MF’s Nick Hutchings takes on a four-week Olympic lifting crash course to see what impact it has on his CrossFit efficiency
Like most males, I used to see Olympic weightlifting as an odd sport stuffed with singlets and tiny variations in approach. However ‘Oly’ lifting, because it’s identified, is rising from the shadows. For example, the snatch and the clear and jerk are so closely featured in CrossFit exercises that if you wish to progress, you could nail them.
The snatch is the one the place you pull a barbell overhead from the ground whereas dropping right into a deep overhead squat, then standing up. The clear and jerk is one carry in two components: first you pull the bar off the ground and catch it, then you definately drop right into a break up stance whereas pushing the bar overhead. As you may think, these aren’t like biceps curls. You’ll be able to’t simply watch somebody do a bunch of them and get the shape proper.
So I enrol for a month of Olympic lifting classes at The Athlete Centre in Oxford. These twice-weekly courses are run by TAC’s head of power and conditioning, and fanatical Olympic lifter, Barrie-Jon Mulder.
‘It takes critical time to turn into proficient in each lifts,’ Mulder tells me earlier than our first session. ‘However they’re extraordinarily efficient workout routines for creating energy, muscular co-ordination, flexibility and mobility.’
After a surprisingly lengthy, 15-minute warm-up, we break down the important thing strikes – a much more technical affair than I anticipated. We begin by engaged on a grasp pull, the a part of the clear and jerk the place you pull the bar from thigh to navel. It’s a bit like pulling your trousers up, with an explosive hip drive to hurry the entire course of up. ‘Beginning within the grasp place helps individuals set up easy methods to bump the bar off the fitting a part of their legs to get it overhead effectively,’ explains Mulder.
Subsequent come overhead squats, the place we sink down with the bar held overhead in a large grip – the ‘snatch grip’. ‘This improves hip mobility and helps you determine the place the bar must be to keep up stability within the backside place of the snatch,’ says Mulder. Earlier than I depart, Mulder provides me a complete three-times-a-week coaching programme I can observe in my very own time.
That sinking feeling
The next week we’re on to hold cleans and break up jerks, to assist me grasp the ultimate stage of the clear and jerk. To make sure I’m doing snappy kicks that generate as a lot explosiveness as potential, Mulder places weight clips in entrance of me that I’ve to kick ahead quite than leap onto. I additionally do snatch drills that encompass taking a bar out of a rack in a again squat place and dropping right into a squat whereas urgent the bar overhead.
Within the third week, my kung fu-style session entails doing cleans from the ground whereas Mulder holds out two broom handles to both aspect of me at navel peak. The thought is that I’ve to simply contact the broom handles as I pull the bar up my physique and sink beneath it right into a clear: something greater and, by Olympic competitors requirements, my reps received’t depend.
Through the fourth and closing week Mulder says he feels I’ve progressed sufficient to start out doing the total strikes. We begin with the clear and jerk and I rapidly handle to rise up to 60kg.I discover I carry out higher reps after I really feel, quite than suppose, my approach by way of every stage of the transfer. At 70kg, nevertheless, my kind retains breaking down it doesn’t matter what I do. We cease, however Mulder is happy with what we’ve achieved.
I maintain dropping my stability on the snatch however persist and finally rise up to 50kg. Mulder’s scream of pleasure as I dump the bar after my final wobbly rep signifies I’m now a fully-fledged Olympic lifter.
There’s an enormous quantity of labor to be accomplished earlier than I can contemplate myself proficient in both carry, however I can now tackle extra CrossFit exercises – and that’s what I’d got down to obtain after I launched into this experiment.