SLOW DOWN Your Olympic Lifts!
Effortless. Fast. Precise. Graceful. That’s how I would describe the Olympic sport of weightlifting. Inspiring too, judging by the surge of recreational lifters taking up the snatch and clean & jerk in their fitness regimens these days. However, this also means that a lot of people who have never touched a barbell are rushing into the sport and getting in over their heads. Chances are these people aren’t being properly screened before attempting these difficult lifts, either.
Watching elite weightlifters can be deceiving. The reality is that there are many mobility prerequisites to establish before you should start performing these movements. As a former competitive weightlifter who has been studying the lifts for 8+ years, it’s difficult to watch individuals jump into the lifts too fast and risk injury.
Now, injury risk, technique, and performance are all connected. Let’s forget about the weight or PRs for the moment. Slowing down and learning technique will absolutely enhance your performance and negate injury risk. Weightlifting is actually safer than typical recreational activities, but not if you don’t have the slightest idea what you’re doing.
That’s why I’m urging you FIRST to find a qualified coach, and second, to SLOW DOWN! Working with just the bar is key when learning technique. Perform slow and controlled movements, making sure you can maintain proper position and alignment throughout the lifts without compensation. THEN start working in speed and reps. If you have trouble putting it together, take a step back and work from different positions. Try starting at the knee or the hip instead of the floor. The last thing you want to do is load the bar early.
Time and time again, lifters load up single after single and blindly launch the weight above their head praying that they will catch it. This is akin to adding fuel to a raging fire and will net zero results on both skill and performance. Take it slow. Progress with technique, then speed, then load. That’s the best way to improve and be successful. Own each repetition, and be confident with the result; don’t just pray and hope.
by Ross Curtis