T Nation

Minimal Req. for O. Lifts

Christian, or Anyone else who has ideas on this:

I was thinking about incorporating Olympic lifting into my training. One problem I’ve always had to work on is tight hip flexors and the need to maintain as much ‘looseness’ in general life - I would guess I spend 10 minutes stretching for every 20 minutes i spend lifting in the gym…

that said, I’m wondering what type of flexibility benchmarks an athlete would need to achieve to perform olympic lifts without having to fight their own muscles to get into position? I’m curious since i’ve often heard that olympic lifters are some of the most flexible people around.

I think the O-Lifting itself, combined with rigorous stretching, will increase flexibility. Regarding the ‘minimum flexibility requirements’, I’d say that depends on if you’re doing a full competition lift. A power snatch (let alone a snatch pull) would require far less flexibility than the full lift.

When I started Renegade Training, I could barely get past a quarter squat because of my weak ass hips. 5 weeks later I am close to rock bottom (I at least go past parallel now). Try doing hurdle work (walking over them) and tumbling. This will help a lot.

Almost forgot, these might help:

www.renegadetraining.com/ 10_02_02/code_jeremy_nelms.html
www.renegadetraining.com/ code_jeremy_nelms.html

I have rarely seen an individual who’s able to do the full olympic lifts right away. In fact I have rarely seen an individual be able to take all the specific olympic lifting positions right away.

And that includes a lot of flexible athletes (I’ve worked with figure skaters who are very flexible).

I’ll say that the reasons why this is so are:

1. Articular range of motion is not solely a function of the actual flexibility level of the muscle tissue. In fact, the most important factor might every well be the nervous system! When you always take the same positions, your nervous system come to accept these positions as the norm and you become efficient at mainting them. Similarly, when you *never* reach, or take certain positions, your nervous system "forgets" about them ... you become less efficient at reaching and maintaining these positions. So in that regard, practicing the olympic lifts while gradually increasing the range of motion will develop the capacity to reach the most extreme positions involved in the sport.

  1. Range or motion/flexibility is position specific. If you do stretches while lying down, or siting down, the transfer to upright position range of motion is minimal. This is mostly due to the difference in the resistance from gravity.

  2. Dynamic flexibility and static flexibility are not well corelated. Taking and maintaining a certain body position is not the same physical capacity as reaching certain positions while in movement and while intereacting with an outside object.

Stretching is still good, but you there is no real point at which you are flexible enough to start practicing the olympic lifts. When I personaly test on basic flexibility tests, I’m shown to have very poor levels of that quality. Still I can full squat snatch with my ass almost touching the ground … it’s all specific!

Thanks guys for all your responses.
Christian - thanks for your extremely informative and helpful response. Would you say then, that most people will go through a period of “forcing” their body into positions until their nervous system can accept that as safe?

I would not recommend “forcing” your body. Rather start with the o-lift variations that require less flexibility and slowly progress to the more complex exercises…

Here’s an example:

Weeks 1-4: EXERCISES USED: Power snatch from blocks, power clean from blocks, push jerk, clean grip deadlift + shrug, snatch grip deadlift + shrug, back squat

Weeks 5-8: EXERCISES USED: Power snatch from hang, power clean from ground, split jerk, front squat, back squat, overhead squat

Weeks 9-12: EXERCISED USED: Power snatch from ground, power clean + front squat, split jerk, back squat, overhead squat

Weeks 13-16: EXERCISES USED: Power snatch + overhead squat, power clean, full squat clean, split jerk, back squat

Weeks 17-20: EXERCISES USED: Full squat snatch, power snatch, clean & jerk, power clean, back squat

NOTE: You do NOT perform each exercise in every training session! It’s just a list of progression so that your body become efficient at the olympic lifts. You split all the exercises in 3-4 weekly sessions

If you need some help you can email-me directly at thibaudeau@ironmag.com

Two questions:

  1. Will olympic lifting help improve posture? I would imagine that improved flexibility would.
  2. Once I started training for real (full squats and real deadlifts), my abs hypertrophied–I added about an inch of muscle to my waist. Problem is, I’m a damned ectomorph and it looks like a gut. Is this expected?

Begin you weightlifting program very conservatively. Begin with very minimal weights. The O lifts will enhance range of motion, but example before performing snatches you need a particular level of shoulder flexibilty. Use a variety of stretching methods including static and dymanic stretching. Refer to Coach Davies hip mobility drills to enhance hip flexibilty.

The Encyclopedia of Weightlifting also offers a good section on Range of motion training for O lifts.

Coach Hale