By Bri Springer
As most of you know, I am extremely passionate about Olympic lifting. The amount of weight the human body can support is incredible. To me, watching an individual with perfect technique is absolutely beautiful. My goal as a coach is to get your comfortable and confident in your OLY lifting abilities, to help you set PRs and lift weights you never thought you could. So what are Olympic Lifts (OLY)? The OLY lifts are the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk. All require the athlete to take the bar from the ground to overhead as quickly as possible.
So why should you as a CrossFit athlete being doing OLY lifts? Taking a loaded bar from the ground to above your head has to be fast, and efficient. OLY lifts require the capacity to move large loads quickly, which is a cornerstone element of CrossFit. OLY lifts also require tremendous amounts of speed and power which are both organic and neurological skills; meaning they will improve through physical training and practice. In CrossFit’s definition of fitness there are ten general physical skills that fitness must encompass. These skills are: cardio respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, and balance. Every single skill is key to mastering an OLY lift, so if your goal is to achieve fitness you should be OLY lifting!
What about injuries? It is a common and false assumption that OLY lifts are dangerous. Olympic Weightlifting resources website claims, “Various studies were done showing Olympic Weightlifting to be the safest form of resistance training there is.” Of course, if your form is horrible and your loading the bar with way more than you can handle the movement becomes dangerous; however, that is a personal mistake, not the movement’s fault. The component of having a CrossFit coach for OLY lifts is fundamental to safety. With structure and coaching OLY lifts are safe.
How do I get better? Practice, practice, practice, and then some more practice. OLY lifts take a time and consistency to develop. The Burgner warm-up is a simple way to focus on the fundamentals of the movement (this is the warm-up I take my classes through with the PVC before doing the lift in a WOD). Strength and flexibility are the other two key focuses; because, it doesn’t matter how strong you are if your not flexible enough to sit in a deep squat your not going to be able to perform a impressive weight, similarly if you are extremely flexible but do not have the strength you won’t be hitting PR’s. To get strong take advantage of the daily strength sets, and to get more flexible focus depth in your squats, really pushing yourself during the warms ups and after class stretching.
With CrossFit and most everything in life, when you put in the hard work the accomplishments will come. They might not be right away, they might be small, but I promise you they will come! And who doesn’t love to hit a Personal Record (PR) after working their butt off? As I have said, OLY lifting requires your entire body to exert extreme amount of power very quickly, does that sound easy? No, it’s hard! The unique thing about OLY lifts is that it is a full body physical and mental workout. So when you get frustrated with the complexity of the movement don’t give up and remain positive. Keep working towards your goals and you will achieve them!
Finally, if you have any questions about OLY lifts such as ways your can get better or specific questions, that’s what your coaches are here for. Trevor, Bethany, Ally, and I are more than happy to help. Here are two videos of perfect OLY lifting form that I find inspiring, so I hope you do too!