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View Full Version : RE: PM 57 learning the olympic lifts - necessary?


Torsten Hauptmann
10-01-2009, 11:39 AM
i could have called this "best bang for the buck: power variants vs competition lifts" or competition lifts for GPP.

i have to admit that that is only my opinion i formed during discussions with my past weightlifting coach and i was very fortunate to meet him as he is a great trainer (he had two olympic champions). but still - i do not have enough experience myself to base my judgment on my own experiences.

i think that - for a generalist - drilling the competition lifts beyond a basic understanding of them is useless because of the complexity of the lifts. my past weightlifting coach told me that a weightlifter needs to train 4 times a week for a litte less than two hours (8 hours a week) and that is even enough for most semi pro athletes. but on the other hand training 4 hours a week, i.e. two training sessions throughout the week, will not lead to performance increase over a very very basic level. and training 2 times a week is only adviseable for a lifter who has years of experience in weightlifting who just wants to stay at the level he is on. my past weightlifting coach advised me not to do something else outside of his training because he said that doing so will not improve the olympic lifts beyond a basic level (in a resonable time). basic level for him was a bodyweight snatch. it was interesting to see that in the weightlifting club i trained nobody besids me snatched less than their bodyweight - and even new lifters mostly achived that goal within one year. compared to crossfit standards a bodyweight sntach is elite level at least when compared to the CF games champions.




i now would like to discuss that type of opinion in light of the different hybrid programms out there. here is what i got:

i think that spending a lot of attention on the competion lifts is wasted time (for a generalist) besids a basic understanding of them, i.e. being able to do a full snatch with a least 2/3 BW. and after that training for more power than technique while rotating between power clean, clean pull, clean (maybe 2 or 3 pos. clean), 1/3 clean deadlift (halting), power snatch, snatch pull, snatch balance, snatch, thruster, push press, snatch grip push press, push jerk, (maybe jerk)
this will improve the competition lifts a litte above a basic performance but not due to technique but due to power and the athlete has saved a lot of time which is needed to develop a resonable strong snatch and clean&jerk. with that time the athlete can do GPP training and most important perform well in his normal life and care for familiy and work.
as a sidenote my coach said that from his experience training the pulls with heavier weight than the athlete is able to clean or snatch does not lead to improvement in the clean or snatch at an intermediate (and above) level of technique.
also i do not intent to say that the power based assistance lifts for the c&j and the snatch make up a very good hybrid program but maybe they form a good solution for someone how is short in time and wants to play around with the olympic lifts and wants a GPP hybrid program too.

other points:
does anyone have a clue if the competition lifts do have a significant higher translation to real life fitness than their power variants and how to measure that?

i have a objection agains the competition lifts because good technique does shorten the ROM of the barpath as much as possible while CF says "increased ROM is always good" i see that good technique would help to save power but that comes only true for relativly light metcon weights whereas no high level of skill is requried to do that.
i have the argument with heavy pulls do not improve competition lifts in mind because then the athlete will not need to max his pulling power to become a elite lifter. but for the generalist it might be good to max his pulling power because it may translate more to that kind of power which is needed for real life fitness.

Andy Robinson
10-01-2009, 04:48 PM
the full lifts have a longer range of motion than any of the other variations that you mentioned...
also, who cares what CF says? either lift or don't. besides that it doesn't really matter, does it?

Steven Low
10-01-2009, 05:13 PM
I strongly disagree.

Good Oly lifters have very good translation over to CF. Dutch agrees with me on this if you read his recent blog posts.

The reason Josh Everett does well is that he works and is good with (1) Oly lifts, and (2) Sprinting. These two things translate over to CF more than anything else. The only thing I would say is lacking is working advanced strength on rings (IMO).

Good Oly strength has translation and technical ability to ALL of the other lifts CF uses.

Garrett Smith
10-01-2009, 05:35 PM
Nothing feels as good as a good snatch. 'Nuff said.

Also, as opposed to the "it doesn't have to be fun to be fun" CF ethos...OL *is* actually fun.

There is a reason for OL being included in CF programming...how well it is incorporated is highly debateable, but it is there for the fact that it has the potential to hugely improve one's athleticism (especially for those who don't play "real" sports otherwise).

I would hazard a guess that many people who are in CF a long time tend to gravitate towards more of their training being around OL and/or gymnastics.

If you are really looking to justify not including the full OLs in your program, then simply don't do them. Life is too short to do exercises you don't enjoy (unless they keep you out of pain, that is).

Paul Epstein
10-01-2009, 06:00 PM
i enjoy doing things where i can measure my success and improvement. it keeps me motivated. throw in a little competition and in hooked.

i cant get this with assistance excersizes.

plus as garrett says, why wouldnt you? o-lifting is fun. the satisfaction on a PB on a Snatch is huge.

