Sep 5, 2008
When we talk about Olympic lifting, we are in fact talking about Weightlifting. Many times, this compound use of the word is used in error to describe the idea of weight training. Of course terminology or incorrect word use is irrelevant and in the long run doesn’t really mater. What does matter is the actual correct use and practice of the lifts themselves in your training routine.
Olympic lifting is comprised of 2 lifts; the snatch and the clean and jerk. With the snatch, the lifter will move the bar from the ground to an overhead position in one movement. In the clean and jerk, the bar goes from the ground to the shoulder/chest area (clean portion) and then from there to an over head position (jerk portion). Off of these 2 core lifts, there are also a number of different variants employed to help train the lifts as well as provide coaches and trainers of other athletes and sports the ability to get similar benefits from the lifts without employing the full range of motion of the contested lifts. Both exercises (and their variants) are unparalleled in their function of building dynamic and optimal strength. In contrast to the more traditional power lifts (back squat, bench press, and the dead lift), which are far more functional for building and testing absolute strength, Olympic lifting relies on ballistic movement and is about building strength through explosiveness and power.
So why should you use these lifts? Well first off, the Olympic lifts basically employ every single muscle in your body. Even your pinky finger gets some sort of workout from doing a snatch or a clean and jerk. To move a load from the ground to overhead, just about all parts of your body are going to be used, and as you increase the weights, this becomes more and more a necessity.
Second reason is the efficiency of training with Olympic lifting. Since you are working so many muscles in your body at once, not too mention working a number of different “systems” within your body, your workouts become much more efficient. That is you can do more work in less time. Let’s face it, in this day and age, time is a scarce commodity. No one wants to spend 2-3 hours in the gym when they can be done in ½ -¼ the time while increasing the quality time spent with family, friends, or other worthwhile activities. Sure working out can be a source of enjoyment for many of us, but we don’t want to make it so much like a job. We all have enough of that in out lives already.
This brings us to the final reason you should be Olympic lifting. Olympic lifting is fun! Sure it can be frustrating at first when you aren’t as skilled and having difficulties with figuring out your mid-hang position from your landing stance, but doing the lifts and going heavy is just damn fun. Who wants to spend more time trotting around on treadmill for 45 minutes when you can throw up and drop heavy weights? Sounds like a no brainer to me.