I had an awesome workout this morning.
Exclusively olympic lifting. That’s it. Lots of sitting around, allowing my body to fully recover between each set. Quite a change from my usual “go-go-go” fat burning workouts.
Olympic lifts are mainly used to develop full body power. They can also be used as a tool for burning fat, but my focus today was on lifting weight explosively and allowing plenty of recovery time.
If you train for power, you need your body to be 100% fresh for each rep and set. If you are fatigued when you attempt to lift, you will be training your body to become slower.
When training for sports, the name of the game is power. Being able to move yourself (or a weight) as fast as possible over a certain distance is what separates the best athletes from everyone else.
But if you’ve never done any form of powerlifting before, then that’s ok. It takes months and even years of building proper technique and a good foundation of strength, stability, and flexibility.
Even within the strength & conditioning field there is some controversy as to whether Olympic lifts are useful for athletes. Since the body adapts so specifically to how it is trained, many experts argue that athletes are better off spending their time doing movement-specific plyometrics to build power.
I agree to a certain degree but I also know how much stronger and powerful me and my athletes feel when we use explosive lifting exercises like high pulls, cleans, and snatches.
In today’s workout, I ran for 5 minutes to warm-up, then I did about 10 minutes of “movement prep” or dynamic exercises to get my muscles used to the ranges of motion of movement patterns I was about to execute.
After all, you can’t go from running to throwing around heavy weights. That’s a surefire way to injure yourself.
I followed my warm-up with the following sequence of lifts:
High Pulls – 4 sets x 6 RM (2-3 minutes rest between sets)
Cleans – 6 sets x 5 RM (3-4 minutes rest between sets)
However, I did these lifts a bit differently. In fact, I was testing them out as prospective exercises for the upcoming off-season training for U of T soccer.
I did these lifts in a sumo squat position while holding the bar more narrowly (ie. inside my legs). The reason for doing this is that in soccer, groin and upper hamstring injuries are far too common. Most of the time they are caused by poor flexibility and poor strength and the end ranges of motion in many movements.
Thus, performing these explosive lifts in a position that naturally recruits the groins and hamstrings more effectively is one way of improving the resiliency and performance of these muscles.
One thing is for sure – as I write this my legs feel like solid steel. I feel that they have the strength and power to out jump a horse!
Whether or not you want to use Olympic lifts in your program is your call but they’ll always have a place in my training regime. I’ll be sure to create some videos in the future to show you how to do them properly.