By Ben Hwa, BLITZ™ Program Director at Sports Club/LA – San Francisco
Before you stop reading because you don’t think this applies to you, be patient. To the uninitiated, Olympic weightlifting seems like something only for the big and burly, but that’s not the case. It’s one of the best “bang-for-buck” exercises you can do in the gym.
You might have seen these exercises performed at a sports facility, local Crossfit gym or a similar HIIT workout program. There are three main movements involved in Olympic weightlifting: snatch, clean and jerk. Essentially, they all involve lifting weight up and above your head. Conceptually, it’s a very simple task, but to do it correctly takes lots of practice.
The first and probably most important reason to learn these exercises is to improve overall body composition, as well as bone density. Olympic lifts activate almost every single muscle in your body, which means your caloric expenditure goes through the roof. You’ll also get a full workout done in a shorter amount of time. Because you’re doing a weight-bearing exercise, your bones are going to get healthier, which becomes increasingly important as you age.
Another important benefit of performing these lifts, even at light weights, is teaching the body how to move as a single unit. Fitness isn’t just one characteristic—it can be broken down into a multitude of variables. Some of the most overlooked are power, agility, coordination and balance. The snatch, clean and jerk improves all of these variables. It’s important to remember that fitness isn't just about strength—it’s about developing all physical features that will allow for a longer and more enjoyable life.
Injury prevention is another reason you should incorporate Olympic weightlifting into your weekly training routine. When you master the flexibility, coordination, balance and strength necessary to perform Olympic lifts, future injuries can easily be prevented. You may not realize it, but many of the movements we do daily are similar to the Olympic lifts, such as picking up your groceries or putting things away on the top shelf. Another important thing to note is that Olympic weightlifting has one of the lowest injury rates of any sport.
The benefits of Olympic weightlifting are plentiful but, as with anything, it’s important to do them correctly. Don’t be intimidated by what you see or think—give it a shot! The BLITZ coaches at Sports Club/LA all have a background in Olympic weightlifting and will make sure you learn in a safe environment and have fun doing it.