Over the last couple of rainy days, I was at Hofstra University earning my Olympic Weightlifting Coach certification. Needless to say I learned a TON of techniques and information on how to teach the olympic lifts professionally. This certification was geared towards strength coaches and personal trainers to teach the Olympic lifts (O-lifts) for sports performance, but also to help non-athletes as well.
First of all, you must be wondering what are the Olympic Lifts??? Pretty much they consist of any movement that involves picking up a heavy barbell off the floor and either bringing it to shoulder height or putting it over your head. . . .much easier than it sounds. The lifts involve the Power Clean, the Clean and Jerk, and the Power Snatch.
Many health professionals think that the O-lifts are way too technical and difficult to teach and therefore do not do them. . . or teach them. Granted that the lifts are not common in health clubs, because they are perceived to be so difficult, but they do look pretty bad ass when done correctly.
These should be taught to more people, but you have to know how to teach them.
Next question – Why the Olympic Lifts?
Most of my clients both athletes and non-athletes have been doing some form of cleans or snatches for quite some time, and the results have been nothing short of phenomenal. There is something to be said about being able to gracefully lift a heavy bar with control from the floor to an overhead position within 2 seconds.
Don’t get me wrong, O-lifts are technical, and take time to perfect. But the learning process is where you will see results in balance, coordination, body awareness, muscle size and strength, and fat loss.
My athletes regularly perform cleans and snatches where appropriate and generally get up to some pretty decent weight. For my non-athletes, they learn the clean and snatch enough to perform complexes with the barbell that melts the fat right off their bodies.
Next question – Are they dangerous???
Actually not! There was a study done of sports and injury rates, and Olympic Weightlifting has the lowest injury rates out of almost every sport! You just have to learn to miss the weight, and drop the bar when you do not have the lift. As long as you lift conservatively, you do not have to worry.
Coach Dan John, the Yoda of the strength coaches, always says that if you ever drive without a seat belt, or smoke cigarettes, don’t tell me that putting a barbell over your head is dangerous!
The certification was a great experience that definitely helped a lot in understanding the O-lifts better. Funny thing was that there were about 5 Crossfit members in attendance, among all the strength coaches and personal trainers. It was a good thing to see them there and shows that there are crossfitters who take a step in the right direction and want to learn their lifts properly.
The only problem I have with Crossfit are their high rep O-lifts – technique will break down eventually. Conservatively speaking, O-lifts shouldn’t go over 5 reps. I might have people go as high as 8 reps in one set, but thats about it. After that, they forget about technique, and focus on finishing the reps.
Some Crossfit workouts call for 20 reps of an O-lift per set. When it comes to Olympic Lifting, thats a little bit TOO demanding on all your bodies systems. Granted that is what Crossfit is about, but I would not want to be caught failing with some decent weight over my head for any reason EVER!
I am not against Crossfit, most of their style is based off of gymnastics type training, kettlebell swings, and Olympic lifting.
I will continue to teach these lifts to my clients even when they look at me like “You want me to do what??? With that????” LOL!
From the ground up baby!