How to progress at Olympic lifting

Olympic weightlifting is not something people naturally pick up and find great success at on a regular basis.

As an active weightlifter (active in the sense that I enjoy weightlifting 3-4 times a week) and run my own barbell club, I have seen and been guilty of my fair share of do’s and don’ts of weightlifting.

Therefore, in this article, we will go through a few points; things you can start doing to get better at weightlifting (beginners) and progress into more advanced stages of development.

  1. Squat with purpose. 

Weightlifting places a high demand upon an athlete’s maximal strength, which I can argue is built by the squat. Which is exactly why weightlifters prioritise squats. However, many lifters squat for the sake of squatting or because it’s in the class program which leads to squatting without purpose.

Which in turn allows bad mechanics to the squat. For example, a less vertical torso, hips shooting up out of bottom almost so that they are doing a good morning or whatever it takes to move more weight.

Squatting in weightlifting is used to increase your snatch and clean – as it is the ultimate strength movement to build a stronger, more forceful base. So get squatting with the purpose of building a strong base. 

  1. Don’t lift too heavy

Most beginner and intermediate lifters may find themselves training too heavy (percentages close to their one rep max) too often, which can negatively impact technique leading to bad bar path and eventually technique. 

Most athletes should spend the majority of their training in the 70-85%  range for most snatches, cleans, and jerk variations. Don’t get me wrong, lifts over 85+% should also be put into the program but only to prepare the lifters for heavier lifts as well as to assess if the lifter can maintain technique at higher percentages.

  1. Learn to develop tension 

Learning to develop maximal tension, aggressiveness, and balance on a loaded barbell is the most important in the setup, the pull, and receiving of the barbell (in the snatch, clean, and or jerk). Too often lifters fail to create tension, often resulting in unbalance pulls and set ups that can set you up for failing the entire lift. The best way to fix this, other than seeking out a qualified coach, is to become highly aware of your set ups, receiving positions, control throughout your lifts and strength/accessories.

  1. Train as often as possible. 

One of the best ways to get better at snatching (as well as cleaning and jerking) is to simply do it more often. Now, this doesn’t mean more bad reps with bad technique (as that will actually make you worse and only worse), but rather that once you have addressed faults and established correct movements and technique, performing the movements more frequent (daily versus a lot of reps in one day) will allow your nervous system to adapt and learn more effectively.

  1. Vary your intensities 

Vary it.

Varying training intensities on a daily basis will allow you to train more frequently, address specific faults, and fully develop a balanced, healthy lifter. By doing some days at 70-75% of max for technique and speed, and other days at slightly higher intensities (75-85%) for strength speed and power, you are better able to address all the critical components of weightlifting.

  1. Join a barbell club/follow a program

Having a trained eye (either in person or training) can do wonders for your technique, mental preparation, and programming, all of which are vital to long term success.

Having a set program with progressions, regressions, loading schemes, and methodical tracking and analysis (done by the coach) will make a drastic difference in your ability to progress over the course of the next months and years.

  1. Record your lifts

Contrary to what some may believe, recording your videos is not a vain or superficial thing to do as a weightlifter. Documenting your lifts on your social media, phone, can be a very helpful training tool. Getting feedback by qualified coaches, visualising your faults and the specific corrections, and tracking the progress (or lack thereof) can help guide you along your journey.

Get involved in my Barbell Class every Sunday 6pm, Tuesday 6pm and Wednesday 6:30am. Drop me a mail now on MB@innerfight.com

By; Minhal Bhojani, Performance Coach

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