Olympic Lifting is a Hell of a Drug

How my addiction started

I can remember my first foray into Olympic lifting like it was yesterday. I gazed upon the training floor, yearning to be allowed to participate in the violent yet somewhat poetic form of training. I was never quite sure how something so aggressive and transient could be satisfying.

I finally mustered the courage and asked if I could learn the ropes. Fortunately I was granted the opportunity to partake in some Olympic lifting, but much to my dismay I was handed a broomstick. This, I was told, is where I would start. I was already used to moving some weight and thought relegating me to a common household item was a waste of my time.

The first lift I embarked on learning was the snatch. I was given a few cues and was told to do different partial lifts. My first impression was how technical this lift was proving to be, even with a broomstick. The compound movement felt disjointed as I tried to put the partial lifts together. What I did notice though was some improvement of the most infinitesimal degree.

At this point I wasn’t sure whether it was the lift itself or my insatiable desire to accomplish that which I set out to do, but I was hooked!

Someone call the producers at A&E…I think I need an intervention!

Fast-forward two years and Olympic lifting still has a tight grip on me. Sure I’ve kicked the lifts out of my programs now and again since starting them, but I always come back. Every time I would stop snatching or cleaning my mobility and performance suffer. It was a classic case of withdrawal.

Just as bad as I felt when I wasn’t doing the O-lifts, I felt equally as awesome when they were staples of my programs. The partial and power versions of the clean and snatch made me feel explosive and athletic while the full versions of the lifts made me feel more mobile, stable, and athletic once again. Who doesn’t want to feel like mobile, stable, explosive athlete?

Olympic lifting, unlike many other lifts, combines a totally euphoric feeling upon completion and an almost unattainable technical requirement for perfection that keep you coming back for more. The perfect Olympic lifting rep is ever elusive, but addicting to seek. Admitting it is the first step, right?

Hold the phone!

As I have reflected on my past and current usage of the Olympic lifts, it has become evident that they are quite a valuable indulgence, unlike my sporadic mass consumption of ice cream.

Since becoming somewhat proficient at performing the Olympic lifts over the past two years I have improved pretty much every performance capacity possible. For example last week I was messing around and touched the rafters here at Peak Performance. It might not sound impressive initially, but keep in mind I am 5’9 and white. Now you’re probably surprised I even left the floor.

Olympic lifting has even proved useful in making aesthetic improvements. I mean, besides the super heavyweights, what professional Olympic lifter has a sub-par physique? (See The Old School Example Below)

All I have to say is, screw the next 11 steps, I am staying an addict!

How I like to take my Olympic lifting

Since it is probably too late for any of us reading this article to become a professional Olympic lifter, I would suggest employing the Olympic lifts strategically. By strategically I mean employing the lifts with an understanding of:

  1. Your current skill level in the lifts (Technique)
  2. Your general capacity to perform explosive work repeatedly (Work Capacity)
  3. How the lifts fit into your training goals (Desired Training Effect)

If you were approaching the lifts for the first time, I would address above topics in the order I presented. Learn the lifts, build up a capacity in explosive power work, and then implement the various lifts appropriately. This will help you get the best of the lifts rather than the lifts getting the best of you.

Once ready to implement the Olympic lifts there are a few principles that can help you get the most bang for your buck:

  • Program your Olympic lifting at the beginning of the session
  • Try to complement your choice of Olympic lift with the muscle group being trained that day (more to come on this)
  • Keep the repetitions performed per set around 1-5
  • Build up in sets over time as your capacity increases
  • Don’t over train the lifts, assuring you have something in the tank for the rest of the session

I really think appropriate Olympic lift selection has the potential to help prime you for the rest of your workout, and for a better idea of how to choose your lifts, here is the current template my training group is currently employing:

Monday: Lower Body Pull – Snatch Variation

Tuesday: Upper Body Push – Jerk Variation

Wednesday: “Off” Day – Technique Work (Valuable)

Thursday: Lower Body Push – Clean Variation

Friday: Upper Body Pull – Clean or Snatch Variation

Saturday: Strongman – Technique Work (Valuable)

Sunday: Rest

Wrapping it up

If Olympic lifting is my drug, then I guess this article makes me a dealer, and I hope I have sold you. Nothing has revolutionized my own training more than the Olympic lifts, and I believe it can do the same for anyone willing to give it a wholehearted shot.


If you are looking for a few pointers on technique, whether you are familiar with the lifts or not, check out this weeks installment of “What I Learned This Week”. I have 2 coaching cues for you that will undoubtedly cause improvement in your Olympic lifting technique. Check back soon!


One response to “Olympic Lifting is a Hell of a Drug

  1. Pingback: Deload to Reload | Copeland Fitness·

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