Weightlifting for sport or just for the sake of weightlifting?

First of all, I’d like to apologize to the regular readers for the lack of posts as of late. The good news is, I’m now a University graduate. Feel free to use this as an excuse to take the day off of work or to go out for binge that only Charlie Sheen and David Hasselhoff could pull off. Now on to todays topic, olympic weightlifting.

Getting it done

As a former football player, Olympic lifts were regularly put in our training programs to develop power and explosiveness. For those of you who don’t know what these are, check out “clean and jerk” and “snatch” on youtube, be careful for the results of the latter. These lifts are great for developing rate of force development (RFD) and overall power. The one problem I’ve seen is, some people get way too focused on the olympic lifts, and not focused enough on the reasons for doing them. These lifts are extremely technical and are a sport at the olympics, don’t get too caught up in trying to master these lifts and forget about training for your sport. If you don’t have the proper technique to perform these lifts, either find a coach or don’t do them at all. That being said, there was a great study in this months Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research which really opened my eyes to this specific issue. Let’s take a look at what this study concluded and what kind of effects this should have on our training.

The whole point of the study was to compare variations of the olympic lifts. The variations used were: Power Clean (from the floor), Hang Power Clean (Below the knee), Mid Thigh Power Clean, Mid Thigh Clean Pull (No catch). This study used 11 elite rugby players and had them perform a 3 repitition max of all of these lifts on a force platform. The purpose was to measure peak vertical ground reaction force and rate of force development during each of these exercises. So basically, how much force are you putting into the ground and how quickly are you generating that force. The results of the study found peak force totals of: Power clean – 2306.24N, Hang Power Clean – 2442.9N, Mid Thigh Power Clean – 2801.7, Mid Thigh Clean Pull – 2880.2N. So if we use the Power Clean as our baseline, the Hang Power Clean generated 106% more force, the Mid Thigh Power Clean generated 121% more force, and the Mid Thigh Clean Pull generated 125% more force than the Power Clean. As for RFD, which is an extremely important factor similar results were found: Power Clean – 8839.7 N/s, Hang Power Clean – 9768.9 N/s, Mid Thigh Power Clean – 14655.8 N/s, and Mid Thigh Clean Pull – 15320.6 N/s. Looking at it simply, with Power Clean as the baseline again, Hang Clean had an RFD of 111%, Mid Thigh Power Clean had an RFD of 166%, and Mid Thigh Clean Pull had an RFD of 173%. So what does that mean exactly?

These results tell us a number of things. If you’re looking to generate a lot of force and you want to generate it quickly, stick to Mid Thigh Clean Pulls and Mid Thigh Power Cleans. Sure you won’t be doing as much overall weight, but that number is meaningless unless you’re entering an olympic lifting competition. My suggestion would be to incorporate those two exercises as your explosive exercises into your next program. On top of this, keep heavy deadlifts in the program and together the Power Clean will become meaningless. Remember, it’s not about being the best at weight lifting, it’s about being the best at your sport. Get your ego out of the gym and start doing what’s best for your sport and not what’s best for your numbers.

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2 Responses to “Weightlifting for sport or just for the sake of weightlifting?”

  1. […] As you’ve probably noticed, many of the articles I write come from real world examples. Something in the gym or on the street which tells me that the public is dying for certain information. In this case, this article was sparked by some guys I saw training in the gym the other night. No, not the guy who was doing Barbell Military Press in the squat rack on a Bosu ball, that’s not worth an article; it was the 2 guys working hard but wearing lifting straps for their ENTIRE workout. Are lifting straps bad? Not necessarily, but they can have their place and are definitely not needed. They aren’t making you better as an athlete. […]

  2. This blog was… how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I’ve found something that helped me. Appreciate it!

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