Coomonwealth medallist Neil Taylor gives some tips on hot coach the Olympic lifts. Neil has recently been appointed as Performance Manager for South Wales with Welsh Weightlifting. I know Neil from our days working together at the RFU. Here are his tips.
I have been performing the Olympic lifts since the age of 11. My coach at the time kept it simple, didn’t over complicate the movement and allowed for errors early on. Here are some of my Olympic Weightlifting tips.
With his expertise he helped me lift MY way and not the way the books said. 30 years down the line I have watched those lifts turn into a menu of biomechanical myths and mind numbing terminology.
KEEP IT SIMPLE.
In my opinion it is always easier to teach the Power Snatch first, the pulling phase is the same as the Power Clean and the lift a little less problematic. (Becky Brown in pic).
Demonstrate the lift without a verbal description then ask athlete to perform the lift and observe their interpretation of that lift, they may be near perfect, they may be not, treat each one on how THEY lift
At the start position instruct your athlete to push the chest out and through whilst pulling the bar off the floor this will encourage correct lifting posture with the back being slightly in extension
Depending on your athletes’ training age you may wish to break the lift down into stages. Start with the first pull by deadlifting the bar to the waist position and returning it back to the floor, encourage the athlete to push their chest through to retain good posture.
Repeat this until your comfortable with what you see, be patient
Once confident with the first pull, move to the high pull. It is important at this point for your athlete to work on pushing the hips forward and extend up on to the toes. (James Marshall in pic).
One coaching tip you may wish to use here is to pull the bar up to chest height rubbing finely against the navel area, this will encourage the athlete to keep the bar close to their body
Move on to the full lift when you feel the athlete has mastered the above and never be afraid to revisit the basics.
A great tool to use is the video camera but be aware of gaining consent from the parents or guardians of your athletes should they be under 18 years old
Compliment the athlete on their good lifting points as it is important to finish lifting on a feel good note, people deal too much with the negative, with what is wrong.
Try and see positive things, to just touch those things and make them bloom.
Neil Taylor: Commonwealth games medallist. RFU Weightlifting Coach.
I am delighted to announce that we have been successful in our application to Sport England’s small grants programme. The money will be used to develop the Weightlifting section of our club.
The grant we will be used in 3 main parts:
Equipment: we shall be buying Eleiko competition bar and plates, a new floor and some technical bars for beginner lifters.
Coach development: it is important to develop coaches from within the club. We shall be sending some of our existing lifters on the British Weightlifting (BWL) level 1 assistant coaches qualification. This is a great opportunity for the young people of Mid Devon to gain a coaching qualification.
Running new sessions for women during the day time in Willand, as part of a programme of helping females get fit and trying a new activity. This will be done in 2 seperate blocks to give as many people as possible the opportunity to try the sport.
This project will run alongside our existing evening Weightlifting sessions which run in Willand. Our club is the only licensed Weightlifting club in the South West (outside of Bristol). We accomodate people who want to get fit for their sport (Golf, rugby, hockey and football are the most common) as well as those who want to compete in Weightlifting.
If you would like to take part in the upcoming Weightlifting sessions, please register your interest with Head Coach James Marshall . No experience is necessary, but being generally healthy is a prerequisite as the sport requires movement.
This application took a long time to prepare and submit, a big thanks to Chris Brown (one of our lifters) for his efforts in helping.
Getting Willand healthy and fit
Willand play kit
Last year we raised and secured £12,171.93 which was mainly used for our gymnastics club equipment with some going to weightlifting and athletics kit.
This meant we could expand what we were offering and move into the bigger Village Hall. We also offer a satellite gymnastics club in Wellington, Somerset, 10 miles away.
I also worked with Willand Parish Council in advising on play equipment for the village. We chose bars and obstacles courses that allow children and adults to play and explore, rather than sit! They spent £20,000 and the kit is well used and is available to all.
That means in the last 18 months Willand has had over £40,000 invested into it’s physical activity and sporting infrastructure!
