Is it necessary for oly lifters to train primarily like a powerlifter, and then secondarily do some plyo’s and technique work?[/quote]
I ask this because max strength is apparently the base quality of all athletic endeavors, and the only way to train it is through powerlifting?[/quote]
Depends on how you’re using the term max strength. While getting stronger will increase performance in nearly all (if not all) athletic endeavours, there comes a time in the vast majority of those sports when you get diminishing returns from strength work. You think putting a marathoner in the gym to increase their 1RM is going to have a positive effect on their marathon time?
Or do some oly lifters ONLY do oly lifting, and therefore, oly lifting increases their max strength?[/quote]
You will find that any olympic lifter worth his salt will employ at least some assistance exercises on top of the core lifts (snatch/clean and jerk variations). Primary among these are squats, both front and back. Some programs/philosophies employ more strength assistance exercises at a higher volume or intensity than others. Mostly depends on one’s personal opinions as to how to produce the best olympic lifter.
Oh, I assumed that oly lifters would spend most of their time grinding out max back squats and deadlifts in the 1 rep range because max strength is the most important attribute. And just before their competition they might throw in some light plyo work like jump squats to improve speed because speed is not as important as max strength.[/quote]
Speed is at least as important (if not more important) in the o-lifts as max strength. This is because the driving force behind the lifts is power, not strength. Power is strength applied quickly. Ergo you need to be strong AND fast, you can’t be one at the expense of the other or else your performance will suffer. Also, the strength and power required in the olympic lifts is sufficiently position-specific that grinding out back squats and deadlifts will not make you stronger or more powerful in the positions you are in during a snatch or clean and jerk.
Would an oly lifter actually improve his max strength just by doing oly lifts? Or is it only his speed he is improving?[/quote]
The olympic lifts will make you more powerful, and while I do believe they help a little with strength as well the stimulation in that regard is not enough to produce any sort of appreciable progress. Even the infamous “Bulgarian” system had front squats. Most programs I’ve seen have front squats, back squats, and some form of pulls. Maybe this is because you can probably count on one hand the number of lifters in North America who have hit that tipping point of diminishing returns as far as getting stronger for the olympic lifts, I don’t know. For the vast majority of us (and I think anyone posting on this board) continuing to get stronger is a good thing, so long as you’re seeing gains in the olympic lifts from that strength.
If any of your comments on speed were in relation to speed under the bar and not speed of the bar, well, I’d say that’s a lot harder to train, and short of doing tons of work from the high hang and high blocks I’m not sure how to improve it significantly.