Clarifying the Myths of Olympic Lifts

Late last week I was featured in an article published on T-Nation
called Myth Busters 3. It was basically an interview i did with Nate Green,
who authored the article. The subject that Nate interviewed me about was Olympic Style Weight Lifting.

After my Myth Busters 3 appearance, the discussion forums lit up with comments. Unfortunately, based on many of the comments I read, there was a fundamental misunderstanding of the overall message that Nate and myself where trying to get across.

I’m more than willing to take the blame  because, they way I look at it. If only a few readers misunderstand, shame on them. But, if many readers misunderstand, shame on the authors.

Although I’m happy with the work both Nate and I did on the Myth Busters 3 piece. I feel that this subject deserves more clarification on some of the comments that were made.

So, the goal of this post is to set the record straight.

The Myths of Myth Busters 3

It’s ironic to me that some myths were created on the forum thread to Myth Busters.

The first element of confusion was on the myth that Nate and I were trying to bust in the first place. The myth was whether or not O lifts were the best way of developing power.

Not whether or not O lifts were a good training method because its well known that they are very effective.

We simply set out present folks with a few reasons why O lifts may not the best way of developing power.

In this confusion spawned a bunch of other myths that I would like to clarify now.

Myth – Coach Nick Doesn’t like O lifts

Truth – I love O lifts! I use them regularly with my clients and athletes.

Myth – Coach Nick thinks O lifts are dangerous

Truth – Yes and no. Like every other training technique, it depends on how you use it.

I don’t feel that O lifts are at all dangerous if they are done using good technique and performed in the traditional style in which you drop the weight to the floor after each rep.

I do however have some issues with O lifts using heavier loads (>5rm) without ever dropping the weight. My issue is that it takes your entire body to lift the weight up but you are left with just your arms to bring the weight back down. This can increase the risk of inflammatory issues like tendonitis in the elbows, wrists and shoulders.

Now, if the load is not very heavy (<5rm) I’m not really concerned anymore. For instance if you’re doing a Barbell complex and you have some repetitive cleans or snatches thrown in the mix. I like that and use this on a regular basis for the purposes of Strength Training for Fat Loss and Conditioning.

Myth – Coach Nick doesn’t think that O lifts transfer into sports performance.

Truth – O lifts do transfer very well into sport performance. That said, they transfer better for some folks than others. There are some sports that O lifts don’t do much for at all. Keep in mind that O lifts are really a form of vertical jump training. For sports like boxing, golf, rock climbing, etc; There is really no major vertical jumping involved. Yes boxers bounce around and rock climbers have to occasionally dyno but it not the same.

In fact, any good boxing coach will tell you that your punches should have a slight down ward motion. This is quite the opposite expression of power transfer than that of an upward direction as with O lifts.

So, to use the blanket statement that O lifts are great or not so great for sports performance is incomplete. It all depends on the sport in which you’re training for.

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