By: Michael Gibbs, NP, MSN, MBA, CSCS, RYT-200
As medical professionals and strength and conditioning coaches, we find so many perspectives on Olympic Lifting.
To start out our discussion, we will say that, in our experience, Olympic lifting can bring about some incredible enhancements to the athlete. When performed correctly, Olympic lifts can build tremendous power, speed, athleticism and mobility to the athletes. When performed incorrectly, Olympic lifts are a recipe for any number of significant injuries—especially in the shoulders, back and knees.
Let’s break the Clean and Jerk and Snatch Into their respective movement patterns.
Clean and Jerk
It should be obvious that these movements are complex and include the most effective lifts. And they are all performed very quickly. So, in order to be performed safely, these lifts must be performed by non-injured individuals with perfect technique.
Some individuals should never perform Olympic lifts. They may be able to perform partial Olympic lifts like the power clean or modifications like the dumbbell snatch.
Both the NSCA (national strength and conditioning association) and USAW (USA Weightlifting) do not recommend more than 5-6 repetitions per set. USA weightlifting suggests that 5 reps of a clean and jerk may be too many. We completely agree with these recommendations, and here is why. These lifts are incredibly complex and require perfect technique to be executed safely. When any part of the body begins to fatigue, the risk of injury increases.
We get scared when we see fitness programs perform 30 Olympic lifts for time- as this is a recipe for disaster. We also get scared when we see Olympic lifts used for metabolic conditioning as this, too, is a recipe for disaster.
Our perspective is that Olympic lifting is a great tool for strength and conditioning. But Olympic lifting is not for everyone, and it should never be used for metabolic conditioning.
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