Should Athletes Olympic Lift?

Michael Shukis

Should Athletes Olympic Lift?


People either love or hate the Olympic lifts. Depending on who you ask, they're either magic or dangerous movements. These movements used to be in every training program. But not anymore. Now people avoid them. You might be confused. So am I.

Sport specificity—whatever it means—is a popular topic today. People say the Olympic lifts are not "sport specific." But what does that mean?

The Olympic Lifts help you run faster and jump higher. Those qualities improve performance. That's specific no matter what sport you play. Sport specificity is a marketing topic. Be careful when people try selling you something.

The Olympic lifts are hard to teach. They're complicated and take time to learn. But that's okay. Anything worth doing takes time and effort. The Olympic lifts are no exception. These movements are an investment, and you need to decide what you believe in.

If you don't know how to teach these lifts, learn. Watch videos. Read books like Olympic Weightlifting. Visit coaches that know them and will help you.

Time is an excuse for avoiding the Olympic lifts. Many coaches avoid these lifts. But that's an excuse to make the easy choice.

You have time. Remember: you're there to coach athletes through their careers. These lifts take years to master. But which ones don't? Can someone squat perfectly in two weeks? How long does it take to do pull-ups? Everything worth doing takes time. Time is no excuse.

But the problem is programming, not time. Programming the Olympic lifts either sets people up for failure or success. Some coaches avoid these lifts because they're hard to program. But you must be willing to learn. Find a way. That's what coaches do. Coaches are lifelong learners.

Some coaches avoid these lifts because someone said they're bad. Social media is a blessing and a curse for coaches. There's nowhere that demonizes the Olympic lifts more. The problem is that many coaches treat social media as a source of education.

Doing this, you and your athletes pay the price. Listening to people on social media leaves you confused and your athletes under-developed. These coaches have a million ideas but can't act. They have the answers but they can't make decisions.

The reasons not to use Olympic lifts are overwhelming. But these lifts are valuable tools. Just like anything in the weight room, the Olympic lifts are a tool in your toolbox. They're efficient tools to improve performance.

Programming is about long-term development. What better way to do that than using the Olympic lifts? You can use them for decades.

In most programs, the squat and bench press are staple movements. The Olympic lifts can be staples too. They're used to train different qualities, just like the squat and bench press. They can train strength, speed, and power. The Olympic lifts are versatile. They should be in every performance program.

Force absorption is important in sports. You must absorb force to produce it. The more force you can absorb, the better your chance of staying healthy. You absorb force any time you stop, land, or get hit. The Olympic lifts train force absorption when you catch the weight. This prepares you for games. That's specific.

I like the long-term development and force absorption benefits of the Olympic lifts. But my favorite reason for using them is the logistical benefits. If you have large teams, they're efficient power development tools.

Part of coaching means creating programs that work with the team and space in the facility. It's not always about doing what you want or see on social media. Training should be efficient, and the Olympic lifts are a good tool for this. You can a lot done with limited equipment, time, and space.

Like anything in the weight room, the Olympic lifts are a tool. They're not good or bad or right or wrong. As coaches, we have to do our best given time, space, and situation. Don't make excuses. Don't listen to someone on social media. Do your research. Try these lifts yourself. You might find them valuable. They might be just what athletes need.

tags: movements,coaching

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