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The Curious Case of Olympic Lifting

Within the community it has become a growing topic of discussion whether or not Olympic lifts have a place within the training setting. For years now coaches have used O-lifts to develop power in their athletes but since the turn of the century, many have argued whether there is a reason for keeping them around. Some arguments have been that their not safe, others have been their hard to coach. Many say there are better exercises that develop power like Dynamic Effort squats, jump variations, and other resistance band/chain jump/lift combos. This article is designed to dispel some of the myths and to allow me to weigh in on this issue.

First, we got to look at the power and velocity developed in the O-lifts. Exercises like dynamic squats and variations of jump squats come nowhere near the O-lifts in the realm of same velocity. The true nature of Olympic Lifts are designed to be high velocity, high load lifts. Sure while the box jumps may still be high velocity, they are generally only done "safely" with low loads - ultimately ruling them out to be classified as "equal" with O-lifts.

I can understand that coaching individuals and athletes to properly Olympic lift can be difficult. However, this is a reflection of the trainer's/coach's ability and not the athletes. A good coach can instruct anything. Don't blame the exercise as the reason why you cannot get the athletes to properly execute a good Olympic lift.

Ultimately, the big deal comes down to this. Everything has a place and a time. I've said this before on the site and I will repeat it again because I think it's quite important. We in this profession have gotten into the habit of deducing everything down to a single "ranked & classified" entity. Because of this we often take a "this or that" approach.

What I want to emphasize is that Olympic lifting is like the "screwdriver" in your toolbox. You are not going to show up to the work site with only the screw driver; you're going to bring your entire tool box. If coaches followed proper Olympic lifting progressions, coach & queue the hell out of the lifts, and understand their proper place & time... they become a great tool in developing power.

Is it the only tool to develop power? - Absolutely not. I'm not going to list all the ways to develop power because it would go on and on, but Olympic lifting is certainly not a bad approach. Before we as coaches try to deduce everything down to "which is better", we must understand it's not always a "this or that" approach, but rather a "when and where" approach.

Yet, I have a feeling that coaches will remain on the fence about this for some time still.

Adam Ringler

Adam Ringler

Adam Ringler, MS, SCCC, CSCS is a hard working, loyal, and competitive Strength & Conditioning Coach at the University of Colorado. Born on Television, Raised by wolves.

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