Willand was a sporting hub100 years ago (read here ) it is on it’s way to becoming so again.
Hopefully this will make a difference to the long term health of our local population. All we need now are some decent cycle paths in the Culm Valley and we will really see a difference.
If you would like to take part in weightlifting, athletics or gymnastics in Mid Devon, please come along.
Thanks to everyone who voted for our club in the Skipton Grassroots Giving Campaign. We were one of 700 clubs shortlisted, and thanks to your votes we were one of the 163 organisations that will receive £500.
Read on to see how we are spending your fundraising efforts and what is happening in the Club for the rest of the year. This includes all the relevant information, dates and times for events for weightlifting, athletics and gymnastics.
Can I please ask everyone who hasn’t already to sign up for easyfundraising ahead of Christmas? It really is easy and FREE and helps us buy more equipment for all the athletes. Don’t leave it for someone else to do.
Our lifters are preparing for the Graham Cooper Memorial competition in December. We have got 16 people lifting in each week, evcenly split between men and women.
We have bought a new chalk bowl stand and extra safety collars from our easyfundraising totals. Thanks everyone who is doing easyfundraising.
We also held our Halloween Weightlifting session for the first time. Hard to tell who was wearing the make up!
Winter training started last week. We are doing Structural Integrity work in the gym on the first Thursday of the month, with some sprints and jumps. We are working on sprints, throws and middle distance on the first Saturday of the month.
Recovery in the sun
This is in preparation for competing next Summer. We were lucky with the weather last week. Ages 10-18.
The Freestyle Gym (FreeG) has taken off nicely at both our Willand and Wellington venues. We currently have 61 members between the 2 venues!
We shall be increasing the number of sessions to 3 per month at Willand starting in January. Our last one this year in Willand is on 22nd November.
Thanks to the parents and volunteers who have answered our call for help. Without you the Club simply wouldn’t run.
Good for flic flacs
Holly Walker and Laura Lane spent a day at half term on the coaching core proficiency course. Together with Tom Trowbridge and Kristy Popplestone at Wellington, they will be using the new resources we have bought to help make the sessions more structured with less queueing. (That is £200 of funding well used).
The Skipton Grassroots funding will be used to buy this Tracks 2000 folding wedge It is a handy piece of equipment which doubles as a big block we can use in FreeG and for supporting gymnasts.
End of term open sessions:
On Tuesday 6th December we will be holding an open session in Willand for parents, friends and relatives to come and watch what happens in class. We shall be holding a raffle and have refreshments for sale (Louise Sherman and Sarah Marshall hosting) which will help raise funds for the club.
On Wednesday 7th December we will be doing the same in Wellington (minus the refreshments). This is your chance to see your child in action and support the club.
Raffle prizes so far include: Red wine; set of Trolley bags; £10 voucher from Jazzys World Food in Tiverton; bottle of champagne; Dermologica mini-facial voucher. Any more donations would be appreciated (Ella Partridge and Georgina Nicol will be co-ordinating in Willand, need someone in Wellington).
Finally we have been invited to attend a Gymnastics camp on Tuesday 20th December at Gemini Gymnastics (13.5 miles from Cribbs Causeway) in Clifton. The cost for the day is only £25. It will consist of games, gymnastics and an opportunity to use all their fantastic kit, including their new FreeG “urban” area.
I need to let their Head Coach know numbers by next week, so please let me know if you are interested in going. Transport will be required, but I can help coordinate lift shares. This is an exclusive invite.
I was asked on Tuesday by an athlete who is quite new to weight lifting why I would teach cleans which are quite complex, if high pulls also work the triple extension.
The answer is that I have got a lot of time with this athlete, so can afford to work on his technique without sacrificing his work that will lead to strength and power development. The clean will then enable him to perform the jerks without using a rack.
But, the question is an excellent one, and should be asked by Coaches before they do any exercise or series of techniques, instead of doing something because everyone else is doing it.
Some National Governing Bodies specifically want cleans coached – why? If time is limited, then
are all useful alternatives for developing power.
Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science column in The Guardian is a good read and is an example of how to examine wild claims and pseudo science. This type of objectivity is uncommon in a lot of Coaching practice.
It is especially interesting to read how the over complication of diet has led to a new brand of celebrity nutritionists who are being discredited due to their lack of scientific underpinning.
I keep telling coaches and athletes that they should look at what they are trying to achieve, and find tools that do that job most efficiently.
However, many people become attached to the “magic exercise” or “magic food” and then reverse engineer its usefulness to match the aims.
What are the best books to read about Olympic Weightlifting?
It depends on whether you are a lifter or a coach, and whether you are new or experienced. It might be that you are just interested to learn about the sport. You might be looking for technical information, or for a programme to follow.Here are 6 books I have recently read and used to some degree, it might help you choose.
Skilful Weightlifting: John Lear. Paperback £7.95
I got this book from my coach Keith Morgan back in 2002 and I still refer to it now. The book starts off with a brief summary of the rules, what kit might be needed and then a section on biomechanics.
It has very clear instructions on how to perform the lifts, with cues for each part of them. It gives advice for coaches on how to manage beginner lifters and what are the key areas to look out for.
There are clear diagrams and pictures throughout, which I find useful to show to my lifters (who are amused by the old school outfits). After the technical section, there is information on assistance exercises and how to fit them into your programme.
There is a section on programmes for 16-18 year olds, more advanced lifters and also a 5 day a week programme for those who are unable to lift twice a day! This is clear information, set out in loads and sometimes %s. I would say that the youth programme lacks variation, which may be necessary to keep them interested and also to expose them to different aspects of the lifting.
However, this is a very good book, easy to read, contains enough relevant information, a great place to start.
Olympic Style Weightlifting for the Beginner and Intermediate Weightlifter: Jim Schmitz paperback $16:95
This is basically a set of programmes for 1 year of training for those new to weightlifting, or returning from a lay off. The book’s strengths are its description of the assistance exercises and how the programme is laid out.
It is designed around a 3 days a week programme, with each week being on one A4 page which is easy to follow in practice. This does mean that some of the sessions are quite long: over 90 minutes, so be prepared to spend some longer sessions in the gym.
It starts off with very simple programmes for the first 8 weeks, then progresses to the more varied programme which introduces different assistant exercises as well as increasing the load. In total there are 66 different exercises used.
The technical information is limited to a few paragraphs on the major lifts and the quality of the photos is poor. The layout of the book is functional to put it nicely, but is basically photocopied sheets bound together.
This book is best for those who have an existing technical understanding of the lifts, but want some idea of how to plan their year. It does that well.
The Weightlifting Book; Tamas Feher pdf £29.95
James doing split jerk
This is a very technical book and covers more than just weightlifting. It looks at the overall coaching process as well as talent identification for WL. The book starts with a detailed information on training methods, anatomy and physiology and then training processes.
It then moves to an in depth analysis of the major lifts and their variations. This includes foot positions, hip and back angles and descriptions of how the different muscles are working at each phase. The accompanying pictures are clear, but very small.
The next section is about strength development, followed by planning of loads and intensity, then overtraining and how to avoid it. These are well written and in depth. The sections on technical coaching for beginners, coaching philosophy and implementation are excellent.
The training planning and training programmes are more difficult to read. Feher is Hungarian, and they use a system where numbers replace the names of the exercises. This results in the programme looking like this:
In a normal book, it might be ok to flick backwards and forwards to see what you are doing, but in a pdf it is just too laborious. The pdf format is the downfall of this book: I avoid screen time when not working, and carrying my laptop around in the gym is precarious. The other books I can just pull off a shelf and put in my bag, or keep them in the gym for reference. This one is strictly reference only.
There is a dedicated section on coaching females, and another one on the role of the coach. Both of these contain very useful information and philosophies. I am unable to comment on the efficacy of the programmes (Still waiting for Bletchley Park to crack the codes), but the detail of the information around them is excellent.
This book is strictly for coaches only.
