View Full Version : O-Lifting; Heath and Longevity

Troy Archie
12-09-2007, 04:04 PM
So I had my first Olympic lifting meet yesterday. I was pretty dismal but it was good fun and a pretty cool experience. It, along with the recent article “Integrating the Olympic Lifts with CrossFit” and re-reading the “Heath and Longevity Bias” thread has left me thinking about O-Lifting in terms of overall heath and longevity and if such a thing exists.

Thru my short experience in the lifts and observations at the meet, I saw a lot of guys with nagging injuries, chronic and acute, which is something I’ve also felt in my short time working with the lifts. I’ve seen a lot of guys constantly fighting problems and injuries ranging from younger 22 y/o lifters to the older guys lifting in their 40’s and 50’s, the latter spending a lot more time recuperating from their injuries if at all. You’re probably going to find this same thing in any sport/competition.

On the other end of the spectrum you find it in the day-to-day 9-5-work week but not from over-reaching and over-training but from complete lack of physical activity and a shitty diet.

So where is the balance? Is there a balance? Can one use the O-lifts as a means of maintain and obtaining health and longevity? I’m just a guy who things the O-lifts are good fun and likes to keep fit.

I’m surprised there wasn’t more questions posted about the recent O-lifting and Crossfit integration article, which has left me with the conclusion that it’s one or the other when it comes to O-lifting and a mix isn’t really that feasible, leading to over-training/reaching or a mix/screw up of motor patterns…
Just throwing thoughts out there.

Great article BTW Greg, same with the Heath and Longevity Bias thread. Solid reads.

Jay Cohen
12-09-2007, 04:51 PM

Nice job, but you have to post your numbers.

As to your comments or observations, I think it's a matter of priorities and training/competing intelligently.

If you're training for big meets, national/international records, you might be willing to lay it out on the line somewhat more then the occasional meet, or trying to get a big CFT number.

Some more knowledgeable then I will chime in, but I'm backing off the CF WOD's to focus more on my O lifting, as there's no way I can hit both(thats me, others might be able to).

I have a couple of meets over the next two months, would really like to get my rookie(clueless) abilities and technique to improve, as I'd really like to attend the Masters in April, so that is my goal and priority.

As to injuries, I didn't play high school/college sports, so I'm not too banged up. I do get monthly massages, stretch, get plenty of rest, eat pretty good, so will I tweak something, you bet, will I train through the injury, doubtful. I'd like to be lifting like my coach Lou DeMarco, he's putting the weights up, 6 days a week and he's in his 70's.

Just my two rumbling cents.

Greg Everett
12-09-2007, 05:05 PM
Bottom line is that any committment to specialization at an advanced level is accompanied by some degree of sacrifice--that's the just nature of sport at high levels, and O-lifting is by no means unique in that regard, although there is plenty of variation among sports in terms of the nature and degree of said sacrifice.

With attention to recovery, smart programming, and maybe some luck, I do think most can manage a fairly high level of O-lifting while not damning themselves to a wheelchair at the age of retirement. Much of the chronic injuries you see are less a product of the sport itself than of poor management of acute problems. That is, many of the athletes are focused on the more immediate, i.e. training this week, or for the next meet, and neglect the big picture, i.e. wheelchair. With a broader perspective, I think much of this can be avoided, and of course, this is an issue of priorities.

Troy Archie
12-09-2007, 05:32 PM
Interesting points...

My results? Right here (http://performancemenu.com/forum/showpost.php?p=23147&postcount=118).

Mike ODonnell
12-09-2007, 06:29 PM
I think O-lifting is a different thing than the high repetition movement exercises/sports. (as most reps are usually 5-1). Anything done to any extreme will of course cause more damage. Lots of ways to cause damage. Like Greg said, recovery is going to be key and any sport will most likely have some degree of damage to go with it. Case in point...I play ice hockey..,.my knees probably have been damamged...I play once a week but if I was trying to practice 3x a week and play games 3x a week my body would probably wear down. Balance and recovery. Doing anything to the extreme will most likely lead to accelerated aging, a new hip and knee.

Jonathan Owen
12-09-2007, 08:44 PM
I have only competed twice, but between the two I have witnessed two men and two women well over the age of 60. I think one man was close to mid-to-late 70s, and he set an american record that day.(Connecticut Open) The absolute weight that he lifted was not huge, but when you take into account his age and what he was lifting it was awesome! The other older masters lifters were also throwing up some good weight. Personally, I would think that having the basic strength and power to c&j 90 pounds when you are eligible for a senior discount would greatly help in performing normal, daily tasks around the house. Im not saying that these athletes were moving around like they were in their 30's, but they were much more mobile than most older people I come in contact with. Im very confident that their training has a large part to do with that.


