Why Olympic Weightlifting?

By Collis Spann MS, PES, USAW L2

The sport of weightlifting has been around since the first modern Olympics in 1896. Olympic weightlifting consists of the snatch, and clean and jerk. These Olympic lifts are some of the most explosive and dynamic demonstrations of power and speed in any form of athletics.

Contrary to popular belief, athletes of all skill levels can learn and benefit from incorporating Olympic lifting into their strength training programs provided they have an experienced coach. Increased power, speed, coordination, kinesthetic awareness, and flexibility can all be gained through the challenging sport of weightlifting, proving that Olympic lifts provide the best bang for your buck when strength training. Furthermore, the thought process and intrinsic queueing that takes place from the initial set-up to the “catch” – the finish when the bar lands on your shoulders (in the clean) or over your head (in the snatch or jerk) – can discipline and humble an athlete.

Olympic lifts are the best way to increase an athlete’s optimal strength, speed of maximum muscle recruitment, increased rate coding, and develop one’s overall power. When trying to increase power and speed, incorporating the utilization of as many type II muscle fibers (used for explosive movements) as possible is imperative and Olympic lifting is the best way to accomplish this goal. This is why Olympic lifting is emphasized in the Sports Performance programming at HIT Training, and why we see such great results with our athletes at all ages.

There are several questions that need to be asked and presented before a program is designed for an athlete. For example, at one point is muscle mass unnecessary? At what point does “mass move mass” no longer have any significance? At what point will the increase of muscle mass inhibit your flexibility, mobility, and athletic longevity? These questions will be addressed in future posts. However, as many things in our life, anything in excess can and will be detrimental; hence the need for a properly designed program to ensure technique and optimal results.

References:

  • Smith, H.K., Storey, A. (2012). Unique Aspects of Competitive Weightlifting: Performance, Training and Physiology. Sports Medicine, Vol. 42 Issue 9, p769 22p.
  • Garhammer, J. (1991). A Comparison of maximal power outputs between male and female weightlifters in competition. International Journal of Sports Biomechanics, 7(1).