In DIAKADI's recent Trainer Knowledge Sharing on Olympic Lifting, trainers Allan Mateo and Ross Steiner got together to give participants an excellent and thorough lecture-demonstration about Olympic Lifting, leaving lots of time for us to practice the lifts and their components.
Allan and Ross both coach sports teams in this style of lifting in addition to their work with individual clients at DIAKADI. Allan is himself a competitive Olympic weightlifter, and Ross is the strength coach for the Mission High football team, using the lifts to improve their athletic performance. Allan and Ross each have different approach to training in this method, and taking their differences as a positive thing, work together to help athletes learn to lift well and achieve similar goals.
So what exactly is Olympic Lifting? It is an athletic discipline for which there are competitions, including an Olympic event, in which athletes compete for a single maximum-weight lift of a barbell loaded with weight plates. Two lifts are required: the snatch and the clean and jerk. Both require coordination, explosive power of the legs, speed to quickly get under the bar, and core stability.
In the snatch, the lifter works to move the barbell from the platform to overhead in a continuous movement. The lifter pulls the bar as high as possible and then flips it, while simultaneously dropping into a squat position and locking the arms overhead. Finally, the lifter stands up while holding the bar in this position to complete the lift.
Watch the snatch in slow motion and check out Team USA’s Olympic coaching tips on YouTube:
In the clean and jerk, the first part of the lift is similar to the snatch, but what sets the clean apart is the lifter flips the elbows under the bar and catches it in the rack position after pulling it as high as possible. After arriving in a deep squat, the lifter stands up, continuing to hold the bar in the rack position. Finally, the lift is completed by jumping into a split squat while taking the bar again overhead, extending the arms into a locked position
Watch the clean and jerk being performed by an Olympic athlete here:
And read DIAKADI’s exclusive interview with the coaches here:
What first got you into Olympic lifting? What do you like about it?
A: A couple of friends got me into it. I like both the complexity and explosiveness of the movement.
R: I first got into Olympic lifting via one of Jim Schmitz's books, Olympic Style Weightlifting. Then I went on to take private coaching from him. What I like about it is how much technique, strength, power and gracefulness is required to complete each lift.
What is the difference between Olympic lifting and other types of lifting?
A: Well, the exercise(s) are what strength coaches would consider to be complex movement patterns that require a certain level of attention to detail and proper coaching.
R: Olympic weightlifting is the combined weight total of two different lifts, the snatch and clean and jerk. Powerlifting is the combined total of the Squat Bench Press and Deadlift. Many people confuse the two and ask me if I could teach them how to powerlift. Two different sports.
What are the benefits of this type of training? Which populations benefit most?
A: As I said earlier both the snatch and clean & jerk are complex movement patterns, with that said, if you want to improve strength, power, build muscle, or improve your anaerobic conditioning; then these exercises are for you!
R: There're many benefits from Olympic style weightlifting, from all around improved strength, flexibility, body composition, balance and coordination.
My favorite thing about weightlifting is the marked improvement on power output for my athletes. Most populations can benefit from some variation of Olympic style weightlifting but my preferred demographic is athletes looking to improve maximum power output.
To people without experience in these lifts, this style of lifting can seem intimidating. Do you think components of these lifts are useful for clients seeking general fitness? If so, how would you incorporate them into a program?
A: Yes! You can totally do complementary exercises that pertain to the Olympic lifts i.e. front squat, deadlift, and high pulls. However, before adding them in, the coach or trainer should familiarize themselves with the exercises, and ensure that the proper technique is adhered to.
R: Weightlifting can be intimidating but the general population can benefit from learning components of the lifts. My approach is to teach the power clean first, which is a great lift to teach the fundamentals of the full clean.
I would like to learn more. What are some good resources (websites, books, or local clubs) you'd recommend?
A: The NSCA CSCS book explains the technique very well with words and photos, but it's best to seek out a certified coach (NSCA-CSCS or USAW) to get practical experience you need to do the lifts safely and effectively.
About Allan and Ross:
Ross Steiner is a certified United States Weightlifting Association (USAW) club coach (Olympic style weightlifting), a BFS certified strength and conditioning coach, and is also the strength and conditioning coach for the football team at Mission High. Allan Mateo participates in Olympic Weightlifting competitions and is also a USAW Sports Performance Coach. See their full bios at: