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.