Preparing for Competition Weightlifting: David Webster Paperback 1 penny.
This book is from 1986 by the then Scottish Coach. It has some useful technical points, with good illustrations in the opening section. This is the only place that I have seen a weightlifting coach advise that the double knee bend should be coached specifically. Every other WL coach I have met, trained with or read has said avoid doing that (the UKSCA offers a different opinion, but they are not weightlifters).
Webster offers some useful insights into Eastern European and Soviet training methodologies: remember this was written before the fall of the Iron Curtain and YouTube. He also looks at annual planning and preparation. He borrows heavily from his friend John Jesse (Wrestling Physical Conditioning Encyclopedia) and so circuit based training and interval runs feature prominently.
At 1 penny, how can you complain? But this book was strictly one of curiosity and historical context with a few useful points.
Weightlifting Programming A Winning Coach’s Guide: Bob Takano Paperback £20.92
(Thanks to Topsy Turner for the loan).
A well written, well laid out book which makes a huge difference to this reader’s experience. Takano offers a unique perspective at the beginning, looking at the Human Body and training systems from a Biology teacher’s viewpoint.
There is almost no technical information on the lifts in this book. Instead it concentrates on how to develop programmes for different categories of lifters and explains the underlying rationale. The categories are:
Class 3 (85kg lifter Total 170kg)
Class 2 (85kg lifter Total 195kg)
Class 1 (85kg lifter Total 225kg)
Candidate for Master of Sport (85kg lifter Total 255kg)
Master of Sport (85kg lifter Total 295kg)
International Master of Sport (85kg lifter Total 365kg)
The 85kg male lifter gives you an idea of how the classes progress. Takano then devotes a chapter to the programming of each class, followed by a 20 week sample programme from his club athletes. This is very well laid out, easy to follow and well explained. I am unable to verify the efficacy of these programmes, having only class 3 lifters at our Weightlifting Club at present. But, I do like how the categories are sub-divided beyond beginner, intermediate and advanced.
The chapter on regeneration is insightful, categorising the different types of restorative methods available. I think Tom Kurz in “Science of sports training” is the other book that covers this well. The nutrition section is very short and lacking in helpful real information, talking about macronutrients, rather than food.
The book finishes on the role of the coach and a call to action for coaches who want to improve what they do. Overall, it does what it says in the title, and it does it very well. One for club coaches I think, and a resource to use over time.
The Sport of Olympic-Style Weightlifting: Carl Miller with Kim Alderwick. Paperback £30
Carl Miller book
An A4 size book with 118 pages of text and charts, no images. The sub title is “Training for the connoisseur“, It has an interesting start, looking at identifying different limb and torso ratios and giving advice on how to adjust the lifts accordingly.
Miller then briefly summarises Selye’s work on stress and adaptation, before devoting the next few chapters to training programmes. There is minimal technical advice here, just overviews of programmes and a list of exercises that should be included. This part of the book is weak, and is done better elsewhere.
The last part of the book is based around weightlifting competition preparation including nutrition advice for making weight and mindset. This is better. I especially like this section on coaching at competition:
“Any words should be simple and meaningful. Don’t clutter your mind with a lot of thought. You want a few cues that will allow things to happen automatically.
In the heat of the competition, only basic, familiar prompts are meaningful. The rest goes in one ear and out the other.”
Applies to every other sport too!
I got lent this by Topsy, but would have felt aggrieved at shelling out 30 quid for this. Guess I am no connoisseur!
These are the 6 books I have read on the subject in the last year or so. If you have any further recommendations, then please comment below. For more technical information, I did enjoy reading Jim Schmitz’s series of article here.
Our Weightlifting Club trains on Monday and Wednesday nights, and we run beginner sessions. Please contact me if you are interested.
The sessions are designed to have some overall athletic movements built around the Olympic lifts themselves. Most of the sports people attending are new to Weightlifting, and so we have to develop their bodies accordingly.
Whilst the Olympic lifts are great at developing certain aspects of strength and power, I never do them in isolation. Too much specificity leads to a narrow window of adaptation, which may be useful in the short term, but has limited use in the long term.
