T Nation

O Lift Without A Coach


Should I bother trying to Oly lift without the benefit of a coach, or should I just stick to a general strength routine of ATG back squats, deadlifts, presses, heavy chins and dips? Are the benefits of the Oly lifts such that it's worth risking self-teaching just to do them? I think my form is pretty good on both snatch and the clean and jerk, but obviously there's no professional evaluating me.

I think I've gotten as much as I can out of the Oly lifts anyway until my deadlift and squat ability improves.


The point of O-lifts is the development of Power / Speed-Strength / Strength-Speed / Rate Of Force Production / and the like...

Power is not the same thing as Max Strength, which is what Squats, Deadlifts, and the Bench Press are good for (which means "powerlifting" is actually a misnomer--it should be called "max-strength-lifting").

So yeah, you should at least try some variant of O-lifting, but you don't need to get carried away with the competitive versions of the lifts unless you plan to compete. Otherwise, I highly recommend doing the O-lifts 1-arm-at-a-time with dumbbells.

Not only is the form MUCH easier to master, but I feel the 1-Arm Dumbbell varieties are actually much better for you, and have a greater transfer to sport and functional strength development.

Some folks might argue that you can train for Power using non-olympic lifts, and I agree. However, the advantage to using variants of the O-lifts is that if you don't accelerate the load, you will fail to complete the lift. Since Power is best developed when you avoid too much fatigue, the O-lift variants have a built in "end-the-set" mechanism that max strength lifts don't have.

Hope this helps.


I've been training one-arm O-lift variants for a year. My favorite has been the one-arm barbell snatch. It looks crazy, especially to the uninformed members of my gym, but the balance isn't tricky at all and since my legs/hips are doing the work, I can do about 70% of my two-hand snatch. I've gotten pretty good at the full squat clean and split jerk without instruction, but the full squat snatch isn't going anywhere. I actually got a lot of mileage out of the power snatch/overhead squat combo that Dan John speaks so well of. I feel a little guilty not learning the full lifts, however. I was thinking of taking a quick busride to a nearby Olympic lifting center, but I'm not sure I want to invest money in a coach since I will NOT be competing.

I was doing pretty well with one-arm snatch, power snatches/overhead squats and clean and jerks. So you're among those who say these variants will be plenty to make me more athletic without making me an Olympic competitor?


out of curiosity, why are you so dead set against competing?


I ask the same question... why not compete?

I agree with some of the others, O LIFT!!! You don't need a coach to start, you didn't need a coach to begin benching, did you? I realize O lifting is more technical, yes, but start with the one arm DB cleans and snatches and go from there. KB's are also great for working on O lifts before you progress.

Shoot, if this 5'2" GIRL (with aspirations to compete before I'm 40) can do it, you certainly can too.


You can learn the OL on your own but you will have to become a student of the lifts and record your form and post it for critique often. That is what I have been doing and I think I am doing pretty damn good. The thing is...a coach would point out on the spot what needs to be done. If you coach yourself, you have to figure it out.


Bah, I fuckin taught myself.

Well, I had some good reasources. Basically, on my subway trip to the gym, and back, I'd lok at printouts of the lifts from coaches with free works online and analyze my own lift and see where I could improve.

Olympic ifting is not some magic that only the priveleged have access to. You can take it on on your own. just have the willpower to go back and reassess your form.

Free links:
J.V. Asekm. http://jva.ontariostrongman.ca/

And Dan John (posts and writes articles to T-Nation)

There's a FREE ebook of his, called from the ground up. Goes into the oly lifts a little bit. Think J. V. askem teaches the form better, but take a look at both. Dan John also has a free newsletter and free articles linked to his site.

Of course, you also have this here free forum to help you out too. So don't hesitate to put up a video of your lift or even just wrtie smoething up about oly lifting for advice.



One of the authors posted this in another thread a while back:


Not that a couple of videos are going to make your OL form perfect, but they're good videos for OL beginners like me.


Hot AZ, you make me ashamed of myself.

epitome, I don't suppose you take the E or V train out to Rego Park do you..? I live in Queens near LIC and I was thinking of heading out to the Olympic lifting center in that Hall on Queens Blvd. I'm really torn. I think the Olympic lifts are absolutely majestic, but I'm more interested in developing a high level of strength while staying near my current featherweight, hence the deads, weighted chins and overhead presses.

I actually do enjoy performing the lifts and I think I have great form on the full squat clean and split jerk (most of the time, if you know what I mean). The snatch was going very well for a while and I hit bodyweight, but I don't know what happened and now I can barely get 130. After a couple months I'm still not able to iron out whatever incorrect technique I've developed and that's why I'm considering finding a coach. Of course, my goal right now isn't really to become proficient in this sport as much as it is to deadlift 600 lbs at 150, hence this post.


Nah, man. I'm from Toronto Ontario. Work out at u of toronto and a couple other places.

If you're ever in Toronto, feel free to PM me and I will gladly help you out with the lifts.

Wieghing in at 155-160, deadlifting 375, power clen and press 195, overhead squat 135 for 3. Power snatch 135 for 1. Not a pro by any means, but strong for my weight.,

Snatch technique...
I'd say to try hang snatches to feel the second pull better. I'm certain that the first pull will be strong for you, given your experience deadlifting.

Try accelerating the bar very slowly through the first pull, also. To get a better fel for acceleration.

And if you've done the above, do em again just to freshen things up.

Might wanna try isometrics in the top pull position. http://danjohn.org/ds101_files/frame.html

That is a free link from Dan John, titled the Dick Smith interviews. Deals with isometrics. IR) holding a maximal weight in a position to train tha particular position. Try the top shrugging position of the snatch. Mightr be hard, given your height and width of your power rack (if you use a wide grip).

Even try tabata broomstick snatches to get a feel for where you need more work. Nothing like a good couple hundred reps with a broomstick to get a feel for your strengths and weaknesses in a lift.



Thanks for the kind offer. My plan now, however, is never to leave the borders of NYC unless someone I love has died.

You're a bit heavier and stronger than I am, but it seems your numbers are similar to mine.

You know, funny you should mention that broomstick. I made very rapid improvements in the snatch after I spent a night doing nothing but broomstick snatches for HOURS on end. I guess I haven't given that much consideration. Thanks for the reminder.


i need help regarding muscular imbalance.my goal is to clean&jerk 100kg(220lb.).i san clean 210lb.,but i can jerk only 185lb.here are my stats.

boxer,28 years,5-11,bw=195lb. 18%bf
squat=352lb. full squat=285lb.for 2 reps deadlift=410 1rm,315 for 8 reps
bench=220lb. military press=145lb.
bent-over row=200lb.for 5 reps chins=10 reps with bw vert.jump=28"

i also trained myself in c&j.so i could improve my technique,but i think i must strenghten my upper body.
thanks for any tips!
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