We have gone here before, but there is a very good article on www.t-nation.com that goes into debunking several training myths. One of the myths is that "Performing Olympic Lifts is the Best Way to Develop Power." The author goes on to say that Olympic lifting is NOT the best way to develop power, and goes on to discuss the injury risks, joint damage, and high degree of skill that these lifts require. The author performs many exercises that are JUST AS effective at developing power, such as med ball slams. What do you think is easier, and safer to teach young athletes, Olympic Lifts, or Med Ball Slams? I am not trying to dispute that Olympic Lifts both require, and generate a lot of muscular power...they do! What I am disputing is why we would use them with athletes, when there are safer, more effective, protocols that are easier to learn?
Please read this post with care and thought....it just may change the way you think!
1.) Teaching time.
I believe there are something like 17 points of technicality in a hang clean, ONE of which is the modified RDL. Any strength coach worth his salt knows that RDL's are one of, if not THE hardest lift to teach athletes....so now we are going to incorporate that lift, in the modified variation, into an explosive movement? I could teach an athlete to do that, but we wouldn't get anything else done that session! What is going to benefit him more, doing some med ball slams, benching, squatting, adding some core/grip, or just working on hang cleans? I hope the answer is obvious. I have kids that are STILL fine tuning the box squat. I shudder at the thought of incorporating a properly done hang clean.
2.) Joint Pain.
In general, my stance is old school, blue collar with most lifts. I don't like my athletes to be "soft," complain about things, and in general, I ENCOURAGE them to display mental and physical toughness throughout a typical training session. The Olympic Lifts, while undoubtedly great demonstrations of power, can cause a good deal of joint pain, particularly at the wrist, elbow, and shoulder. I know this, because I have DONE them, and experienced it myself. Any exercise the causes harm to the various joints throughout the body become contraindicated in my gym. We rely on joints for movement, so to cause harm to them seems awfully, awfully stupid to me. The fact of the matter is, the higher the strength level of the athlete, the more joint pain these lifts can cause.
I hear this argument ALL of the time, and it is one of the most asinine pieces of logic I have ever heard. "Olympic Weightlifters have 40 inch verticals and 4.5 40 Yard Dash times, so that is why our athletes should train using these lifts." This is insane to me; Olympic Weightlifters are genetic freaks that have excellent skills in the sport of Olympic Weightlifting. They can thank Mom and Dad for this. Lebron James and Adrian Peterson can do these things too, so should you do EXACTLY what they do? Odds are, guys who can clean and jerk at the highest level of competition are gentlemen who could have excelled in a number of sports, but CHOSE Olympic Weightlifting as their sport. Skills are specific people, just because someone can push press XYZ does NOT mean he is going to be a one man wrecking crew in a football game.
Well, how do we then develop muscular power with our athletes? We know that it is important to train rate of force development with our athletes, so how do we do it? There are many, many different ways to get this done, but here are my top 3 choices:
1.) Overhead Med Ball Throws: This exercise takes a tremendous amount of power, and very little teaching time in order to perfect. The cool thing is that athletes can progress EVERY time they train, and let's face it, it is FUN to throw things over your head. You can also use empty kegs for this exercise, just like the strongmen you see on ESPN!
2.) Tire Flips: This exercise allows us to drive our hips explosively THROUGH an object, without the eccentric force of catching this same object harming our joints. Jim Smith of www.dieselcrew.com does the best job at explaining tire flips that I have seen to date, so I will let him take it away, I encourage you to click on the link and check out his website, it is VERY informative!
3.) Box Jumps: We have all seen legendary feats of box jumping on YouTube, and while I think some kids have no business jumping on some of the boxes that we see out there, I do think it is an important component of any training program. Some keys to remember, always line up "2 Sneaker Lengths" AWAY from the box (if you like the skin on your shins), and utilize the stretch-reflex reaction to drive your hips back and then through in order to give yourself the lift you need to land the jump. Always land softly, and never jump down from high boxes, step down so you don't twist an ankle. Never be "scared" to jump on a box, instead build your jumping ability up slowly through the use of mats and aerobic boxes. Training is all about YOU, so don't try and attempt a jump just because your buddy did. For more advanced trainees, vests and light dumbbells can further increase the degree of difficulty and enforce the need to develop force QUICKLY.
So there you have it! Hopefully I have brought you over to the "dark side" of those who do not use Olympic Lifts, but still produce monsters who have a TON of muscular power!
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