Today the goal of weightlifting is to lift a barbell from the floor to overhead. However throughout ancient history there have been competitions to see who could lift the heaviest weights. It was during the 19th century that weightlifting became a lot closer to what we know it as today and even appeared in the first Olympic games in 1891. Until the 1928 Olympics weightlifting included both one and two handed lifts, there have also been other lifts that have come and gone throughout the Olympics such as the clean and press.
In recent times weightlifting competitions consist of the clean and jerk, and the snatch.
The clean and jerk
The clean and jerk is made up of two separate movements. During the clean, the barbell goes from the floor to the shoulder height, and then during the jerk the barbell goes from shoulder height to overhead.
The snatch has a wider grip position on the bar and in one smooth movement it goes from the floor to overhead.
Break each lift down
Both movements can be broken down again and carried out in three different styles, muscle, power and full/squat. During a muscle snatch or clean, there is little to none leg movement. A power snatch or clean involves a slight dip in the catch phase of the lift, and during a full clean or snatch you will catch the barbell in a squat position.
There are a couple of different jerk variations too. Firstly the push jerk, with the push jerk your feet stay in the same place, but as the bar drives up you re bend your knees as your arms fully extend. The lift finishes when both your arms and legs are straightened. The second variation, and the more common one is the split jerk. During the split jerk, one leg goes behind you and the other in front as your arms drive up. To finish the lift, your front foot comes back to its original position followed by your rear foot.
Why lift weights?
Weightlifting really helps to improve explosive strength as the goal is to get under the bar as quickly as possible, using power from the whole body, starting with your legs, to drive the bar up into an overhead position.
Many elite athletes will incorporate weightlifting into their training to help with improving their explosive strength and power, as well as functional strength.
Weightlifting is a technical sport, but it’s great fun, and when the weights are moving well it’s so satisfying and empowering.
If you have been thinking about starting weightlifting but haven’t taken the plunge yet, we can help. Or even if you have dabbled in it before, we are here to coach you to hitting some new PBs.
To find out more send us an email or get involved by joining our Thursday evening weightlifting classes with Mandy.