So You Wanna Try Olympic Weightlifting? This VIDA Trainer Tells You How
By Mekita Rivas, VIDA editor and member
Olympic weightlifting has become increasingly popular in recent years. It’s no longer just for actual Olympians — people from all walks of life are embracing this explosive, full-body workout.
But first thing’s first: What is Olympic weightlifting? Put simply, it’s two intense lifts:
– The snatch
– The clean and jerk
These require tons of strength, speed, mobility, and technical accuracy. Both are overhead lifts that use a barbell and involve a full body range of motion. Intense as it may seem, the ultimate goal is to lift the most weight possible (using proper form, of course) at a rapid speed.
If you’ve ever thought about giving Olympic weightlifting a try, VIDA is a great place to begin that journey. We caught up with Cat Doyle, Personal Training Manager at VIDA Fitness Logan Circle, to chat about how to get started. Cat is also a USA Weightlifting Sports Performance Coach and a Level 3 Titleist Performance Institute Fitness Professional, so it’s safe to say that she knows what she’s talking about.
Let’s say someone wants to begin Olympic weightlifting. What should they do?
If someone is a beginner, I always explain the proper progression for learning the Olympic lifts. Certain movements must be mastered before advancing to the Olympic lifts: front squat, overhead squat, snatch grip deadlift, and military press. Many people will need to incorporate a variety of corrective exercises before they can get into the appropriate positions necessary for Olympic lifting. It can take some time and patience to get there, but they will be better weightlifters down the road!
What are some common misconceptions about Olympic weightlifting?
The biggest misconception about Olympic weightlifting is that it’s dangerous. Statistically, it’s one of the safest sports out there. Of course, it’s important to find a good coach to learn proper technique, which includes learning how to properly “miss” a lift. Olympic weightlifting can be very taxing on the central nervous system, so learning to take the appropriate rest time between sets is important as well. Just like any other sport, a proper warm-up and cool down are key to preventing injuries.
Describe what a typical Olympic weightlifting workout looks like.
– Warm-up to elevate the heart rate (sprints, burpees, box jumps, etc.)
– Olympic lifts (snatches, cleans, or jerks)
– Strength (typically squats or deadlifts)
– Accessory work (varies person to person but should always include some core work)
– Stretching and flexibility
How can people incorporate Olympic weightlifting into their existing routine?
It really depends on their goals. For example, I train several golfers who want to improve their swing and add distance to their game. Their goal is not to compete in Olympic weightlifting, so they do not need to be doing the full movement from the floor. I can incorporate elements of the lifts such as clean pulls or split jerks with dumbbells, and they will still gain strength and power benefits over time. If someone is looking to incorporate the Olympic lifts into their routine, these lifts should be done at the beginning of the workout while the central nervous system is fresh. Then they can move on to the strength and accessory exercises.
What are the benefits of Olympic weightlifting?
There are so many benefits! An athlete can incorporate Olympic lifts into his or her routine to gain strength and power that will translate into any sport. Weightlifters also develop a greater sense of proprioception and improved flexibility.
My favorite part of Olympic weightlifting is the mental challenge. Even lifters at the highest level are constantly working to improve their technique. It can sometimes feel like two steps forward, one step back. But the feeling I get when I hit a PR makes all the hard work and dedication feel worthwhile! And the best part about Olympic weightlifting is that you can start at any age and keep it up for a long time.