Thoughts on Incorporating Olympic Lifts for Sport

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One of the most common questions I receive is regarding the use of weightlifting (Olympic lifting) in the training of athletes. As many know, I’m a big advocate of Olympic lifting. I’ve been an instructor for USA Weightlifting, co-coach a competitive club at Athletic Lab, and lift competitively myself. As a coach, I incorporate the lifts and their variants in to the majority of my training plans.

In this recent Athletic Lab Sport Performance Podcast my colleague and podcast host, John Grace, took me through an interview about my thoughts on how I incorporate the lifts. Among the topics covered were:

  • Why use Olympic weightlifting?
  • Guidelines on sets and reps
  • Preferences on power snatch vs power clean
  • Should we use Hang, Power, or Full variations, why?
  • Different variations at different times of year
  • Strategies on building work capacity with the lifts (EMOM, complexes, etc)
  • What if we can’t Olympic lift?

If you found the podcast interesting I would suggest subscribing on Soundcloud or iTunes as the weekly podcast is just getting started and has already had a great list of speakers in its first five episodes (Mladen Jovanovic, Nick Winkelman, Greg Everett, and Ryan Horn).

You also might be interested in my post on the following two posts:

Mike Young

Mike Young

Founder of ELITETRACK at Athletic Lab
Mike has a BS in Exercise Physiology from Ohio University, an MSS in Coaching Science from Ohio University & a PhD in Biomechanics from LSU. Additionally, he has been recognized as a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) from the National Strength & Conditioning Association, a Level 3 coach by USA Track & Field, a Level 2 coach by USA Weightlifting.
Mike Young

@mikeyoung

@AthleticLab Owner. Strength/Speed Coach. Former MLS Fitness Coach. Sport Scientist. Entrepreneur. Coach Educator. Fitness Enthusiast.
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Mike Young
Mike Young
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  • Matt Kuzdub

    I enjoyed this podcast, thanks for sharing. One question, unless I missed it – what sports would you either a) highly recommend using the OLs OR b) oppose the use of OLs? For example, they are common with football, rugby athletes but maybe not as common with tennis or soccer athletes – would you still incorporate them with a tennis player?

    • Hey Matt. Thanks for the comments. I’ve used them with athletes in practically all sports but I’d definitely be more likely to use them in sports like Track & Field, Rugby, Football, and Bobsleigh. I’d be less likely to use them in soccer, tennis, baseball, etc. That said, I have still used them in those populations. In those sports I think the risk:reward isn’t quite as favorable. There is not only a greater sporting impact that a potential upper extremity issues (wrist, shoulder, etc) that could arise from poorly executed OLs but also success in those sports is less about physicality that the other sports. I also take in to account prior injury history, training age (is it worth teaching a 35 year old soccer player in his last year of playing how to do OLs?), and anthropometry when considering whether to include OLs or not.