There is no doubt looking at the training programs for football players that power and explosiveness need to be addressed. What better way to do this than with the Olympic lifts and there variations? When talking about Olympic lifts we are referring to the Clean and Jerk and the Snatch. These lifts have demonstrated that you can learn to develop a lot of power in a short amount of time. But how much time is involved in getting your athletes coached up enough to do them properly so you can see the true merit of these lifts.
Over the years of training athletes I have seen that only a small number of them can do the Olympic lifts correctly, so I found that by using different variations, all my athletes can get similar results from doing the original Olympic lifts. Below is a list of exercises and progression for teaching and implementing the Olympic lift variations.
Romanian Deadlift to Shrug – The athlete will start in an athletic position with most of their weight in their heels, with the hamstrings loaded. The athlete will bring their hips into the bar and stand erect. Once they are tall they will violently shrug their shoulders and rise to their toes. This is repeated for sets and reps.
High Pull from the Hang Position – This lift can be done with a wide (snatch grip) or clean grip. We will start in our hang position which is the RDL loaded position. The athlete will then bring their hips into the bar and stand erect. As they get tall they will pull the bar in a vertical motion close to the body, keeping their elbows high and outside. The athlete should rise to their toes at the top of the lift. This is repeated for sets and reps.
Jump Shrug – I feel this lift is the best bang for the buck. The athlete will start in the Hang Position. They will bring their hips into the bar, standing erect. On their way into the bar the athlete will jump explosively. While in the air with feet off the ground, the athlete shrugs their shoulders violently. They need to keep the bar close and flex the triceps throughout the lift. This is to ensure they pull and shrug from the shoulder and not the arms. This is repeated for sets and reps.
Overhead Squat – This lift needs to be done with a wooden stick or pvc pipe. This lift is done with a wide (snatch grip). The athlete then takes a wide squat stance with their toes pointed slightly out. They will then position the bar overhead. The bar should be directly overhead and not in front or behind the head. It is important that the athlete sets their back and shoulders tight to avoid swaying. The athlete will then break at the hips first, pushing their hips back. They athlete will then continue to squat till the hips are even with the top of their knee. The athlete will then push through their heels to stand back in the erect position. This lift is very powerful in developing hip/glute strength and flexibility.
Through the proper execution of these lifts you will be able to see the powerful benefits of these lifts. As these are only a few of the Olympic lift variations USA Weightlifting certified coaches can give you more insight into to the proper execution and progression of these lifts and other variations.
Eric Reed – North Central PHX FAST
Registered Strength and Conditioning Coach
USAW Sports Performance and Club Coach