Have you found yourself watching the Olympics and thinking, ‘I could do that!’, then this is the blog for you! Whether you have been lifting weights for a while, or are reasonably new to the sport, weightlifting is a form of exercise that everyone can do.
The benefits of weight training are plentiful, not only does training strengthen muscles but it also increases bone density, which reduces the risk of fractures and broken bones. Weight training also builds stronger connective tissues, and increases joint stability which can help to prevent injury. What is great about weight training is that no matter what your current strength level is you don’t have to wait to get started - just adjust the weight size as your strength improves.
Read the below and get practising, and we’ll be ready to cheer you on at the next Olympics!
So, which weightlifting moves are featured at Olympic level?
The two most prominent Olympic lifts are the Snatch, and the Clean and Jerk.
Practising variations of these moves can help you to build up the strength to reach the Olympic level power needed to pull off the moves. See the image above of our Glutey babe smashing the Overhead Squat in her Midnight Stone Cross Bra, the Gluteywear squat-proof leggings in dusty purple, and the black ribbed ankle socks.
What is a Snatch?
A Snatch involves a barbell loaded with weight plates that is placed horizontally on the platform in front of the lifter's legs. With palms facing downwards, the bar is gripped and pulled in a single movement, from the platform to the full extension of both arms above the head, while either splitting or bending the legs. The movement is completed with the lifter moving to a standing position with the bar still held above the head.
How to do a Snatch:
- Keeping the bar as close to the body as possible, drive the barbell up with your legs (similar to deadlift).
- As the bar passes your knees, explosively extend hips and use that momentum to carry the bar up.
- When the hips are fully extended, quickly drive your body under the barbell, elbows high, and catch the barbell in an overhead position.
- To finish, slowly lower the barbell to hips and absorb with bent knees and hips before lowering to ground. Always maintain a braced trunk.
You can master the Clean by practising these moves:
- Overhead Squat - barbell held overhead, lower yourself into a low squat then rise up and repeat. The lower portion of the squat mimics the landing position of the full barbell snatch perfectly. It's also great for working on your overall balance, stability, and shoulder mobility.
- Snatch Balance/Drop Snatch - starting with the bar held across your back, with hands held out wide on the bar, like they would be for a Snatch. Dip at the knees and then drive the weight upward. As the weight lifts from your shoulders, drop into the bottom of an overhead squat position. Practice with an empty bar, or even a broom, before advancing to using weight. Focusing on form is key.
What is a Clean and Jerk?
The Clean and Jerk uses a barbell loaded with weights placed horizontally in front of the lifter, and gripped with both palms facing downward. It is then pulled in a single movement from the platform to the lifter’s shoulders, while either splitting or bending the legs. The lifter then rests the bar on the chest, where their legs are straight before performing the jerk. They then bend the legs, and extend them as well as the arms, to bring the bar to the full stretch where the arms are vertically extended.
How to master a Clean and Jerk:
In order to master this move, we recommend practising both aspects of the exercise separately from each other before combining as one.
You can master the Clean by practising these moves:
- Front Squat - there are many forms of squat, but if you’re building up to master a heavy Clean and Jerk you should practice the "front rack" position, with the bar in your hands and your elbows pointed forward. Your upper back, lower back, shoulders, and wrists have to be strong to do a clean. Fortunately, the move itself can build the needed strength: use an empty bar and practice holding the bar in the front rack position and squat down—way down.
- Clean Pull - similar to a deadlift, except you'll need to keep your arms just slightly bent and the bar close to your body. Instead of using your arms to yank the bar up, you will use your ankles, knees, and hips - known as "triple extension" - to drive the bar upward. Your form should stay the same, no matter how heavy you load the bar.
You can master the Jerk by practising these moves:
- Push Press - it’s one of the best movements for building shoulder strength, and also perfect for practising the trickiest part of a clean and jerk: being comfortable with having heavy weight held over your head. Hold the bar in front of your chest, palms gripping the bar and facing upwards, and push overhead.
- Push Jerk - slightly more complex than the push press and requiring a little more coordination too. The Push Jerk is just like the Push Press, but more explosive. It involves re-bending your knees after you dip and drive to "catch" the bar over your head.
If you are new to these moves, NEVER do it unaccompanied by a professional. Always begin with an empty, or very light bar, until you master the movement. Mastering your form before adjusting the weight is key.