strength and power. Range of motion expands as the ankles, knees, hips, and shoulders move through nearly their entire range of motion. Dynamic stability, balance, and coordination are closely intertwined throughout the entire movement as the body is challenged to control the momentum of a weighted barbell as its force is transferred from the pulling phases to the catching phases. 

In order to keep developing strength, power, and body control, adding the more traditional Olympic lifts is a viable avenue to challenge the body and mind. Although the movements may seem daunting at first, they are simply misunderstood until examined closely in their individual phases. With only the requirements of a base level of mobility and resistance training, Olympic weightlifting may be for nearly everyone. Anyone looking to develop power, dynamic stability, and strength through a range of motion, whether for athletic competition or functional movement, should explore Olympic weightlifting (now available at Corax) as an avenue to develop these traits!