First, what is Olympic Weightlifting? Olympic weightlifting is comprised of two lifts; the Snatch and the Clean & Jerk. In the snatch, a barbell is lifted from the ground to overhead in one smooth movement. In the Clean & Jerk, a barbell is lifted from the floor to the shoulder and then overhead in a locked out position. These lifts test for explosive and functional strength, while taking the whole body through it maximum range of motion. During these lifts the body is working as a whole, the body is not separated into parts and pieces. The Olympic lifts are inherently technical, dynamic and fast.
In CrossFit we teach that in order for ones fitness to be all inclusive, we must train ten general skills. As we continue to increase ones abilities in all ten skills we build elite athletes with complete physical competence. Those skills are; cardiovascular respiratory/ endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy.
Our task is now to find the BEST ways to train these skills. Olympic weightlifting addresses and trains ALL ten of these skills. While their primary targets are strength, flexibility, power, speed, balance and coordination, they train all ten. What other “exercise” can lay this claim? For example, you can argue that track and field focuses more on Cardiovascular respiratory/ endurance, but while focusing there it eliminates and mutes eight of the ten skills. This makes the Olympic lifts unique in there ability to create neurological and muscular adaptation. “They train athletes to effectively activate more muscle fibers more rapidly than through any other modality of training. The explosiveness that results from this training is of vital necessity to every sport.” (CrossFit Foundations, 2006)
In addition to Olympic lifts addressing all ten general skills, they are the essence of a functional core to extremity movement. A core to extremity movement starts with a stable core/spine and creates a wave of muscle contraction to the weaker extremities. These are the “natural” muscle recruitment patterns of our bodies. By using our bodies as a whole, each piece gets stronger.
c/o CrossFit Verve