Since a while, some of the people asking me about Olympic weightlifting. As a weightlifter, I can tell you one thing: the road to success in this endeavor is quite complicated to navigate, and it involves various routes to take with some not as direct as others.
So what is the best way to start the Olympic weightlifting? The first step to learning Olympic weightlifting is to work with a proficient weightlifting coach who can help map out a lifter’s journey. A lifting coach is someone who has adequate experience, and he or she can provide you with directions that will help you along your way. Having a knowledgeable coach is still the best way to start the Olympic weightlifting because it is incredibly technical.
Not everyone may have access to a coach, which is why some lifters try to copy others’ style. However, it is not always easy and doing so raises some questions.
Are you 100% sure you’re doing it correctly? Are you certain that the style they have developed and adopted for several years — and may be unique to them — is the right one for you?
Why Having a Lifting Coach is Critical
It is often not an option for many newbies in weightlifting because of the lack of coaches and gyms that focus on it. The solution for them is to watch videos of elite lifters and mimic their methods.
It is also possible to go online and look for a reputable coach who is willing to find the right technique for you. The coach will also assist with lifting programs remotely.
Injuries are common with Olympic weightlifting, especially among the beginners. A good coach can help the lifter get through those hindrances, as well as for people who may have or signed up for a competition.
Many fitness sectors, including sports performance and CrossFit, have started to include Olympic lifting in their programming. As a result, numerous instructional videos can be found online.
Unless you are an experienced and highly skilled athlete, it is not possible to perform the movements correctly even if you devote your time to learning from those videos.
Even the most accomplished athletes of today have a coach who works with them under a watchful eye. Do yourself a favor and hire a dependable Olympic weightlifting coach.
As you train, you will realize that nothing can replace the benefits of working with a knowledgeable professional. If you do not know how to pick the right coach, here are some pointers on what to look for:
The best way to start Olympic weightlifting is to have the right coach, which means you have to evaluate his or her abilities with the coach’s competitive record.
The next important step is to talk to the athletes the coach worked with in the past — and the present as well. You will find out what they think about him or her and whether or not they are happy with their experiences.
Weightlifting coaches do not need licenses in the United States but the organization USA Weightlifting has a certifying body. Make sure that you go for a coach that holds some accreditation.
It is not required, but an exercise science degree can be quite helpful. Related fields, such as biology, physiology, anatomy, and biomechanics would assure you that the coach has a solid formal foundation for his knowledge base in weightlifting.
Teaching how to lift when the coach is already knowledgeable will no longer be a challenge for him or her. However, the process does require the ability to teach.
The proof lies in the performance of the lifting team as they compete. If they all exhibit exceptional or at least sound technique, then they were coached to perform that way — and it is the best indicator.
The Benefits of Olympic Weightlifting:
If you’re still not doing Olympic lifting consistently, it’s time to add it to your program right now. The top reason involves its athletic benefits, which are second to none.
You can identify the requirements of being an excellent athlete, and Olympic lifting has got it all covered from strength to speed to power — you name it, Olympic weightlifting can be the path toward achieving it.
It was in the 1950s when Olympic lifts were introduced to athletes. Since then, pro-strength coaches, along with high school and collegiate trainers, have realized that Olympic lifters can succeed on the court or the field.
Here are other reasons why you should incorporate Olympic weightlifting into your training routine:
Development of Type II Muscle Fibers
There are various kinds of muscle fibers in our bodies, including small, large, aerobic, anaerobic, slow twitch, and fast twitch. The most massive muscles in our body are the fast twitch muscle fibers.
The quickest method in improving performance while gaining size is to recruit our fast twitch muscle fibers preferentially. It is easy to achieve with Olympic lifts since this type of lifting requires you to move speedily and lift heavy loads.
The combination when performed regularly can improve the development of type II or fast twitch muscle fibers.
Better Recruitment of the Motor Unit
What drives our muscular activities? The answer to this question is the motor unit, which consists of a motor neuron, along with every muscle fiber it connects to. The body is programmed to recruit motor units that apply to a specific action. For many activities, the body employs several smaller motor units.
On the other hand, movements that require enormous amounts of force done at fast speeds need substantial motor units. In this case, Olympic lifts easily fit into the criteria. It requires high strength, along with high velocity. Therefore, those large motor neurons, which are generally difficult to recruit, get trained.
Improved Sprint Speed, Agility, and Vertical Jump Height
Olympic lifting can result in you becoming a better athlete overall. Most weightlifters that I know, including myself have improved their sprint speed, agility, and vertical jump measures after training consistently and explosively.
Learning the Weightlifting Moves
Perhaps now I have convinced you to begin your journey with Olympic lifts. You are most definitely asking, “What’s the best way to start Olympic weightlifting?” As mentioned, you need a coach to get you through the process. The next step now is to learn the moves.
It takes a ton of time to master Olympic lifting — even a lifetime for most people. However, learning and making it a part of your fitness program can take much less time. The sport is made of two lifts:
The snatch: You will have to lift the barbell off the floor and have it above your head in just one movement
The clean and jerk: You will need to raise the barbell from the floor first and have it to your shoulders, which is the clean part. The next step is to do the jerk, which is to move the barbell from your shoulders to above your head.
Once you learn how to move correctly, it will be easy to execute the few other steps involved. Here’s your blueprint:
- Begin With a Combo
You can start with the combination of a power clean and front squats, which will help you perform the Olympic lifts in no time. Hang power clean is a good start. When you are ready, you can progress to the floor.
After completing each lift, you should work on accomplishing a full front squat. The combination will increase your proficiency level every time you perform a lift. Also, it adds some volume to your program.
- Get Used to the Broader Snatch Grip
As much as possible, use a snatch grip deadlift, which can become easier the more you incorporate, the wider grip to your program. Try to drop you’re your hips when you start.
Then, keep your chest up as you lift the bar to your body. It is a deadlift variation, which you can apply to your last move along with your Olympic lifts.
- Establish Your Movement Base
Many lifters go heavy and rush things to see progress. However, it is crucial to building your strength first through learning the position, speed, engagement, and technique. It’s never a good idea to avoid the heavy squats, pulls, and presses, which are the foundations of becoming stronger.
- Aim to Be Strong No Matter What the Position
Strength is vital to weightlifting, which is a strength sport. In short, you have to become incredibly strong so that you will be successful in it.
However, the strength you have is not just about how much you can deadlift, press, or squat. You should also be strong and confident with all the critical positions of Olympic weightlifting.
- Squat Correctly
One mistake that I consistently see with novice lifters is that they do low-bar squats, which allows more natural movement of weight in shorter motion ranges. However, you don’t have to go too deep and vertical. It is a weak squatting position, and you will most likely crumble.
Lift according to the goals you have set and align your squats with them. Overhead, front, and back squat stances should never be different from one another; otherwise, it will impair your consistency.
From my experience, I recommend doing squat at least two times weekly. It is also essential that they squat with the barbells high on their backs.
- Have a Good Rhythm
Another error that many novices commit is not knowing when to push and pull correctly. Typically, they would pick up the bar from the ground too quickly, which is wrong.
Here is a technique that I can teach you. The first pull should be your legs pushing as you lift the bar. It should be in a position where you can pull with ease effectively. Learning this tactic takes a lot of time and practice, but it will help you become a better lifter.
Try to imagine as if the ground is a trampoline where you have to push the floor away with your feet as you use the barbell.
- Focus on Training
You can have the proper stance and the technique, but if you don’t consistently train, all that hard work will go down the drain. It is helpful to have clear goals, which you should accomplish within a specific timeframe.
Work with your coach and make sure you verbalize your weightlifting objectives so it will be easier to create a training program that tackles what you want to accomplish.
