The sight of weightlifters lifting double their own bodyweights overhead is probably one of the most awe-inspiring spectacles in sports. The sheer ballistic power and technique required to achieve such feats bear testament of the amazing potential of the human body. However, such achievements do not come easily. It requires years of discipline, hard work and dedication before anyone could even begin to come anywhere near the world record 263kg Clean and Jerk lift of Iranian Hossein Rezazadeh in 2004 Olympic Games in Greece. In case you’re wondering how Olympic weightlifters train to attain the required level pf physical strength to achieve such Herculean feats, we’re only too happy to oblige.
To start off, Olympic lifters must have developed the perfect lifting technique. Failure to do so will not only lead to slow progress and limited lifting potential, it could also seriously injure an athlete. Improper lifting techniques could lead to muscle strains, ligament tears, bone fractures, nerve damages or even stroke by aneurysm. Unlike conventional sports, professional weightlifters focus’ extends to more than simply building stamina and endurance. Instead, the two categories of Olympic weightlifting, namely Snatch and Clean and Jerk, demands perfect form and speed to create the most optimal Rate of Force and channel the explosive power of lifters.
It is far easier to develop the correct fundamentals and techniques rather than attempting to correct them at an advanced stage of a weightlifters’ career. Further, lifters run the risk of injuring themselves while training or competing using imperfect forms.
Coaches usually spend a couple of months training novice lifters to execute lifts, snatches and clean and jerk s using only unweighted bars. Novices routinely repeat these exercises up to thousands of times to develop the perfect form and muscle memory.
There are numerous weightlifting training philosophies, ranging from the Russian plyometrics, the Eastern European and American isometrics, the Turkish technique and many more. Nevertheless, there are similar distinguishing features among of all the philosophies, including:
- Maintain high training frequency and intensity using medium to low weight plates.
- Distribute lift, snatch and clean and jerk workouts between different sessions, or even days.
- Deadlifts and back squats, while superb at building strength, are very demanding on the lower back region. As such, these workouts should be minimized and capped at approximately 80% of competition targets. The same rule applies to power lifts. It should be noted that Chinese coaches tend to disregard this and subject their athletes to all-out training regimens.
- Work on core muscle groups independently, daily.
- Immediately drop the weights after lifting to prevent unnecessary muscle fatigue
- Observe very specific diets containing protein, carbohydrates and nutrients, which are focused on energy production, muscle development, and regeneration and recovery.
- Taper down training four days before competition dates, enabling athletes to be at their peak during events. Recovery consumes a lot of resources and can lead to muscle fatigue, so it makes sense to reduce the demands prior to meets.
BREATHING AND ENDURANCE
Breathing and safety were once seen as optional luxuries. However, coaches today realize the edge these elements can bring to athletes.
Olympic athletes are trained by kinesiology and biomechanics specialists on proper breathing techniques to maximize oxygen supply to muscles and brain. Breathing can also be used to time abdominal contractions to lend fractional reserves of strength during lifts.
The brief, yet super high intensity experienced by weightlifters during training and competition can lead to instant muscle failure and neural fatigue. Sport scientists have been known to devise training to simulate muscle failures to physically and mentally prepare lifters against such eventualities. Such trainings are also useful in increasing muscle stamina and mental strength of athletes.