I can’t tell you how many times I have seen athletes in a random gym, no older than 14, trying to perfect a hang clean, or jerk, or snatch. Of course, their forms are egregious, but that doesn’t matter to them. All that matters is getting the weight up, by any means necessary. There is no such thing as grated pride, the only reward is if they can overcome the external load; the only failure is if they cannot overcome the external load. And the most alarming thing about these situations is that athletes are only performing these complicated movements because their strength coaches have implemented them into their programming.
What’s the Big Deal?
Olympic lifts are very complex movements, and personally, I am not a proponent of implementing them into my programming UNLESS athletes can properly grasp the movement, which in my five years of being in this profession is a rarity.
Please, do not take what I said the wrong way. I am not condemning Olympic movements; however, what I am saying is that if athletes cannot perform them, because of their complexity, why should they do them. If an athlete does not have the shoulder stability to perform a snatch or a jerk, or have the flexibility in the wrist to perform a hang clean, why should he/she do it? It would be foolish to subject an athlete to harm, no?
You ever stop to wonder why Olympic lifts are so functional to athletic training…one word: triple extension. It is the synchronization of the ankle, knee, and hip that makes a vertical jump in basketball, a block or tackle in football, or an explosive first step at the sound of the gun in track possible.
(In this position, the athlete is pressing through the floor with the balls of their feet and forcefully pushing their ankles into plantar flexion.)
(Because the ankle is in plantar flexion the quads with extend the knee into knee extension.)
(Because the knees are in extension, the hips will follow suit and roll forward to extension, and if you look closely, you can see that the glute max has been activated.)
Olympics lifts will force athletes to explosively move heavy loads in a pushing or a pressing motion, but never should these loads put athletes in untenable positions. Safety is the number 1 priority. I beg strength coaches across the country to modify Olympic movements when working with athletes because they are not Olympic lifters, nor do they aspire to be (normally). Strength coaches should keep the goal in mind: triple extension, when implementing Olympic lifts. If athletes cannot perfect the loaded movements above their heads, they should not feel discouraged because true athleticism starts from the waist down. And if you want to talk functionality, I can’t name a major American sport where athletes are asked to stabilize over 100lbs over their head…
So, remember, athletes and strength coaches, do not get too stressed over the things that happen above the waist, as athleticism starts from the waist down. Check out our video on triple extension.
And remember, to Engage, Transform and Inspire someone.