Olympic Weightlifting 101: Who, What and Why?

Article by Adam Rozmenoski 

Along with their explosive qualities, the olympic movements involve several other athletic traits, such as, flexibility, coordination, balance, concentration, focus, proper breathing, and several other areas. With this array of qualities, it allows an athletes lifting to better transfer over to their competitive venue. In example, a linebacker in football needs several key things to make a big play during a game, he focus on how to make the play, sprint to a certain position, and make the big hit while powering through the hit. All these incorporate several aspects that olympic weightlifting can bring.

Whether you are a general sport athlete, strength sport competitor, or the average health nut, the talk of Olympic Weightlifting is becoming more frequent in and around the weight room. The reason this lifting style has more and more people talking because of how it relates everyone. Olympic movements are very explosive in nature, much like that of a homerun swing in baseball, jump serve in volleyball, and several other athletic movements in near all sports realms. These explosive movements happen in the legs and core of every athlete at all times of play.

 The most key quality many strength coaches see in these movements are their explosive nature. For both lifts the body, through the ankle/knee/hip extension, has to generate extreme amounts of power (Amount of Work done over a period of Time) to complete the lift. Much like in sports a body has to produce this same power through the core of the body to complete a given task.

The basic movements for Olympic Weightlifting are the Clean & Jerk and the Snatch. Most who here the lift Clean, go back to high school, where they learned a very ugly form of a power clean, (see how much weight you can hit off your hips, reverse curl, and hope to land near your shoulders) With one look of and competitive Oly lifter, one will see it is much more technical and athletic based. The Snatch is even more technical and is often the more difficult one to master. The sport of Olympic Weightlifting involves only these two lifts, but those in training will often use what are called “partial movements.” These movements include, but are not limited to, Power Clean/Snatch, Hang Clean/Snatch, Front Squats, and Back Squats. Many of these partials are often used and several workout programs for High School and College athletes for many sports. But the full clean and full snatch are extremely important to incorporate because of their use of full range of movement in the ankle, knee, and hip joints. This also plays a key role in flexibility and injury prevention.

The movements can be performed by all, boy or girl, young or old, tall or short, and can be started at many athletic abilities. Whether wanting to get into a new sport, better yourself for a current sport, or just wanting to be healthier these olympic weightlifting movements can aid in achieving these goals. These movements, much like technical movements in sports, require a well educated coach who can assist an athlete safely and efficiently. Many feel that learning these movements can be done via YouTube or their local gym friend much like a simple bench or curl, but their technical nature makes them difficult to learn and master.

The best example I can think of is when you are starting out in a sport you need a coach to make you better, to correct you when you are wrong, and to teach you as you grow as an athlete. Then when you get to high school you still have a coach, most likely more advanced and better qualified than the last coach. And then college comes and the athletes are more advanced and even more talented a coach is still needed to assist you and make you achieve more. And at the professional level, you guessed it, a coach will be ready and waiting to do the same. Point being, with very technical movements or sports a coach is needed to educate, coach, and inspire an athlete to become better, as well as, keep their athlete SAFE and HEALTHY.

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