Jan 5, 2012

Why I Olympic Weightlift (And You Shouldn't)

Under the Bar in Competition,
aka Keeping The Goal The Goal
(Somedays I miss my previous leg muscles)

My Olympic Weightlifting objectives might come as a surprise given my stated goals. Let's dig into why I'm doing it and why you should do something different.

I lift weights for a variety of reasons. One of the primary reasons is my interest in health and longevity. Climbing is my sport, I do everything possible to improve my performance just short of direct negative impacts on my health and longevity. Lifting weights in a planned progression has the greatest return on investment I have found for health and longevity.

It is important to establish a base cake layer of strength before adding the power icing top. During the holidays, I assessed my strength in the basic barbell movments. I was able to meet or exceed my benchmarks:

Back Squat, 3x5, 185lbs
Shoulder Press, 3x5, 125lbs
Deadlift, 1x5, 275lbs
at a bodyweight ~170lbs

This numbers represent my personal triple point for climbing sport performance, general health, and longevity. In the past, I had bigger gym numbers but I was not climbing very hard. Given my nominal strength base, I plan to add power via Olympic weightlifting.

I love to Snatch and Clean & Jerk. Any program you love will have higher compliance than a program you hate. I enjoy the speed, aggression, and technical challenge. In addition, quick lifts have a smaller eccentric loading component than the basic barbell lifts which means less muscle soreness for my primary sport. There is an inherent mobility component, an upright postural ying to balance the climbing hunchback yang. On the technical side of the coin, I have general sense of how do the lifts and not hurt myself. I find one focused cycle in the year breaks up the monotony of training.

Those are the reasons why I choose to lift. It is mostly likely not right for you. #1 - it takes too long to learn the lifts to gain the limited benefits for climbers. Climbers are better served by increasing strength via basic barbell movements. However if you are still interested, I suggest you contact someone that can teach Olympic Weightlifting and has a track record of results.