-Ross Hunt
12-09-2007, 09:26 PM
Keep in mind that many, many of the old guys have gone away for the sport for a while and then come back after a decade or three of sitting behind a desk. That takes its toll... I don't know how many case studies there are of old, continuously active oly lifters, especially any with good nutrition.

It's great that you're starting oly lifting. Trust me, you have a long way to go before you start to push the cost: benefit ratio envelope into undesired territory. I've snatched 95, C+Jed 125, power snatched my bodyweight, and power cleaned 120 at a weight of 85 kilos, and I've never come close to injury. There is a qualitative difference between, one the one hand--- training once a day, 4 to 6 days a week, and training harder some months than others and not doing as many comp lifts, and, on the other--- training 6 to 7 days a week, once or twice a day, always doing comp lifts, and pulling the foot off the accelerator only just as often as is necessary to generate gains. You have to do the latter to get injured; you also have to do the latter to be really good at the sport. But you don't have to do the latter to get a bodyweight snatch, a C+J 15 to 30 kilos beyond that, and comparable strength numbers.

Just my two cents, and good luck, whatever you decide to do.

Jay Cohen
12-10-2007, 02:20 AM
Interesting points...

My results? Right here (http://performancemenu.com/forum/showpost.php?p=23147&postcount=118).


Great job, nice write up of the meet. Those numbers are very close to my present level of competency.

I'll post after my meet Sunday.

Garrett Smith
12-10-2007, 06:03 AM
I actually have a patient who was an American record holder in the old Olympic Press in the 225# division. He's coming to me in hopes of avoiding his THIRD back surgery.

It made me rethink my priorities.

No one expects racecars to last a long time, they constantly push their limits. While humans can recover (as opposed to machines), constantly pushing limits will overextend recovery capacity more often than not. Oh yeah, racecars that are constantly trying to surpass their old records often have spectacular accidents.

Just some thoughts. I've found that once a competitive mindset enters the picture, it tends to corrupt health as a priority in one's life. This is an insidious thing.

Scott Kustes
12-10-2007, 11:09 AM
To continue with Dr. G's racecar analogy, remember that dragster engines are rebuilt after every 1/4 mile. There is certainly a cost to high-level athleticism, a cost that I felt last summer when I was CFing at a much higher level than I am now. Nagging elbow tendonitis, constant muscle soreness....I decided that it wasn't worth it to strive to be a 99 percentile CFer when I can work hard, but not kill myself and be a 65 percentile CFer and 90 percentile when compared to the rest of the hoi polloi in the nation. Give me health and longevity over performance.

sarena kopciel
12-10-2007, 11:27 AM
To continue with Dr. G's racecar analogy, remember that dragster engines are rebuilt after every 1/4 mile. There is certainly a cost to high-level athleticism, a cost that I felt last summer when I was CFing at a much higher level than I am now. Nagging elbow tendonitis, constant muscle soreness....I decided that it wasn't worth it to strive to be a 99 percentile CFer when I can work hard, but not kill myself and be a 65 percentile CFer and 90 percentile when compared to the rest of the hoi polloi in the nation. Give me health and longevity over performance.

I am beginning to think along those lines....

Mike ODonnell
12-10-2007, 12:31 PM
That and the scenery is so much more enjoyable at a nice pace rather than a blur at 200 mph....2 different mentalities of doing something as hard as you can to get to assume you will be happy to reach some end point (which may never come)....or realizing that real happiness is living the journey now...so why not enjoy it.

Scott Kustes
12-10-2007, 12:52 PM
Wh---what's that feeling overtaking me? Is it.....zen? Why yes, Mr. ODonnell has just induced a state of zen. I feel the calm overtaking me.

Gant Grimes
12-10-2007, 01:23 PM
What makes you happy depends on your wiring. I've had several injuries that have knocked me out for extending periods of time. As soon as I recover, I get back at it or find something else. I feel better if I attack my workouts. In fact, I don't know any different. The rest of my life is pretty laid back, small town, good family life, enjoyable job, etc.; maybe that's where the balance comes in.

But the idea of longevity for longevity's sake doesn't do it for me. Maybe things will change when I hit 40, but I'm peace for now.

Then again, I'm barely strong enough to make myself sore, much less injure myself. Like another poster said, I'm not lifting enough to damage myself too bad. If my joints hurt, I'll miss a day. Not a problem.

Jay Cohen
12-10-2007, 01:37 PM
Little of topic, but has anyone read:

Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment by George Leonard



Garrett Smith
12-10-2007, 01:51 PM
All that being said, I do believe I want to enter at least one Master's OL competition once I hit 35. I did the one Tactical Strength Challenge, trained hard for it (and got the associated overuse injuries), and won my division. So, for the OL comp, I've got three years to go until then, lots of coaching and training to go...won't even think about it again until maybe a year from the comp, if only to remind myself.

