Olympic Weightlifting

Olympic Weightlifting: The most frustrating, most rewarding lifts in our gym. 

Have you ever done something that required a lot of brain power for a such a small fraction of time? If you weren’t keened in, the slightest mistake could throw everything off? Like playing someone who is good at pool, but you struggle. They make it look so effortless yet the amount of concentration you have to have to make a fairly simple shot is bananas. You stumble for one second and BAM! You’ve scratched on the eight ball and lose the game. We’ve all been there but on the opposite end, when everything goes right, sinking that last shot feels so nice! The clean & jerk and the snatch are some of the most technical lifts we will do in the gym. Like most people, your version of the Olympic lifts need some work and that’s okay. There are so many technical aspects to these lifts that it can cause one to over think and not feel confident in executed the lift. Here’s my advice, throughout this cycle pick one major thing that you would like to work on during each one of the lifts. Each day you can set small goals or cues to accomplish the major improvement you are aiming for. 

  • Examples for the clean:
    • Speed under the bar
      • Quick feet”
      • “Pull myself under”
      • “Fast elbows”
      • “Explosive hips”
    • Stronger pull from the ground
      • Build the clean grip deadlift
      • Be patient over the bar
      • Engage the lats (squeeze the armpits)
      • Good diaphragmatic bracing
    • I can get the bar up, but can’t stand up out of the squat
      • Work on front squat mobility 
      • Pause front squats will build strength out of the bottom
      • Receive the bar, don’t let it crash on you
      • Drive the elbows up once you catch it
  • Examples for the Snatch:
    • I can power snatch more than I can squat snatch
      • Commit to squat snatching this cycle (shorter bar path)
      • Pause OH squats to improve stability in the catch
      • If it’s due to mobility, work on thoracic extensions over a foam roller or wall ball, 90/90s for the hips, and sitting in the bottom of a squat transferring weight from toe to toe, driving the knees forward stretching the ankles/calves.
    • “I feel weak overhead”
      • Work on Snatch grip strict press and push press
      • Snatch balances are great for this
      • Again… Is this due to our mobility? (if we can get in a good stacked position, we are weaker)
    • I feel strong off the ground but can’t transfer that over head
      • Take a video from a profile view, Is the bar close to us or far from us? It should be close
      • Are we trying to be too fast too quick? The pull from the ground to just above the knee is controlled. Once we get to mid-thigh, then we can be violent
      • Are we extending up or forward? Extending forward throws the bar out in front causing us to have to chase the bar. 
      • After extension focus on pulling yourself under the bar, not pulling the bar up. 
  • Examples for the Jerk:
    • I don’t feel like I get much leg drive
      • Don’t dip too much. This is a dip, not a half squat. 
      • Get the chest tall. Dropping the chest causes us to lose a lot of power.
      • Is the bar on our shoulders or in our wrist. On the shoulders is a strong foundation, in the wrist is very weak.
      • ^MOBILITY^
    • I’ve only ever push pressed
      • Just like the squat snatch, lets commit to getting better at this skill
      • Dip, drive, split. That’s the sequence.
      • Split jerking allows us to get under the bar (less bar travel) faster allowing us to do more weight.
      • Split jerking also allows us to have a stronger catch 
    • But Coach, I feel very unstable when I split jerk
      • Are we tight roping? Our feet should stay shoulder width when we split, DON’T BRING THEM IN.
      • Is only one foot moving? The most common mistake is not pushing that front leg out enough. Aim for knee over or even behind the heel. 
      • On our back leg we should be on the balls of our feet, not flat footed. 
      • With all of that being said, if you feel more comfortable in the power jerk position, that’s A okay. 

As coaches, we want to see y’all excel and improve at all movements, I mean, we are called The MoveMeant. The Olympic lifts are my favorite, and I could/would spend hours studying professional lifts, and my own lifts. If you would like to improve but don’t know where to start, take a video of yourself and see how you move. You may be shocked and realize you are better than you thought or may it’s nowhere near as good as you thought but you need a reference point otherwise it can be difficult to tell that you are actually moving better. 

This cycle, Mayhem has done a wonderful job breaking down the lifts into parts. One day when we snatch, the accessory movement maybe be snatch grip deadlifts or on the flip side, overhead squats. Take advantage of those accessory lifts and try to build the technique to transfer into the full lift. It’s amazing to see how breaking them down into parts actually transfers into the full movement. Ask your coach to help guide you into the right direction with weight selection for each accessory movement depending on your goals for your improving technique. 

Lastly, let’s remember to have fun with them. Celebrate the little wins. Not just with yourself but with others. When doing something that can be difficult, the wins don’t come as often, so when they do be proud and be loud. Go get them MoveMeant Fam! 

– Coach Alex