We have spoken a number of times about why certain weightlifting exercises (SEE Snatch, Clean, and Jerks) are great for developing speed and power in athletes (and thus, why they should be included in training programs).
While that is still true, I want to discuss why weightlifting is EVEN BETTER for recreational athletes (as well as strength and conditioning coaches, for that matter).
Let’s talk about the second group first, because that is my cohort.
As strength and conditioning coaches, we are a competitive bunch and love to compete no matter how old (or out of shape) we get. Most of us are former athletes.
When you add the concept of high power output (which is present in these exercises), it works to emphasize the same points we already preach, day in and day out.
But wait, there is a cherry on top.
These lifts are highly technical, and require a lot of practice and good coaching. As strength coaches, we always want to be refining our craft, in order to provide the best possible coaching to our athletes. The more you practice the lifts on your own (and pick them apart), the better you’ll be at teaching (and coaching) them.
Now, let’s get to the recreational lifter and the crossfit population.
I will say there are certain things I enjoy about crossfit. People seem to love it, and love getting to the gym. This is great for the health and fitness community. It’s also a system that works well to improve overall physical capacities and body composition.
So why do people hate on it (especially in the health and fitness community)?
Probably because crossfit breaks people (whether it’s from the crazy volume expectations, or the improper techniques that inevitably result).
Regardless of your particular stance, here are a few reasons why these are amazing lifts for the recreational lifter (even though they seem too technical and only for the ‘elite’).
Above, you’ll see the world record holder in both lifts at 77kg class, Lu Xiaojun. Not only are crazy amounts of power required to move the bar, but Lu is catching the weight in a full-depth overhead squat.
Weightlifting requires a high level of mobility in your hips and ankles (as well as shoulders and upper back). These are the things the office-warrior loses as he ages, so working on getting to these positions is highly valuable. Posture is a massive component of these lifts, so those muscles will get a ton of attention. After a while, they’ll no choice but to get their act together.
2. Metabolic Demand
These lifts use the entire body. When you do a set of 8 or 10 reps at a submaximal weight, you’re burning a ton of fuel. It’s no wonder the elite lifters are shredded.
Even working with a dowel (wooden stick, step 1) to perfect the positions and transitions will be a great workout for most people (as the volume and attention to detail is typically high).
There is also a certain cool-factor that accompanies these lifts. Because they are so technical, not a lot of people do them well.
Therefore, walking into a gym, taking over the platform, and rocking some double body weight clean and jerks will definitely get you some attention. You’ll make a lot of friends that day. A lot of people can squat, but can they throw the same weight overhead as fast as you can? My mind just got blown.
For all these reasons, we’ve started a weightlifting club out of FITS Toronto where we work with weekend warriors to master these lifts. So far, the response has been impressive.
If you want to really kick your training into high gear (and find something to really pour your focus into), then start learning how to weightlift.
BONUS: Here is me hitting some PR’s yesterday as I journey to a bodyweight snatch…join me!
DOUBLE BONUS: Here’s Kyle beating Cory‘s PRs