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Why Do We Practice the Olympic Lifts?

In our group training classes and personal training sessions it is common for the workouts to incorporate full versions or variations of the Olympic Lifts.  These movements are often the most challenging for athletes to learn but are essential for an effective fitness program.

What are the Olympic Lifts?

The Snatch and the Clean and Jerk are the two weightlifting movements that make up the Olympic Lifts.  There are many variations of these movements such as hang cleans, power snatches, or push jerks that are also thrown into our workouts.

Why do we practice them?

The Olympic Lifts and all their variations are selected because of their unique ability to express power, coordination, and flexibility.  Power is developed through the explosive speed used to move heavy weights all the way from the floor to locked out overhead.  The precise timing and bar path needed for a successful lift are not possible without fully coordinated movements.  Practicing the full range of motion in both the squat and overhead positions of the lifts are fantastic for increasing flexibility.  Light to heavy loads moved through a full range of motion with explosive speed dramatically impacts the entire body.  The neurological aspect of learning a new difficult skill is also a great benefit that may promote confidence in other endeavors.

How should you practice?

These lifts are complex and can take a long time to learn especially for athletes with little or no prior experience.  Group classes are a good start. Take it slow, use light weights and focus on technique before adding weight or increasing speed.  The Olympic Lifting specialty classes are the best resource to refine the movements regardless of experience.  They are on Mondays and Wednesdays at 545pm and Saturdays at 9am.  Personal training sessions are also an option to help become more comfortable with these lifts.  Just ask a coach if you are interested or have any questions. 

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Ryan Walker

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