Olympic weightlifting is so specialized and unique that it seems unapproachable to the average person. But it doesn’t have to be. Its all a matter of basic physics. But while it is very basic, it does take a little (or a lot) of coaching to understand fully. Its very different from the sports of powerlifting and bodybuilding. And, unless a gym has rubber bumper plates, spinning Olympic bars, and allows you to drop weight from overhead, access will be limited. However, all CrossFit gyms and most barbell gyms have what you need. Even Universities will have this for their athletes and students.
As I think of exercises I normally do, so many are made much more effective through weightlifting. They are:
rowing (not using arms, coming to full leg extension before elbow bend)
kettlebell swings (opening hips completely and keeping arms loose)
wallball shots (again full extension of hips before the ball leaves your shoulders)
med ball slams (full extension using very little arms)
squats and overhead presses
In everday life, it can help:
lifting something off the ground
putting something overhead
doing manual labor more efficiently
playing with kids
handling emergencies requiring physical strength
overall quality of life (getting off the toilet or couch, reaching for things)
But it is a highly specialized sport and can get very technical. Among a few things, here are some basic cues to remember:
-place your feet like you are going to jump
-learn to hook grip the bar (you can look that up)
-learn the valsalva maneuver, inhaling against the belt and holding your breath
-think knees back—and they stay back (unlike powerlifting)
-vertical bar path doesn’t really exist (unlike powerlifting)
-sweep the bar back like Superman into your hips
-drive the hips forward to full hip extension and straight legs
-pull yourself under the bar (not pulling up or shrugging)
-catch the bar at the full height, which means you don’t have to pull very high
-don’t ride the bar down, but catch lightly and stand up
-if clean & jerking, take another breath, then dip and drive the bar overhead
-split or squat under the bar and lock out elbows
In practice, you can break down any one of these single cues. It doesn’t need to be as complicated as it sounds. What’s funny is people wonder how someone can enjoy just doing two lifts all the time. I mean, its just a Snatch and Clean & Jerk. But if you break it down, do complexes, pauses, deficits, powers, singles or multiples, it adds up to a lot of variation. And it is a whole lot of fun. It can be all strength, all speed, all power, and even aerobic.
Olympic lifting translates to so many other sports and activities. And yes, it is totally cheating. Where bodybuilding and powerlifting is about strictly applied strength, weightlifting is all about power and cheating. Power means "strength with speed". To tell you the truth, almost all sports involve Power and not raw strength. When you press overhead in bodybuilding, you’re not supposed to cheat by bend your knees and bouncing it up. But in weightlifting, that’s the name of the game. Its the difference between performance and fitness.
More to come.