Any functional fitness and CrossFit program will have you grinding away at your Olympic weightlifting technique. Becoming great at it generally takes time and patience, but there are some great tips in getting there a little faster.
Note though that a good lifting coach, be it a CrossFit coach or a specialist Olympic weightlifting coach, will always be your number one source of getting better.
Breathe and focus
Before any lift, get your head in the right space. Make sure when you approach the bar and from the start you are 100% focussed. When it comes to breathing, doing it correctly is vital in maintaining the structure of your torso and core. Take a deep breath in, tighten your abdomen and then attempt the lift in full. If dizziness or light-headedness occurs, release a small amount of air during the highest-pressure moment by making some noise.
Squat, a lot!
Doing front squats often and becoming more proficient at them will increase your leg strength, comfort with the movement (which is important for Olympic weightlifting), and it will allow you to get better with your position under the bar.
Work on mobility
One of the most common problems people face with weightlifting is their mobility. Make sure you warm up and stretch correctly, and for long enough too. Work on mobility regularly!
Use your hips more
With any Olympic lift, using your hips is fundamental. The movement of the bar and the full “snap” and extension of your hips, aggressively, allows the rest of your lift to follow the correct sequence more efficiently.
When to pull the bar
Firstly, be patient with your set up – i.e. getting the bar from the floor to your knees slowly and comfortably. Secondly, you’ll need to pull the bar as high as possible up your thighs; the key to pulling correctly actually lies in delaying that pull to when the bar is as high up your thighs as possible. This means you’ll shrug, hard, still keeping your arms straight, to gain that high position and full extension.
Pull some more!
The idea is now to get the bar from that high up on your thighs position to then pulling some more to get the bar as high as possible before the “turnaround” and “receiving” movements. There is no point in pulling hard if you’re not going to finish the extension to allow yourself the opportunity to get under the bar. So, this “second pull” and full extension (ending fully extended and on your toes) will earn you the opportunity to get under that bar with more time to receive it.
Keep the bar close
Keeping the bar as close to your body as possible is very important – always feel in control of the bar path. The best way to control where the bar ends up is to keep it close to your body – from the ground all the way past your face. If it moves away from you, you will need to make too many adjustments (like hopping forward) to receive it and you’ll either miss the lift or struggle to control it.
Technique over intensity
Practice technique as often as possible – get comfortable with the bar and the required movements. If you nail the technique continuously with a manageable weight, you can then focus on intensity and the weights you’re aiming at. Once you’re comfortable with the techniques, then focus on doing your 1 Rep Max as often as possible to get comfortable with it.
Speed and aggression
Once you’re comfortable with your technique and repeating your 1 Rep Max, then turn up the heat and get aggressive with that weight. By being aggressive and aiming to move and transition faster, you will get much better at it too.
Get Oly’ shoes!
Any decent weightlifter will own a pair of Olympic weightlifting shoes. They help with stability, posture, and so much more. Rumour is that inov-8 will be bringing out their inov-8 335 (men’s) and 315 (women’s) in July or August! Rumour also has it that you won’t get anything better. We’ll keep you informed on when they’re launching.
How important is weightlifting to you? What other tips and techniques do you use to improve?