T Nation

Olympic Lifts

Alright let’s get some good discussion going here…just getting back into it after a long, long lay-off. I think a big reason, most people fail in their programs is that they don’t periodize or even HAVE a program…

I want to add the olympic lifts into my program…forever!! You know clean, snatch, behind neck jerk press, clean & jerk, etc. Should I keep them in all stages of my program year round or leave them in a power phase only?? If I leave them out won’t my central nervous system become less accustomed to the lifts so when I go back to them I’ll be weaker? I find these movements addicting…

I’m only interested in gaining FUNCTIONAL LBM…sorry, not that much into bodybuilding per se. I like the “fuctional” greek look. 190 functional lbs. is better than 190 bodybuilding lbs. No pec deck and curls for the girls for me…

BTW, you guys gotta agree…lower weightclass weightlifters and sprinters have better looking bodies than muscleheads…

Later T-Heads

No one has to agree with your opinion of what you think looks good. That’s why it’s opinion. Insulting people’s appearances and training methods are not the way to get answers.

To everyone else: What the hell is the deal with all the "dawg"s on the forum lately? (If anyone says “who let the dogs out” may you be stuck by lightning!)

The difference is not just how they train, but mostly in how much and what kinds of drugs they use, especially if you’re talking about probodybuilders.

I wouldn’t add all of them at the same time, because they have the same movement which is the clean. If you are going to add these into your programs have a certified trainer work with you on your form, because you don’t want to break your back or pull a groin muscle. I think these lifts are only useful to athletes training for a competition, because I don’t think they have much functionality if you are just trying to look good. Since you have taken such a long break I think you should just focus on the basics and form of those basics before getting into something as advanced as olympic lifts. That is just my opinion though so do what you want.

Relax baby, you’ll live longer…you said it yourself it was an OPINION, not an insult. So you just contradicted yourself…it wasn’t meant to insult you, sorry if you felt insulted.

Besides that does anybody have something to offer on the the questions I asked…

If you’re into pure functional strength, and the lean athletic look, the Olympic-type stuff is good, but so is a lot of renegade and dinosaur training. Dynamic one-handed lifts are also really great for developing balance and coordination, and you might want to ask Mike Mahler about kettlebells – indian clubs and controlled dynamic heavy sledgehammer work is also pretty cool, too. Once I started in with one-handed stuff and circular training, my grappling performance against guys who could do twice as well in standard lifts went through the roof.

Olympic lifts (power style) and deadlifts have given me my best bodybuilding/physical results. I am no expert but I do them all the time simply because they are fun and satisfing to do. I like the approach of Charles Francis (vertical intergation) to periodization. Instead of a strength phase followed by a power phase both are conducted at the same time. This is not the best explanation. So I would do the olympic lifts and power lifts right through out the year.

I strongly believe that one should choose certain foundation lifts, exercises that are productive for you, which are true measures of strength, and which you enjoy, and ALWAYS keeping them in the program. Now, at different times you will do them in different ways, and there may even be periods in which you do nothing but singles with relatively light weight (like 60% 1RM) for several sets emphasizing form and speed, or other “different” sorts of work that really aren’t hard, while working hard on other exercises: but you keep them in there.

Of course, to a $300/hour trainer this is a disaster, because you always have a true measure of your strength, and can tell you are not miraculously gaining 5-10% strength every week, week after week, as he would like you to believe his programs do for you!

Amazing how one can “gain 5% a week” every week for a number of weeks, then enjoy similarly rapid “gains” every week again with a different program, then something else again with still-amazing “gains” every week, and then go back to the same exercises as in the first program and be little or no stronger than before.

The weekly “gains” are of course illusory in these sorts of situations.

the sculptures of the ancient greeks do not resemble the body of an average olympic or powerlifter. The sculptures resemble much more the bodybuilders of the 1960-80s. I know because i’m greek, i’ve been to greece, i’ve seen them and studied about them. And who says bodybuilders don’t train heavy to get their shape. also don’t forget that olympic lifting has a lot to do with technique. There is a certain proper way to lift and sometimes it takes a long time to master the given lift. And remeber that if you want to get ripped like in the greek sculptures you better have a game plan because regardless of what your training goals are you need to lose the fat to get to that level which is easier said then done. laters pk

to my knowledge the greek statues had biceps and pecs. if you train OL or even classic OL, you will have neither.

The bodybuilders of the turn of the century aimed to achieve the proportions of the Grecian Ideal. http://www.sandowmuseum.com/ has some great information. Because exercise equipment was limited (no racks, benches, machines) all they could do was pick the weight (barbell, dumbbell, kettleball) up from the floor. As such they trained on snatch, clean, jerk, overhead press, bent press. Many of them achieved the Grecian Ideal with big arms and a big chest!

In the golden age of bodybuilding 1950-1980 bodybuilders still used olympic lifts in their training. John Grimick was a champion bodybuilder and olympic lifter so was Tommy Kono. Reg park (Arnold’s Hero) still used cleans and overhead presses in his training.

