Strength with Olympic Weightlifting
When it comes to understanding and appreciating Olympic lifting it’s not just a matter of just doing the snatch, clean and jerk and you are done. For the committed individuals who solely pursue this dynamic sport as their choice in exercise, it about learning all the intricacies that go along with the improvement of these 3 technical lifts. The fun part goes with learning the semi competition lifts, related exercises and the always important Strength exercises, add in some remedial lifts and the associated stretches and you have plenty of scope when it comes to learning and improving your Weightlifting for performance for fun, Fitness and Strength.
For the crew at Claudefit Personal Training it’s a matter of implementing the exercise that go towards the overall results for my various clients. We sometime incorporate the semi- competition lifts and sometimes we are kept just as busy with the related strength exercises. For others who are possibly working out for sports performance, training in their local Crossfit boxes or they require more of a technical understanding the approach is different but still technical in that we break down the lift a bit more ensuring awareness of current strength levels and possible limiting factors such as flexibility and range of motion, basically a swat analysis on your body.
The following is a sample of a direct process in working toward the snatch for beginners to the more experienced in getting some conditioning in within a learning process. It ensures that the individual is able to move through the exercises and establish where they are at. No point in putting someone under load when they can’t even press the weight above the head. So there is no way they will be able to catch it when they “give it a go” without understanding it first.
The session takes a top down approach form the point of the catch and works down toward the bottom position. Most recreational trainers who concentrate on the leg and hip thrust don’t pay attention to the overhead position as they will work it out later. This is often what happens with no coaching or in commercial gyms where it’s something cool to try. Unfortunately the shoulder structure is not sound enough, stable/ flexible to appropriately accept the catch.
I’m not keen to test out my flexibility when I don’t know whether I can hold it first!
Weightlifting – The Snatch progress
Barbell Standing Military press – Without a doubt the shoulder press will let the individual know exactly where their absolute strength lies and can from this exercise alone establish range and lockout strength. The ability to hold onto the weight above the head with the shoulder blades elevated should also provide feedback on stability. A classic lift as the first exercise in this progression. As a stand-alone the Military press is an excellent exercise for upper body (shoulder) development.
Barbell back squat – With most sports the ability to generate power from the hips and legs can only begin with one of the pillars of strength. The barbell squat will add muscle quicker than any of the other available movements that tries to replica this fundamental movement. When it comes to pure strength the squat reigns supreme. It is why we work on this movement. All others exercises will be supported by leg strength. Remember it starts from the floor/ground.
Overhead squat – The overhead squat has many benefits. For the Olympic lifts the ability to apply this movement is critical in both holding a weight above your head and be able to squat down to the floor. A typical gym squat to parallel doesn’t cut the mustard with Olympic lifting. You need to be able to get down low. The overhead squat will let you know where you are at. Performed with a barbell or PVC pipe alone is enough for the beginners and is a nice warmup for the more experienced. Work this one well.
Pressing Snatch balance – When we get to this exercise we are now starting to work on a more weightlifting specific movement. It basically requires you to hold the barbell behind you as in a back squat position (feet wider) and then in one slow movement lower your body into a deep squat while the barbell is maintained at best as possible in the same position. Think pushing yourself away from the bar here. The end of the movement should be the same as the bottom position of the snatch. A great movement to get that flexibility happening and with a bit of weight, a great muscle builder.
Heave pressing snatch balance – The next progression is similar to the previous one in that you are now working on a much quicker execution of movement. That is to drop at speed. One for the more experienced that will clearly challenge you.
Snatch Balance – The last one with this simple progression (not easy) is performed with the feet beginning in the pulling position with the barbell in the back squat position. The next step is to take a slight dip and then explode into the snatch position in quickly dropping and landing in a wider leg position. Once you have worked through the previous progressions this one becomes a bit of fun.
Once you have had enough of the technical work and practiced the particular elements that you are not too comfortable with (and got better) it’s time to work through the more dynamic and powerful varieties the snatch provides. The first two exercises allow you to with limited technical application power through the movement. The Muscle snatch is a great start as it rewards the stronger guys and girls who don’t quite have the technical and movement down pat. Next is the popular Power snatch where you’re starting to drop under the bar and it’s where you begin to appreciate the overall movements of this great exercise (eg; positioning, leg drive and hip power). At this stage the return on investment for pure strength, conditioning and power output should be sufficient for most, particularly the athlete wishing to reap the benefits for their sport. The last and most technical of the three is the Snatch which is more dynamic and is the true end results of the traditional Olympic lifting style. When you are performing the classic Olympic Snatch properly you’re most likely, flexible, experienced, well-conditioned and clearly one strong individual.
Overall al of the movements have an enormous benefit, it’s up to you to work through in a safe and progressive manner in reaping the rewards. The importance is to first get the patterning done and correct any deficiencies before you go all out to grip and rip the bar off the floor in becoming, a fitter stronger and more conditioned practitioner.