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OLYMPIC WEIGHTLIFTING TO ENHANCE SPORTS PERFORMANCE


Strong Athlete lifting heavy weight
Olympic Weightlifting

Olympic lifts and their variations have long been used as a strengthening technique to enhance sports performance. As sports performance professionals become more knowledgeable and skilled in designing sport specific programs, more information became availbale regarding Olympic lifting and concludes that it is necessary in order to help them best serve their athletes.

Let's first look at some Olympic lifts and their derivatives that once technique and mobility has been assessed, should be included in your program.

7 OLYMPIC WEIGHTLITING MOVEMENTS & HOW TO DO THEM In the sport of Olympic weightlifting, there are only two lifts: the snatch and the clean and jerk. Derivatives of these lifts are more broadly used by athletes and fitness professionals and will be included in the exercise breakdowns below.

DERIVATIVE OLYMPIC LIFTS (1) Front Squat (2) Deadlift (3) Hang Clean (4) Push Jerk (5) Power Snatch

MAIN OLYMPIC LIFTS (6) Clean and Jerk (7) Snatch

Olympic lifts and their derivatives are advanced in nature due to the level of mobility, flexibility, posture control, neuromuscular control, and skill required to perform them. It's not recommended that someone just starting a fitness routine attempt these lifts, but rather someone who has built a solid foundation of stability and strength by training in and completing some basic movement patterns which ideally will have been coached by a professional.

DERIVATIVES OF OLYMPIC LIFTS If you are completely new to Olympic lifts, these derivative movements will be an excellent place to begin in developing the skills they will need to tackle some of the more complex movements. Although each lift below is taught using a barbell, you can use other equipment like sandbags, kettlebells, and dumbbells to practice and perform the movements.

1. FRONT SQUAT • Hold the barbell in a front rack position, with the elbows high and the chest up tall. • Stand with feet hip to shoulder-width apart. • Brace the core, keep the chest tall, and the head in neutral as you lower into the squat. • Keep knees in line with toes the entire movement and squat as low as you can without losing form. • Squeeze the glutes as you stand, returning to a tall standing position.

2. DEADLIFT • Step up to a loaded barbell (or a barbell that's elevated on a rack without weight for a beginner!) so that the bar is over your shoelaces, close to your shins. The feet should be straight ahead. • Bend to grab the barbell with an overhand grip, hands just outside of the knees. Think about investing in shoes specific for deadlifting and weightlifting in general too! Tighten up: • Flatten your back and set your lats by pulling the shoulder blades down and back. It's as if you're pulling the bar in and up, without it lifting off the ground. This is sometimes called "taking out the slack" of the bar. • In this position, your hips should be lower than your shoulders, and your back flat. Lift: • Inhale, and brace your core before lifting the weight up. Your hips and back should rise simultaneously (don't lift the shoulders first, or the hips up first, or you risk using the wrong muscles). • Squeeze your glutes as you lift and especially as you stand tall at the top of the movement. • Keep the barbell close to your body during the entire movement and reset between deadlifts to ensure good form. 3. HANG CLEAN • You can lift the bar off a low rack or off of the floor to begin. • Stand tall while holding the barbell with an overhand grip, hands just outside of the legs. • Keep your core tight and back flat as you hinge forward, sitting the hips back and slightly bending the knees. Hinge until the bar is at mid-thigh. • Thrust the hips forward explosively so that you explode from hinge to triple extension (hip extension, knee extension, and plantar flexion) to give the bar upward momentum as you shrug and bring the bar up. • Catch the bar by landing in a quarter squat underneath the bar, elbows high in the front rack position, and then stand tall after the catch to finish the move.

Progression: Power Clean • The movement and the catch of the power clean are the same as the hang clean, the only difference is that you start from the floor, making it more difficult. • Perform this movement starting with the barbell on the ground. Set up as you would for a deadlift, and then lift the bar while keeping the core braced and back flat (just like the deadlift). • Once the bar is at mid-thigh, the hips move forward and the knees re-bend slightly to create an eccentric load before you perform the powerful hip thrust as you did in the hang clean.

4. PUSH JERK • Stand with feet hip-width apart, toes straight ahead, and the barbell in a front rack position. • Brace your core for movement as you bend the knees to load eccentrically. • Forcefully drive up from the legs to give the bar upward momentum as you press it straight overhead. • Get under the bar and keep the core braced as you lock out your arms overhead. Stand up straight while holding the bar, keeping the abs and glutes tight. • Slowly lower the bar down to return to the starting position.

