Don’t be intimidated by the name, it’s not just for Olympians. Olympic style weightlifting is a barbell sport that most people are unfamiliar with. Well, I’m here to tell you why most people can not only do it but can also benefit from some form of Olympic style weightlifting.
Olympic weightlifting consists of two competition lifts: the snatch and the clean & jerk. Both of these lifts involve power, strength, and a little bit of grace to throw a loaded barbell over your head. Sound scary? Don’t worry, it isn’t as bad as you might think. Olympic lift variations also include lifts such as pulling, pressing and squatting. The benefits of Olympic lifting are numerous, but I’ll limit it to my top 5.
Core Stability. To throw heavy weights over your head or to even catch a weight at your shoulders, your entire body is working to stabilize, thus using your core. Sick of planks? Try some cleans to light up that core!
Coordination. Having to maneuver yourself and a barbell or other piece of equipment to get into certain positions will definitely require some coordination. Coordination is important to keeping our nervous system sharp and increasing it can improve our functions of daily life.
Back Strength. A lot of people sitting at desks all day often have relatively weaker backs or poor posture. Learning to pick heavy things off the ground with good technique can do wonders for your back strength and posture.
Mobility. Training the snatch and the clean have incredible benefits to mobility. Hips, knees, ankles, and back are all required to have a certain level of mobility before starting to train these lifts, but they can also be improved through practicing them.
Body composition. Both the snatch and the clean and jerk are full body movements that require a lot of energy expenditure. Not only is it building muscle, but it’s burning fat. Sick of doing 10-20 reps of exercises to get a sweat on? Try 3-5 or even 1-2 reps of these full body movements and I promise that you’ll get that heart rate up in no time (thus burning some more calories).
But what about safety? Although it might seem dangerous to chuck a loaded barbell over your head, it is actually relatively safe. With proper coaching and loading, weightlifting actually has one of the lowest injury rates compared to other sports. The International Weightlifting Federation found 0.0017 injuries per 100,000 hours of participation and compared this to the injury rate in track and field, which was 0.570.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Not everyone is mentally or physically ready to be hurling heavy barbells over their heads. The good news is that you can do these types of lifts with other equipment or use other variations. Sandbags, kettlebells, and dumbbells are all fantastic pieces of equipment to start with as well. You can start with pulls, overhead presses, front squat or overhead squats as well to get used to the idea of having a heavy weight over your head or on your shoulders. So, what are waiting for? Go find yourself a coach who knows a thing or two about Olympic weightlifting (a USA Weightlifting certified coach) and add some variety into your workouts with these fully body movements!