Lets play some word association games. When I say weight lifting what do you think of? Do you think of an Eastern European who has the structure of a brick wall straining under the pressure of multiple multi coloured 25kg weights? You would not be mistaken when making such a connotation. Most people understand Olympic weightlifting as sport savoured for the Olympics. That is when most people engage with Olympic weightlifting. After the closing ceremony, Olympic weightlifting is again, placed on the shelf by the general public. Gym goers go back to practicing high intensity pedal bike classes or water aerobics and the strong men go back to their 4-year training camps. However, as our understanding of the anatomy and fitness develops, fitness professionals are finding more ways incorporate un-conventional exercises into their client’s sessions. Olympic weightlifting is one of these exercises.
Olympic weightlifting is a sport that is comprised of two singular transitions. These moves include the clean and jerk and the snatch. Both of these moves require speed and coordination as well as proper training. For instance, lets compare and contrast the positives and negatives of Olympic lifts. Firstly, Olympic weightlifting has a multitude of benefits. These include the stimulation and strengthening of the skeletal muscle, the minimising of muscle soreness, increase in an individual mobility and personal rewards. Muscle soreness is minimised because muscles contract really quickly when lifting. This decreases any eccentric action that nullifies any chances of increased muscle soreness.
In contrast to this there are also some negative repercussion of practicing Olympic weightlifting. For example, Olympic weightlifting does not produce as much muscle mass as other workouts. It is also very challenging and equally time consuming. You will also require specialised equipment to practice these exercises. This is why is necessary to hire a personal trainer who not only understands the process of practicing Olympic weightlifting but who also understands the impact Olympic weightlifting has on the body.
As a personal trainer for Origym, I value clients who want to test their body against different exercises. I have had two clients with two different body types ask me to train them to eventually compete in weightlifting competitions. Both were very keen to learn both the clean and jerk and the snatch. I had to not only incorporate these exercises into their routines but also tailor these programs to their body types. I am going to overview these two case studies while regarding the positive & negative repercussions of Olympic weightlifting that we outlined earlier in the article.
My first client who wanted to practice weight lifting was someone who had been practicing resistance training for the previous three months. Resistance training breaks down muscle fibres so they can repair with more strength and size. Resistance training requires a lot of rest bites so the body can fully re-cooperate. When my client told me of his previous experience with resistance training I was instantly more confident. Resistance training increases muscle power, metabolic rate and bone health. Olympic weightlifting requires a healthy skeleton structure to support the intense pressure of the weights. Resistance training ensures this as well as increased muscle power. It also exerts a lot of energy and an increased RMR improves an individual’s response to strenuous exercise. All of this combined to provide my client with a distinct physiological advantage when starting his odyssey into Olympic weightlifting.
Considering the experience and composition of my client I highlighted points that needed improving. I began by testing my client’s form by practicing both the snatch and clean & jerk on a bar with low weights. At first we practiced slowly while I re-accounted the perfect form to lift. The spacing between a persons feet as well as the alignment of their spine when lifting the bar is very important. As my client became conditioned to lifting with correct form we began to increase the weight. To combat soreness and exhaustion I developed a high fibre diet with recovery drinks such as beetroot smoothies. This enabled ourselves to maximise our Olympic Weightlifting sessions.
The second client was someone who had wealth of experience in endurance exercises. This client had competed in triathlons extensively but had minimal experience in strength and resistance training. While he certainly had the mobility and RMR to endure Olympic weightlifting, they were lacking the necessary composition to lift heavy weights. To combat this, I started at the basics. I developed a one-month HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) programme that involved short but intense body weight exercises such as lunges, burpess and kettlebell swings. This struck the balance between increasing my client’s strength while maintaining his endurance. By stimulating these aspects of her physicality she would be ready to begin training in Olympic weightlifting.
Moreover, we followed the same procedure as the client in the previous case study by perfecting the individuals form on a bar with low weights. I set up two bars on either side of my client. One bar had 10kg on one side. The other bard had 20 kg on either side. My client would go from the 10kg bar and perform five clean and jerks in quick succession, before performing 10 snatches on the bar with 20kg in quick succession. This strenuous activity was made easy by the month of HIIT training. However, it also conditioned the body to maintain form and composure during high intensity lifts.
These are just the basic outlines of two clients who wanted to begin Olympic weightlifting. I found that Olympic weightlifting is beneficial to the body in a multitude of ways. For instance, it maximises a persons flexibility and mobility while also burning excess calories that are included within a high calorie diet. On the other hand I was surprised by the rewarding nature of completing a 50kg lift and so on. It is a truly engaging exercise and more than just an exercise for most people. Both of these clients have competed in competitions but they still regularly ask me to accompany them during peak training times so they can be provided with motivation, support and nutritional advice.
If you are looking to begin Olympic weightlifting, I biasedly implore you to hire a personal trainer so you can minimise the risk of injury while maximising the effects of your workouts.
By Chris Simon