Olympic lifting is a huge part of the sport of fitness. I think that's a given everybody loves seeing Matt Fraser smashing master clean and jerks, or watching Kara Saunders snatch more than some of the elite males.
But it's easier to see these feet and just try to copies these people that have been lifting for a large part of the lives. But, Olympic lifting is the most technical skill that you can learn on your fitness journey.
The concepts of Olympic lifting are simple sounding and when you watch videos of big lifters its easier to think there is not much to it but you would be incredibly wrong!
Through this series of post, I am going to breakdown and disuse some of the most important parts of the Olympic lifts and what you should focus on when developing the movements. In this post, however, I am going to discuss the uses of the Olympic lifting in the sport of fitness and how you should focus on each aspect.
When it comes to the Olympic lifts there are two main uses used in the sport of fitness.
Barbell cycling and heavy lifting!
When it comes to barbell cycling the focus moves from efficacy to lift a weight and shifts it to your ability to sustain muscular endurance while moving the bar as fast as possible. Barbell cycling is a technical skill that differs from lifting heavy. Because the goal is to move the bar fast you can change up some of the power efficiencies to increase barbell speed. Because of this CrossFit is commonly criticised in the way it teaches the Olympic lifts.
I would have had to agree with this in the past but the culture has started to change. Initially, in the early days of CrossFit, the Olympic lifts were a novelty. People that joined the sport did not have proper training of the Olympic lifts and this resulted in poor form getting portrayed to others on the sport of fitness. Because a lot of workouts are focused more on the speed you could move the bar over how well you moved it. The community of fitness did not master the ability to lift well.
This started to change as the sport evolved. At the elite level, athletes started moving more weight and they started to move it well. In 2009 at the CrossFit games the biggest snatch was 225lb (102kg) to put that perspective at in 2017 the max snatch there was 305lb(138kg) and the max snatch for the women was 205lb(93kg) only 9kg behind the max snatch of the men at the start. For me personally as well, a high-level athlete but certainly not elite I have a 130kg max snatch and have hit 125kg in competition. This shows the change from just lifting weights any which way to the focus on technique and form through the Olympic lifts.
This change has come due to the integration of Olympic lifting into the sport. Instead of just taking the views of very specific Olympic lifting styles the world of Olympic lifting has opened the eyes of crossfitters to best ways to lift a max weight for there body type. There is no specific technique that everyone can do to lift lots of weight. This is why Olympic lifting has taken its time to evolve into the sport of CrossFit properly.
The best advice I could ever give to anyone looking to improve on there Olympic lifting is finding a good coach that knows what they are doing. A CrossFit coach is not an Olympic weightlifting coach! As someone that started as a CrossFit coach and then became an Olympic lifting coach, I can certainly say that CrossFit does not teach you how to lift well. It teaches you a cookie-cutter way of moving a barbell. As an Olympic lifting coach, you learn how to adapt that cutter to each athlete you coach and teaches you the reasons why you focus on certain aspects of the lifts.
As CrossFit coaches and Olympic lifting coaches come together the evolution of lifting in our sport has developed into what it is today. If you think that you can learn everything you can about lifting from big group classes then you will never be the best lifter that you can be. Try your best to find a coach that knows what they are doing.