Body-weight exercises, HIIT, and functional fitness can be fun and will cause you to leave the gym feeling accomplished. But to build explosive power, nothing comes close to Olympic lifting. Training explosive power is a very important but often neglected area in most people’s training.
What is it?
For those unaware of the ins and outs of Olympic weightlifting, the sport consists of two lifts, the Snatch and the Clean & Jerk. The snatch is a movement in which the barbell is shifted from the floor to overhead in one movement (video 1). Whilst the Clean & Jerk is can be looked at as two separate movements, the clean (from the floor to the shoulders) and the jerk (from the shoulders to overhead) (video 2).
The technicality of these movements hold great significance. Firstly, efficiency; the lifter needs to ensure they can pull the barbell high enough off the floor to throw their body underneath. Secondly, safety; the lifter is throwing large amounts of weight directly above their head. That is how the sport reels you in, through adrenaline rush and a pure childlike excitement of being able to lift/pull/squat more than you could a few months ago.
The Big Three
In my eyes, after training this modality for the last year, three things have become very apparent. Firstly you need to be passionate and have a willingness to learn something new. This drive is needed to get you through the tough sessions, late nights, and pull you out of bed on those early mornings. Next comes patience, Olympic lifting takes time, progress is never linear. I have certainly found this out the hard way after a few bad sessions in a row. Some weeks you can feel invincible, the next has you failing all of your lifts. The intricacies of the sport mean that if your technique is slightly off in just one aspect of a lift, this could lead to a number of bad sessions. Finally, discipline. There needs to be a level of inner dedication that is well balanced with strictness. You will never be able to set a new Personal Best lift each time you walk into the gym.
My Weightlifting Journey
My weightlifting journey began five months ago when I was training mainly Crossfit. I decided to come to the barbell class to improve my lifts. I was partnered with a guy called James, who I now call a good friend. What struck me from the first class was his encouragement and belief in not only me but himself. This is another big reason why I love strength sports, the community, its littered with supportive attitudes and genuine people who love to improve not only themselves but those around them. Personally, what drew me into the sport is not just its effect on muscular power. But also its need for a powerful mindset. The mental challenge associated in the sport is something you don’t contend with in lots of other forms of fitness in the gym.
Overall, Olympic lifting is definitely a modality that will test you. I hope I have inspired you to give another area of fitness a try Whether that be Olympic lifting or another modality. It’s crazy how far you can come in such little time when applying the three pillars mentioned above. (passion, patience, and discipline). I could talk about this sport for hours. If you are ever unsure about giving it a go or just want to chat, you’ll always find me in and around the gym! Aswell as this, we have a barbell class specifically teaching Olympic lifts to beginners. Give it a try next Wednesday at 8pm, a great time to release some of the work’s stress mid-week!