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Olympic Lifting and why you need it in your program

Disclaimer: These are just my honest (and of course, correct) opinions on the topics outlined below. I have attached a link to another article that conveniently quotes the studies carried out to prove some of the benefits espoused by those who promote Olympic lifting.

What do you think of when you think Olympic lifter?
I’ll bet it’s one of those super-heavyweight lifters from the Olympics who looks like he would have difficulty tying his laces and his feet not to mention other parts of his body are distant memories. This is one level of competition but not representative of how weightlifters of the lower weight categories look like. Check out Dimitry Klokov.

Why bother with these difficult, technical lifts?

Power can be expressed as force x distance / time. Gaining proficiency in these lifts will ensure that the athlete becomes explosively powerful in a way that can be utilised in many sports. Generating this level of force so quickly has benefits that are transferable to many sports that utilise vertical jumping and sprinting. Widely used by Strength and conditioning coaches to improve athletic prowess of their athletes, these lifts have stood the test of time.

Along with building skills and explosive power these lifts are responsible for packing on muscle size as the lifts and supporting exercises demand working the whole body as one entity. This is clearly apparent when the rest times are reduced, as the lifts elicit a metabolic conditioning response. Crossfit has taken advantage of this and has taken fitness to another level whilst simultaneously introducing Olympic lifts to a whole new audience.

Want to boost your enthusiasm for the gym?
These lifts are a technical challenge and may just be what you’re looking for if you, as I have been around weight training for a number of years, it’s not so easy to become excited about new programs. This could be a way for you to reinvigorate the passion you once had. How many times have you seen gym users mindlessly going through the motions of their standard workout, which has become as automated as driving a car. They do the same movements, use the same poundages (although now you’re an Olympic lifter we talk kilos!). The only things that are different are the facebook posts they read and tweets they respond to whilst working out.

Competitive, empirical, addictive – no escaping the numbers
I believe that you would find it difficult to cruise through a weight lifting workout without dropping the bar on your head. This probably isn’t the best way to get someone fired up to try Olympic lifting but mastering these lifts is very satisfying and you will be able to demonstrate what 90% of normal gym goers cannot. There’s almost a compulsive urge to satisfy weight progression. You can’t hide from the numbers, but this is also motivation and a realistic and transparent method of how you can compare yourself to your peers.

Where to get coaching.
If London gyms had their own version of secret cinema then surely this gym would win hands down. One of London’s best kept weight training secrets. Few have heard of Bethnal Green Weightlifting Club although it’s been in existence since 1926. Those who have will have had some difficulty in finding it as it doesn’t have any signage, advertising or in fact anything to indicate that it exists. I’ve read in other blogs and experienced it myself – the only way to locate this gym is to follow the sounds of clanging weights.

Introduced to this style of lifting indirectly through crossfit, I’ve subsequently become more interested in these lifts and chosen this venue to get some good, reliable coaching. All of this at a reasonable price too. It’s the kind of place that you hope never becomes too popular as it would ruin the spirit of the venue. I’m not going to put a link for it here as you will just have to find it like everyone else does – that’s part of the ritual.

Crossfit gym utilise the Olympic lifts as a fundamental part of their programming, however once you’re past the beginner stage then it’s probably better to seek out a dedicated lifting coach, as crossfit class settings do not lend themselves to the kind of focussed coaching attention required to perfect these lifts.

Coaching cues and grunts
Having attended an Olympic weight lifting master class with crossfit recently I felt that I still needed more coaching and I wasn’t disappointed with BGWLC. Resident coach Sauro Gardenal offered me more insight and improvement in skill with about three words per hour than the 3 hours of theatrics I got at the master class. The coaching style wasn’t overly “wordy” neither were there repeated demonstrations. Instead I was encouraged and motivated to make small adjustments by subtle pointers, gestures and grunts. The cumulative effect of this was that I realised when I was hitting the sweet spot. As Vince Lombardi once said “Practice doesn’t make perfect, Perfect practice makes perfect”

Getting the tools to seek out these perfect practice lifts to me, is what epitomises true coaching ability. Maybe that was the biggest lesson I learned on that first day – the kind of coach that I would aspire to be. Although probably a little less grunting….

Check out the link below for the 5 benefits of Olympic Lifting

There are many benefits of following an Olympic lifting program and many studies have been conducted to demonstrate these. You can take a look at these five benefits on the Charles Poliquin site where he also conveniently makes reference to the appropriate studies conducted to prove these benefits.

5 benefits of Olympic Lifting

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