If you are reading this, you might have wondered in the past how can Olympic lifts and everything that goes along with them help me out? Or maybe you’ve thought why should I try attempt heavier lifts if my goal isn’t to get stronger? We need to bring these concerns into the spotlight so that everyone can understand the importance of performing these highly complex functional movements and why we need to be strong no matter what our goals might be.
There are probably more questions out there but I am going to go over just a couple hot topics: why can’t I just do something simple and get the same result; why do I have to go heavier; will this make me look big and bulky; and what muscle group am I using doing this? So follow me into the land of chalk, steel, and rubber and when you emerge on the other side, you just might have a different view of the importance of Olympic lifting.
Olympic lifting is one of the most complex things to learn, do, and teach. There are so many components and they all have to be working harmoniously to perform each movement correctly. Your nervous system has to be finely tuned with your muscular system creating fluidity, precision, and, most of all, body awareness. These three skills are impacted tremendously across every muscle group in the whole body when performing an Olympic lift. When a Clean and Jerk or Snatch is improved, other movements like a kipping pull up or handstand push up become easier to perform, we are training the nervous system.
But, Chris, you still didn’t tell me which muscle groups are impacted. Well, there is no specific one muscle group. Actually if you wanted to know the one thing that receives the deepest impact by performing Olympic lifts, it would be your core. So for all you heavy weight naysayers who only want to do sit-ups for the best back and abs, perform your Olympic lifts religiously. Well Chris, can’t I just do the lifts with light weight since I don’t want to get big and bulky? Wrong! When we perform these movements at relatively heavy weight for 5 reps at the most we are working at our strength base getting stronger and more powerful, not bigger. Our hypertrophy base, where we gain size, is around 12-15 reps with moderate to heavy weight. The exception is the higher reps we do in the METCONs which should be a significantly lighter weight to produce a metabolic effect and that’s why we scale weights as needed. The biggest thing to remember is that our intensity increases the stronger we get. The greater the intensity the better the results!
I have really just cracked the surface into this but I hope this opens up some discussion and possibly sparks some interest in incorporating more Olympic lifts into your programming.