Here is an example of the analysis we do. This is one of the Split Snatch. This is useful for people with tight shoulders. I was introduced to this by my coach Keith Morgan when I was training for the Karate World Championships.
The split snatch may be better suited to athletes from team sports and those that have excessive shoulder use (i.e punching in Karate/boxing/ MMA) as it requires less shoulder flexibility.
I introduce the split snatch early and then, as the weightlifters’ shoulders get more flexible, start the squat snatch.
Sessions are run every Monday night, and we have people from many different sports attend. If you live in Devon or Somerset, please contact me to talk about joining.
In my last reflection I spoke about needing to have confidence in myself and I have certainly been working towards this with James’ help. I had the great opportunity of taking theAthletic Training Group which runs on Wednesday evenings at Exeter Uni.
During the past couple of sessions I have helped James out with, we have been doing some Olympic lifts. I have not done these types of exercises before so my knowledge and confidence in this area isn’t very strong.
I did feel that because I am a personal trainer, I should already know these lifts, techniques, teaching cues etc. I felt a little guilty telling James that I didn’t feel confident enough to teach these by myself. His answer…”that’s why you’re doing this internship.”
How can you improve without learning and correcting?
He was completely right. I am learning and growing as a trainer and coach all the time, especially during my time with Excelsior. It’s ok not to know things.
So my job is to increase my knowledge and understanding of these movements through James (and the level 2 S+C course James runs.) I am allowed to not know things, just as athletes are allowed to make mistakes.
I am looking forward to hopefully starting courses and a development group like the one I help James out with in Cardiff when I move there at the end of March.
I have also been doing a lot more research through reading, online and through coaches that have more experience in their fields so that my knowledge grows further still.
Guest post from Dave Leith of the Scottish Institute of Sport. I met Dave at theGAIN conference in Houston this summer. He is a great guy and very enthusiastic about the Olympic lifts.
Greetings from Scotland! This short blog is for those of us who have found an interest in the sport of weightlifting.
I’d like to share a few principles that I have picked up over the last few years of competitive lifting and coaching of new athletes to the sport.
The best thing you can do in this sport as a beginner is set the foundations required for continuous growth and improvement over the course of your career, whatever your age or aspirations are.
1. Develop character.
This sport will test your attitudes and behaviour on a daily basis: Respect the equipment! A good club and coach will have quality weight lifting equipment. Remember- it’s not yours, it’s very expensive! Disdain for equipment shows a weakness of character and often an undermining of ability to learn.
Respect training partners (or anyone else using the gym). Although an individual sport, your performances will be higher with good training partners. They will allow you to focus at the right times, they will be quiet when you lift and avoid strolling around in your line of sight. Being still and silent during their efforts shows respect.
Lifters gain respect from their peers because of their attitude rather than their ability. This for me is one of the really wonderful things about the sport.
Few can be a champion, but everyone can develop strength of character and earn respect.
2. Develop skill with the barbell.
A knowledgeable and experienced coach is essential!
There is no substitute for beginning a process of learning to snatch and clean and jerk with someone that knows how and has refined their coaching by teaching novices time and time again.
The biomechanics require an ability to overcome inertia (strength) and also the ability to minimise the effects of it (technique). You must be smart about the training and work hard to improve.
Information is at our fingertips 24 hrs/day. I have encountered many new lifters who seem distracted by trying to find shortcuts to improving positions or eliminating technique flaws with some tricks or gimmicks.
Develop an understanding of the lifts and practice, practice, practice!
I try to begin lifting with new athletes under the conditions that we are working towards a competition. That means they need to develop resilient technique that will stand up to the competition conditions.
Rather than lifting huge weights on that first outing, it means we aim for 6 lifts out of 6 attempts and have experienced standing alone and performing.This is one of the most rewarding things to achieve. It will also guide training with a purpose.
Weightlifting is wonderfully challenging technically and physically. I think for those of you interested in trying it out will find something you will come to love and learn a lot about your strengths and weaknesses.
Does Olympic Weightlifting Help Field Athletes Throw Further?
This week we have been looking at the overall benefits of Weightlifting for Sports people. Today we shall look at how we need to adapt our training around the lifts to a specific sport: throwing in athletics with guest author Nick Garcia.
Nick Garcia is one of the leading high school coaches in the U.S.A. For the past ten seasons he has served as the throwing coach at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California where he has guided more than thirty five throwers over 50-feet (15-meters).
This includes more than ten each of spinners and gliders. Two of the girls he has coached have also broken 49-feet (15-meters). He is a level three USATF coach and level five IAAF coach.
I met Nick at the GAIN conference in Houston earlier this year. He did a great presentation on adapting training to throwers, plus a practical demonstration in the gym.
Nick is an active thrower and has been throwing the shot put for the last fifteen years. As a student at California State University Northridge, he was a two-time Big Sky conference champion in the shot put.
In ten years of post-collegiate training he increased his personal best to 18.35 meters. This was also done even though, by shot put standards, he is not the typical thrower. He measures just 170-centimeters (5-foot 7-inches) tall.
Transfer of Training
As throws coaches in the sport of track and field we are often challenged with the question on what training exercises or movements transfer best to our throwing. In the system I use, developed by Dr. Anatoliy Bondarchuk and taught to me by Derek Evely and Martin Bingisser, the exercises with the best transfer are labelled in one of two categories:
(CE) Competitive Exercises
(SDE) Specific Development Exercises.
Sure there are other exercises in other categories that may have some transfer to the throw itself, such as the clean, the squat, etc., but I look at the CE’s and SDE’s as the exercises that carry the most transfer.
(All these exercises and training programmes are built up gradually by Nick, his success comes from long term development: please avoid copying and pasting these exercises without the correct preparation: James).
Such as this chain drag throw.
Lets have a look at what we mean by CE’s and SDE’s.
Competitive Exercises (CE’s)
Each training Session begins with CEs. Basically a CE is the movement you perform in the competition itself. In the shot put it would be throwing with the rotational or glide techniques.
In the hammer throw it would be using 3, 4, or sometimes even 5 turns. When performing CE’s we always vary the weights of the implement.
However, whatever weights we choose to use are used throughout the cycle in the exact same order with the exact amount of reps each training session always keeping the competition implement within the rotation.
For example, we may choose to do a cycle with an emphasis on heavy implements for specific strength. It could look something like this:
6 Full Throws w/8.25K,
6 Full Throws w/7.75K,
8 Full Throws w/7.26K.
We keep it the same throughout the cycle so that our focus remains fixed on the same goal and our body can fully adapt to this set of implements.
Following that cycle we may choose to do a cycle emphasizing both a heavy and light implement looking something like this:
5 Full Throws w/8K
10 Full Throws w/7.26K
5 Full Throws w/6.75K.
The concept of this cycle would be to make the transition from throwing heavy implements during cycle one to throwing lighter implements for cycle three a little bit easier.
Cycle 3 may look like this:
6 Full Throws w/7.26K
8 Full Throws w/6.25K
6 Full Throws w/6K.
Now that we have a description of how CE’s may look during a particular cycle we can now analyze which of these implements may have the most transfer to a particular thrower.
While this category of exercise in general has higher transfer, I underlined particular thrower because each athlete is different. One athlete may have better transfer using heavy implements while another athlete may have better transfer with lighter implements.
How do we determine what carries the most transfer? DATA COLLECTION!
Each day we collect data by marking our best throws with each implement. Ultimately we are looking at our performance data from the competition implement during both practice and competition.
I enter my data using excel and then create a line graph so I can see the peaks and valleys. I also keep track of my personal best with each implement during each cycle. At the end of the year I will have a look at what each cycle emphasized and at what point I had my best results with the competition implement.
Whatever cycle I had my best results with the competition implement is a good bet that the implements that were being used during that time carry the most transfer for me.
What I have I found by my data collection?
