The importance of Olympic weightlifting for the “Sport of Fitness”
3) Technique & Loading:
This is the max snatch event from the 2009 Games. The only thing I can imagine that’s more embarrassing than this video would be walking in on your parents having sex and being forced to stand there—eyes wide open—for 3 minutes and 46 seconds. Considering that our sport is now full of national caliber lifters, this video is even more shocking. To imagine that these are the top women in 2009, less than four years ago, is mind-boggling.
Here are some numbers to drive the point home:
-Among the top ten women at the 2009 Games, the average snatch was 120#.
-Among the top ten women from the 2012 Games the average snatch is 163.6#.
Here’s one that I had to do the math on at least eight times to believe…
-The average snatch of the 69kg women at the 2012 American Open was 161.6#.
This is notoriously the most competitive weight class in American women’s weightlifting, and 69kg (151.8#) is actually more than 8 pounds heavier than the 143.1 pound average weight of the Games 2012 top ten. (You should probably ruminate on the numbers for a second.)
Let’s hear from Mr. Dreschler again:
The mere practice of the Olympic lifts teaches an athlete how to apply large amounts of force.
We have, at times, been criticized for sticking to a lifting template throughout the season. The criticism apparently is that this much lifting will detract from the development of other skills. The reality is that the lifting we do is a developer of overall athleticism, which carries over to all of the skills of our greater sport. Ryan Sunshine has a 240# snatch @ 20 years-old—he just maxed out at 24 unbroken muscle-ups. Spencer Arnold has an American Open podium—he also has 24 unbroken muscle-ups. Camille Leblanc-Bazinet has a nearly double-bodyweight clean & jerk—she has…well, here:
What do we see in this video? Violent hip extension. She keeps the arms long and loose until the power is transferred vertically. Incredible speed and turnover with the elbows. What does all that sound like to you? I’m not trying to argue that if you can’t snatch, you can’t do muscle-ups, but—if adequate time is taken to develop both disciplines—it will never hurt.
We program, practice the technique of, and generally revere the lifts for the overall kinesthetic development they provide our athletes. Kinesthetic awareness is paramount in a sport that rewards efficiency over brute effort. We believe that even the accessory lifts have massive carryover for our athletes. Our best front squatters—who generally have the biggest cleans—have the easiest time with tasks such as wall ball and thrusters. These are things that can be developed by simple repetition, but if the practice of the lifts, and their accessories, can help develop them with less toil, then we have an obvious elixir that can improve athletes in a multifaceted and expedient manner.
Learning the technical aspects of weightlifting is not a one size fits all for athletes. Bob Takano writes:
My experience has been that teaching the snatch and clean & jerk to high-level gymnasts, divers and dancers is a piece of cake. I’ve done it with a couple of these types of athletes in about a half an hour… People lacking in motor learning skills, and that have never done anything to improve their kinesthesia are going to need a lot of coaching and a long time to learn the lifts, if they can learn them at all. June 11th article “How Much Time Does it Take To Learn Technique?“
Former athletes, especially from “body control” sports, will have an easier time adapting to the lifts. Athletes or people in general who have done less to “improve their kinesthesia,” as Mr. Takano writes, will have a much harder time. This, however, does not mean that the improvements and adaptations gained from this learning will not have just as much, if not more, carryover for those who have less general body awareness. In fact, I would challenge those of you who have a “high motor” to take the time to fully delve into the learning and perfection of the lifts. Motor is always easier to develop than skill, and once the skill is attained, the motor is just a few grueling weeks from being right back where it was (and likely much improved). The caveat? If you don’t ever take the time to become a barbell virtuoso, no matter how many times you do “Cindy” and “Helen,” you will still be the first person out of the snatch ladder at Regionals.
Monday – 4) Loading.
2012 Regionals Individual Event 4-
*With 1 barbell.
50 Back Squats 135/95#
30 Shoulder to Overhead 135/95#
50 Front Squats 85/65#
30 Shoulder to Overhead 85/65#
50 Overhead Squats 65/45#
30 Shoulder to Overhead 65/45#