When I was 16 years old, my softball coach said, “Page, if you want to play with the big girls, you need to get stronger and gain some weight (muscle)”. So, I got my first personal trainer and began my journey of getting stronger with the goal of playing Division 1 softball. My trainer introduced to me the 2 Olympic lifts, the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk and I quickly fell in love with them. They were and still are challenging, but to hit the lift properly is worth the challenge.
If you aren’t an athlete you might be thinking, “Why should I do this”?
Well, here’s why…
The Olympic lifts have become key exercises in many boot camp programs, largely because these lifts are especially effective for helping people lose fat and build muscle. Dr. Mike Stone published in the Canadian Journal of Applied Sport Sciences, after eight weeks the average body fat subjects decreased by six percent and the average lean body weight increased by four percent. Also, subjects, on average, lowered their resting heart rate by eight percent and decreased systolic blood pressure by four percent. Overall, performing the Olympic lifts improves overall body composition.
The Olympic lifts also can increase jumping ability, running speed, and improve flexibility. In a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Olympic lifters and powerlifters performed jump squats with a 20kg (44lb) plate and the Olympic lifters performed more reps. College football players who performed the Olympic lifts when compared to ones who didn’t ended up with faster sprint times. Personal trainers and Physical Therapist screening programs use one component of the snatch- the overhead squat-to assess dynamic and static flexibility.
Lastly, Power can be defined by the following equation:
Power = Force x Distance ÷ Time
Everything that we do in life, in and out of the gym, involves some expression of power. Whoever finishes the marathon first produces the most power. Whoever does the most squats in one minute produces more power than other who did fewer reps.
If it used to take you thirty seconds to walk up a flight of stairs, and now it only takes 15 seconds, then you are producing more power than you used to.
More than likely, you aren’t thinking about any of these as “power” activities. There is no explosive component like you would see in a sprint or a one-rep-max squat. But, no matter the activity, there is still a foundation of power.
These lifts train your body to transfer force from the ground to your fingertips as efficiently as possible.
I can’t do what you do Page….
You see videos of people doing these lifts and think, “wow, there’s no way”. Wrong. You already are doing these lifts. When you clean and press a kettlebell or snatch a dumbbell you are training the same muscles, doing the same movement and getting the same results. You are moving a weight from the floor to 6, 7 or 8 feet into the air, depending on your height, in a short period of time. The goal for training is typically to get stronger, lose body fat and