The 2012 Summer Olympics have concluded but maybe the energy and excitement of watching the games still has you motivated to bring out the inner-athlete in you. While most of us will never achieve the elite levels of performance that our fine Olympians do, that doesn’t mean that we can’t or shouldn’t strive to be the very best that each of us CAN be. Of course, unlike Olympians, the vast majority of us also cannot put forth the kind of time, money, and complete commitment to training and living the lifestyle of an elite, world-class competitor. Nonetheless, there are many things we can do, similar to Olympic athletes, to condition ourselves for great fitness, performance and health.
Olympic style lifting is one of those things, and it’s a very strong weapon in the strength and conditioning arsenal of many Olympic athletes (especially the power-lifters obviously), pro-athletes, college athletes and many other groups seeking great athletic performance. The good news is that you don’t have to be a competitive athlete to benefit from this awesome type of exercise. General fitness and functionality will benefit tremendously from this lifting technique, if appropriately incorporated into the exercise plan. Olympic style lifting, when learned progressively and executed correctly, can positively challenge and improve full-body power, strength of all movement systems, coordination and control, stability and mobility, as well as the metabolic processes and energy efficiency. It’s one of the best training techniques to cover multiple bases at once including getting leaner, stronger and more in control of your body!
The true, classic Olympic lifts include advanced movements such as the Clean and Jerk, and the Snatch. Both of these movements require progressive practice and qualified coaching to perform correctly and safely so don’t just jump into these movements that you saw the Olympic Power-Lifters do on TV. Fortunately, the “style” of Olympic lifting can take many forms in exercise. Virtually any non-machine based, complex movement pattern such as a squat, lunge or a standing press or pull, can be performed in this style to add challenge and benefit. Many facilities also provide useful implements for this style of training such as power-lifting platforms, plyo-metric training implements and kettle-bells for example.
This approach to training is generally high-intensity, high-velocity and typically creates a full-body challenge. Therefore, you must be diligent in safely learning the component parts and the progressive training requirements to perform any such exercise. Once you have become knowledgeable and proficient with this type of training, you will then have added some incredibly powerful tools in your fitness toolbox, athlete or not! For more information on this type of training and many other athletic training topics, a great source of information can be found at Mike Boyle’s website, www.strengthcoach.com.