The Other Side Of Olympic Lifting

I never imagined that one day I will be writing about Olympic Lifting ( OL ) exercises, let alone the benefits of the OL exercises.

I have always looked at OL as a tough sport with its muscle pumped athletes, its heavy lifts, snatches, cleans, jerks, overhead holds and throws of huge weighted bars shaking the grounds and our hearts along the way, with their heavy impact and bouncing; not to mention the change of expression on the Oly lifters faces. From the second they lift the bar, their face turns pink then red then purple , their veins popping out almost exploding, their eyes turning into blood and tears rushing out as if they are scared to stay in and around all of that chaos. The lifters, holding that bar above their heads and holding and holding, one more second, one more second, praying it doesn’t crash them so they would break a record. All that is very exciting to watch, not without painful expressions on our faces though.
I bend in respect for their power and strength but watching them I would not want to be an Olympic Lifter.

Back in the old days of weight lifting, the weight plates used to be all of the same color, Black. With time, as if to attract more people, the plates colors became more joyful. Now they range from yellow to red, blue and green depending on the weight, with Black still being the father of all plates. True that these days, with the introduction of the colored plates into the game, it’s less miserable watching the OL , their reflection on the athlete’s face gives it more life than darkness but still with the attempt at making it more joyful, OL is still OL. Although I enjoy watching it, I still regarded it as a no-come-close sport for me.

All of the above is true to OL , the bulking, the toughness, the aggressive power, the pain, the darkness … but that is what we ONLY see of OL because what I discovered with my first hand experience here at the Oly lifts classes and seminar is the other side of OL and it is surprisingly great.

There are only 3 fundamental movements to the OL. The Snatch and The Clean and The Jerk. All 3 movements are performed by lifting a barbel up above the head or to shoulders level while performing a deep squat.

The Snatch: the bar is lifted straight above the head, locked arms.
The Clean: the bar is lifted to shoulders level, making the front shoulders and upper torso a rack for it to rest on.
The Jerk: the bar is lifted from a Clean position up above the head. The Jerk can be performed with a squat or a split squat ( which is a lunge) .

After my first OL training, the flexibility and the agility I felt in my shoulders blew me away and I had only used a PVC pipe ( small light plastic stick like a broomstick thing ) so nothing heavy or anything, I only used the 15 lbs bar at the end of the training. I was totally surprised of how I felt, walking out of the gym that day. Although I was tired, from only training with a plastic stick by the way, I felt my back was straightening up on its own and my shoulders were just so free and I felt great!!!! All 3 exercises worked out my whole body. Legs, quads and hams, butt, shoulders, back, upper and lower, abs and chest. Amazing!!

After just my second training, I realized that OL exercises not only develop strength, speed and power, they also develop physical skills like balance, accuracy, coordination and agility. In just one exercise, I was using almost every muscle in my body to lift even the lightest weight. Every muscle! Even my toes were giggling off the ground to let the heels take the load.

In order to use every muscle, have strong control over the bar and perform the exercise properly it is crucial to have balance, coordination, accuracy, agility and speed but nothing to worry about there because a lack in one or more of these skills is not a big deal as just by practicing the exercises themselves those physical skills will develop unconsciously.

My discovery here is that OL is not a ” run away from me sport” but it is rather like any other sport, I can make it as heavy or as light as I wish to get the best of the workout depending on what my goals are.

Just like most of you, I always thought Olympic Lifting is for bodybuilders. Today, having lived and experienced the other side of Olympic Lifting, I am very excited about all the benefits I discovered and experienced with the trainings and Seminars I have done over the past weeks.

I am so looking forward to practice them, teach them and help more and more people enjoy the benefits of Olympic Lifting.