Is Olympic Weightlifting Worth the Benefits

Is Olympic Weightlifting Worth the Benefits

The Benefits of Olympic Weightlifting and Should Your Clients be Doing it?

Olympic weightlifting or just weightlifting is a common sight in most CrossFit gyms and is a sport all on its own. While a wide range of clients enjoy weightlifting and want to get better at it, it’s common that even after years of practice some clients don’t progress. This begs us to ask should the clients be weightlifting in the first place? 

In this month’s Knowledge Series, exclusive for OPEX Coaching Certificate Program (CCP) Coaches, James FitzGerald covers just that and highlights possible alternatives for Olympic weightlifting.

Olympic Weightlifting and its Uses

Olympic weightlifting garners its name from an Olympic discipline where the objective of the sport is to lift the highest total weight in the Clean and Jerk and the Snatch. This sport has made its way into mainstream fitness programs following its incorporation in Crossfit and other functional fitness workouts. Weightlifting, unlike powerlifting, is focused on explosive strength and falls into the strength speed category of the strength continuum.

Learn more about the strength continuum in this free resource.

Should Your Clients be Doing Olympic Weightlifting?

Who should be Olympic weightlifting? It really depends on the client, but for general fitness clients who just want to be fit, happy, and look good naked their goals can be achieved without weightlifting. 

To justify this position think about the demands of your clients’ everyday lives. Whether they are a nurse, lawyer, or teacher the demands of their life are very unique. But it is very rare that a client would have to explosively lift a weight over their heads in their average day. 

Another concept that helps determine if your client should or shouldn’t be Olympic weightlifting is their Maximal Physical Potential (MPP), a client’s maximum athletic ability. This is different for everyone and depending on your client’s history it may be very high or very low. That is why it is important to conduct an assessment to figure out what your client is currently capable of and what they are possibly capable of. Learn how to conduct an assessment with this free Coach’s Toolkit.

When assessing your clients for Olympic weightlifting there are two specific areas to focus on–are they mobile enough and are they strong enough? For movement quality, at a minimum, they need to be able to perform a full range of motion barefoot overhead squat with no compensatory movement patterns. As a base of strength, they need to be able to do a front squat at bodyweight with a closed grip and perform 3 strict dips and strict pull-ups. Learn how to conduct assessments like this in this free course.

Alternatives Exercises to Olympic Weightlifting

With that being said there still will be cases where your clients either want to work on Olympic weightlifting or need to supplement their absolute strength with strength speed activities. For these cases here are some alternative exercises for your clients.

Alternatives to the Snatch:

  • Dynamic bending à la Westside
  • Clean or snatch pulls
  • Reverse med ball toss

Alternatives to the Clean and Jerk:

Learn How to Determine What Your Clients Need

Should your clients be doing the Olympic lifts? As always, it depends. If they are training to be competitive at Olympic Weightlifting or CrossFit the answer would be yes. However, if your clients are just training to improve their lives they are better suited to other forms of resistance training. 

As a coach, you need to be able to decide what is best for your clients yourself. That is why all OPEX coaches conduct assessments before writing their client’s exercise program. Learn our method of assessing clients and writing personalized exercise programs today and download our free Coach’s Toolkit. Become the go-to coach in your gym and download today.


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Fitness Assessments for New Clients