T Nation

Olympic Lifts vs Plyo's



I've been reading a lot lately about the importance of including plyometrics into a program for athletic power development, and as a rugby player this is essential for my conditioning!
The articles I've seen suggest to the reader not to do Olympic lifts because of the steep learning curve associated with those lifts.
However, I was coached in the Olympic lifts quite early in my training career and feel very comfortable with performing them. If this is the case, would performing Olympic lifts purely for power development be more beneficial than performing Plyo's? Or are plyometrics more superior when looking to develop maximal power?
I understand that because of genetics we only have about a 25% threshold to increase power, but as a young aspiring lad I want that whole 25% damn it!

Looking forward to hearing what you all think, cheers!


You should also not learn chess, it is a steep learning curve.

Ditto, the piano. Ouch.

talk to CT about that one.


Dude, you're overthinking this. If you're comfortable with the oly lifts, do 'em. If not, work plyos. Honestly, when I was at my most explosive (2-hand dunk from a standstill at 5'9" with a 7'6" reach) squats and hangcleans were my main lower body focus. I did no running/jumping outside of playing ball probably 6-7 times a month. If you're naturally springy, get stronger. If you're naturally strong, work explosiveness. If you're somewhere in the middle, work both.




There is no such thing as "athletic power development." Power is always context/action-specific and your power output in any situation is nothing more than a result of the force output of your muscles in relation to the amount of resistance they encounter. Olympic lifts train the skill of Olympic lifting and nothing else, will do nothing to improve your Rugby performance. Same with plyometrics.


Not sure if serious


Be sure, my friend.


X 3



The Olympic lifts are a great way of developing concentric power and becoming explosive. However, this will be affected by the load on the bar, 30-40% 1RM can be used to increase speed-strength and works on coordinating power production at a high speed. 70-80%1RM can be used for single efforts for developing strength-speed - you have longer to develop a larger force but it should still be a relatively high speed. For Rugby I would suggest only worrying about hang-power variations of the lifts - teaches you to generate force in a more specific position. For something new try single leg clean-pulls or snatch pulls same movement pattern just teaches unilateral force development (make sure you roughly half the weight on the bar).

The plyometrics are money for any field athlete and I would nominate them as an essential training stimulus - loaded or unloaded. The majority of the plyometric work should be conducted in a repetitive fashion to train ground contact time and work on reactive strength. Similar to the Olympic lifts I would recommend a unilateral plyometric program; consider the two clips below.

The same drill performed under as bilateral and unilateral. Seeing how it is uncommon to jump, land, cut or run with both leg generating power at the same time your training should limit this pattern. Increasing the specificity of your training will cross over to your match performance ten fold.

Hope this was helpful.


Really helpful! Much appreciated.


Consider getting hold of Easy Strength by Dan John and Pavel Tsatsouline. It has whole chapters on plyo’s, and many other aspects of training elite level athletes, from two giants in the field who’ve been training elites for decades.


Sprints are also plyo’s. Perform your sprints, perform power cleans and don’t overthink it!