We went over some history and the benefits to participating in Olympic lifting. Now let’s take a look at the actual lifts a little bit closer. To recap, Olympic lifting involves the Clean & Jerk and the snatch. Both are performed with a barbell loaded to the athlete’s maximal potential in competition.
The Clean & Jerk starts with the bar loaded on the floor. Athletes grab the bar a little outside shoulder width. From there, the athlete will lift the barbell in an explosive movement. When the bar is past the knees, the hips explode forward and shoulders up. The athlete will then “catch” the bar at their shoulders while simultaneously land in a squat position. Keeping the bar in what we call the front rack position, the athlete stands up straight. This is the clean portion.
Then in an explosive fashion the athlete will bend his or her knees and lift the barbell off of their shoulders. The feet then split apart resembling a lunge position. At this point the arms are fully extended. The athlete then stands up showing full control of the bar. Depending on the number of reps being performed the athlete then lowers the bar to their shoulders or drops it on the floor.
The entire movement is a compound lift that involves movement at the hip, knee, ankle, shoulder, and elbow. As with any type of competitive lift; the clean and jerk takes practice to perfect.
The second of the two lifts is the snatch. This lift starts out similarly to the clean in that the bar starts on the floor and is explosively pulled up. One difference is that the bar is caught in an overhead squat position as opposed to our front rack position. To do this an athlete must throw the shoulders backwards and go into the squat position as soon as that bar is about at shoulder level. Once the bar is “caught” the athlete stands up while the arms are still fully extended. The bar is then returned to the ground.
Similar to the clean & jerk, the snatch is a compound lift involving movements at the hip, knee, ankle, shoulder, and elbow. Personally, this is the harder of the two to execute as overhead stability needs to be trained extensively.