The Olympic lifters are without a doubt the world’s strongest athletes. These lifts train athletes to effectively activate more muscle fibers more rapidly than through any other modality of training. The explosiveness that results from this training is of vital necessity to every sport.
The Olympic Lifts, a.k.a., Weightlifting. There are two Olympic lifts, the clean and jerk and the snatch. Mastery of these lifts develops the squat, deadlift, power clean, and split jerk while integrating them into a single movement of unequaled value in all of strength and conditioning.
There are many variations of the Olympic lifts. The qualifiers “hang” and “power” describe the starting and receiving positions of the bar, respectively. The hang power snatch emphasizes the second and third pulls of the snatch, from the hang position with the bar at the hip to the finish of the lift with the bar overhead. The timing, powerful hip extension, and coordination remain similar to the power snatch. However, the technical demands of arriving at the correct position are reduced compared to pulling the bar from the floor.
Practicing the Olympic lifts teaches one to apply force to muscle groups in proper sequence; i.e., from the center of the body to its extremities (core to extremity). Learning this vital technical lesson benefits all athletes who need to impart force to another person or object, as is commonly required in nearly all sports.
In addition to learning to impart explosive forces, the clean and jerk and snatch condition the body to receive such forces from another moving body both safely and effectively.
Numerous studies have demonstrated the Olympic lifts’ unique capacity to develop strength, muscle, power, speed, coordination, vertical leap, muscular endurance, bone strength, and the physical capacity to withstand stress. It is also worth mentioning that the Olympic lifts are the only lifts shown to increase maximum oxygen uptake, the most important marker for cardiovascular fitness.
Sadly, the Olympic lifts are seldom seen in the commercial fitness community because of their inherently complex and technical nature. CrossFit makes them available to anyone with the patience and persistence to learn.
Curls, lateral raises, leg extensions, leg curls, flyers, and other bodybuilding movements have no place in a serious strength and conditioning program primarily because they have a blunted neuroendocrine response. A distinctive feature of these relatively worthless movements is that they have no functional analog in everyday life and they work only one joint at a time. Compare this to the deadlift, clean, squat, and jerk, which are functional and multi-joint movements.
The snatch—the world’s fastest lift—moves the barbell from the ground to overhead in one movement. Its complexity brings great benefit to CrossFit athletes.
- Hip-width stance.
- Hands wide enough that bar rests increase of hips when knees and hips are extended.
- Hook grip on the bar.
- Shoulders slightly in front of the bar.
- Eyes on the horizon.
The lumbar curve maintained.
- Hips and shoulders rise at the same rate.
- Hips then extend rapidly.
- Heels down until hips and knees extend.
- Shoulders shrug, followed by a pull-under with the arms.
- Bar is received at the bottom of an overhead squat.
Complete at the full hip, knee, and arm extension with the bar over the middle of the foot.
The dumbbell power snatch is less technical than its barbell counterpart but relies on many of the same principles. The hips and legs should generate the majority of the upward force and momentum on the dumbbell. The working arm should remain straight until the hips have extended. The overhead position demands balance and coordination to stabilize the dumbbell. However, receiving the load in the power position places fewer demands on overall flexibility. This movement lends itself to fast cycle time, making it an excellent tool for developing fitness.
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