In 2007, as a firefighter, I discovered an exercise regimen called CrossFit. The CrossFit methodology consists of performing constantly varied, functional movements performed at high intensity. This was a big draw for me because it related well to being able to perform my job.
CrossFit workouts often call to perform olympic weightlifting exercises called the snatch and the clean and jerk. I had performed them in strength training for collegiate athletics, but never in a high intensity or conditioning setting.
Naturally, I had my doubts about the effectiveness, safety and need for them in a general fitness environment. But instead of skipping them, I decided to give them a shot in my general physical preparedness program. In doing so, I discovered that olympic lifts had many benefits and should be included in your fitness routine.
You may believe all the myths I once believed about the snatch and clean and jerk. From being too dangerous, or an unnecessary exercise to include in your regimen, I’ve heard and experienced it all.
However, the benefits go on for miles. Below, is just a short list of the benefits you will see when you include olympic weightlifting into your routine.
#1 – IMPROVED FLEXIBILITY AND HIP FUNCTION
I’ve heard quite frequently that performing olympic lifts can be dangerous, which can be true, if done incorrectly and without a coach. However, when done in a progressive manner and with proper form and technique, both the snatch and clean & jerk are great tools for improving flexibility and hip function.
During a snatch, you pick up weight from the floor, explosively extend your hips and receive the weight overhead in a squat. This assists with not only building strength, but increases flexibility, joint stability and improves your hip function.
By practicing this large range of motion, it increases flexibility in the muscles and ligaments in the shoulders, chest, hip flexors, hamstrings, knees and ankles, making it an ultimate full body flexibility tool.
Then, by improving hip function, you will be able to undo all the damages of sitting throughout the day. When paired with improved flexibility, olympic lifts are a great tool for preventing back pain and improved power and athleticism inside and outside the gym.
#2 – IMPROVED FULL BODY STRENGTH
In a clean and jerk, you pick up weight from the floor, explosively extend your hips, receive the weight in a squat, stand, then put the weight overhead.
Because clean and jerks utilize the glutes, hamstrings, back, hips, quads, abs, lats and shoulders all in one lift it makes it one of the best full body exercises of ALL time! And on top of that, when performing olympic lifts the body naturally releases hormones that increase strength and build muscle.
As far as multi-tool exercises go, olympic lifts are the best!
#3 – IMPROVED CONDITIONING
Because olympic lifts require the body to move weight a long distance (from the floor, through a full squat to standing, then overhead), they’re highly potent for increasing work capacity and conditioning.
Moving weights a long distance is a critical piece of increasing conditioning. Being able to perform work in a short amount of time and having stronger legs, abs and shoulders will translate over to being able to attack hills better while running long distances, improve sprints and improve functional performance.
#4 – SIX PACK ABS
Do you ever wonder why CrossFit Games athletes have abs on abs on abs? It’s because they’re performing olympic weightlifting exercises on a regular basis.
Olympic lifts are a core to extremity exercise, meaning the core is the primary piece of the exercise and the extremities are secondary.
During the performance of an olympic lift, your abs, glutes and hamstrings have to work in overdrive to stabilize the weight to safely maintain posture and technique through the entire exercise.
In terms of building your six-pack, olympic lifts are the secret!
#5 – IMPROVED POWER & ATHLETICISM
Power and athleticism are not just beneficial for sports. They are a great indicator of lean body mass and health.
Lean body mass increases your resting metabolic rate, helps you burn more calories through the day, helps regulate body composition and decreases your risk of chronic disease.
Athleticism in everyday life is important for playing with your kids and pets, being able to move dynamically without pain or injury, and nimbleness for escaping dire situations. For example, being able to avoid an unexpected slip or fall.
For athletes, olympic lifts help improve power for increased speed and explosiveness in their sport.
Olympic lifts are beneficial for more than athletes. They are a necessity for a healthier, stronger and leaner body. From strengthening your whole body, to improved hip function and improved conditioning, the health benefits are beyond comprehension, so get out there and start lifting!
Set up a free consultation with a coach HERE to see how Lincoln Nutrition & Fitness can help you with your goals!
COACH PHIL KNIEP – Owner & CEO of Lincoln Nutrition & Fitness
Precision Nutrition L1 Coach
CrossFit Level 2 Trainer
3x CrossFit Games Qualifier