Olympic weightlifting techniques


The difference between the 'snatch' and the 'clean and jerk'.

When you consider the two Olympic lifts as a package, to be trained for optimal results in both, you’ll  get athletes who are extremely explosive, flexible and strong

A training program that is not balanced to provide the appropriate training load for each lift will produce athletes who are less than optimal in either explosiveness or strength, depending on how the training load is skewed.

Although both lifts require athletes to hoist heavy weights overhead and so significantly affect the development of the overall musculature and the accompanying athletic qualities, it’s the balancing of the load components that produces the best results.

A well-trained weightlifter should snatch between 78 to 80 per cent of his or her best clean and jerk. Because the training weights are lighter, the explosiveness of the pull is greater, but the strength requirement and development is less. Training with weights in the lower ranges will enhance speed characteristics up to a point but won’t do as much for strength characteristics.

The same well-trained weightlifter will require heavier weights when working the clean and jerk and will build greater strength but not as much speed.

At this point athletes interested in increasing explosiveness for a sport might conclude that they should only train for the snatch, as it has the greater potential for enhancing speed. That’s true, but it only goes so far. After a certain point you’ll stop developing speed if you don’t have an accompanying increase in strength.

Using Olympic lifts in training

Therefore, athletes planning to use the Olympic lifts in training for a sport other than weightlifting should determine whether they need to build speed or strength or both before planning their lifting program. Another factor to consider is an individual’s height-to-weight ratio.

Thinner athletes — those with gracile bodies — will tend to do relatively better in the snatch and may not want to get heavier due to the demands of their chosen sport. They may do well devoting more reps to snatches and fewer to the clean and jerk. Some athletes may already be as strong as they need to be for their sport and may need to design a program that maintains the current strength-to-speed balance while working on developing more proficiency in specific-sport skills.

Thicker athletes — with more robust bodies — may find that they do well on the clean and jerk because they are already strong.

Athletes who use the power snatch and power clean in lieu of the classic snatch and classic clean because they have no coach to teach them correct technique should train the two powerlifts as discussed for the classics.

On each lift you do four to six sets of two to four reps. You should do at least two sets per exercise with the same heavy working weight — one that takes some determined effort but that you can still lift with good technique.
Most athletes will do one or two more sets of snatches or power snatches than they do cleans.

Jerking along with the cleans helps develop the core musculature, and performing sets of three cleans and three jerks greatly enhances anaerobic metabolism.

Do  your weight-training sessions three times per week during the off-season and do one exercise that’s a variant of the snatch, one that’s a variant of the clean and jerk and some squats — back or front.

You can manipulate the variables — sets, reps and weight on the bar — depending on individual needs and the demands of a particular sport.

Get more workout tips and browse our photo galleries for inspiration.

Looking for more training tips? Choose your workout plan and kick-start your healthy eating regime today.

Don't forget to connect with us on Twitter and Facebook!

Photo credit: Michael Neveux

Iron Man - In the Gym