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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Is Olympic Lifting Dangerous?

Yesterday I was asked if Olympic Lifting (clean & Jerk, Snatch) is dangerous.

These movements are perhaps the hardest, most fundamentally challenging, exercises in existence.  Professional Olympic lifters spend years perfecting their technique.  Much like a professional golfer tries to perfect the golf swing, a professional weight lifter will spend his entire career trying to perfect the two Olympic lifts.

The snatch is the best exercise for developing power, speed and athleticism.  It is the single fastest lift.  It is the fastest way we can move heavy loads from the ground to over head.

The Clean & Jerk is one of the most basic, functional movements.  It is how we pick things off the ground and put them over head.  Have you ever picked up a bag and put it into the overhead compartment on an airplane?  Then you have performed a Clean & Jerk!  The Clean & Jerk is a movement we perform daily.

There are two ways people get hurt in the gym.

  1. Performing a movement with bad form and performing the movement many times.
  2. Performing a movement with bad form and loading the movement with a lot of weight.
Notice the connection?  Any movement performed with bad form can be dangerous.  Because of the technical aspect of these lifts, one should learn proper technique with very light weight (PVC pipe, or wooden dowel) before loading these movements.  You should also learn how to "dump" the weight properly on failed attempts.  Because of the technical nature of these lifts, failed attempts will happen.  It is very important to learn how to get out from under the bar so it doesn't come crashing down on you!

There is some debate in the fitness world whether high repetition Olympic lifting is dangerous.  Olympic lifting is commonly done with heavy weight and low repetitions.  But why can't it be done with high repetitions?  I believe these two movements can be done within any time domain.  Just like running can be done for short time periods or long time periods, so can Olympic weight lifting.  As long as form in maintained throughout!

The Clean & Jerk and Snatch are the two best exercises for developing power and athleticism.  Every high level athlete should learn these movements and use them in their training.  They are completely safe and effective when done properly.


Very good demo video, i believe i've seen parts of those movements in our workouts!

Thanks rich! Yes, you have done some clean & jerks in our workouts. Pretty soon you will be throwing some massive weight over head!

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