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I have heard all of the excuses about olympic lifts, and heard all of the proponents chant he same old debates. Of course this debate will continue as we still have experts claiming that they don’t do them for an array of problems. Instead of naming names and creating a flame war, I will post additional rebuttals to the additional firestorm of reasons why one should not olympic lift. I have had some great success with those not using olympic lifts, and great results using them as a staple. I don’t like absolute comments, especially private sector people. Here are a few comments.

Olympic lifts are difficult to teach and it does take a while for someone to get proficient at them.It can be very tough to teach someone who’s isn’t talented to learn to be explode with a dumbbell or barbell in their hands.

How much time is this? The argument is a classic it’s not worth the time. The above video puts this myth to shame. If one is not talented enough to do the lifts, not doing something that requires skill is not going to help! General skills, such as the coordination required for great olympic lifts helps the less talented. I don’t think world class athletes will benefit, but those that are less talented and skilled need the most coordinative demands in training to make them more athletic.

Olympic lifters have great genetics.

True. Great olympic lifts are blessed, especially in joint mobility, but I have seen new athletes in their 50s adopt the exercises and get deeper each year. Granted I can’t give credit to the lifts only, but I have seen over and over again improvements from the lifts without joint mobility exercises. I would argue that a deep snatch would be a cardinal sign of great mobility, and that is trainable from just doing the exercises progressively. The irony here is that those that are proponents of mobility seem never to show ground based movements that are demanding in mobility. All I see is corrective mobility but no results of mobility. Where are the youtube montages of 3s on the Overhead Squats? Shouldn’t we have legions of athletes going deep? Now add a load and see the movement quality demands get higher. We can’t talk about movement quality without load, speed, and coordination. Mobility is one dimension.

Catching the barbell damages your AC joint severely.

I have read all the research and seen whole body scans with elite weightlifters and have seen only one case out of 65 (imaging) of a problem. The classic Fry study showed that 90% of the strains only missed a day, while 8% missed less than a week! That leaves 0.5% missing more than 3 weeks out of 530 cases. They are doing loads and volumes more than anyone, desperately trying to get their bodies to new levels. While other athletes using the lifts are less skilled, the loading is far less aggressive. I have had many elite sprinters tested by DPTs and none showed any functional issues in the last few years after hearing this cautionary tale. Where is the evidence? Bad coaching does create problems though, so we need to study healthy athletes and see why they are healthy, versus throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

I can teach various jump training exercises medicine ball, bodyweight jumps, and dumbbell movements, with much less coaching and instructional investment.

Sure. So can most of us. Strange I never see much more than box jumps from the master teachers and I have seen the facilities and wonder how they are throwing medicine balls up? When someone says I can do something I find that they are not! A real answer is when we do this I have found we get this or that. I also don’t see too much plyometrics videos? Why is this? It’s amazing how much discussion on complexes I hear but never see it in group settings or even in busy one on one private work. Overcoming gravity is the name of the game, and air guitar methods with DB snatches isn’t working. Plyos are great but they are more demanding on the connective tissues and are faster and have more moving parts. If you can’t teach the olympic lifts please don’t try coaching plyometrics!

Olympic lifting is a sport.

So are bodybuilding, powerlifting, and track and field, but getting hypertrophy, strength, and speed from those methods are not a problem! The next time I see someone hurdle over an athlete in football or throw a full court pass I will wonder how can people keep writing this stuff. We may not need to do all of the lifts but a hang snatch is a great option for people that may not have the abilities to all the lifts. With all this shoulder packing talk I wonder what they are preparing for? Turkish Get Ups?

Again the lifts are not the only way to develop athletes, but I would bet they are better investments because they do so much. If you coach HS kids and college kids as a team or strength coach you will have the time, unless you cater to the private sector of 3-4 hours a week, then things are different. No absolutes!

Carl Valle

Carl Valle

Track & Field Coach
Carl is an expert coach who has produced champions in swimming, track and numerous other sports. He is one of the foremost experts in the fields of nutrition and restoration.
Carl Valle

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