My personal journey with Olympic weightlifting started in University when I was trying to become a better field hockey player at the University of Alberta. Along with sprint training, I learned the snatch and clean and jerk to help increase my speed and explosiveness on the field. After a summer of training, my coaches noticed an apparent difference. Following University, I continued to dabble in different types of fitness, and now I am training in Olympic lifting with a coach and participating in local competitions to feed my competitive soul. Olympic lifting has helped me come as close to my full potential as possible, both physically and mentally. The level of focus I require is a challenge for my mind as well.
Olympic lifting, also known as weightlifting, consists of performing two max effort lifts bringing a loaded barbell from the ground to overhead – the snatch and clean and jerk. It is a part of the Summer Olympic Games. In competition, the athlete has three attempts at each lift and the best of each are added to make a total. The person with the highest total wins!
Besides being a stand-alone sport, it can also be a great inclusion to an athlete’s training program. How can it enhance athletic performance? It can help someone learn how to apply a large amount of explosive force in a short period of time. In other words, it can help you become faster, stronger and more coordinated! An athlete also needs to be flexible enough to squat down to catch the barbell, as well as hold the barbell overhead, so Olympic lifting training can help increase flexibility and in turn maximize injury prevention.
Gymnasts, dancers, divers and athletes who have a high level of motor learning skills generally can pick up Olympic lifting technique very fast. Having younger athletes learn the lifts or variations of the lifts can help develop body awareness and proprioception.
Be sure to check out the weightlifting portion of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil!