Why Should Athletes do the Olympic Lifts?

The Olympic lifts have long been a staple in strength room training for athletes of all levels. The two lifts and their variations, the snatch and clean & jerk, are known for their ability to increase an athlete’s rate of force development, power output and overall explosiveness. But there are many more benefits that the Olympic lifts can provide to athletes beyond explosiveness. In fact, the Olympic lifts are an excellent tool for developing multiple physical characteristics with one movement, making them one of the most comprehensive exercises an athlete can perform.

In addition to improving explosiveness, here are 4 more reasons why athletes should incorporate Olympic lifts into their training regimen:

1. Development of Mobility:

The Olympic lifts require a high degree of mobility to perform correctly. Lifters have to regularly move from one end range position to another in milliseconds. The snatch, for example, involves moving from a deep squat position to a fully extended overhead position in one smooth motion. This requires a combination of mobility in the ankles, knees, hips, and shoulders.

By training the Olympic lifts, athletes can develop greater mobility in these areas, leading to improved performance in other exercises and activities. For example, a golfer with greater hip mobility may be able to generate more power and accuracy in their swing.

2. Development of Coordination and Timing:

The Olympic lifts require a high degree of coordination and timing to perform correctly. The athlete must be able to generate power from the hips and legs while simultaneously driving the barbell upwards and catching it in a specific position. This requires precise timing and coordination between the upper and lower body.

By training the Olympic lifts, athletes can improve their ability to coordinate complex movements, leading to improved performance in other exercises and activities. Coordination is also closely tied to reaction time. When you have good coordination, you can respond more quickly to changes in your environment, such as an opponent’s movement or the trajectory of a ball.

3. Force Absorption:

The Olympic lifts require athletes to manipulate a heavy external load and learn to absorb its force. This is especially true in the clean, where the athlete must catch the barbell in a deep squat position before standing up with the weight.

By training the Olympic lifts, athletes can improve their ability to absorb and manage force, and can execute high-impact movements with greater efficiency. For example, runners who can absorb the force of their foot striking the ground can maintain their speed and momentum with less energy expenditure.

4. Developing Strength and Stability Around Major Joints Dynamically:

The Olympic lifts require athletes to develop strength and stability around major joints dynamically. This means that the athlete must be able to generate and control force through a full range of motion. This type of strength and stability is important for athletic performance and injury prevention.

Dynamic stability is essential for efficient movement patterns. When athletes lack dynamic stability, their movements become less efficient, leading to wasted energy and decreased performance. For example, a soccer player who lacks dynamic stability will struggle to maintain balance when running at high speeds, making it harder to change direction or maintain their position on the field.

The Olympic lifts are an excellent tool for athletes looking to improve their overall physical performance. While explosiveness is often the focus of the Olympic lifts, there are many other benefits that athletes can gain from performing these lifts. From developing mobility and coordination to improving force absorption and dynamic strength and stability, the Olympic lifts are an essential exercise for athletes of all levels.

If you’re an athlete seeking to incorporate Olympic lifts into your training regimen, start today with our team at Connect! Our expert strength and conditioning coaches will skillfully guide you to master these lifts safely and effectively, and tailor them to enhance your performance in your specific sport.

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Jonathan Chui

Jonathan, BKin, CSCS, is a seasoned Strength and Conditioning Coach with extensive experience in both competitive sports and coaching. From club to varsity levels in soccer and weightlifting, Jonathan brings a wealth of knowledge as a kinesiologist and certified strength and conditioning specialist. Leveraging a strong background in fitness and health assessment, he excels in identifying nuanced aspects of treatment and training that result in significant performance gains. Jonathan is dedicated to providing comprehensive education and instruction, empowering you to achieve your goals of enhancing movement, elevating your game, or recovering from injury.