Thanks largely in part to the CrossFit movement that has invaded athletic training, I’m seeing a dramatic increase in the dangerous practice of Olympic lifting used as an endurance exercise (high reps). Can’t tell you how many Instagram posts I’ve seen with WODs that have athletes doing 25+ cleans, or worse yet, those cleans after a mile run, 25+ burpees, 20+ squats, 20 deadlifts and 20 pull ups! I go into this in more detail in my article:
The sole goal of Olympic lifting is POWER. For those that are unsure, power is the ability to move a load at high speed in a short amount of time and is vital to sports performance. Stop doing ’em wrong. Here are 5 reasons to utilize Olympic lifts for their intended purpose: POWER GAINS!
1. Design. Olympic lifts were designed solely to develop explosive power by moving a large load over a long distance in as short a time as possible, hence why Athletic Trainers will generally prescribe these lifts at 1-3RM on full recovery.
2. Technique. Olympic lifts are extremely technical and require a large degree of proficiency. Without having learned correct technique, it’s impossible to recruit the correct muscles that the exercise is targeting. As we fatigue by doing increased reps, it’s typical that proficiency will decrease, making the exercise less effective. For a more detailed discussion on Olympic Lifting technique, check out our article:
3. Injury. Olympic lifts are inherently a higher risk exercise, as you’re moving a weight from the floor to a position above the shoulders and even the head. If the body is overly fatigued when executing these lifts, any number of injuries can occur. Common injuries associated with fatigued Olympic lifts include herniated disks, hamstring tears, elbow and wrist problems.
4. Gains. Doing Olympic lifts for endurance (high reps) will do very little for your body. You will not develop muscular or power gains. If you truly want to improve power, work in the 1-3RM range. Focus on explosive movements with flawless technique.
5. Common Sense. It’s time to stop being sheep, do your research and realize what the purpose of these exercises are. Then use common sense and train the right way. Don’t do anything that seems like its counter productive. If you’re already fatigued, doing a power driven exercise is NOT a good idea, skip it.