Nowadays, due in part to the popularity of strongman, as well as crossfit and other similar training principles, more and more people are deciding to take up Olympic lifting, meaning that more and more strength and conditioning facilities and centres are appearing all over the world, and generating a very tidy profit in the process. Whilst in the past, people primarily lifted weights in order to simply look better by building muscle, in modern society, people train with function in mind rather than just aesthetics. Because of this, Olympic lifting is growing in popularity on a near daily basis, as individuals, including athletes and sportsmen and women, are realising just how beneficial and effective this form of training actually is. Strength coaches are recommending Olympic lifting, athletes are performing Olympic lifts, oh yes, and just as the name implies, Olympians and prospective Olympians, are also incorporating this type of training into their routines. In terms of popularity and efficiency, you’ll struggle to find more beneficial forms of exercise than movements such as the clean and jerk, snatches, or power cleans for example. If you’re considering trying your hand at Olympic lifting, here are a few of the main benefits associated with this form of training.
Olympic lifts are fantastic compound movements
Compound exercises are heavily praised worldwide for their ability to provide a full-body workout in one, on top of much more besides. A compound movement is basically an exercise which works several different muscle groups simultaneously, which in turn makes the exercise more beneficial as you’re getting more bang for your buck. Many regular gym lifts are actually, isolation movements, which means that they’re designed to isolate specific body parts and muscle groups, rather than work numerous ones at once. Whilst isolation movements are effective for bodybuilders who are perhaps trying to bring up lagging body parts and muscle groups, they aren’t too beneficial for individuals training with functionality in mind, I.E trying to improve their overall strength and balance. Compound movements however, are ideal because you strengthen and work several major muscle groups, including your core, which in turn will make you bigger and stronger all around.
Olympic lifts increase power
Power, which is measured by force x distance divided by time, is basically how an individual is able to display and utilize explosive strength quickly. There are many reasons to consider increasing your power output, and whatever your reasons, Olympic lifts have been proven time and time again to help an individual do just that. Take a look at powerlifting and strongman for example. The primary lifts in these categories are squats, bench, and deadlifts, and whilst they are indeed beneficial and very effective in regards to increasing strength and power, studies have in fact revealed that the power outputs of Olympic lifting exercises are much greater than the aforementioned examples. Athletes such as American football players, who rely heavily on explosive power to help them perform short bursts of speed, will often incorporate Olympic lifting into their training routines as it helps recruit more fast twitch muscle fibres, which in turn, are what are required for generating explosive power in the first place.
They help boost sprinting speeds
As previously mentioned, athletes in a number of different sports are now incorporating Olympic lifting into their training routines, for several reasons. One of which is the fact that it has been proven to help increase sprinting speed. Numerous studies have revealed that sprinters and football players, who regularly incorporate Olympic lifts into their training regimes, are able to generate much more explosive power required to initiate sprinting, meaning that their overall sprint times will be greatly improved as a result. This is mainly down to what is known as starting strength. Starting strength is defined as the ability for an individual to be able to find the capacity to initiate movement whilst overcoming resistance in the process.
Generally when people think of bodybuilders and weightlifters, they don’t consider them to be the healthiest group of individuals, and in fact, many bodybuilder’s cardiovascular conditioning leaves a lot to be desired. However, as far as Olympic weight lifting goes, experts have actually found that there are many cardiovascular benefits associated with this form of training. The main reason for this is, believe it or not, all down to how far the bar is pressed/pushed during each movement. In bodybuilding for example, if you were curling a barbell, it may only actually travel around 5 inches for each rep. With clean and jerks however, the bar travels all the way from the floor, to above a person’s head – several feet instead of inches. To perform this exercise, numerous muscle groups are recruited, and more exertion is therefore used. Put simply, your body works much harder the further it has to move the bar, which is why Olympic weight lifters also have fantastic cardio conditioning, as well as impressive overall strength and physiques in the process.
Increased jumping ability
Another great benefit of Olympic lifting is the fact that it has been proven to help increase a person’s jumping ability when compared with other forms of weight and resistance training. Studies have consistently found that when compared with standard power lifts, individuals who performed Olympic lifts showed considerably more impressive countermovement jumps. Olympic lifting has also been found to significantly improve a person’s vertical jump, particularly from a stationary position. This is again due to the fact that Olympic lifting recruits more type 2 muscle fibres, which is responsible for generating explosive speed and power.