T Nation

Utilizing Olympic Lifting


I wish to begin a dialogue regarding the utilization of Olympic lifting in power lifting routines. Can adding these technical lifts help in making you stronger in the Big 3? If my desire is to be a power lifter should I just focus on the big 3 and add some assistance exercises?


The main benefit you're going to get from doing the O-lifts is increased power production. The initial pull in the clean would transfer to deadlifting. The overhead work, especially C&J, would have some carryover to bench, and the bottom position for both the clean and the snatch might have some carryover to the squat.

If you want to try it, go right ahead. Will it be ideal? Look at the top powerlifters in the world and see how many advocate utilizing the O-lifts as a means of getting better at the power-lifts...

I think you'll find that almost none (if any at all) would promote learning the snatch because it's so incredibly technical and I can't imagine the carryover is very great. The C&J, or some version thereof, on the other hand, might be useful, but I doubt it would be much better than using speed deads and OHP/push press.

I think the biggest benefit you can get from looking at O-lifters is the Oly squat, which I understand can be a useful quad-builder for raw lifters.


Going off of what he said..you can definitely benefit yourself with a swifter/higher power output from O-lifts added in, if you know what you are doing and doing conditioning drills on the side. The combination of traditional powerlifts, Olympic lifting and sprinting/plyometric drills made me faster, powerful and stronger when I was training for shot & discus back in high school.

I am willing to work something similar to the program my coach had me on years ago. Things are different now that I'm in the military.


I have been doing my own version of the clean and jerk which is more like the power clean to the military press and performing an overhead press or push press depending if it is a weight I am unable to press up strictly. My style of overhead press is similar to Benidict Magnusson http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIBhdhHN6Sk


I would agree with a lot of what has been said already... a big danger of powerlifting exclusively is that you get slow. Grinding out weights is far from ideal, and figuring out how to implement the olympic lifts can be great for maintaining/improving speed, balance, coordination, and overall athleticism alongside strength, instead of just strength.

As others have said, there are other ways to work on these things that are maybe more specifically relevant to powerlifting, like speed deads, bench, and squat. But if you like fooling around with the oly lifts, I would say they are just about as good at helping you stay fast and athletic while working the big 3.

A good example of this is mikhail koklyaev . He is a kickass powerlifter, as well as being a pretty great oly lifter and strongman to boot. I love powerlifting and it is definitely my focus, but personally, I find that sort of all-around athleticism to just be magnificent. To be such a powerhouse in multiple disciplines is just badass. So, while i would agree that to be the BEST of the BEST in powerlifting you might not want to spend time on the oly lifts.... very few people on this site are the best of the best yet haha, so implementing the O lifts when you can is fun, keeps you well - rounded, and will almost certainly improve your powerlifts if you can add some pounds to them.

And now for fun, some mikhail video. insane


You can do them if you enjoy them, but it's not the best way to get good at powerlifting. Both are very techinical, and your clean pull form could potentially mess with your deadlift form. I don't know of any good oly lifters who are great at deadlift. It's more like they have a clean 80-90% as strong as their deadlift, while the powerlifter has a clean only 50% as strong as their deadlift. If you want to work on speed, just do speed pulls or add chain/band.

I'd focus on powerlifting until you get to at least class 1, then you can expand out to get good at other stuff.


Thank you all for your posts it does give me things to think about. The Olympic lifts are fun and give you a break from the usual. What is class 1?


Raw, drug free standards: http://rawpowerliftingontario.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/raw-powerlifting-classification-standards.pdf

And this one's a bit tougher, so I'm guessing raw, untested standards: http://www.usapowerlifting.com/lifterscorner/ipfclass.shtml


Geez those standards make me feel pretty weak.


Its just that I have always been a heavy weight, now 270 pounds. But that puts most everything in the class IV or somewhere between III and IV.


