Olympic Lifts

Skill

Deadlifts 5×5 (Increase each set)

WOD

Every minute for 20 minutes complete:
10 KB Swings
5 Burpees

Rest 2 minutes, then

2 minute AMRAP of:
Double Unders

Why Olympic Lift?

-Glenn Clarke

One of the things that people love about Crossfit is the diversity of exercises that we use. Three of the integral movements are the Olympic lifts, the Snatch, the Clean and the Jerk. That being said, these movements take a long time to teach and take years to master. As such, it is important to outline why we spend a large chunk of our training time on the Olympic lifts.

The first and most cited reason for the inclusion of the Olympic lifts is to increase ‘power,’ or work over time. Compare the deadlift and clean for example. Can I deadlift more than I can clean? Absolutely, but the time it takes to deadlift is significantly longer than the time it takes to pull and catch a squat clean. As such, a clean has greater power production than a deadlift and a snatch even more so.

Additionally, the Olympic lifts are ‘full body movements.’ While the phrase tends to be ‘in vogue’ with many philosophies it basically means to take something from the floor and put it over your head. Intrinsic in this is an organized motor pattern that transfers well to sport and daily life. Few athletic endeavors are waist down or waist up. Instead, force is applied to the ground and the force is carried through the legs, through a stable mid-line and completed with the hands applying the final force to an object. The important part of this is that Olympic lifts transfer to other modalities in a way that isolation lifts don’t.

One of the lesser known benefits of performing the Olympic lifts is to train the contraction: relaxation cycle. If you think about nearly every movement in life or in sport, there is a cycle of contraction of a muscle followed by the relaxation of the muscle. Few movements exist in a state of continual contraction. The Olympic lifts train the body to contract with great force (pull) and then immediately relax (drop/ pull under the bar) before contracting with intensity (catch the bar). This difference can be measured in elite level athletes whose contractile speed is fantastic, but have developed even greater muscle relaxation speed (un-trained and non-elite athletes are faster at contracting than relaxing). As a partial side note, this is also one of the reasons why we push the squat clean and squat snatch. This cycle isn’t seen as distinctly with the power clean or snatch.

There are a number of other benefits related to Olympic lifting that are produced as a result of high performance of the Olympic lifts. These are inherent with high quality movements. Mobility, particularly in the ankles, hips and shoulders is an essential piece and will transfer to most other physical movements. Core and shoulder stability are essential for injury prevention. Also, the Olympic lifts are fun in and of themselves and provide a measure of personal pride for many people. These reasons combine to demonstrate why we feel that Olympic lifting to be an essential part of our programming as a gym, and for many of us, an important part of our individual training as well.




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