During the winter of 2011, I made a surprising discovery about an exercise that’s shunned by most of the fitness industry.
I decided to turn my attention to mastering the Olympic Lifts. If you’ve ever watched the weightlifting events during the Summer Olympics, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
They’re a special breed of extremely explosive barbell lifts known as the Snatch and the Clean & Jerk.
I’ve always known how good these lifts are for developing explosive power, strength and overall athleticism. But when I started focusing on them almost exclusively in my training, I noticed something I had not expected.
Almost overnight, my body composition changed before my eyes. I lost about 6 pounds of fat over about a two week period. But more interestingly, my body seemed to get firmer and harder than it had ever been before.
I’ve talked a lot with different colleagues about this, trying to figure out exactly what’s behind the sudden shift in body composition. And the most likely reason I’ve come up with is an increase in insulin sensitivity caused by the explosive nature of the lifts.
There’s even evidence that explosive movements like the O-lifts actually affect signaling at the genetic level, preventing stem cells from turning into new fat cells, and instead steering them towards the formation of new muscle or bone cells!
Pretty cool, huh? The O-lifts can actually “re-program” your body to be leaner and more athletic looking.
But there’s a caveat to all this…
The Olympic Lifts are not to be trifled with. If you don’t take the time to master the technique, you run the risk of hurting yourself.
The best place to start is with the Clean—the first portion of the Clean & Jerk.
Here’s a look at the basics:
And here’s a quick review of the cues:
- * Start with perfect deadlift technique for your “first pull”
- * Once the bar clears your knees, “scoop” the hips under for your second pull
- * “Triple extend” the ankles, hips and traps to propel the bar up
- * When the bar hits the tip of it’s trajectory, drive the elbows forward under the bar
- * Catch the bar with elbows forward and hips back
- * Rack the bar behind the delts and close to the throat, fingers hooked under the bar
Ideally, I think the best way to learn the O-lifts is in person with a coach. But if you want to go it alone, make sure you find a high-quality resource that takes you through all the finer points of the technique AND tells you how to implement the lifts in your program.