Last week I introduced one of my clients to the clean and jerk for the first time during his training session. It's an Olympic lift that involves getting the barbell from the ground to overhead in two movements quickly. After showing him how to perform the move, he looked at me with a nervous facial expression and said, “Aren't lifts like that just for big guys who can lift a lot of weight?”
I simply told him, "Not exactly!"
Some of my new clients with non-athletic backgrounds tend to believe that this style of weight training is only for competitive athletes or men and women who are already ripped. That's far from true. These lifts are actually for everyone because they increase the body's ability to move more efficiently. The snatch, jerk, and power clean require a ton of effort from every muscle in the body in order to be properly executed.
My client spent the whole session working on proper mechanics with a 15-pound technique bar. I told him that we were going to utilize these lifts to learn how to move better, not necessarily lift twice his body weight. After the workout, he was excited to see how much more full-body range of motion he had compared to before he started.
I've been a personal trainer for six years, but I was only introduced to these Olympic lifts about four months ago when I became a CrossFit coach. These Olympic lifts are a big part of the CrossFit programming.
The learning process for me was extremely difficult in the beginning. The Olympic weightlifting movements demand so much flexibility, balance and speed from the body. But all of my physical skills that weren't great initially, improved significantly the more I practiced. Surprisingly, other activities, such as my handstand push-ups, muscle ups and box jumps improved, too.
I've seen men and women of all ages and abilities execute these moves and improve their overall fitness. You can, too. Be encouraged to experience how this style of lifting can take your fitness to a higher level. Join a gym that offers Olympic lifting courses and give it a shot. Have no worries, start slow and know that there is so much to gain from learning!