Updated: Mar 20
Top Reasons Why Olympic Style Weightlifting Enhances Youth Performance
Coaches and parents are constantly searching for new ways to improve their young athlete’s performance, and make their bodies more capable of handling the physical and mental stress of sports. Coaches want faster and more explosive athletes. Parents want this too, but they also want to see their young athlete live a healthy lifestyle.
Strength Training, and specifically Olympic Lifting, is an often overlooked method to achieve all the goals of coaches, parents, and players. There is a general understanding that an athlete needs to be strong, but generally little understanding of how strength leads to power and force production, and force production to speed.
The benefits of Olympic lifting are unmatched in sports and could be just the push your young athlete needs to move to the next level.
Olympic Lifting consists of two lifts, the “clean and jerk” and the “snatch”. In both lifts, the athlete must explosively extend the ankle, knee, and hip to move the bar at maximum speed. The force production, or “power in to the ground” generated during these full body movements directly translates to the field, court, and track.
This is mainly due to the fact that Olympic Lifting focuses on speed, strength, and the ability to fire multiple muscle motors at once and maintain those motors once they have been engaged. An additional benefit is the development of the “posterior chain”, or the muscles that run from the back of your ears down to your heels.
The power in Olympic Lifting is transferred from the hips through these muscles. A stronger posterior chain will lead to more explosiveness. What this will eventually do is train your muscles to engage together, rather than in isolation, and it will train them at a speed for maximum performance.
Let’s look at the benefits of Olympic lifting for young athletes through these two types of lifting techniques.
The Clean and Jerk
The clean and jerk is an Olympic style lift, which happens in two separate phases.
The clean portion involves moving the bar from the floor to the position on the chest. So, lifters will begin pulling the weight up, extending ankle, knee and hip, then dropping into a squat to power the bar up to the standing position.
This movement teaches total body speed, which is one of the many benefits of Olympic Weightlifting. The faster the bar moves, the more explosive an athlete becomes.
The jerk is the explosive movement of the bar overhead. Power is again transferred from the hips through the spine to the bar, and teaches the athlete to move and feel stable at the same time, which is a huge benefit of Olympic lifting for athletes.
The snatch is the other exercise in Olympic Weightlifting. The snatch is a more fluid exercise where the bar is taken from the floor with a wider grip, and accelerated overhead in one motion.
The same force mechanics of ankle, knee, and hip extension are in play, as well as the strengthening of the posterior chain.
The snatch takes a tremendous amount of mobility and stability through the shoulders and posterior chain as well.
2014 Junior World Champion Luis Mosquera in the video is a beast, competing at 151 lbs. He has a 48″ vertical jump and can put twice his body weight over his head in one motion.
Do you think he is fast? Do you think this guy could play any sport? You bet!
After 22 years of training athletes, the Parisi Training System has proven that improved shoulder strength and mobility will allow an athlete to generate more power from the upper body that can be transferred to the lower body, making the athlete that much faster
Olympic Weight Lifting Benefits in Youth Sports
Now that you have an understanding of what Olympic weightlifting is and what the techniques are, let’s talk about how you can transform your young athlete’s performance by looking at the holistic impact of Olympic Lifting.
Olympic Lifting trains multiple muscles to fire at once, increasing your ability to use fast twitch muscle fibers.
There are two main techniques to master in Olympic Lifting, which we already discussed.
Countless regressions and progressions will help make athletes more explosive.
The lift and snatch will develop muscles where an athlete needs them the most to compete at a high level.
Olympic lifting can make you one of the strongest and fastest athletes, pound for pound.
Work with Champions Sports Performance, who can truly teach the powerful techniques of Olympic lifting safely and effectively.
Each of these benefits can lead to a better and more rewarding athletic experience and career for any young athlete who is fortunate enough to get in to Olympic Lifting at a young age.
Is Olympic Lifting Good for Young Athletes?
A lot of people ask this question, and the simple answer is Yes!
As long as the technique is taught the right way, your young athlete will improve their speed, strength, quickness and agility in a major way.
Most sports, if not all of them, value some combination of the following five traits:
Sprinting & Speed
If an athlete can increase his or her force production, get faster, and get stronger, no coach could deny that they are creating a foundation for their young athlete to compete at a higher level.
Young athletes in particular would benefit from this style of lifting because they would develop a strong physical foundation. What’s great about Olympic Weightlifting, the skill set can be taught without limitations. Mike couldn’t have said it any better! At Champions, we make sure your young athlete is equipped with the right instructions from our certified instructors when performing Olympic style lifts.