T Nation

Qs on the Practicality of Oly Lifting



I'm hoping someone can answer some questions for me about whether I should take up olympic lifting!

I appreciated that not everyone agrees with the concept of 'generic strength' - i.e training to gain strength for the unknown, rather than for a specific sport/competition style. However that's what I'm in to. I do not plan to compete in Oly or powerlifting competitions. I've never done Oly lifting before, but I have a reasonable basis of basic strength training from 5x5 stonglifts program.

So my questions are:

A) Is Olympic lifting more compatible with this goal than power lifting?
B) Do the benifits of Olympic lifting for other sports outweigh the fact that they're initially time-consuming to learn?
C) I plan to spend a number of 1-on-1 sessions learning the lifts, then do the actual training on my own in my garage. Is this safe?
D) How do the Olympic lifts affect the overall nervous system/immune system compared to power lifting? I plan to also be doing football and judo/Ju-jitsu alongside.
E) Finally, how helpful are the oly lifts for the above martial arts?

Cheers for any help that you folks can give me,


I wrote something really angry cause i had a bad training session but its not your fault so what i will say is you wont know till you try.




powerlifting mostly trains limit strength. olympic lifting mostly trains power (speed/strength).
athletes tend to focus more on olympic lifts or other pylometric (explosive) exercises in order to develop their power / explosiveness for their sports.
the jury is out on whether olympic weightlifting is worth the time investment or whether one is better to focus ones efforts on alternative power exercises (e.g., jumping, throwing etc).
the jury is out on whether athletes (e.g., martial artists) are better to focus their efforts on the movements required for their activity (actually practicing their sport) vs doing more general power training.

a lot of people think that other pylometrics don't come close to olympic weightlifting with the caveat that there is a steep learning curve. if one is prepared to put the time and effort into learning the lifts properly then the payoff is considerable. there is a period of frustration, though, as one works to develop technical competence with light weights and where one isn't making the power progress one would be making doing easier to learn pylometric exercises.


it is kinda up to you. how much you want to learn olympic lifting compared to doing other explosive exercies. how much enjoyment you find out of olympic lifting. the sport can be really very frustrating at times especially when you are learning technique.

guess you need to get some coaching and see how you find it.


The lifts are not super-complicated to learn. People seem to have that misconception because while your form may not be perfect, your goal is not to win medals in the Olympics in the quick lifts.

I suggest picking up Dan John's Olympic DVD from Draper's site. He teaches a very, very simple progression. You learn to hang snatch within about 10-15 minutes. That's all you need, the hang lifts, for sports performance.


Connecting the first pull to the lift from the hang is not that complicated. It'll take less then 3hrs to learn properly if that...

OP just learn the full lifts. It doesn't seem hugely hard if you put in the time, get some coaching to start off, then learn fromt he dvd and learn on your own. Get coaching every so often until you know what your doing and you can ditch that. Hell go join an Oly club. Doing oly stuff doesn't mean your weak as f0ck...



they aren't super-complicated if olympic weightlifting isn't your focus.
i think the most important aspect is hip drive (the heart of the lift).
it is developing explosive hip drive that makes olympic lifting so useful...
and it is not using hip drive on the lifts that undermines their utility.


Hi guys,

Thank you everyone for the replies. Having read what you guys have said I feel the best way forward is to get a coach and pay for a couple of 1on1 sessions, just to try it out at first and see if I actually enjoy the moves.

Based on what Alexus has said if you have the patience to learn the lifts, then they're pretty damn good for gaining generic strength. As to if they are useful enough to justify the time spent, a lot of you guys are suggesting it won't take that long anyway... So really does seem the best way forward to me! I've got a lot of other stressers on at the moment so it may be good to improve technically (learning the moves), without having too much actual weight to stress my body right now.

Thanks again for the help,


I find weight training for anything that may involve throwing weight around in a competitive environment or running to be beneficial to my level of ability.


Olympic Weightlifting, also called Olympic-style weightlifting, or weightlifting, is an athletic discipline in the modern Olympic programme in which participants attempt a maximum-weight single lift of a barbell loaded with weight plates.


Cool mate.

This will be the best investment you can possibly do.

I would recommend joining an Oly club, probably cheaper then a 1on1 session and it will be a lot more fun training as part of a club and team. Ask any of the guys that train with me. It's fun but it's all business when we train.



A) not more, just different. But yes it is compatible
B) yes.
C) yes, provided you have learned how to properly bail on a lift.
D) Hard to say in short answer form.
E) again hard to say in short answer form

Olympic lifts require a far, far greater flexibility, mobility component than powerlifting. In that context they are fantastic for general strength because they help keep you "loose" instead of stiff and inflexible--because this is required to properly perform the full lifts in a much greater amount than squatting or deadlifting (and especially benching)

They work a much greater explosive component and power output than squatting or deadlifting in a heavy/max strength zone. Much of that could be overcome with use of true speed/dynamic days for squats and deadlifts, but the complex nature of the olympic lifts demands whole body coordination on a greater level than powerlifting, as complex as a perfect squat or deadlift form can be.

So for sports where explosive power is desired, yes they are a huge help ONCE properly learned.

They are draining on the nervous system, but you can get a greater training effect IMVHO at a lower intensity with them than you can the powerlifts (not counting bands etc., which also unfortunately severely increase the CNS drain and recovery needs).

A properly executed snatch does not need to be maximal to train power and explosiveness. And the Olympic lifts are excellent for maintaining whole body strength.


To add to what alexus said, during the period of time where you are doing technique work at incredibly light weights that do not generate significant power output, you can ADD plyos and other exercises into your routine to make up for the lack of power work. Obviously once you start adding weights you very much need to drop the plyometrics because of the extra strain on your system. At that point, simply focus on the olympic lifts.