What is weightlifting?
Olympic weightlifting is the only discipline of strength sports (sports specifically testing how much weight a person can move) that is competed in the Olympic Games. It has evolved over time, starting with five competition lifts, but now consists of only two. The first lift, the snatch, requires the lifter to bring the barbell from the floor to overhead in one movement. The clean and jerk is actually two separate lifts, with the clean bringing the bar from the floor to the shoulders, and the jerk moving the bar from the shoulders to overhead. Both must be successful for the lift to count.
Check out this video of a world record snatch by Lu Xiaojun: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kw_j6vrRQaY
Here’s a video of a Lydia Valentin with a great clean and jerk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQncxXAlBFE
How is weightlifting different from powerlifting, bodybuilding and general strength training?
Powerlifting, contrary to its name, actually has very little to do with power production. Rather, it focuses only on the total amount of force a person can produce and how much weight they can lift in three exercises: back squat, deadlift and bench press. Though this is a much different competitive strength sport, there are many shared training principles and exercises, and a number of people will switch between sports.
Strength training for general fitness often includes a little bit of all of these. With the correct programming and utilization of aspects from each of these sports, gains in strength, muscle definition and weight loss are all products of strength training.
Why is weightlifting for everyone?
General fitness- As we age, two of the things that diminish the most are our speed of movement and our mobility. We stop jumping, running, and sometimes moving in general, and we push stretching to the bottom of our to-do list. The Olympic lifts help people looking for general fitness to increase their power output and speed of movement, while also regaining lost flexibility. Weightlifting also provides a new and constant challenge for those looking for something new.
Athletes– Explosiveness and strength. Coordination and stability. All of these are benefits that any athlete can gain by training the Olympic lifts and their variations.
Kids– A popular belief is that kids and young athletes should not participate in strength training or strength sports because it’s unsafe and can hinder their development. A well-informed and educated coach implementing a well-written program can be extremely beneficial in the development of motor patterns, coordination, speed, strength, and overall mindset of young athletes. Focusing a youth’s training on technique and enjoyment of the sport or training, rather than on the weight being moved, leads to successful (and safe) participation in strength sports.
What’s with the shoes?
Weightlifting shoes have been around for a very long time. No, they are not Crossfit shoes, and no, they were not created for Crossfit. Weightlifting shoes first and foremost have a very flat sole and little cushion below the foot to create stability. Secondly, weightlifting shoes have a lifted heel. Some heels can be more aggressive than others, up to 0.75 inches. This lift in the heel allows for a greater range of motion in the receiving position (bottom squat position) of the snatch or clean, requiring less mobility of the ankle joint, but still providing an even weight distribution through the whole foot.
If you have more questions about Olympic weightlifting you’d like me to answer, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or come find me around Performance Health and Fitness! Interested in Olympic Lifting? I offer two programs at Performance. Click for details.