Lately I have been wondering about the relevance of the oly lifts and other power lifts, like squat jumps for athletes who already have strong power bias in their sport training, like sprinters, jumpers, gymnasts and most interesting to me traceurs.
Started wondering about this after a conversation with Steven Low where he pointed me to strength training for sprinting thread
which definitely piqued my interest, around the same time I spoke with Dan Iaboni owner of the monkey vault the second parkour focused gym in north america who also stated a similar conclusion that the effects of speed lifts are redundant for traceurs our training is very development of power already what we lack is maximal strength. Its very noticable pattern in parkour that many athletes are able to express extremely high levels of power with relatively low maximal strength though in my experience these same athletes are highly like to develop overuse injuries.
This got me thinking, the argument I have seen is since oly lifters express the highest levels of power it is best way of training power overall, this together with legends of the speed and jumping ability of oly lifters make it seem a very attractive option for developing athletic qualities for power biased athletes. A oly lifter certainly seems to have more of the athletic of a sprinter, gymnast or traceur then a power lifter.
However I am less and less convinced that oly lifts are necessary as part of the development of athletes for highly power biased sports. The oly lifts are high skill movements and training them requires practice time that could be spent developing sports specific running, jumping and tumbling skills which are already extremely developmental of the rate of force generation end of the equation. It seems to me that what Barry Ross is saying for sprinters is probably true for all similar athletes the side of the equation that we need to focus on is the maximal strength side developing that resevoir of strength to develop power out off the power development itself is taken care of by the sport itself the time and practice needed to develop the olympic lifts is not worthwhile.
It seems to me that in order to demonstrate that Oly lifting was neccesary for this type of power biased athlete you would have to demonstrate the Oly lifting is superior to running jumping movements in developing power and furthermore sufficiently so to make up for the long period of time and high investment necessary to develop the oly lifts to the point were they could be developmental of power beyond what was developed by the sport itself.
To take myself as an example I can clean 105 kg at bodyweight of 93 kilos so basically intermediate, my deadlft 1RM projects out to 215 based on my five RM and squat projects as about 185 so around advanced by the PP rankings, when I work deadlift or squat failure is always due to strength, when my strength goes up my sport specific power goes up I can jump higher and farther. My clean fails due to technique I believe I am able to get as I high as I can due to my strength level and the power generation I have developed through parkour and gymnastics. The athletes I train with who have focused more on oly lifting can hit bigger numbers relatively but their overall power is not as impressive. One individual is provides good anecdotal evidence we are the same height same weight similar build our met con performance is similar. He can clean 15 kg more then I can because he has focused on that skill but my vertical leap is 5 inches higher and my standing long jump is nearly a foot longer. Prior to my current training cycle I focused on oly lifts last fall my clean went form 165lb to 195lb, my vertical leap did not change focusing on the squat though also doing cleans over the last m I went from 5rm of 290lb- 5rm or 345 5rm my vertical leap went from 27 to 31.
I am curious about other peoples thoughts I enjoy the Oly lifts and am open to hearing arguments as to their importance for power biased athletes but from where I am standing i just don't see any evidence that they are superior to sprinting and jumping for power generation much less so superior as to overcome the sports specific element of focusing on running and jumping when that is the heart of your sport.