5. POWER SNATCH (LOWER SQUAT IN THE RECEPTION OF BAR) • The barbell will start at mid-shin (this can be achieved with a loaded barbell or an elevated barbell without weights added) • Stand with feet hip-width apart, barbell against the shin, and a wide overhand grip. • *Pro-tip: To choose the correct hand placement, measure the distance from the left middle fingertip to the right elbow when the arms are held out to the sides of the body, like a wingspan. • Take the slack out of the bar (like you did to prepare for deadlifts), brace your core, and lift the bar just past the knee. • Lift the bar higher, between the mid-upper thigh and the pubic bone, and re-bend the knees to shift the weight to the balls of the feet and eccentrically load. • Explosively extend the hip, knee, and ankle to propel the bar upward forcefully. • Bend the elbows as you pull the bar up, getting it above your head as quickly as you can while you drop into a quarter squat to get underneath to catch the bar. Arms will be straight in this catch position, with the bar straight up in the air, head in front of the bar. • Rise to a standing position, keeping the abs tight and arms straight.

The Traditional Olympic Lifts: Ensure that you have excellent mobility, flexibility, and neuromuscular control before performing these movements.

6. CLEAN AND JERK

Here, we are combining the Power Clean (while adding a deeper squat in the catch) and the Push Jerk movements. Perform the Power Clean as described above, but land in a full squat position as you catch the bar in the front rack position. • Stand upright from here and get ready for the jerk. Feel free to re-set your grip at this point, as needed. • Tighten the core before performing the dip and drive to explode the bar overhead. • Catch the bar overhead with legs split in a shallow lunge.

7. SNATCH This move is performed almost exactly like the Power Snatch until you get to the catch. • In the catch, drop underneath the bar into a deep squat. • The lift is considered complete when you stand up straight, with the barbell overhead and under control.

HOW TO INCREASE POWER AND EXPLOSIVENESS FOR OLYMPIC LIFTS Olympic lifts are powerful movements in themselves, so sometimes more practice allows for a cleaner lift, which can yield more power and explosiveness. In addition to practicing the lift, you can train the underlying movement pattern that makes these lifts so effective for sports training: the hinge. Training with a professional coach who is competent with these movements will definitely help.

Sample Hinge Power Superset Perform the kettlebell swings immediately following the deadlifts. Each exercise should be performed as quickly as possible with good form.

Exercise

Reps

Sets

Rest

Deadlift

1-5 (Max Strength)

3-5

0

Kettlebell Swing

8-10 (Power)

1-2 minutes

OLYMPIC LIFTS VERSUS POWERLIFTING Olympic lifting and Powerlifting are both sports that require specific movements in their competitions. The Olympic Lifts, as we've already covered, are the Clean and Jerk and the Snatch. Powerlifting athletes compete using Bench Press, Squats, and Deadlifts.

SAMPLE OLYMPIC LIFT WORKOUT PROGRAM A note on programming: It's wise to begin training the common movement patterns that you will need to master during Olympic lifts. consider training the squat, hip hinge, and overhead press movements to prepare for these lifts. Olympic lifts should be coached using lighter weight during the skill development portion of a workout (before resistance training). Once you have the stability, mobility and basic movement patterns dialled here is a sample workout for you to give a go. Make sure you have a good warm up prior to commencing. 10 minutes of some cardio followed buy full body mobility and foam roll is ideal.


Exercise

Reps

Sets

Rest

Deadlift

5 (Max Strength)

4

0

Hang Clean

10 (Power)

1-2 minutes

Seated Cable Rows

5 (Max Strength)

4

0

Medicine Ball Pullover Throw

10 (Power)

1-2 minutes

Front Squat

5 (Max Strength)

4

0

Jump Squat

10 (Power)

1-2 minutes

Military Press

5 (Max Strength)

4

0

Push Jerk

10 (Power)

1-2 minutes

Olympic lifts can be fun, challenging, and they produce great results when performed well and applied properly. While Olympic weightlifting is a sport, the lifts themselves are commonly used by sports performance professionals to help their athletes improve elements of athletic performance such as strength and power. Furthermore, even more popular among athletes and strength coaches are the variations of the competition lifts such as the power snatch and power clean. Variation lifts are more widely used because many athletes cannot achieve the deep squat position necessary of the snatch and clean & jerk. The power clean and power snatch are preferred because the catch position (receiving position) is performed from a 1/4 squat rather than a full squat position. Pulling derivatives such as the clean pull and snatch pull may also be preferred because the emphasis on triple extension (ankle plantarflexion, knee extension, and hip extension) and explosiveness is still stressed, but these lifts do not require the athlete to learn the intricacies of the catch position. CONCLUSION Based on the current evidence, there is ample justification to incorporate Olympic lifts into a sports performance conditioning program. Although no research study can be considered as definitive cause-and-effect, the literature consistently provides enough evidence that Olympic lifts and their derivatives improve rate of force production, high-load speed strength, maximum strength, and vertical jump performance while using dynamic postures (Universal Athletic Position) commonly seen in many sports. The combination of all these factors should improve athletic performance for athletes engaging in explosive sports. However, before implementing an Olympic lifting program it is vital to understand the technical aspects, complexities, and functional requirements for athletes to perform these movements safely and effectively.


Always perform these lifts with due care and attention. And hire a sports performance coach to ensure you are lifting correctly and using good form.


Komplete Performance

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