Olympic Weightlifting: Mastering The Jerk
Olympic Weightlifting: Mastering The Jerk
The first thing that needs to be mentioned is that Olympic weightlifting is not just a sport, but it’s also a discipline. If you want to become an elite athlete, then you need to train hard and dedicate your life to training. There are many different types of athletes that compete in various sports all over the world. Some of them are very strong and some are not so much.
However, if you want to be an Olympic weightlifter, then you have to be able to lift heavy weights with proper technique.
If you don’t believe me, take a look at these pictures:
1) You will notice that there is one guy who looks like he could easily bench press 200 pounds (if he was really good).
Now compare him to another guy who is a little bit smaller than him. His arms are probably around 50% bigger than his body size.
How do you think he would fare against someone who had a much larger body?
2) Here is another picture:
In this picture, you see two guys doing pushups on top of each other. One guy has big muscles while the other guy doesn’t even come close to having any muscle mass.
Why is this?
It’s because the guy on bottom actually has MORE MUSCLE MATERIAL (especially in his arms) than the one on top. If you were to weigh both of them, the guy on the bottom would weigh more than the guy on top…sometimes a lot more.
Olympic weightlifters are sometimes called weightlifters or strongmen. However, most people just call them “weightlifters”. Some of them can do things that are just mind-boggling.
How is it possible for one man to be so much stronger than another man?
Some guys can lift seven times their own body weight over their heads. Others can jump up and put a 25 kilogram (55 pound) barbell on their shoulders. Others can run as fast as a horse, pull a horse with just one hand, or carry a horse on their backs.
Some weightlifters can do all of these things. What’s more amazing is that some of them are teenagers. Some of them are my age (in their thirties) and some of them are in their mid-fifties. There is one man from Pakistan who lifted when he was in his seventies.
He could still out-lift most 20 year olds and he could still easily carry a grown man on his back (with no struggle).
Ever since I was a kid, I have always been interested in strongmen and weightlifters. However, it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I learned about the sport of Olympic weightlifting (and how it is different from powerlifting). Even though I didn’t really know what was going on, I remember watching the Atlanta Olympics (1996) on television and seeing these guys throw around these huge metal objects. It was amazing to see how much these guys could lift.
In fact, these guys were so strong that they didn’t even look like regular people.
To be quite honest, the average person has no business attempting to do any of these lifts. