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Olympics Training and Diet - Weightlifting by James K

Olympics Training and Diet - Weightlifting

Olympics Training and Diet - Weightlifting

Olympic Weightlifting is one of the most popular Olympic sports, centering around two main lifts - the snatch, and the clean & jerk. Competitors are separated into weight classes and compete against others in the same weight class for the highest total lift performed for these two lifts. Competitors are classed by weight in increments between under 56kg - over 105kg for men, and under 48.1kg - over 75kg for women. Each competitor has three attempts for the snatch and three attempts for the clean & jerk, and needs to successfully complete one repetition of each exercise to get a ‘total'.

The two Olympic lifts are not confined to weightlifting competitions, and it is common to see these exercises, or variations of them, performed in gyms by amateur powerlifters, bodybuilders or weightlifters. The value of this type of strength training is that it is dynamic and uses the full body - the barbell is lifted from the ground to overhead in each one of the repetitions. It's not only a strength exercise, but also a cardiovascular one, especially when multiple reps of the Olympic lifts are performed.

The Snatch

The snatch is an easy exercise to perform but extremely difficult to master. It consists of lifting a barbell from the ground to overhead with an arms-locked position, in one smooth motion. It differs from a clean & jerk in that the bar does not stop at the shoulders, but instead travels straight overhead in that single motion. Due to the weight of the bar, when the weight travels overhead it is usually caught in an overhead squat position, and the rep is completed when the lifter stands with knees locked and the bar overhead.

The snatch can be broken down into a number of smaller lifts from the bottom to top. It begins with a deadlift (usually with a wide grip) which brings the bar to thigh level. After this initial pull off the ground, the hips engage and the weight is shrugged into the air. The catch position is usually at the bottom of an overhead squat, and it is locked out by standing completely straight.

The Clean & Jerk

The other Olympic lift is the clean & jerk, where the lifter brings the bar from the ground to overhead like in the snatch, but catches it on his/her shoulders in between. The first part of the lift is called the clean, where the bar is picked up off the ground and caught on the shoulders. This consists of a deadlift and shrug, and the bar is caught on the shoulders in a front squat position. The bar is then pressed overhead with the help of a dip and drive, much like in a push press.

Olympic Weighlifting - Training

Training for the Olympic lifts varies between coaches and lifters, and each training method works better for some than others. Generally, an amateur might train 3-4 days and advanced trainers 4-6 days per week, with variations of each of the exercises designed to assist with increasing strength, conditioning, or assessing weak point of the lifts. Here is a typical training split for Olympic weightlifting:

Snatch - 5x3Clean & Jerk - 5x2
Power Clean - 3x3Snatch Pull - 4x3
Front Squat - 4x3Front Squat - 4x3
Bench Press - 3x5Hyperextension - 3x15
Clean & Jerk - 5x3Snatch - 1x3, 1x2, 1x2, 1x1, 1x1
Clean Pull - 4x4Clean & Jerk - 1x3, 1x2, 1x2, 1x1, 1x1
Power Snatch - 5x2
Wednesday:Friday & Sunday:
Hang Snatch - 5x3Rest
Hang Clean - 5x2
Back Squat - 4x3
Hanging Leg Raises - 3xMax

As you can see from the low repetitions, Olympic lifters train with heavy weights and low reps, which emphasises power and strength.

Olympic Weightlifting - Diet

If you are looking to improve your Olympic weightlifting results then a good diet is crucial. Much with any sport or athletic endeavour, if your diet is lacking then your performance will suffer. Olympic lifting, especially for first timers, will cause a big boost to your metabolism - so adequate calorie intake is vital. Opt for a medium-high carbohydrate diet, especially on lifting days, with adequate protein to help your muscles recover from those lifts. Healthy fats will ensure that the joints are well lubricated and supported, so don't forget the fats.

Treat your competition day as you would any training session, and make sure you have adequate nutrients to help you perform at your peak. Assuming you have made your weight class, be sure to keep your water intake on the high side - this will keep your muscles primed to perform, and help flush out toxins and lactic acid. Make sure to have medium-sized meals at steady intervals up until approximately an hour before the competition - the last thing you want is any bloating or an upset stomach when you are lifting. A pre-workout drink with carbohydrates and caffeine will help you to hit your peak at the right time - follow the directions on the product, but generally speaking if you take it approximately half an hour before your lifting you will be at your optimal energy levels.

Whether you are looking to compete, to change up your current workout routine or to boost your strength levels, Olympic weightlifting is a great choice. While the lifts are quite technical, in a short period of time you should experience some decent strength and size gains; seeing some benefits in the weight room and in the mirror.

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This article was published on Monday 30 July, 2012.
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