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Olympic Lifts Too Complex??


I want to introduce some Olympic lifts to my routine, been lifting on/off for over a year now. I am thinking of starting my week with them. Yesterday I started with the clean ?n? jerk, I did a couple of warm up lifts in the rang of 5-2 repetitions until I maxed out at 47.5 kg excluding the bar (It?s not an Olympic barbell; I would guess it weighs around 5 kg?), then I went down in a pyramid to 40 kg (so plus the bar ~ 45 kg) and did 12 repetitions as singles. Then I went on to power cleans and did 12 x 55 kg. Finally finished off with one arm dumbbell snatches @ 20 kg (quite easy).

My Q is should I be doing them? Since I realise they are a complex movement and read there is a high chance of injury if not properly executed. I saw video clips on the net of ppl doing these lifts (some sight I can?t remember) is that enough? Or do I need to be coached to do these lifts?? The way I do a clean ?n? jerk for example: I start of in a dead lift stance, my shoulders slightly over the bar, my weight seem to be mainly on the balls of my feet (don?t know if this is alright, it could be that the plates cause the bar to be closer to the floor unlike Olympic plates), then next I know the bar is by my collar bone, I just do this explosively and kind of arch back to meet the bar, then with a slight dip from the knees I push up the bar, or alternatively I switch into split foot position while pushing the bar overhead- I do arch while pushing the bar up! Again don?t know if this is good or bad, it?s all done very quickly, and I don?t feel in a vulnerable position through out the lift, and do not feel bad the day after.

I?d appreciate your comments on my form, and if you have any suggestion for an Olympic lifting routine (or how to incorporate them).

Last Q: during dead lifts I use an underhand (usually left) and overhand (right) grip, do I need to switch them through out the lift, will one trap develop faster than the other or is it all good??

Thanks in advance


The lifts are complex to be sure, but it's actually near impossible to hurt yourself beyond a bruise doing them until you perfect the technique. Technique is the limiting factor, not brute force, so joints and the like can usually take it.

As far as learning them without a coach - the two best resources I can recommend are Arthur Dreschler's Weightlifting Encyclopedia (Amazon has it, so might a library near by) and J.V. Askem's old website (he passed a few years ago). Google his name and it'll show up, I can't post the link.

Tapes and old olympics footage are great for examples to follow.

As for incorporating them now - realize that they are VERY demanding on the nervous system and should be placed first in a workout (after warmup). Even if your muscles don't feel tired, the explosive nature of the lifts and learning such complex new motor patterns takes more out of you than you'll realize at first, so don't go too nuts on volume early on. I'd use them as a warm up movement if you're not able to handle much weight yet, doing maybe 10 light singles to practice, then squat/dead/press or whatever else is in your split. Once you get decent at technique, I'd lower the amount of other work and do more of the olympic lifts if it fits your goals.



Oh, on the switch grip on deads - it is best to rotate which palm faces out, as a switch grip does place uneven stress on your body. No need to get ultra anal, just do it one way one day or alternate sets.



You can gain much from doing these. Jump with the barbell and get under it. You can do the 'power/hang' variations and work on explosiveness/speed. Just don't over do it until you are tired.



You should be driving through your heels when performing the olympic lifts, not the balls of your feet. When you are in the bottom position you should be near an arse to the grass squat position with your chest held high, weight on the heels, then pull the bar and explode with your hips as the bar begins to reach the mid-thigh/hip height. Often you will make contact with the bar with your lower stomach area when you drive with your hips, this is acceptable and often helps add to the acceleration of the bar. For the jerking portion of the movement you shouldn't be pressing the bar at all, it should be launched from your shoulders directly into a full arm extended position.




Here is a good link to get you started. www.exrx.net/Lists/PowerExercises.html

There are quite a bit of OLs there and they have helped me for nearly a year.


So for the jerking motion, is that achieved by dipping at the knees and driving up?


Yes, but before you can get into the proper position for the jerk, you have to be able to "rack" the barbell across your front delts with only your fingers tips touching the weight. The best way to get comfortable with this position is to do tons of front squats in this manner..

But back to jerks, you do a slight knee dip at a controlled pace and quickly reverse directions driving through your heels. Then you move your feet into the split jerk position with the front foot flat and the rear foot on the bar of your foot.


If you are interested in OL, I would suggest to learn to deep squat, overhead squat, andfront squat with the bar racked on the front of your shoulders. Work on stretching your chest/delts throughly after working them and do the same for all the leg muscles. That way when you can find someone to start showing you the lifts, you will be able to hold the positions.

Here is a good site: http://www.exrx.net/Lists/PowerExercises.html

good luck.


Dan John's ebook, "From The Ground Up", is another good resource for getting started on the Olympic lifts. You can find it at http://www.danjohn.org/coach

I highly recommend finding a coach if you can. It will dramatically improve your progress in these lifts. I looked up a USA Weightlifting coach who coaches competetive lifters about an hour from where I live. He has let me train with them several times over the past year, and my lifts are much better because of it. The hard part is finding someone qualified; don't expect the personal trainer at the local gym to know these lifts. (I think I just typed "USA Weightlifting Coach" into Google and came up with some directories.)


Just wanted to echo dan's point.

Realize that unlike many other exercises you're working EVERYTHING when you do these. (Except your chest and thats probably debateable).

Everything about them is very neurologically taxing so you want to be sure to manage your volume. This is why you RARELY seen anyone do them for more than 3 reps (maybe 5-6 in a warmup).

Watch a lot of tape... I have a friend in england who competes. He other than finding a coach, watch tape...if i still have questions, it means i need to watch more tape.

Slow it down, reverse it, watch it again and again... understand every aspect of the movement.

Charles Staley wrote a great article w/ video and everything on the O-lifts so do a search for it.


Like the others said always use good form and watch tape and read, read , read. Just please dont be the guy at the gym doing split reverse curls and presses..PLEASE do not be that guy.


Search this site for articles by Christian Thibadeau. He also does primetimes here fairly often.


To add to the solid observations made... keep your hands loose around the bar when driving up and attempt to catch and grasp the bar near the top of the press. At the top, push up against the bar to keep the bar high and your shoulder complex strong while supporting the bar...your ears should be between your arms at the top.

Good luck!


To elaborate on Krollmonster's point about the importance of a solid rack:

The whole idea with the jerk is that you aren't pressing the bar over your head so much as you are pushing yourself down very quickly underneath the bar. The bar will rise some during the jerk, but not much.

You dip down, then propel the bar upward, and ideally you lock your arms out under the bar at the exact moment that it has lost its upward momentum, when it is momentarily weightless, right before it would start coming back down. At that same instant, your feet hit the floor in the split position.

Now, about that rack. To achieve the upward momentum that will propel the bar, you must use your legs. If you are holding the bar in a military press position, then when you drive upward with your legs your arms and shoulders will absorb much of the power of that leg drive, so it will not transfer to the bar. On the other hand, if the bar is racked across your collar bone, there will be a more direct transfer of power from the legs to the bar.


Actually, I'm partial to the snatch and power snatch. They were a lot easier (for me at least) to learn. And the loading possiblities aren't immediately as potentially dangerous with bars that don't rotate fluidly. Besides that, it builds a killer back and shoulders. Start learning with overhead squats.

I second the Weightlifting Encyclopedia. Good for every penny. Best book on weightlifting I've bought in a looong time.