Gotta take exception to this one. Overall a well reasoned post even if I don't particularly agree with some things, but this not so much. I believe the snatch is actually much easier to learn than the clean/jerk. In fact I do not believe it is difficult to learn at all if you are dedicated to learning it and have a decent coach. I taught a buddy of mine with only "football knowledge" of the clean to hang power snatch in 2 days. And he looks pretty damn good. He won't be winning any competitions but he is smooth and coordinated and gets power out of it.

The carryover is also big--if a couple of pre-requisites are observed--for your upper back and glutes. I do not do any upper back work beyond power snatch or snatch grip high pull, and some warm-up pulldowns and my back is easily stronger than it used to be. These are things that directly carryover to squats and pulls. However, yes I would say it is not going to carryover like deadlifting. It just won't and that should be pretty obvious. But combine getting more power + more glute strength + more upper back strength + shoulder stability from overhead supporting/squatting and you have a damn good accessory exercise that will help a lot IMO.

You just need to make sure it's in its proper place is all, not overshadowing the work you need to be doing in the big 3 because they have to come first if you want to be a powerlifter. You also have to make sure your technique is damn tight or you won't be getting all that nice carryover I see.

(case in point, crossfitters. Good gravy what a trainwreck)


I would agree with your clean pull interfering with your deadlift form, they are two separate technical moves. Also you need to look at Misha Koklaev. Dude is a super heavy Oly lifter that can muscle snatch 150 kg (i.e: basically a cuban rotation and press only with snatch. It's disgusting). He deadlifted 750 for 10 reps. That's pretty fucking good if you ask me. He does also compete in other strength sports, but he is World level at Olympic lifting.

My advice--which I forgot to post in my first reply above--would be to do variations of the lifts from above the knee and from the hang or blocks. The most difficult technical aspect of most of it outside the catch is from the floor and putting it in position. I would also much rather get a good snatch personally (hah!) than a clean from the high hang. Better glute action and extension, better shoulder stability, more power even at less weight (as measured by wattage). Putting it from the hip crease pretty much means you work on the power extension, not the more technical aspects. Anything above the knee has a lot in common in general (this is the 2 second version)

That said, you definitely need to put your priorities and focus on the big powerlifting 3. No doubt at all.


I still think C&J would be easier to learn than the snatch. Tons of high schools implement the clean in their football programs and not nearly as many implement the snatch. Although this is only correlational, I would guess that it's either because it's easier to learn than the snatch (or requires less coaching, perhaps) or maybe it has more carryover, but I'm not 100% on that point.

For me the clean was extremely easy to learn. Within the first couple sessions of cleaning for the very first time I power cleaned 185 easily and narrowly missed 200 at a BW of 165, all without any coaching or having anyone look at my form. It's nothing spectacular, but I think it says something about the clean not being terribly hard to learn. If you do a full clean and get under to bar more I'm sure it's more difficult, but I don't how necessary that would be for improving power output.

Maybe you meant the "jerk" part of the technique was more difficult to learn, but I'd be skeptical of that as well since it wouldn't be too different from a push press for the laymen (at a competitive level it obviously would be, but we're just talking about them being used as assistance).


No, the jerk is pretty easy to understand, if not execute. Clearly to do it efficiently for olympic lifter status it is not easy, but for "field athlete" purposes pretty simple. I still believe the snatch is easier to learn, but again a lot of that comes down to individuals---some can pick up deadlifting by looking at it, others struggle for months to find a groove.

I will say however, I do not trust any high school programs to know what the hell they are doing when teaching the power clean. There are some top coaches out there no doubt, but so many bad ones it makes crossfitters look positively gifted in coaching olympic form, and we all know what the opinion of crossfitters tends to be around here (one I share in terms of technical coaching).

I think they both carryover well but in different manners. However I do side with Christian Thibaudeau that the only high pull that really carries is the snatch grip high pull. Clean high pulls turn into arm pulls.

In general, however, my point is that the olympic lifts can be killer for powerlifters if you use them in their appropriate role for powerlifters. If you do not, you truly do ruin the lifts.