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 Olympic Lifting 
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Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2010 1:47 pm
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Post Olympic Lifting
Olympic Lifting
by: Patrick Beith




Strength training and power training are critical components to the success of any athlete competing in sports that rely on speed and power for success. More specifically, the proper use of the Olympic lifts (the snatch, clean and their variations) facilitate improvements across a variety of modalities. When learned and executed correctly, Olympic Lifts increase and improve strength, power, speed, coordination, balance, flexibility, as well as overall conditioning. As a coach, you understand the role that all of these functions play in developing competitive and successful athletes.

However, the Olympic Lifts require extreme focus on the part of both the coach and the athlete in order to take advantage of the many benefits that these movements provide. If these lifts are not performed correctly, athletes drastically increase the likelihood of sustaining potentially serious injuries. For this reason, if athletes have not learned the correct way to perform the exercises they should not attempt to execute the exercise at all.

Fortunately, Olympic lifting can be taught and learned easily by following progressions. During instruction, each lift should be broken down into simple movements that athletes should master before progressing to more complex movements. With the number of exercises available, athletes of every level will be able to quickly learn and execute the movements. Therefore, you will be able to improve the efficiency and explosiveness of your athletes the very next time you step into the weight room.

When learning any Olympic Lift, it is critical that emphasis is placed on learning proper, explosive technique by using light weights. Most of the time, athletes employ the ‘more is better’ philosophy, thinking they will see greater benefits by using as much weight as possible. This will only lead to injury. Our goal is to increase power output and that comes from moving the weight quickly. If the weight is heavy, the weight will move slowly, the athletes’ technique will suffer and injury potential is increased. Mastery of technique must be emphasized in order to reap the full benefits of these exercises.

The Snatch - Learning the movement complex and progressions

Here are the exercises we use to teach our athletes how to Snatch. We first breakdown each part of the lift before having the athlete attempt the Snatch as a whole. Many years ago, Strength & Conditioning Expert Mike Boyle taught me that it is much easier to have your athletes learn the lifting progressions in order to perfect the movement pattern before you put it all together. It speeds up the learning curve and makes certain that the athlete does not get into bad habits when performing the lift. Use the following exercises in your weight training routine. This will ensure that you take the necessary steps in learning to execute the Snatch properly, as well as derive strength and power benefits from the movement progressions themselves.

Snatch RDL

Stand with the barbell in hands with hook grip, feet at hip width, shoulders back and chest up. Make sure that the chest is over the bar. Keeping arms straight and eyes fixed straight ahead, lower bar by moving the hips backwards while maintaining a slight but fixed bend in the knees. Stop once the bar reaches the top of the knees or when the flexibility in the hamstrings run out. Quickly return to the starting position by driving the hips forward and standing up straight. The goal of this exercise is to get the athlete used to the starting position as well as understand the need to drive the hips forward to create momentum.

Snatch RDL to Power Shrug:

Stand with the barbell in hands with hook grip, feet at hip width, shoulders back and chest up. Keeping arms straight and eyes fixed straight ahead, lower bar by moving the hips backwards while maintaining a slight but fixed bend in the knees. Stop once the bar reaches the top of the knees or when the flexibility in the hamstrings run out. Quickly drive the hips forward. So the hips reach full extension, explosively shrug the shoulders and rise up onto the toes.

Here the goal is to expand on the skills of the previous exercise and begin to implement the correct upper body technique. Many athletes begin bending their arms at the elbows, lifting the weight with their arms. Instead the focus must be on shrugging the shoulders, keeping the weight close to the body.

Snatch RDL to High Pull

Perform this drill as you did the previous exercise. Once you are up on the toes, continue to elevate the bar to mid-chest height by bending elbows and continuing the upward movement of the bar. Be sure to lift elbows up and keep the bar close to the body. When performing the high pull, it’s important to keep the arms straight until you achieve triple extension. Only upon full extension of the ankles, knees and hips should the arms begin to bend at the elbows. Premature flexion of the elbows is a very common mistake among young athletes and will result in improper execution of the exercise.

Muscle Snatch

Standing erect with barbell in hands with a snatch grip and feet at hip width, slide bar upwards along the body to near shoulder height. Once at shoulder height rotate elbows underneath the bar and continue to move bar upwards by pressing it into a catch position. Descend the bar in reverse order.

I have found that teaching Olympic lifting is much easier if you first break down each of the movements and teach them as partials or stages of the entire lift. Once your athlete has perfected each individual movement, they will find performing the whole snatch a much simpler task. Also, if you have an athlete struggling with a particular stage of the lift, you can use these exercises to clean up their form.

Apply these exercises and techniques to your athletes and clients and they will be performing the ‘complicated’ Olympic lifts with perfect form in no time.

About The Author
Patrick Beith is a Performance Consultant for Athletes' Acceleration, Inc, http://www.AthletesAcceleration.com. To learn more about speed training and for free access to Coach Beith's free 'Explosive Power Training Tips' report, go now to http://www.CompleteOlympicLifting.com.





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Sun Mar 06, 2011 4:23 pm
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