POWER - PERFORMANCE - PRECISION - POSTURE - PATIENCE
The 5 Principals of Olympic and Strength Training
Before we get into the 5 Principals it is important to understand why we should be considering different forms of weightlifting. More specifically, we will be looking at the benefits of Olympic weightlifting and Strength Training. Often when people push themselves to lift heavier weights, they gain a boost in confidence knowing they are getting stronger. Not only will you feel more competent in your weightlifting program, but you will also start to physically see your body change with the new muscle you have developed. This visual progress can be just as good a motivator as increasing your strength. From a cognitive perspective, weightlifting is now gaining a reputation of helping boost brain power. New boosts in strength, development in lean muscle mass, boots in brain power, and improved confidence can help people feel like they have given their body an upgrade. You may start to feel like you can do anything! Weight training has also been shown to increase metabolism, reduce body fat, help with joint pain, increase flexibility, increase athletic abilities, and increase one’s ability to perform daily tasks with ease. The remaining sections of this article will focus on the 5 Principals and how each method of weight training can be utilized. It will also show the top five exercise you can perform to give yourself the best chance of increasing your strength and performance.
If your goal is to train you body to generate as much explosive force as possible, then the Snatch and Clean and Jerk must be staples in your training program. When done correctly, no other lifts will help you generate more physical power than these two lifts. See the exercise descriptions below.
The Snatch involves pulling a weight from the floor to the overhead position while bending your knees and flexing your hips to absorb the weight as you carefully stand up right with arms fully extended.
The Clean and Jerk:
Like the Snatch, the Clean and Jerk requires the lifter to pull weight off the floor. Instead of going straight to the overhead position, the lifter catches the bar on the front of the shoulders while absorbing the load with bent knees and flexed hips before standing upright and pressing the weight overhead.
Along with the physical performance benefits of increased explosive power through Olympic weight lifting, three powerlifting movements will also increase your performance significantly. These three movements are the Squat, Deadlift, and Bench Press. Commonly referred to as the “Powerlifts” these lifts promote more raw strength gains than explosive power. The Squat trains the muscles of your Lumbo Pelvic Hips Complex (LPHC) and is usually performed with a barbell placed across the back of the shoulders while the hands hold the bar in place. The Deadlift utilizes similar muscles as the Squat with the addition of the muscles of the upper and lower back. The Bench Press is the only one of the five weightlifting movements that is performed while lying on your back. The muscle utilized during this movement come primarily from the chest, shoulders, and triceps. In addition to performance gains, the three power lifts can help build strength and muscle across many of the major muscles groups of the body.
The squat requires the lifter to maintain good posture while flexing the hips and knees to bring the weight down towards the ground. Once the hips have lowered to knee height or slightly below, the lifter must press forcefully into the ground through the feet and stand back up to complete the lift.
To perform a Deadlift, the lifter must lower the hips while bending the knees to grasp the bar. While maintaining a upright spinal position, the lifter pulls the bar up while extending the hips and knees to bring the bar into a position between the hips and knees across the thighs.
The Bench Press:
While lying with your back flat on a flat bench and feet flat on the floor, firmly grasp the bar and move it into a position over the center of your chest. Slowly lower the bar down to your chest and then forcefully press the bar back up. Make sure to keep your head, shoulders, hips, back, and feet in contact with the bench or ground while completing each repetition.
Its important to know that performing these lifts takes a great deal of skill and focus. It takes Olympic competitors’ years to master lifts like the Snatch and Clean and Jerk. Understanding how you body moves, what your strengths and limitations may be, and how to program these lifts to meet appropriate goals all must be considered before attempting the two technical lifts. Slight movement errors could lead to injury if proper instruction is not followed. Although, not as technical, the powerlifts still require the same attention as the Olympic lifts. It is recommended that anyone who is attempting these kinds of lifts reach out to a qualified fitness professional before beginning any fitness program requiring these types of lifts.
A critical component to the success or failure of executing the five lifts previously mentioned is posture. A great deal of pressure is placed on the spine and core musculature as one performs these lifts. Maintaining an upright posture with a neutral spine will ensure that the body stays in balance as the lifter moves weight about the body. A weak core and poor posture will not only increase the chance of the lifter missing a lift, but also increases the risk of injury dramatically. Performing core exercises and addressing any postural disfunctions should be a primary focus before engaging in any program involving these lifts.
As with any exercise program you must not expect to be perfect the first time you start a new program. With the right guidance and equipment, you can accelerate your progress and reap the benefits of each of the exercises mentioned above. The more you focus on the technical skills of the lifts, the easier they will be to perform. This will ensure that you will gain maximum performance benefits when each lift is performed correctly.
Example Power/Strength Mixed Training Program:
Each exercise should be performed in succession with 2-3 mins rest in between sets and exercises.
- Power Clean: 3 sets of 3-5 reps
- Power Snatch: 3 sets of 3-5 reps
- Squat: 4 sets of 5 reps
- Deadlift: 3 sets of 6 reps
- Bench Press: 5 sets of 5 reps
- Power Clean: 5 sets of 3 reps
- Power Snatch: 5 sets of 3 reps
- Squat: 3 sets of 6 reps
- Deadlift: 5 sets of 4 reps
- Bench Press: 3 sets of 6 reps
- Power Clean: 5 sets of 1 reps
- Power Snatch: 5 sets of 1 reps
- Squat: 5 sets of 1 reps
- Deadlift: 5 sets of 1 reps
- Bench Press: 5 sets of 1 reps