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What to Know Before You Start Olympic Weightlifting

Posted on November 03 2019

KH Performance Lab

by Kajs Hadžić
of KH Performance Lab

  


As anyone who has ever watched “Fails from the CrossFit Games” knows, Olympic lifting is very exciting yet easy to screw up. If you want to try this sport, then follow these four tips to make the most of your training.


1. Check your ego

You might have a background in powerlifting or another strength sport and even post some impressive numbers, but the clean and jerk and the snatch are different beasts. Someone new to Olympic lifting might even have an advantage over you due to their lack of pre-existing motor patterns. Chances are you'll be working with a stick, not even an empty barbell, for a long time. Quite possibly the worst blow to your self-esteem will be seeing a crossfitter outlift you; still, that’s better than winding up in “Gym Idiots” because you dropped a barbell on yourself. Come to terms with the fact that you’ll be a small fish in a big pond.

Laurel Hubbard

don't take the easy way out like Laurel Hubbard


2. Get a coach

A sport that requires you to hoist weights over your head is too technical to learn from YouTube videos. A coach with a lot of in-person training experience will save you a lot of time, effort, and frustration by teaching you, giving immediate feedback, and diagnosing your problems. Don’t just sign up with any newbie who took a weekend certification course can upload videos and pretend to be an expert.

clean fail

more proof that anybody can get certified 

Look for a USA Weightlifting (USAW) coach. The USAW's Find a Club function allows you to find a registered facility in your area. Contact one near you and set up a try out session. You will have the opportunity to see the facility and equipment as well as talk to the staff.

Also, try to find some info about a coach in official competition records. Don't get distracted by their personal records while they were active lifters; some individuals just lacked the natural potential to be supreme athletes.


3. Research the basics

Don’t sign up with a coach until you have a grasp of the fundamentals of the snatch and the clean and jerk. You’ll get your money’s worth when you’re not completely lost. Studying the terminology and mechanics of these lifts will help you to understand your coach’s queues, how to perform every part of the lift, and what weak points to work on.

watch me explain how to hold the barbell properly


4. Lace up

    Weightlifting shoes are the only "necessary" items for Olympic lifting. They give you more ankle mobility, a solid and wide base, and a very secure stance. When shopping for weightlifting shoes, focus on the heel height (0.75" being the standard), number of straps, and width.

    wide feet normal feet narrow feet
    • Asics TOW727
    • Do-Win (any)
    • Nike Romaleos 2
    • Position USA (any)
    • Reebok Legacy Lifter
    • Adidas Adistar
    • Adidas Ironwork
    • Adidas Power Perfect (my choice, Elgin's affiliate link)
    • Adidas Powerlift
    • Nike Romaleos 3
    • Nike Romaleos 3XD
    • Reebok Lifter PR
    • Adidas Adipower
    • Adidas Leistung 2

     

    Hit the Platform

    Hopefully these tips make Olympic lifting less intimidating and mysterious. You might never win a gold medal, especially if you're reading this past the age of 5, but you'll be well on your way to hitting PRs and making corny "jerk" and "snatch" jokes on social media.

     

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