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Are you ready for Olympic Lifts?

Are you ready for Olympic Lifts?

Olympic lifts have become much more popular since London 2012 and the growth in Crossfit training which incorporates these lifts at advanced levels.

Are they a good idea for your training program? Here's what you need to know:

What are Olympic lifts?

Professional athletes competing in the Olympics focus on two lifts: the clean and jerk and the snatch.

The Clean Jerk

The clean and jerk combines ‘the clean’ movement which is lifting the bar from the ground and bringing it to the shoulder and ‘the jerk’ which is pressing the weight above the head. The clean and jerk is all about speed and form, and the process has been slowed down in the below video for an idea of how it looks:


The Snatch

The snatch combines a dead lift, barbell shrug, jump squat and overheat squat, so it is a highly-advanced movement. All of the above are included in the same single motion and a strong core is integral to success with the snatch. The below video slows down the movement to make it clearer:


Should you be Olympic Lifting?

The decision to give Olympic lifts a go is personal but you may want to consider the following first:

It is never recommended Olympic lifts are tried by anyone who has had a history of back issues.

If you have suffered any kind of injury you should discuss your plans with a professional trainer before trying out either Olympic lift on your own.

It is also essential you have the following skills before giving them a go:

  • Hip Hinge: a quality hip hinge is essential for both Olympic lifts. It is a fundamental pattern which you need for kettlebell swings and Romanian deadlifts too so if you practice these moves a lot the chances are your hinge is coming along fine.
  • Squat: without a strong squat, there is no point giving Olympic lifts even the slightest consideration. What’s more the squat needed for Olympic lifting differs from your average squat. Practice every kind of squat, not just back squats. Perfect that front barbell squat and goblet squats too. 
  • Maximal jumps: to build the jump squat element of the snatch you have to have serious jumping power. Jumping and landing should be practiced as often as your squats and hinges. Your legs will feel the additional work but if you’re out of practice then your maximal jump needs to be practiced.

If you’re determined to give Olympic lifts a go then take it slowly and gradually. Work your muscles carefully, adding in more sets and reps without overdoing it and in time your body will stronger, more mobile and ready to try one or more of these elite level lifts. 

the author

Joe Sherman

Joe is a keen gym-goer, footballer and cyclist. He has a passion for the latest fitness trends and marketing.