Our new weightlifting club is up and running! We're now even an official affiliate of USA Weightlifting, the governing body for the sport under the United States Olympic Committee. If you're looking to take your strength training to another level or you're looking for a new competitive outlet, give it a try! Here's four benefits you can reap from practicing the Olympic lifts:
- Learning to move quickly.
The biggest difference between the basic barbell exercises -- squats, presses, and deadlifts -- is speed. Finishing a squat doesn't require you to move quickly, and if you're squatting an especially heavy weight, you know it will definitely not move quickly. On the other hand, the Olympic lifts -- the snatch and the clean & jerk -- must be done quickly. To get the bar from the floor to your shoulders or directly over your head requires power, or strength displayed quickly. The nature of the Olympic lifts require you to move explosively in order to finish the exercise in a way that differs from the other big barbell exercises.
- Because you have to move quickly, it carries over to lots of other activities.
The Olympic lifts have been staples of athletic training programs for decades. Sports like football and track & field depend on not just raw strength but explosiveness, and the Olympic lifts help develop the strength build from squats and presses into functional power to utilize on the field. Even in you're not a competitive athlete, learning to move quickly has enormous benefits. For older adults, that could mean being able to quickly reset your feet if you find yourself off-balance which goes a long way in preventing falls.
- For any trainee, the Olympic lifts add some freshness to your training.
If you've been practicing your squats, presses, and deadlifts for a while, the repetition can sometimes become monotonous. The snatch and clean are big full-body exercises that can be easily implemented into any program to both help you get stronger and to introduce more variety into your training. They provide a new challenge because of the speed, coordination, and timing required to execute these exercises. These are complex movements and are different from any other exercises you'll perform in the gym.
- While the Olympic lifts are complex and challenging, they're really pretty simply and everyone can do them.
Although you'll have to channel your inner athlete to become proficient at the clean and snatch, they're simple enough that with practice you'll be able to do them well. Like anything else in the gym, or any new skill, it just takes repetition and a little patience. It might be a little frustrating at first but persistence pays off -- few things are more satisfying than hitting a perfect snatch or clean & jerk!
- Learning to move quickly.
So there's four big reasons for practicing the Olympic lifts. Everyone whether young or old, competitive athlete or general trainee, can benefit from these exercises, and I hope this encourages you to give them a try. If you're interesting in getting started with Olympic lifting or looking to add something new to your training, you can schedule a coaching session or come to one of our Power classes!