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Some more thoughts on Olympic weightlifting

The 2014 world weightlifting championships concluded last Sunday from Almaty, Kazakhstan.

In the early days of this site, I wrote some fairly extensive posts about the Olympic lifts, their benefits and some variants of them.

If you didn’t read them or even know about them, let’s reminisce together!

The MAGIC of the front squat

What Olympic weightlifting can do……….for YOU

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the Olympic lifts and their variations.

With that said, I’m finding myself gravitating ever more towards Olympic weightlifting. Even as just a spectator! So the 2014 weightlifting world championships spanned the entire week, with each day seeing the gradual increase in weight class in both genders.

The other thing that was made quite apparent, was just how glamorous the city of Almaty looked in the coverage! Kazakhstan is nearly always thought of as very third world (thanks Borat!) – however, the city of Almaty has landmarks, facilities and infrastructure that rivals many other popular cities.

To prove my point………. 

Who knew?! 

On to the weightlifting!

Two major movements: The snatch and the clean and jerk. For those that don’t know, the champion in each class is the one who amasses the greatest total across both lifts.

(Note: I’m somewhat disappointed that the overhead press is no longer included in weightlifting competitions, as I think this lift is great and really sets the pansies from the powerhouses!)

So the tournament began with the women’s 48 kg class and men’s 56 kg class. The audience was relatively sparse for these, although generally the first day of any competition (in any sport) isn’t going to break any box office records. Needless to say, one of the reasons for a diminished audience was no doubt the ‘light’ weights lifted in these classes.

“Light” is used ‘lightly’ here. The winning lifts in the men’s 56 kg class were a 135 kg snatch and a 168 kg clean and jerk!

Relative to bodyweight, those are seriously impressive numbers!

But it remains: We all just love seeing people move seriously heavy shit! 

As the week progressed, so did the weight classes and the numbers on the bar. Things didn’t really hot up in terms of audience, until we saw the turn of the men’s 85 kg and women’s 63 kg classes. Inevitably the weights grew in conjunction.

Now the heavy shit was provided in the form of some seriously impressive numbers in the snatch and clean and jerk. The crowds loved it!

Also, there were some seriously aesthetic physiques across the men’s 69, 77 and 85 kg categories. The middle weight section for the women also contained girls with considerable muscle! In short, these guys and girls had physiques that put practically all gym goers to shame. 

The final three days saw the turn of the heavies; the men’s 94 kg, 105 kg and 105 kg + respectively.

The women’s 69 kg, 75 kg and 75 kg + classes.

The BIG boys and girls.

The display of these weight categories further proves my claim: People really really love seeing heavy loads man-handled! The men’s 105 kg class saw back to back world record breakage in the clean and jerk. With the new record established at 242 kg!

The crowds were in full force for this class, it needs no explanation. These guys are seriously strong! And their weight limit keeps them pretty aesthetic. Many of the competitors here are boasting physiques of 10 – 15 % body fat. It’s been said by many, but if you’re a normal height and considerably above 200 lbs with relatively low body fat…………you’re pretty damn jacked!

The super-heavyweight classes obviously saw the biggest poundage’s hoisted. But aesthetics were practically non-existent by now. Many of these competitors were clearly guilty of ‘hyper-bulking’. The majority of the men were well above 120 kilos and the women were above 100 kilos in some cases.

In relation to bodyweight, the lifts here were not quite as impressive as in the 105 for men and 75 for women’s categories. But impressive none the less.

Men’s snatch: 210 kg

Men’s clean and jerk: 257 kg

Women’s snatch: 155 kg (world record)

Women’s clean and jerk:  193 kg (world record)

Huge lifts. 

Those would make some absolutely concrete deadlift maxes for most people. However it’s not just the weights used in Olympic weightlifting that gets my interest and respect. It’s the other requirements:

  • Flexibility
  • Mobility
  • Explosive power
  • Co-ordination

All of these need to be fine tuned and in sync if you wish to achieve any success in the Olympic lifting field. You need good ankle mobility, hip mobility and mostly, shoulder mobility. Also, significant thoracic extension is required to maintain a bolt upright torso whilst in the deepest of squats.

Many people would have trouble getting into the bottom of a snatch with just a broomstick!

There’s also high levels of co-ordination involved which are only mastered via thousands of repetitions.

And finally, it’s no wonder most of these guys and girls are carrying a stack of dense muscle, when the nature of the Olympic lifts targets only the type 2B muscle fibers. These fibers have the greatest potential for muscle growth.

High intensity – low volume – maximal force. 

Sadly, the Olympic lifts are considered fairly unpopular globally. But with the rapid rise in popularity of Crossfit, which features many variations of the lifts and more people looking to master these patterns than ever before, hopefully I can go some way to encouraging you to possess an open mind to the array of benefits this training style offers. 

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JR @ Straight-Talking-Fitness View All

The 'brains' behind StraightTalkingFitness, a site all about discovery that leads to strength in all formats; fitness, mental, emotional and spiritual. Everything starts from within and projects outwards. Master the body, master anything and everything.

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