RE olympic lifting as a bodybuilding tool. From personal experience I know the olympic lifting works. Three or four times through my teens I have used the standard bodybuilding approach and made no progress. I define standard bodybuilding approach as high reps 8-12, isolaton exercises, lots of machines and benches and focus on arms and chest. When I started on olympic lifting and other basic compound exercises (deadlift, leg raise, MP, bent rows, dips and pull-ups) with low reps below 3 and heavy weights I made great progress. I like Bob Hoffmans view that you aim to increase the amount of weight you lift and muscles are just a pleasent side effect.

Very informative stuff…I was thinking that same thing but wanted some advice to make sure about keeping them in year round. what are your thoughts on periodization?

Guys, when I worked out before all I did was big basic compound movements and cleans, snatches, jerk press, and other stuff that I found on t-mag. Also, I did arm work, and a lot chest work, etc. But I think one of the main reasons, I burned out or stopped training was that I didn’t have a plan, or overtrained, or didn’t use periodization…this time I’m going to map out my program for at least the entire year. I’m in it for the long haul now, and I think if I keep the olympic lifts in year round it will give me a good idea of where I’m at.

former best lifts: power clean: 225
Power Snatch: 145
jerk press: 175
bench: 270
squat: 360

me: 175 6%

now: 162 9.6% I know it sucks…

nothing to write home about…

This time though, I know this might sound crazy, but i’m going to eliminate squatting and any major quad work for awhile because my quads blow up so easily. When I look at my old pictures I have huge legs (mainly quads, and little back musculature)
Instead, I’m going to focus on training both hip extension and knee flexion of my hamstrings.

That is why I want to include all of the Oly lifts in my program.

and…I’m also going to eliminate benching, and major chest work for awhile, and focus on hitting my back from all angles. The only chest/arm movement I will do are dips.

I’m really about the back of my body in general and fucntional LBM right now. I know most people ignore these areas and I know I do. I know this will bring me the best results.

I agree, the earlier bodybuilers and turn of the century strongman had better looking bodies in my opinion.


GreekDawg, I absolutely believe in periodization, by which I mean, having a program which changes parameters of training over time, and then repeats. (It also may be the case that only segments of the previous cycle are repeated, or there are some modifications made according to what has been learned in the meantime.)

For example, a simple and effective method is
to begin a cycle at 60% 1RM and build up week by week to say 90% 1RM, with the next cycle being a little bit heavier but for same reps in same form.

Obviously there are a lot of other parameters that can be changed as well. For example, rest times, degree of emphasis on negatives, volume, the sort of sets being done (5x5? Three sets of the same planned number of reps with only the last set expected to be maximal effort? Two sets both at maximal effort? 12 sets of 2 explosively? GVT? Etc.) The basic thing is that you do things that are changing over time, but then go back again, hopefully with the advantage of what you have gained from the cycle just done – and if there is no improvement then you know this cycle did not work for you! Whereas if you went to totally different exercises done in a totally different way, instead of the same ones, you’d be clueless that your strength had not really increased over the last however many weeks.

I don’t agree with the extreme advocated by some “if you don’t know exactly what exercises for how many sets and reps you’ll be doing one year from today, then you have no plan and don’t know what you’re doing,” which I think is totally stupid. One ought to learn over the course of the training year, and further, progress is not precisely predictable. So I don’t recommend having a given plan and then keeping ALL exercises in that plan in there always, or alternately, at some point in every cycle. But having some core exercises that are productive for you and keeping them in there always, will keep that true measure in there for you always, as well as just being productive exercises that, through periodization, still provide varying training stimulus over time.

Why do people always say you can’t gain LBM with the Olympic lifts? Understand I lifted like a bodybuilder for years and didn’t gain that much musculature…Also, I think I was using to high of reps, but’s it funny all bodybuiding type programs advocate reps of 8-12.

When I trained high reps, all I did was get sore, and “pumped” I did GVT and didn’t gain much muscle but got extremely extremely sore…
I think I need to stick religiously with low reps…thoughts?

What do you think about what Poliquin says how some people might be exclusively fast twitch and should never train with high reps?

You can add muscle mass with the olympic lifts, don’t let anybody tell you otherwise! Just look at the physique of Pyrros Dimas (www.pyrros.gr) and of old-time lifters like Russia’s David Rigert and Anatoly Pisarenko. That having been said, to develop the optimal physique the olympics are not enough. For the best possible results I believe in combining the olympic lifts with a powerlifting-type training with some added isolation movements to work on perceived weaknesses. Case in point: look at the evolution of olympic lifters thoughout time. They were their most muscular back when the press was still contested at competitions (pre 1972). These guys had it all! Huge backs, traps and legs but also fantastic delts and pecs. Because to train the press they included several pressing exercises (bench press, incline press, push press, behind the neck press…).

Yea, Christian I was hoping you would get up in this thread…So, oly lifts, together with some pressing and rows?? what about chinning and pulling movements?? I’m writing out my entire program for the year…do you agree also that I should keep the Oly lifts in year round??

I’m beginning to agree…I tried the bodybuilding style and didn’t gain much muscle mass
BTW when is your article coming I keep hearing about…Oly lifts mixed with powerlifting…

The OL competitors pre-72 needed pecs for the press. Have you seen pictures of the form they used for the press? Some of the Russian competitors bent back so far, that they were basically doing a standing “bench press”.