Garrett Smith
10-01-2009, 07:51 PM
Torsten,
If you hadn't already figured out, most of the folks on this CA forum are pretty pro-OL. You might get more of the responses that you seem to be looking for (ie. OLs are a waste of time for generalists, as you said above) at the CF forums.

The contract-relax-contract cycling in OL cannot be replicated with any other generalist exercises, only possibly in sports moves.

Donald Lee
10-01-2009, 08:52 PM
If you're not training for the CrossFit Games, I'd say do whatever you want. It's not like you're training for a competition. You're not going to win a generalist competition with your friends because you can snatch and clean and jerk. Your goals are your goals.

Don't let CrossFit determine your goals. If you're training for the hell of it, why do something you're disinclined to do? Olympic lifting helps with CrossFit because CrossFit incorporates Olympic lifts. It doesn't mean Olymplic lifts are necessary for general fitness. They can be a great tool, but not necessary in my opinion.

Torsten Hauptmann
10-02-2009, 07:10 AM
If you hadn't already figured out, most of the folks on this CA forum are pretty pro-OL. You might get more of the responses that you seem to be looking for (ie. OLs are a waste of time for generalists, as you said above) at the CF forums.

thats is acutally the reason why i posted it here because here are a lot people knowing their stuff: i agree with all of you. maybe i did not made my point clear enough.
oly lifts are fun (at least for me) but it is not funny not to improve at a rate with is fun and that is what happend to me after i stopped primary oly lifting. i like the lifts but when i do not get corrected by a good coach every time i lift, some lifts are wasted time. besids the fact that often lifting heavier weights is limited due to technique and until technique is fine no power improvement happens and simply to improve power more as in the power variants or assistance excersises like the pulls does not lead to better competition lifts. it is more likely that the numbers of the power variants will approximate to the competition lifts than the competition lifts going up. at least that is what my past coach told me from his experiences. but if that is the case the bottomline is that the athlete has developed a greater power than before but can not display it in competition because power is only one single element besids others needed to perform the competition lifts successful

my argument is not there for someone who does want to train the competition lifts most of his time and for sure oly lifting + sprinting translates very well to CF even with litte exposure to metcons. but if there is need for time managment due to factors outside of training (i.e. for non pro athletes) then there is the questions what to do in the given time. that again is not a problem if you are a weightlifter - than you will train the competition lifts. but if you more like me and like gymnastics, weightlifting and metcons than you have 2 elements (weightlifting and gymnastics) which are highly skill driven - and i like skillwork. but then you have like me to deal with your time. gymnastics is nice because you can focus on a single skill and the necessary strength to perform this skill and then go to the next one or just work one apparatus. not so with the competition lifts each of them needs a lot attention if you want to become good at them and most important you need someone who is coaching you until you are very good (that means not just a bodyweight snatch).

that is my argument.

Gavin Harrison
10-02-2009, 09:03 AM
There's no real reason to do a full clean or snatch if you're not competing, most people can get most of the benefits just from the power clean/snatch. I'd say, someone with limited time might best be served by doing something like 5/3/1, including power cleans before the squat or deadlift and doing gymnastic work after the main lifts, or do the main lifts 2x a week and gymnastics on other days.

EDIT: and doing some sort of conditioning after all of that.

Steven Low
10-02-2009, 11:27 AM
Like it's been stated before.. do what you enjoy.


I still disagree with your assessment though. You're saying that for those time limited, they maybe should focus on other things. If they want to be competitive with CF, then if they're time limited MOST of their time should go into Oly.

Most of the people who have had staying power (top 10 in CF games) like OPT/Jolie/etc. either workout with Greg Everett gym or have made trips there to train for months at a time to work on their Oly technique.

If your Oly is a weakness, then you better put that in your warmup and do TONS of skill work on it EVERYDAY. There is no question what you should be working on. You should be working on the highest skill moves which translate to everything else in CF -- aka Oly lifts.

Torsten Hauptmann
10-02-2009, 02:00 PM
Like it's been stated before.. do what you enjoy.

i enjoy improvement most


I still disagree with your assessment though. You're saying that for those time limited, they maybe should focus on other things. If they want to be competitive with CF, then if they're time limited MOST of their time should go into Oly.

Most of the people who have had staying power (top 10 in CF games) like OPT/Jolie/etc. either workout with Greg Everett gym or have made trips there to train for months at a time to work on their Oly technique.

