What if I told you there’s a way to get bigger, stronger, faster, more flexible, and more stable in one single movement, interested?

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Regardless of our individual training end goals hopefully at some point these components are a part of every athletes training regimen. So, in the interest of efficiency, why not capitalize on movements that combine all of these aspects into one fluid motion? Welcome to the sport of weightlifting! First things first, weightlifting and lifting weights are in fact two different things. Weightlifting is a term reserved exclusively for the Snatch and clean & jerk. And yes, the purists will get technical, I’ve seen it. We don’t want to offend the guy that can take a 315lb barbell from ground to overhead in under a second now do we? Ok, consider yourself Initiated. Let’s get down to some facts. Without further ado, 5 reasons to give Olympic weightlifting a try.

5. Its safe- Leading off with this one to nip some things in the bud. A recent fitness movement that shall go unnamed has taken the theory, principles, and practice of traditional weightlifting and dropped them on their head, all while giving it a cute name like Isabel or Grace. However, the sport itself has been proven to be quite safe. Dr. Mike Stone, a legend in the strength and conditioning realm for his research and ideologies, has published studies on both acute and long term injury risks involving weightlifting as well as other sports. His findings are that weightlifting and its training are among the safest sports to participate in. Acutely the researchers measured injuries per 100 hours of participation and found soccer to top that list at 6.20, followed by track and field at .57. Comparably weightlifting came in at a whopping .0017. For the long term study Stone looked at the incidence and prevalence of low back pain among active males of various backgrounds aged 40-47. The control group had a 31% lifetime incidence of LBP while the former weightlifters came in at 23%. Under the proper coaching, weightlifting can be a very safe and very rewarding experience. *climbs off soapbox*

4. Body Composition- weightlifting movements train the body as a system. In the bottom of a heavy overhead squat every stabilizer muscle you came equipped with is working overtime to keep the bar overhead and the body tightly underneath it. In an 8 week Olympic weightlifting program study, participants lowered their resting heart rate by 8%, lean body weight increased by 4%, fat dropped 6%, and systolic blood pressure decreased by 4%. Not only is Olympic weightlifting safe it is a great way to stay in shape.

3. Mobility / Stability- Weightlifting is a sport of positions, and the ability to reach those positions quickly. I’d venture to bet most of you began your Precision Fitness experience with an overhead squat to assess you for total body mobility and stability. This is a fixture for weightlifters. Maximum hip, ankle, glenohumeral and thoracic mobility are required while maximum lumbar, shoulder girdle and knee stability have to be activated simultaneously to achieve that perfect position. While this isn’t possible for the vast majority of us currently it is a great thing to strive for and see improvements in quickly.

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2. Athletic Ability- Weightlifting requires not only mobility and stability to achieve positions, but also an extreme amount of explosiveness to transition from position to position. Studies measuring wattage outputs have shown weightlifting movements to have as many as four times the power output of traditional lifts such as back squat or deadlift. But perhaps the most interesting study compared a traditional vertical jump program to an Olympic lifting program for efficacy of training the vertical jump. After the two 8 week programs both groups improved on all areas tested but the Olympic group improved significantly more than the vertical jump group in both the squat jump and the 10M sprint. This study showed that an Olympic weightlifting program actually beat a vertical jump specific program (in the squat jump and 10 m sprint speed) while matching other tests of power, speed and strength.

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At 5’9′ and 360lbs Olympian Shane Hamman was known to dunk a basketball with ease

1. It’s fun- A new challenge, uncharted territory for most of us and a way to be tested in a way we most likely haven’t before. The good news is you’ll progress quickly. As a Precision Fitness client you already have a focus on mobility and stability that many of your peers do not. Let’s put that to use! Experiencing new challenges is one of the greatest parts of life, and for the people I see day in and day out fitness is a high priority in each of your lives. So lets combine the two and throw a couple barbells around from time to time, we can show you how!

Jason Allen MS, ATC, CSCS, USAW-PC

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