Sometimes I do wish I had some sort of athletic endeavor to experience/demonstrate this new type of fitness that I've gained...then again, I simply haven't desired that enough to pursue it at this time.

I've actually considered an "Aerial Dance" class that utilizes low-swinging trapezes, their level I&II class is intended for those who have taken it before and the "athletically inclined". I think I can manage the latter category. Curious? See www.orts.org/ for more info...

Gant Grimes
12-10-2007, 02:22 PM
Troy, by the time I replied, I had gotten off the original topic.

First of all, congrats on the meet. I just competed in my first Saturday, the Rick James (yes, that one) Memorial in Wichita Falls. It was a good time. I was the only lifter to sport the shorts and t-shirt and the only guy to do the power versions of everything. Good enough. I posted my video clips on my workout log to respond to your question.

I don't know about the guys you saw, but I came into this with some old injuries. Before CF, I was sedentary for a few months after going over my handlbars, over a hill, and onto a large boulder. Before that, I rehabbed an ACL tear from rugby. Before that, Judo...and fighting...and football...etc. After a few months of CF, I feel better than ever. The lethargy, bodyfat, and joint pain (most of it), have been gone. I'll follow this OLY thing as long as I can, but if my joints hurt one day, I'll do CF instead of rack jerks for the 12th consecutive day. No problem.

As I said earlier, it comes down to how you're wired. I've finally figured out that I'm not comfortable unless I'm testing myself in new areas. In other words, I want to get good at something and see how far I can get before I get my ass kicked. I need that for some unhealthy reason. In my 33rd year, I'm looking forward to more OLY meets, a Judo tourney or two, a master's track meet, and the Highland Games. I'll go until I can't.

On the other hand, one of my Judo teachers, Vince Tamura, was damn near 80 years old before he retired. I had several inches and at least 60 pounds on him, but he treated me a Swifter and cleaned up his mats. Hopefully I'll achieve some competitive balance where I can enjoy a career like that.

Garrett Smith
12-10-2007, 03:35 PM
I didn't say it before I hijacked--nice job on the meet!

Troy Archie
12-10-2007, 10:12 PM
the Rick James (yes, that one) Memorial in Wichita Falls.

For real?

No don't feel like you're hijacking the thread at all. Using personal examples from different sports is really insightful. Good stuff.

Gant Grimes
12-11-2007, 07:12 AM
For real?

It is Rip's gym.

The certificates were cool.

Greg Battaglia
12-11-2007, 08:42 AM
I think this all goes back to evolutionary theory. Humans didn't evolve to bang out grueling WOD's. They were more medium-distance "athlete's" running, jumping, twisting, hopping, slashing, sprinting, climbing, lifting, and chopping intermittently everyday. Look to nature for answers to longevity, then combine them with the protection of modern life (ie consistent shelter, protection from infectious disease, predation, starvation, etc). Frank Forencich seems to be the man with the plan. Art D isn't bad either. Enjoy life, enjoy your workouts, an every so often push yourself to the max just for a good challenge and to add some spice to things.

Gant Grimes
12-11-2007, 02:40 PM
WOD- week of 12/10/12,000 BC

Day 1- kill something and eat it
Day 2- kill something and eat it
Day 3- kill something and eat it...

Programming was so easy back then.

Mike ODonnell
12-11-2007, 03:17 PM
WOD- week of 12/10/12,000 BC

Day 1- kill something and eat it
Day 2- kill something and eat it
Day 3- kill something and eat it...

Programming was so easy back then.

Day 4 - Rest and Hide from big thing trying to eat you

Robb Wolf
12-29-2007, 09:56 AM
Great thread, sorry I've been off the forum for a while...life's been hectic!

Some folks touched on this and Art Devany has talked about it occasionally...we DO need challenge in our lives and occasionally a bit of danger and risk. The people i know who hunt absolutely LOVE it and it's about all they would do if they could pull it off. Danger, excitement, the unknown...gets the juices flowing and it can really make one feel alive.

I think keeping things at ~B level (relative for the individual) is a good way to take some of the best an activity has to offer while minimizing the down sides. I love doing some BJJ a few days per week and am looking to compete but it's not going to be my only activity (well...unless some kind of state or national title came within reach!).

This may be a bit ethereal, but the folks I've seen who have accumulated serious mileage on their bodies go after activities for ego driven reasons. They don't know when to say when and are often their own worst enemies. Some other people I've seen go after an activity for the love and they work their asses off but the self analysis...why they are doing the activity seems different and they seems to avoid some of the overuse and catastrophic injuries. This has already been said, but once one specializes and really goes after elite performance injury rates increase pretty rapidly. Some of the military spec-ops training has upwards of a 90% attrition. It sucks, but that's the price to pay for that level of training and performance.