If your Oly is a weakness, then you better put that in your warmup and do TONS of skill work on it EVERYDAY. There is no question what you should be working on. You should be working on the highest skill moves which translate to everything else in CF -- aka Oly lifts.

i did not want to say that everyone should ignore the oly lifts but to train more for power than for big numbers on the competition lifts after a basic proficiency is achived gives probably more bang for the buck. take f.e. mikko salo or jason khalipa: both do not have very high competition numbers.

and i agree with you that training the lifts with a good coach does improve your athletic abilities but those lifts need all time quality coaching. my numbers went up fast when training at the weightlifting club. i now snatch about 80kg but my improvement went very very slow after training on my own.
my past weightlifting coach trains one guy who recently won the bronze medall at the european championchips at the c&j event. and he made him do so in just less than 3 years of training. that guy started at 13 years of age and is now 16 and has a 163kg c&j at 92 kg bodyweight. before weightlifting he did not do any competetive sport. and you have to take account of the fact that this guy at the age of 16 still has not a fixed technique and has to change it all time because his growth process has not ended yet - and for sure that guy has talent.

but if you do not have a coach available who is watching most of your lifts then a lot lifts are just wasted time. besides that the power variants do always train power but not skill. i.e. you train and do not practise. and to practise with sub maximal weightes does not improve your technique above a certain level (at least due to the above mentioned coach). so i think that training the power variants and assistance lifts more/heavier would not affect the development of your competition lifts as those do improve very very slow if working on your own/without a good coach. then power will improve but not competition numbers but that power should translate to other things but that power will not improve the competition numbers faster than with a good oly training. there is a PM article taking account of that fact when dealing with PL converting to OLY esp. shane hammon i think.

do you think that in regards of this (the problem to improve in absence of lots of time and a very good coach) it is still better to train oly lifts on your own (as those are considered highest skill movements) after a basic understanding of them? i think that after being able to peform with resonable weight everything else is skill finetuning, i.e. specialization.

and how to measure that the competition lifts do acutally improve general athletic ability more than their power variants? a lot of the people who performed good at the CF games can do resonable competition lifts but i think nobody besids josh everett has competetive numbers in the weightlifting community - and khalipa did beat everett at CF 2008 games at the c&j.

Steven Low
10-02-2009, 05:04 PM
do you think that in regards of this (the problem to improve in absence of lots of time and a very good coach) it is still better to train oly lifts on your own (as those are considered highest skill movements) after a basic understanding of them? i think that after being able to peform with resonable weight everything else is skill finetuning, i.e. specialization.

You do what you can...

There's excellent resources on the web where you can upload vids and people critique including here/CF/etc.

There's Greg's Oly book.

If you want to be good, you can't just "settle." You have to be proactive about your training, and relentless in the pursuit of your technique.


and how to measure that the competition lifts do acutally improve general athletic ability more than their power variants? a lot of the people who performed good at the CF games can do resonable competition lifts but i think nobody besids josh everett has competetive numbers in the weightlifting community - and khalipa did beat everett at CF 2008 games at the c&j.

The power variants are really only primarily used by athletes who do not have solid background with technique, but still need to gain power generation capability. Biggest place you'll see this is with football players.

CF will evolve as Oly gets stronger.

Remember, Josh Everett does not train his weaknesses and only does what he likes. This is not mainpage or any significant metabolic work. Of course Khalipa will have a metabolic advantage if he has enough strength to perform the movements correctly. I also think he has a weight advantage over Everett too...

Blair Lowe
10-03-2009, 02:19 AM
Khalipa had a significant weight advantage over Everett.

Like Caity Matter, he kept control of the bar minimizing his down time as much as possible. You can watch him literally bend over and clean the bar. It ain't pretty but it worked since he was able to cycle it fast. Thus efficient for every second that counted.

Quite a few of the CFGames competitors suffered from a lack of ability to perform the gymnastics maneuvers (which are basic, imo and thus easy to train if you spend some time working them) while others suffered during the snatch event. Pretty much everybody could clean, but they could do it far more efficiently I bet, thus faster, if they worked it more.

However, the snatch, HSPU, and MU significantly crushed some competitors. DU to some I heard in the qualifiers. Well, I guess the hammer did as well.

However, the gymnastics HeSPU and MU are far easier to train than the Olympic lifts.

Torsten Hauptmann
10-06-2009, 12:54 PM
You do what you can...

There's excellent resources on the web where you can upload vids and people critique including here/CF/etc.


i do. but i figured out that it is hard to improve in weightlifting and still do other things like gymnastics. i myself try to figure out how to combine weightlifting and gymnastics (at least ring strength) but when i stepped back from a weightlifting dominant program than my gains became very small.
i was thinking about focusing just on one lift but both are complementing each other very well. but the C&J does interfere with gymnastics more than the Snatch but for GPP a powerfull Push is very important....which makes the decision very hard.


The power variants are really only primarily used by athletes who do not have solid background with technique, but still need to gain power generation capability. Biggest place you'll see this is with football players.


Did i get you right, that you suppose that the competition lifts are superior to the power variants in producing power generation capability?

Steven Low
10-06-2009, 05:08 PM
Did i get you right, that you suppose that the competition lifts are superior to the power variants in producing power generation capability?

Absolutely. The correct technique is superior in every aspect (because you can put up more weight).

It's just that for those without technical ability, power clean/snatch/muscle clean/snatch/etc. provide an alternative. Usually it's hang power cleans as those have the lowest skill to give good amounts of power.