By Brandon Renert
In recent years Olympic Weightlifting, comprising the 3 movements known as the snatch, clean and jerk, has made its way into many general fitness programs. This is in large part due to the power output required for these three movements. Power output (force x distance/Time=Power), or how much work is performed over time, is a number that can be quantified and recorded easily with Olympic Weightlifting and using this important empirical data is a must for measuring and improving fitness levels. A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research regarding power output in Weightlifting, John Garhammer writes that a “Comparison of Weightlifters across skill levels also shows higher power output as a characteristic of better performance.”***
The power benefits are just the beginning. When training the Olympic lifts athletes will also undergo remarkable improvements in strength, speed, balance, flexibility, and coordination. The ability to violently fully extend the body (ankles, knees, and hips at full extension, also known as triple extension) while lifting a heavy load requires the recruitment of a massive amount of motor neurons, in turn, developing strength. The following redirection of the body to move underneath that load of weight must be done with great speed, hence, making athletes faster. Finally, synchronizing the body with the weight, catching it overhead and standing with stability requires balance, flexibility, and coordination. Needless to say, there are no other movements used in a training regimen that encompasses the mass benefits across the human body.
The translation as a form of functional training to life outside of fitness reaches far and wide. For competitive athletes, it’s quite clear Olympic Weightlifting is mandatory for increased performance. Jumping higher, running faster, throwing further are just the start of the direct results. What is not as obvious is the translation into the everyday life at home and work. When training Weightlifting it soon becomes easier lifting a heavy box at home or work onto a shelf overhead. Pushing your child up a steep hill in a stroller is not quite as difficult. Moving a heavy object out of the way to clean behind it is now doable. It doesn’t stop there, take advantage of these movements and everything else just gets easier!
***Garhammer, John. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: A Review of Power Output Studies of Olympic and Powerlifting: Methodology, Performance, Prediction, and Evaluation Tests, 7(2), 76-89. National Strength and Conditioning Association 1993