Olympic Lifting – benefits beyond the sporting applications…

No one can argue the emerging popularity of Olympic Lifting in a resistance training programme and the trend of its use within group training franchises. But why is it so popular? What does it do? Why is it used and how should it be prescribed?

The first thing to know is that Olympic Lifting is not a new fitness ‘fad’ or a training mode prescribed only to the likes of CrossFit. Olympic lifting and its many derivatives have been a measure of human performance, notably strength and power, for centuries. Long before your ‘Workout of the Day (WOD)’ or ‘Open Competitions’ athletes and competitors have been training for performance and competing with these whole body lifts around the globe. There are not just 2 or 3 lifts and it is not only a case of ‘lift as much as you can as quickly as you can’. Olympic Lifting, put simply, can be the most taxing and complex training to execute, and with this comes the potential for high rewards, and in turn higher risks.

As the simple table below demonstrates, the competition ‘lifts’ of ‘Clean & Jerk’ and the ‘Snatch’ are neurally the most challenging exercise to perform. They sit on completely different ends of the adaptation scale to isolated machine exercises that most people know the gym for. But what does this mean for you and what does it mean for your training programme and ethos? Well in essence, with Olympic Lifting the body is going to be challenged in every aspect of fitness, at high speed and in complex sequences. During which you are going to load your movement ability, develop your structural strength and improve your ability to produce force efficiently through one high output move. This means that you will become stronger, more powerful, quicker and more efficient in everything else you do after learning to Olympic Lift.

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To ensure the appropriate reward and to reduce unnecessary risk, every athlete, enthusiast and coach must consider what they are looking to achieve, what exercise(s) and prescriptions are most suitable, and what the key technical elements are. The reason so many gyms are equipped with static machines which isolate movements is that they are easy. A treadmill runs for you, a chest press directs you and a bicep curl machine stabilises you. This makes them easier and therefore have fewer risks, but in turn far fewer returns. Olympic Lifting is often comprises of just a barbell, a space on the floor and the necessity to powerfully move the weight from floor to overhead by recruiting every muscle and neural pathway you have. No wonder therefore that you can expect greater gains than a single muscle exercise. However with any complex movement there is more to go wrong and more elements to refine. Under the wrong prescription you risk wasting your time, under the wrong coaching you risk injury and on the wrong day you risk both. The complexity of Olympic Lifting requires concentration, high levels of output and a strong repeatable technique.


Pinnacle Performance’s do’s and don’ts for Olympic Lifting:

DO:

  • use Olympic Lifting as one of the best tools in your fitness tool box for gaining strength, power, lean mass and movement efficiency;
  • respect the complexity of the movements, the time they take to learn and their appropriate use in your training regime;
  • enjoy the challenge and train hard.
  • understand that everyone is different, every lift is different and not everything is suitable. A snatch for one person may be perfect but for someone else will risk injury. Double arm, single arm, hang position or from the floor, every lift has a purpose, so respect this.
  • learn in a safe environment where the coaches know how to develop you as an individual and it is paramount you apply safety and progression ahead of purely getting the job done whatever the cost.

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DON’T:

  • be impatient or progress too quickly without strong repeatable technique;
  • include high intensity/maximal Olympic Lifting in a circuit based setting. Big lifts require big recruitment – appropriate programming is a must – get this wrong and you risk major problems;
  • think it as simple as adding weight every session until you can Clean and Jerk 100kg for example;
  • be intimidated.

So how is Pinnacle Performance going to support your Olympic Lifting development?

By introducing the long awaited Olympic Lifting GDS, open to all members and non members.

As Tom, the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach here at Pinnacle, has worked with some world leading athletes and used Olympic Lifting appropriately. It is not for everyone. There are minimum prerequisites to develop through and lifts which are more suited to learners and in turn some that are better for the advance lifters. Olympic Lifting can be learned from the basics of a Kettlebell or Dumbbell Snatch, right up to the advanced Clean and Jerk or Snatch. Pinnacle Performance, utilising the successful tiering of Principle, Clinical and Pinnacle, will prescribe appropriate sessions for YOUR level and progress you through them at YOUR pace. With no more than 8 people in any GDS you will be safely and carefully supervised. Combine this attention and experience with our performance facility including video analysis software if required and you can be assured of a safe and effective environment to develop.

Tom is the only coach in Hong Kong accredited internationally in Olympic Lifting and Strength and Conditioning from both the UK and US Strength and Conditioning Associations. Having spent 10 years learning from the best, working with the best and applying it to great athletes, Tom only has your development as a priority, not purely the amount of weight you can lift over you head within an hour!


All members can sign up and enjoy our Olympic Lifting GDS as part of their membership, whilst non-members can pay the usual $300 drop-in fee and come and see why we are quickly becoming the facility that all the athletes and members serious about development in Hong Kong are coming to.

From August 2014, the new Olympic Lifting GDS times are Principle: Tuesday night at 7pm, Clinical: Friday night at 8pm and Pinnacle: Sunday morning at 9am (see Booking page).

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