Olympic Weightlifting: A Quick Intro
The Olympic Games only happen once every four years, but over the past decade or so, the sport of weightlifting (i.e The Snatch, and The Clean & Jerk) has seen an explosion in popularity. We can probably attribute this to the fact that the sport’s movements are featured heavily in CrossFit, as well as the advent of social media, the latter of which for better or worse brings the latest fitness trends and fads to our immediate attention.
However, weightlifting is not a fad. Even though the sport undoubtedly receives more attention during an Olympic year, it is here to stay. But in many ways, it also never left. Much has been written about it and its effects on health & fitness, particularly its positive effects on strength and performance. This is why a multitude of athletic disciplines, such as football or track & field, use the Olympic lifts in their training programs. Even for the casual trainee who is willing to learn, weightlifting has its place. We do not need to look further than the weightlifting athlete, such as the likes of Olympic Champion Lu Xiaojun, to realize that the sport and training for it builds physical, powerful specimens.
On the surface, the sport is simple. Successfully complete two lifts—the snatch and the clean & jerk—with as much weight as possible. In addition to its benefits on health & fitness, perhaps another one of the appeals of the sports lies in these desirable athletic physiques. There’s no doubt that the mantra “look good, feel good” holds a hyooooooge level of clout in the fitness industry, and some people would certainly gravitate towards Olympic lifting because training in this style does indeed build these physiques.
But is Olympic Lifting, and training in this style, right for everyone?
The CrossFit crowd would have you believe this to be the case, and I’m glad that they have spurred a renewed interest in the barbell as the ultimate fitness tool, whether for the snatch and clean & jerk or the powerlifting trifecta of the squat, bench, and deadlift. But before people barge full steam ahead into weightlifting, it is important to understand that not everyone may be ready to train in this style safely and effectively on day one.
The lifts are poetry in motion when done correctly, as you can see above. They are akin to Stephen Curry shooting a three-pointer from way beyond the arc, or Noah Syndergaard painting the outside corner with a 100-mph fastball. But just like either of these skills, the lifts are notoriously difficult to master, particularly due to the sport’s unique mobility and movement requirements. Without getting overly technical, just think about what it takes to stabilize a 105-kg (231-lb) bar over your head at the very bottom of a deep squat:
That’s the bottom of a snatch for you. This requires an incredible amount of stability in the shoulder, the proper congruency of bones and muscles in the complex shoulder joint, ridiculously mobile hips, and a stable core, just to name a few things. And that’s not even including the fact that in order to finish the movement and have it “count” in competition, she now has to stand up from this position with the bar still over her head!
In order to perform this movement, she has to have the proper balance of mobility, stability, and motor control, and she must have all this in her foundation before she can pile on the strength necessary to hoist such heavy weights in competition.
But that’s not all, how about the bottom position of a clean? Or the top of a jerk?
You get the idea.
Now let’s discuss the resting posture of our typical trainee who sits at a desk for most of the workday. Unfortunately, he is more similar to many of us regular folks than he is to a world-class weightlifter. His head is stuck in forward posture, and his back is hunched from looking down at his computer all day. Furthermore, his hips are probably tight from sitting for so long, which compromises his ability to squat below parallel.
Can you imagine what it would be like if we told this guy to snatch and clean & jerk on day one? He won’t do so well, and might even get hurt as a result. He has to acquire a foundation in mobility, stability, and motor control in order to be successful and reap the health and performance benefits of the sport.
Far too often though, these pre-requisites are side-stepped in training for the sake of false progress and increased weight on the barbell. These compensations and faulty habits can lead to setbacks and injury which stall progress in the weight room, and could make the competition platform or playing field a distant memory.
Thus, to answer out original question, I do believe that Olympic lifting could work for everyone. But people must absolutely have their pre-requisites in mobility, stability, and motor control cleared before they can even think about getting stronger and performing better.
So how do we build this foundation properly?
This is where something like the ClinicalAthlete Weightlifting Coach (CWC) certification comes in. It will elucidate everything you wanted to know as it pertains to movement, mobility, and corrective programming for the Olympic lifts, and more. The best part about this, and also why we are telling you here, is that the CWC will not only be offered for the very first time here at Halevy Life, but it will also be led by the certification’s creator, Dr. Quinn Henoch.
We are ecstatic to be partnering with Quinn on this. But why is it a big deal? Well, Quinn is not a run-of-the-mill physical therapist; he is an athlete himself, and that perspective enhances his physical therapy practice. He pursues weightlifting full time in his training, and has qualified nationally at the 77-kg weight class. Previously he played football at the Division I-AA level.
Quinn treats athletes because he understands the unique demands of training and competition. He seeks to help athletes achieve their goals rather than simply telling them “deadlifts are bad for your back,” or to “stop training so hard,” or worse: “it’s time to hang it up.”
This approach is what unifies the ClinicalAthlete community, a network of clinicians founded by Quinn Henoch. Whether they are doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors, or any other kind of healthcare provider, he has made sure that all the people in this network understand the unique needs of athletes and can provide proper treatment specific to their respective sports.
Quinn is making a name for himself, and you’ll be hearing more from him very soon. His clinical perspective on the sport of weightlifting is what makes the CWC different and ground-breaking.
As such, this certification is tailored to the clinician, coach, or fitness enthusiast who wants to learn how to build the right foundation to make Olympic weightlifting a mainstay in their own training or that of their clients. Though Quinn primarily operates out of California, now’s your chance to learn from him on the other coast—here in New York City. You’d be remiss to miss out, so we hope to see you there!
Date: Saturday, June 4th and Sunday, June 5th
Location: Halevy Life – 212 East 57th St, New York, NY, 10022
Early-bird (before May 1st): $299
Regular (after May 1st): $399
For more information and to register, please visit cwcseminar.com.
In order to maximize the hands-on learning and workshopping portion of this certification, we are capping the number of attendees at 30, so be sure to register as soon as possible.
by Jeremy Lau
Jeremy Lau is a Staff Coach at Halevy Life.
Jeremy graduated cum laude from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a BSc. in Biomedical Engineering and is currently pursuing his M.Ed. in Exercise Physiology at Columbia University. In addition to his academic accolades, Jeremy is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).
Prior to joining the team at Halevy Life, Jeremy completed a coaching internship at Cressey Sports Performance, where he coached both amateur and professional athletes, among whom were many professional MLB baseball players.
As an athlete, Jeremy has played baseball competitively for most of his life.