What is Helpful? What is Not?

June 15, 2013

Let’s just pretend for a second that you’re a novice lifter, less than a year’s worth of experience with practicing the Olympic lifts a few times a week.  You are able to do all of the powerlifting movements and general strengthening movements at an adequate level of proficiency, but you want to start adding in some of the Olympic style lifts because you want to round out your training program, participate in randomized strength and conditioning competitions, or just think the lifts are cool.  Where do you start? Well I’ll tell you where NOT to start.

Not with jerks off the blocks.

Not with power snatches or cleans off the high blocks.

Not with the Shankle complex (or a similar clean and jerk or snatch complex).

Not with Chinese style pulls or high pulls.


Will an Olympic lifter use most of these modalities in his training at some point? Yes.  Absolutely.  But we’re assuming you’re a beginner.  Where do beginners start?

Well if I were to begin a powerlifting program, how would my first workout go?  Do I immediately do 9×2 box squat with a safety squat bar with added band resistance, 3 board presses in a shirt followed by seated box jumps? NO. NO I DO NOT.  I DO REGULAR ASS SHIT FIRST.  I build a base, a frame for me to build a house on.  As a beginner, I would need to sift through what looks cool on youtube and what would objectively help me at the beginning of my journey.

A beginner with the Olympic style lifts, regardless of prior general training experience, should be spending most of his time (with the lifts) doing snatches, clean and jerks, hang snatches, hang cleans and positional work with the lifts (inserting pauses during the pull to ensure proper position).  I know.  It’s not sexy.  It won’t get a lot of hits on youtube.  But it works.  Fitness is fun.  Theres a lot of cool stuff out there.  But at times, theres a difference between cool and helpful.  If you want my opinion, (I’m assuming you do.  After all, you’re on my blog.) cover the fundamentals first.  The more years and time spent pursuing the lifts will then bring exciting variations to your training based on need.

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