Olimpic Weightlifting Essential Gear
Aside from the mentioned essential things as you recognize the best way to start Olympic weightlifting, you cannot begin the process without the right gear. Here are the essentials:
There are shoes specially designed for weightlifting, and they typically have hard, flat soles made of hard plastic. Regular shoes are often squishy, mainly when you start to lift the heavy barbell and to use them will likely result in losing 10% of the power. If you would like to buy weightlifting shoes, please check this link on Amazon.
Weightlifting shoes make it easier to squat, thanks to their elevated heel. They should also give the feet a snug fit, which is achievable with the straps.
However, if you decide not to buy weightlifting shoes, my advice is to use high-quality sports shoes and put a small disk under your heels when you are doing your weightlifting exercises.
To lift weights, you need an Olympic weightlifting bar. Choose the diameter carefully based on your requirements. For women, the competition bar is 25mm in diameter while men need 28mm.
The knurling texture is also vital, which should be fine and not sharp. It means the knurl has deeper cuts and closer spacing.
If you would like to purchase Olympic weightlifting bar, you can check this choice on Amazon.
Although these accessories are not required, you can still purchase them to make your training better for you. Some things to consider are knee or elbow sleeves (compression gear) for comfort and warmth and wrist wraps for additional support against strains. To buy them, please check this Amazon link.
Top Tips toward Achieving Success in Olympic Weightlifting
Aside from the ones mentioned above, there is still plenty to learn in becoming a successful Olympic weightlifter. Also from my weightlifting experience, some significant things should not be forgotten, including:
- Fully extend your hips to allow everything to flow. As much as possible, delay the second pull until the bar is high up your thighs. This technique helps a lot, and you will see many top-level weightlifters using this method.
- Perform more front squats than ever and do them heavier as you progress. This type of squat has many benefits, including amplifying the strength of the legs, improving the position of the body under the bar, and increasing confidence as you get under the bar.
- Before you complete your pull, you should give the weightlifting bar enough momentum as it goes upward. It allows you to have more time as you get under the bar.
You may not find it comfortable at first but keeping the bar close throughout the lift is essential. The bar should touch your thighs and your top. Those feelings may be alien to you, but that means you need to get accustomed to the bar near your body.
- Control the bar even when you are already under it. Many beginners forget to concentrate the moment they have the bar overhead, and they somehow end up losing control.
- You should view your recovery as part of the training process. It involves eating the right foods, such as lean protein, to support the growth of the muscles. At the same time, they will help in repairing those tired muscles that you may have damaged during your workout.
- Once you have understood all the points above, you should stay consistent with your technique. You should also be patient throughout the training process. Learning Olympic weightlifting doesn’t happen in one day so you should be ready to spend more time at the gym with your coach.
Olimpic Weightlifting Related Questions
- What should my diet be as a weightlifter? Your diet is pretty much similar to other athletes where you need high-quality food. Make sure you get enough protein — aim for about one gram for every pound of your body weight. Also, don’t forget to add fat and carbs moderately to your diet. The most important thing to remember is to eat based on your lifting goals. For instance, if you don’t plan to gain or lose weight, you should eat adequately to maintain your current weight while still having the needed energy for the demands of the training program.
- What supplements should I take? Before you take supplements, it is necessary that you consume high-quality food. Never take supplements to replace eating meals and snacks. That said, some supplements that athletes often take include omega-3 fatty acids (0.5 grams per 10 lbs. of the person’s weight), vitamin D (4,000 IU for healthy adults), creatine (5mg daily), and ZMA (three caps for men and two for women before bedtime).
- How many days each week should I devote solely to Olympic weightlifting? Beginners are recommended to train three times a week. Dedicate an hour for every weightlifting practice. The other days of the week can before improving strength. Meanwhile, for those who are serious with their weightlifting and are aiming to compete, a minimum of five one-hour sessions each week should be dedicated purely to lifting weights.
More answers related to weightlifting you can find here.
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