The Olympic lifts are the most technical and daunting exercises to undertake when going to the gym, that is why you never see many people performing them (even when you do at times form is questionable), but once they are mastered and part of your regular training program you will be the idol of the gym and in the best physical condition of your life.
What are they?
The two Olympic lifts are the snatch and the clean and jerk. The snatch has a wide grip and the bar is caught in an overhead squat position, which makes it look very scary. Whilst the clean has a shoulder width grip and is caught in the front squat position, and then the jerk is performed immediately after with the bar being caught overhead with a split stance. The movements are the same for both exercises in order to accelerate the bar, it is just the varied grip width and catch position. The clean and jerk is the exercise where more weight should be lifted, due to the ability to catch more load in the front squat position rather than the overhead squat.
What are the benefits apart from looking cool?
You can look at the benefits from both the sport performer and average Joe perspective. The Olympic lifts are multi joint large compound exercises which are extremely intense, which makes them perfect to build lean muscle mass as well as burn fat, so is perfect for sculpting that beach body that everyone wants. Lean muscle mass and low body fat are also paramount for any sports performer, on top of this they also provided gains in strength and power. The Olympics are performed with an explosive triple extension of the hip, knee and ankle which will enhance your power capabilities during sprinting and jumping movements. This will undoubtedly have a positive effect on your performance. Lastly getting into the correct positions when lifting (start position, hang, the catch, etc) can be challenging on your static and dynamic flexibility, so by performing these lifts it will help you develop greater flexibility around key joints (i.e. hip and shoulder), which reduces the risk of injury and will also positively impact performance.
How do I start?
These lifts are extremely technical so to get the most out of the exercise and more importantly not injure yourself you should seek professional advice when starting them for the first time. This will help you to understand the key phases of the lift and how to perform them correctly. I will add a video to my vlog in the next couple of weeks which will breakdown the exercises for you and show you how to perform them, as well as delivering a Olympic Lifting tutorial session at Fit4less Brentford on Saturday 7th May.
If you have any questions about the Olympic lifts or would like to attend the Olympic lifting session then leave a comment below and I will get back to you.