Why you should be Olympic Lifting

    The Olympic lifts originate from the early 19th century. There is no exact evidence to prove the exact date, but the first crowned weightlifting champion was crowned in 1891. In today’s Olympic lifting competitions there are two lifts performed. The Snatch and Clean and Jerk are performed in that order. While these are the two judged lifts, there are many different Olympic style exercises that provide similar results. Some of these could include Hang positioning pulls (instead of pulling bar from the ground it starts above the knee), 1-arm Kettlebell or Dumbbell pulls. Even though these exercises are performed by professional athletes in competition, they are adopted by many fitness professionals for the benefits are great.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bj7VTpLDdKg&w=480&h=360] Cardiovascular Benefits

Studies have proven that the Olympic lifts have significant effects on the cardiovascular system. This is primarily due to the distance the bar travels and also due to the large demand placed on the body. During a Clean & Jerk, the bar will travel 6-7 1/2 feet! Since this movement requires movement around many joints, the entire bodies musculature system is recruited in order to perform the lift. This full body lift is very taxing on the body leaves you heaving for breath, sweating in streams and the heart racing!

Strength Benefits

As previously mentioned, the Olympic lifts recruit many muscles of the body. The more muscles recruited for a given exercise, the more the strength gains will be reaped.

Major muscle groups used during Olympic lifts include:

Calves: Full extension of this muscle when you raise up on your toes.

Legs: The pull and squat movements involves major muscle groups of your legs.

Lower back: The initial pull involves a dead-lift motion

Core: Supporting the load stimulates many muscles that are included in the core.

Traps & Upper Back: In order to initially pull the weight up, these muscles are recruited.

Shoulders & Triceps: When the weight is pressed over head, these are the primary muscles used.

While low repetitions are performed during Olympic training, there are significant strength gains.

Explosive Power Development

Power is a measurement that determines the rate at which work is done. While power decreases at a faster rate than strength does with age, this needs to be a major focus of development. Olympic style lifting trains the body to recruit muscle fibers at a faster rate so that movement can be accomplished with great force and minimal amounts of time. This type of training also simulates the movements of various athletes that require activation of muscle systems at a fast rate.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nr52tTO84T8&w=640&h=360]

Safety and Injury Prevention

While Olympic training may seem dangerous, studies prove otherwise. In fact, this style of training is proven to be the safest type of resistance training there is. The common myth of increased risk of severe damage to the lumbar spine when performing Olympic lifts is false and not the case at all. A studied was conducted that analyzed different types of resistance training and injury rates per 100 hours. As previously mentioned, Olympic training resulted with the lowest number. This type of training can also condition athletes the the rigors of contact sport. Durning the catch phase of the clean and jerk, the body must decelerate the force of the bar in order to catch the weight. This closely simulates the force taken from contact with other players in contact sports.

Time Management

While the Olympic lifts recruit the entire body, the body will fatigue faster than if you were steady state running on the treadmill. A full Olympic routine can take less than an hour leaving you exhausted. Living a busy life makes finding time difficult to invest in the gym which makes this style of training very effective.

Olympic training can provide many beneficial effects to any population. In order to perform these various lifts, proper form MUST be learned. If you have any interest in learning how to train using Olympic movements or just have some questions, please feel free to contact me! Devin@mystateoffitness.com

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