Powerlifting & Strongman

What Is Olympic Weightlifting?

Olympic weightlifting is one of the oldest forms of weight training. The moves are complex, and they take incredible strength to complete. 

Olympic weightlifting moves are performed outside the rack and lifters just use a straight barbell and competition bumper plates to perform the moves. 

Not just saved for the Olympics themselves, lifters who have a bit of experience under their belt can work their way up to doing Olympic weightlifting moves as part of their training. 

As compound exercises, they’re great for building strength and muscle, and they also form the basis of many CrossFit moves as well. 

Olympic weightlifting moves are highly functional. And they require complete strength to execute. What this means is you need to work the smaller muscle sets just as much as the larger ones. You also need to train your central nervous system, work on your grip strength and practise your technique regularly. 

So, let’s take a look at Olympic weightlifting in more detail, as well as some of the benefits of incorporating it into your training.  

What are the Olympic lifts in weightlifting? 

There are two main lifts in Olympic weightlifting:

  1. The snatch
  2. The clean and jerk

The snatch involves maintaining a wide grip where the lifter takes the bar straight up from the floor to above their head in one quick move. 

The clean and jerk is a two-part lift where the lifter brings the bar up to their chest (the clean) and then presses it above their head with a split jump at the end (the jerk). 

In training, each movement gets broken down into parts and lifters can take years practising each bit over and over. These drills are often done with just a barbell or a technique bar. This is so the lifter can get a chance to rehearse each move, without risking injury or strain.  

What equipment is needed for Olympic weightlifting? 

If you’re looking to train like an Olympic weightlifter, then there are a few essentials that you’ll need: 

  • Some good quality competition bumper plates 
  • An Olympic weight bar  
  • A pair of bar collars 
  • A pair of drop pads 

Fractional change plates are also really useful for pushing through your one-rep max. And jerk blocks can also really help you refine your jerks as well as your barbell press. 

Our Olympic Weightlifting Package includes all of the above. In addition, you can also customise your set to include either a full-size 20kg or 15kg women’s barbell, depending on what you’re used to. 

What are the benefits of Olympic weightlifting? 

Olympic weightlifting moves are extremely beneficial and worth incorporating into your training for a number of reasons: 

  • Power – because of the nature of Olympic weightlifting moves, you need to invest a good deal of energy into each lift. This means they automatically help you to increase the amount of power you can produce while training – which will ultimately make you more efficient with your movements. 
  • Speed – Olympic weightlifting is great for improving your starting strength. And this will translate through to all of your lifts including cleans and squats. 
  • Functionality – Olympic weightlifting moves are highly complex as well as challenging. However, this isn’t a bad thing. By having to lift the weight from one position to another, while hitting almost every angle as you go – you're increasing your overall strength and capability. 
  • Efficient – as compound exercises, Olympic weightlifting moves work a full range of muscle sets – including all the smaller muscles that you might not normally use when training. Not only that, but they will hit all your muscle groups in one go, making them an exceptionally efficient way to train. 
  • High intensity – weightlifting really stresses the body which makes it great for calorie burning as well as muscle building.  
  • Core engagement – to be able to keep the weight bar stable right through form the clean to the overhead press, you need to engage your core. So, Olympic weightlifting is great for working both your abs and lower back.
mirafit fitness expert does olympic weightlifting

Are Olympic lifts good for building muscle? 

Olympic weightlifting moves are some of the best types of exercises for building muscle mass. Not just because you’re lifting heavy. But by regularly performing compound exercises, you can train efficiently as well as provide the appropriate stimuli for your body to adapt. 

As high-intensity, high-stress exercises, they are challenging. But challenging is what you need to keep on improving and progressing your lifts.  

What is the difference between powerlifting and weightlifting? 

Powerlifting moves are very different to Olympic weightlifting moves. Powerlifting is also not (yet) in the Olympics. They are both competitive sports, however, and both require an immense amount of training.  

The three main lifts involved in powerlifting include: 

  • Squat 
  • Deadlift 
  • Bench press 

Powerlifting competitions also follow their own, unique formats and sets of rules. 

You can find out more about powerlifting in our interview with British Powerlifting.  

Inspired to start incorporating more weightlifting moves into your training? Check out our five weightlifting moves you definitely should be doing.  

And don’t forget, you can follow us on Instagram @MirafitOfficial.