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The Essential Guide to Olympic Weightlifting: Master the 4 Key Elements for Success

Monday, August 21, 2023

Articles/Olympic Weightlifting/The Essential Guide to Olympic Weightlifting: Master the 4 Key Elements for Success

If you remember walking into your first Olympic Weightlifting class and getting thrown off by the cues and getting the barbell from the ground to overhead, you are not alone!

There are so many technical details in Olympic Weightlifting that beginners can easily feel confused and get lost. Olympic Weightlifting techniques and cues are huge topics of contention, with so many people having their own points of view which can often be highly controversial!

If you watch movement videos from top athletes, you may notice that they often have their own technical styles, which people often label as Chinese Weightlifting, or American Weightlifting, or Russian Weightlifting, or even a “hybrid” of multiple styles.

While there may be different styles, technique to execute the clean and jerk or a snatch is far more important, to ensure that you lift safely and efficiently. Many amateur lifters often get caught up in the “form” of the lift, rather than the actual technique, which can lead to disastrous long-term results. For example, some athletes will slightly jump backwards during the snatch, but fail to understand that this is merely a by-product of the movement, and not the movement that they should aim to execute. Thus, understanding the theory behind this should always be your first priority.

What is the most important factor for good, strong lifts?

Through years of coaching experience we, at Venus Weightlifting, have built our own model for Olympic Weightlifting, which covers the most fundamental elements, to help you to have a basic and correct understanding of the sport.

The BCDR Model of Olympic Weightlifting

B: Balance

Starting from the bottom, we have BALANCE, the base of the building blocks of our Olympic Weightlifting pyramid.

Balance is the number one most fundamental and important thing in Olympic Weightlifting, since we stand on the ground, move on the ground and live on ground through the force of gravity. Balance is about your feet as roots to the ground, the gateway that links you and the most stable source – Mother Earth.

So if your answer to the earlier question was that the 'core' is the most important, notice that balance is a fundamental prerequisite for a stable core.

Source: Hospital for Special Surgery, Illustration of the bones of the foot and ankle shown from the top and side view, with the talus highlighted.

The bones that hold the whole body weight and also the weight of bar to the ground is called the talus. The talus spreads the weight through the heels and arches of the feet arches. And balance lies on balls of feet, i.e. the metatarsophalangeal joints or padded portion of the sole between the toes and the arch, never on your heels.
In Chinese weightlifting, strength training is typically performed by positioning the weight over the mid-foot. However, when aiming for full extension and maximum power, it's important to shift your weight onto the balls of your feet.
Therefore, understanding and implementing proper foot placement and weight distribution is essential for Olympic weightlifters looking to improve their technique and performance. By emphasizing balance on the balls of their feet, lifters can maximize the transfer of force and execute successful lifts with increased precision.

C: Core

When it comes to weightlifting, having a strong CORE is paramount. Think of your core as basically a big balloon divided into three key spaces: the chest, stomach, and pelvis.

Why is core alignment crucial? It is all about maximizing the efficiency of power transmission from your lower body to your upper body. When these three spaces are properly aligned, the power generated by your lower body can flow seamlessly upward, enhancing your overall lifting performance.

But there's more to it than just alignment. The balloon-shaped core must be filled with air. This creates an inner tension and stability, which is vital for protecting yourself from the potential risks of lower back and knees injuries. By strengthening your core and creating this internal tension, you can provide crucial support and stability during weightlifting exercises.

D: Drive Down

“Drive! DRIVE!” is a common cue you might hear being shouted on the training floor. But where exactly is the focus of this drive?

While the term “drive” might suggest an upward motion in weightlifting, the truth is that in Olympic Weightlifting, the driving force is always directed DOWNWARDS. Beginners often make the mistake of trying to pull the bar up, before initiating the lower body drive, which disrupts transmission of force.

Are you Driving Down or Pulling Up in Olympic Weightlifting?

It is crucial for individuals to grasp the concept of triple extension and to let the body internalize it before even approaching the bar. Triple extension, is the synchronized extension of the ankles, knees, and hips, is the foundation of explosive power in weightlifting. Before attempting any lifts, understanding and practicing this movement pattern should be prioritized.

By emphasizing the correct technique of driving down and mastering triple extension, weightlifters can optimize their performance and reduce the risk of injury. So the next time you hear the call to "Drive! DRIVE!" on the training floor, remember, it's all about the downward force and the proper execution of triple extension for a successful lift.

R: Rhythm

Rhythm (or sometimes known as tempo) is another key element in Olympic Weightlifting, but sometimes can be overlooked. To maximize strength training in this discipline, exercises such as squats, deadlifts and shoulder presses come into play. For optimal performance, we recommend following the tempo: three beats down, followed by one beat up.

It is important to note that the rhythm will vary to serve different purposes.

Everything About Panda Pull

Take the "Panda Pull"for example, which poses a unique challenge in terms of rhythm. Unlike the 'Bong Pa' rhythm of the Snatch Pull, the Panda Pull requires a different approach. We always teach our clients to focus on the rhythm of 'Da Da' during the Panda Pull and let them start from the launch point. Once mastery of the Panda Pull is achieved, then we can then add the deadlift component, which includes the first pull, preparing for a successful full snatch.

By practising and nailing down rhythm, weightlifters can enhance their movement efficiency, timing, and overall performance in Olympic weightlifting. Investing time and effort in understanding and practising the appropriate rhythms for different exercises can lead to substantial improvements in technique and results.

Recommendation

Gaby says: from my point of view, the most efficient way for beginners to start weightlifting is to first understand these key elements, then dive into movements and technical details during the training. It can help to understand those technical movements in a deeper way or you could easily analyze your movement by using this model. That’s why during our training session, we always spend time on explaining our BCDR model before entering any specific movement training.


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Hi, I Am Gaby

Head Coach of Venus Weightlifting

Greetings! I'm Gaby, Head Coach of Venus Weightlifting club, the first of its kind in China. Curious how weightlifting can advance without exhaustive efforts and stiff bodies? I've unraveled this secret by integrating Chinese medical training and my innovative BAT (Body Alignment Training), catapulting thousands to their personal bests.
Ready to get your new PRs without pain? Let's embark on this journey of transformation together!

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