Wednesday, May 11, 2011

We Don't Do Olympic Lifts: Part 1

I've said it before and I'll say it again. We do NOT do olympic lifting. This is not to 'try' and be different or to create some kind of separation from other coaches. I simply feel that the affect produced by the movement is not worth the process/learning curve and that there are other movements and lifts that do a better job and have a faster learning curve.

Simply put the juice is not worth the squeeze.
And neither was she in that movie....just sayin.

Just to be clear and for those that are not familiar w/ the olympic lifting game. I'm referring to barbell:

Just as a side note:
I realize just how ludicrous it seems to hear and how quickly this post will be dismissed by many but after years of arguing w/ myself this is the conclusion that I have come to. I'm willing to bet that a lot of people will be surprised in a couple years when enough studies have been done that come to the same conclusions as I have, mark the date it's Wednesday, May 11, 2011. I'm sure they'll be able to convey a much more scientifically based message as well.

If you are unwilling to give up your clean that's fine, it's your program but I at least hope that:

A) you can keep an open mind throughout this post and
B) I hope your not a coach/trainer/person that emphasizes the 'shrug' while teaching/doing cleans, that is not what the lift is about.

Sure the clean is great. And the process for teaching it can be great as well. Everyone knows it:
1. Teach kids how to hang pull quick w/ stiff arms
2. Teach a high pull from hang clean position
3. Teach hang clean
4. Teach power clean

This is a hang clean, much like a power clean you just don't take it all the way to the floor and it's extremely technical. Your main pull is only about 5"-8" and momentum should carry it the top. I also don't like messing w/ the wrist in/flexibility.

But this process takes an entire month. My athletes don't have an entire month, and neither do I. I consider myself a very patient person, but I hate waiting on things (and I realize how much that might not make sense at first). But an entire month to get a lift?

Mainly I don't feel the "product" of a clean and snatch are all that great.

Yeah they're post chain dominant, triple extension, explosive movements but the affect we get from them is not enough to program them above other exercises. I'd rather get my athletes going on swings and trap bar deadlifts and do it the first day. I feel like they get a better training affect, can control and feel through the motion better, and athletes pick both up extremely fast, I'll go into more detail about this later.

A closer look at Snatches (not a joke)
Now the reason I or my athletes don't do barbell snatches is a different deal. To me it seems that if you'd like a shoulder impingement then snatches would be a good decision.

This idea started back in the summer of 2005. Before attending Wartburg I'd not done many snatches. After one season of Wartburg football workouts I'd done hundreds. We always dropped the weight from the top, which was a first for me, but when I lifted back at my high school over break I couldn't drop the weight and had to catch it. I don't know if I remember feeling my shoulders wrench like that in my life. I wrestled, pitched, have had one dislocation and two third degree AC seperations, and both shoulders were doing it w/ each catch.

Fast fwd one summer during my internship w/ Coach Matt McGettigan (of which I'm extremely thankful for this guy he's an incredible coach and I would suggest working under him even if just for a short time). I asked Coach McGettigan why he didn't have his athletes doing snatches, I mean we did them at Wartburg all the time. He said, "If you like shoulder impingements." And it makes sense, on the way down you're catching the weight w/ your shoulder in it's most vulnerable position and you have X lbs on the bar. Looks bad to me. Same reason I speak against upright rows.

Can you imagine catching this on it's way down?

Getting into the Jerk
We also did tons of jerks at Wartburg. I don't really feel like I should need to explain this to anyone, b/c it seems so obvious. But basically this movement really doesn't have much carry over to the field, mat, court or track. If you're a powerlifter or olympic lifter then great, you gotta do them. It's like a basketball player shooting hoops, of course it doesn't aid his/her athleticism but it definitely makes them better at their sport.

This is a clean and jerk. Obviously this guy is an olympic lifter and that's his thing so of course he should do it. But my athletes aren't going for a one rep max jerk. So we do things differently.

Outside of actual olympic lifting competition I'd say the jerk is not much more than a core exercise. But it'd be a very good core exercise. Holding that much weight above your head, you'd be bracing and stabilizing like crazy. But the jerk doesn't really take us through any range of motion.

So there's my reasoning for why my athletes don't do olympic lifting. Mainly b/c they're high school athletes playing multiple sports like football, wrestling, baseball, volleyball, etc. This requires them to move in multiple planes, and they're programming needs to reflect those needs, of which olympic lifts don't fit w/ as well as other lifts and movements.

I do use some variations of olympic lifts which I'll go over in Part 2.

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