Training Articles

5 Things to Know/Do When Starting Olympic Weightlifting

So you want to try out the Olympic Weightlifting but have no idea where to start…well here ya go.

The sport of Weightlifting aka Olympic Weightlifting was a dead sport in the U.S. just a few years ago. However, with CrossFit introducing a lot of people to the snatch and clean and jerk, many Americans have taken a liking to the sport of Weightlifting as their primary way of working out, or as their sport to compete in. Because of this, USA Weightlifting memberships have skyrocketed in the past couple years, completely reviving the sport in this country.

Get a Pair of Weightlifting Shoes

Trust me I get the whole “prepare for any situation in CrossFit” so people lift in their nanos/metcons/inov8s all the time. If you are a CrossFitter I completely understand that and agree that you should be able to snatch and clean and jerk in those shoes because in a competition, you never know what is going to come up.

However, if you are looking to be a serious Weightlifter you MUST have a pair of weightlifting shoes. It’s literally not even a question, there is a reason I put this one first.

The added stability makes it much safer when performing lifts, allowing your foot to stay in place at all times in the shoe.

Also the heel lift gives you a mechanical advantage in the bottom of a squat and allows you to sit deeper thus being able to catch the lift better, it’s literally science. You don’t need the 200-dollar Adidas or Nike ones, there are plenty pairs out there for about 90 bucks from Inov8, Pendlay and Adidas that will suffice. Get the shoes.

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Find a Place to Slang Some Weight Around

Whether it is a CrossFit gym, Weightlifting gym, a garage or your local globo gym, you need a place that has a platform (or a least an open space), bumper plates and allows you to drop weights. Weights dropping on the floor whether after a failed or successful lift is part of Olympic Weightlifting, so if the place you’re training at is going to sound the Lunk alarm on you every time you drop a weight 6 inches, you can’t be there.

This also goes for a gym that only has metal plates, the bumper plates are a necessity, especially for beginners so they can have the bar in the right position (mid-shin) at all times regardless of the weight that is on the bar. If you are using an Olympic bar with metal 10-pound plates on each side, the diameter of the plates isn’t big enough and the bar will only be a couple inches off the ground, putting you in a non-ideal lifting position.

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Find a Coach

These lifts are complicated and can be extremely dangerous when not performed correctly. Find a coach either in your area or online. With the growing popularity of Weightlifting in the country, great coaches are getting more respect and limelight so it shouldn’t be hard to find one. There are many gyms around the country with beyond affordable programming for beginners. Even if it is remote coaching, most of them will look at videos you send them and critique technique through video analysis.

If you’re very new to these lifts it will be virtually impossible to start all on your own. I was fortunate enough to have an unbelievable coach  and I can’t even begin to explain the difference it has made. I was a good lifter to begin with too, however, he brought out my true potential. Be smart, be safe, and get a coach.

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Failure WILL Happen­, So Be Patient

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was the perfect Clean and Jerk. You WILL fail lifts, whether you like it or not and you have to accept that, its part of the sport. Be patient, these are technical lifts that take a lot of precision and one small wrong move makes the whole lift go down the shitter. You’ll have days where you cant hit any lifts, and you’ll have days where you can hit any lift.

You have to take the good with the good and the bad with the bad.

No matter what, keep your head up and keep pushing, better days are ahead. Trust me it will all be worth it as you hold that Clean and Jerk PR above your head.

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Get Ready For Pain to Gain

If you are going to get serious with this sport and have a coach, it is going to hurt. You will probably be more sore than you have ever been, you’re going to ache, you’re going to be tired, you’re going to feel like a deflated balloon and you might not want to do it some days but it is all worth it and just part of the process. All that this means is you have to take care of yourself; do your mobility, warm-up accordingly, drink water, eat enough and sleep enough.

Just be ready because it will be intense, but intensity breeds intense results.

Weightlifting is a beautiful sport that I have grown to love the past 9 months. The skyrocketing popularity is awesome to see, especially being part of the movement myself. If you are interested in starting, or learning more, follow these steps. Give it a couple of months and I promise you will love it.