Thanks to its prevalence in many CrossFit gyms, Olympic weightlifting has grown in popularity in recent years. And not just among people looking to compete professionally – many people are learning about the benefits of Olympic weightlifting and incorporate it into their fitness training.
So what is Olympic weightlifting and why do I love banging on about it so much?
What is Olympic lifting?
In Olympic weightlifting, athletes attempt to lift a weighted barbell. The goal is to lift their maximum weight using quick, explosive movements. In competitions, athletes must complete two lifts: the snatch and the clean and jerk.
The snatch is a single movement with a wide grip.
The clean and jerk requires two movements and a narrower grip on the barbell.
Both lifts require rapid speed, which is what sets Olympic lifting apart from other types of weightlifting.
The sport has origins in ancient Greece and China and was one of the 7 sports included in the first modern Olympic games, held in Athens held in 1896.
What are the benefits of Olympic weightlifting?
1. Works your whole body
Olympic lifts are great all-round exercises, working your shoulders, arms, back, legs and core. The lifts involve familiar weight training exercises such as the deadlift, front squat and shoulder press, combining them into powerful and explosive movements. When you practise these lifts, you benefit from a full-body workout because you’re engaging all your muscle groups.
2. Improves coordination
Because the lifts use multiple muscle groups, the moves are technical and take time to master. These full-body movements require concentration and control, improving your coordination and body awareness, as well as enhancing your motor skills. Better coordination is beneficial for sports and physical activities, but it also helps in day-to-day life.
Olympic lifts offer so much more than exercises involving free-weight lifting.
3. Enhances mobility and speed
Another benefit of Olympic weightlifting is that it improves your mobility and speed. When you execute Olympic lifts, you use a greater range of motion than many other weight-based exercises and strength sports. Even incorporating Olympic lifts into other types of training can help you improve power, mobility and speed. Did you know professional lifters are among the most flexible athletes who compete in the Olympics?
4. It’s inclusive
Don’t be put off by stereotypes of weightlifters. Olympic lifting is suitable for most people,
whether you’re a newbie at the gym or you’ve been training for years. Whatever your age, size or gender, you can get involved – even kids can do it!
5. It’s fun
Many people take one look at the explosive lifts and assume they can’t do them. But pretty much everyone who comes to our Olympic weightlifting sessions enjoys it and wants to keep improving on their personal bests. It tests your strength, builds focus and makes you eager to keep beating your own records. Even if you don’t want to train competitively, Olympic weightlifting adds an element of fun to your training.
6. It’s an Olympic sport
If you are competitive and enjoy lifting, why not take it to the next level? After all, it’s an official Olympic sport and weightlifting competitions are held every year in the UK for male and female athletes.
So if you want to get stronger, improve your body composition or enhance your performance as an athlete, Olympic lifting is the sport for you!