I have found that I can throw as high as an 8.25K and as low as a 6K long term without messing up my rhythm with the competition implement.
Anything above 8.25K and below 6K will have a negative effect long- term on my technique and rhythm. I say long term because I have found that when I throw fulls with a 9K I can have huge throws with the 7.26k for the first week. After that first week my rhythm with the 7.26K begins to decline and starts to crash.
As for the implement that carries the most transfer for me, I have found that every time I have included the 6K into my training I have had huge throws in regards to my personal bests and talent. Therefore, if I am planning a cycle leading into a big meet I will include the 6K within that cycle.
Specific Development Exercises(SDE’s)
SDEs are movements that closely mimic the throwing motion but done with something other then a throwing implement. It can be done from a stationary position with a plethora of different devices.
For example, a shot putter may take a heavy medicine ball (9-10kg+) and fire into a wall from a standing position. This mimics the release point of the shot put.
or they could putt a sandbag
or throw a barbell
or a kettlebell
A hammer thrower can take a 10 Kilo plate and do releases for distance. This mimics the release point of the hammer. The transfer of this exercise is a bit tougher to pinpoint.
For discus throwers, this dumbbell throw can be used:
However, the data collection from the CE’s is still important in relation to the SDE. Once again in order to see what SDE may have the most transfer I will look at each cycle and see what SDE I was performing when my results with the competition implement were the best.
While going through the training year I will input different SDE’s within different cycles of training to try and come up with the best combination for me. Much of it is on feel and what I feel has done the best for me.
The Neider press in the gym is an example of applying some specificity prior to weightlfiting:
Find out more about the Excelsior Weightlifting Club if you are a track and field athlete in Devon or Somerset and who wants to prepare this winter.
The 2 major exercises are the snatch (pictured right) and the clean and jerk.
The snatch requires the lifter to pick the bar up from the floor and above their head in one quick action. They then have to stand up from this low position until the judges say that the lift is finished.
It is a very quick action that needs great hip, ankle and shoulder mobility and strength. For beginners, just getting into the starting position is tricky. The back has to act as a lever, so it must be flat and rigid, rather than curved and soft.
You can see in this video how to get the start of the snatch correct
and here is Sonny Webster doing it for real
The second lift comes in 2 parts. The first part is picking the weight up from the floor and onto your shoulders (the clean). The second part is moving the weight from your shoulders to above your head with arms fully locked out (the jerk).
Because the weight is lifted in 2 distinct movements, with a slight pause in between, heavier weights can be moved than in the snatch.
In earlier Olympic games, the jerk was performed with both feet staying parallel, but coming out slightly. Then lifters found that splitting the legs to the front and back allowed them to get under the bar more easily and lift more weight (pictured right).
The clean and jerk is a very demanding exercise that uses nearly every muscle in the body. Because it is done at speed and with heavy loads it is a great way to get fit.
Care has to be taken though to balance this with your sporting activity. It is very taxing on the mind and nervous system. Too much leads to fatigue and possible overtraining.
Here is an example of how to prepare for the clean and jerk from Tracy Fober
and here is the real thing done by Sonny Webster this year
Whilst these are very impressive lifts from Sonny, rest assured novice lifters, I was training alongside Sonny when he was only 13 and just starting out: he lifted light and safe. he has worked very hard to get where he is today.
So, that is a brief overview of the two major exercises in “Olympic Weightlifting”. (Weightlifters refer to the sport as weightlifting, outsiders often refer to the lifts as “Olympic lifts” despite only a minority of lifters ever making it to the games!)
The exercises are technically and physically challenging, which makes them both frustrating and satisfying. The sport is safe when coached well, and dangerous when done without supervision or in the wrong environment.
We shall be doing lots of supplemental exercises to help prepare the Excelsior lifters physically and mentally. Most of them will be playing other sports, so it is my job to help plan their weekly and monthly training schedules.
If you found this Beginner’s guide to weightlifting interesting and want to try our the sport and live in Devon or Somerset, please email me here