Article By Matthew Wells
Using myself as an example, I’m going to talk about style and technique vs pure strength. I’ll also use some examples along the way to illustrate this.
As an all-round Weightlifter, in many ways my technique is far superior to my strength and I can use my technical ability to get the barbell to where I want it. Obviously this doesn’t apply to static disciplines or power movements, were you're heavily relying on your strength for e.g. squats and deadlifts. But with movements like the Snatch, Clean and Jerk (‘athletic movements’), technique can help tremendously.
How I started
When I started at the illustrious Haven Gym, I was coached by the infamous Pete Ready and Neville Brumby. Neville himself was a bit of technical ‘wizard’ with a barbell and performed athletic movements with all the graceful flourish and dexterity of his peers.
I don’t recall exactly how I got into using the squat technique, as there were two schools of thought at the time – squat and split. I believe that it was heavily influence by the people I was training with.
I would also say that I wasn't aware of my technique as much as I am now. After having 10 years away from Weightlifting and coming back to competing it greatly benefitted my outlook, my overall approach and level of discipline.
The key for me, to allow me to progress at a fast rate, is and was technique.
When I returned to Weightlifting in 2011, I was coached and mentored by the late John Watson and it was then that I started to understand the mechanics of performing a Snatch and a Clean & Jerk. I was aware of how my body position effects the barbell when it is moving and this has helped me to progress to no-end.
What inspired me to write this article was that I sometimes get ribbed by my fellow IAWA (International All round Weightlifting Association) lifters for my speed and technique. For example, when I perform a single arm Clean, apparently it’s like I snap my fingers and it’s at my shoulders.
Surely I’m Not That Fast!?
Fellow lifters also comment about my performance on the platform. They'll say that it’s entertaining and good to watch.
Would that make me a spectacle or is that because I move in a graceful manner?
I would like to think it’s a bit of the later and the aforementioned gracefulness, but at the end of the day, it doesn't really make any difference to the end result.
This is my final point. The main aim of competitive Weightlifting events are to perform well and lift more that your competitor and ultimately take home the prize of victory. All that practice in the gym is then put to good use on the platform in front of 3 refs, paparazzi and who ever may be attending that day. Surely that’s what we all, as Weightlifters, strive for?
***Read: 7 GREAT REASONS TO DO OLYMPIC LIFTING***
In conclusion then, are technique, speed and style really that important to success on the platform? Does it define the final outcome?
From my perspective it does because technique for me ultimately prevails over strength.
However, strength is the foundation of Weightlifting and by working alongside technique and speed, everything is brought together. As long as I have my flexibility, agility and lightning speed I will use it to my advantage. And when I can no longer squat Clean and squat Snatch I will start to use split style (which I can use) to continue being stylish and speedy and all things technical.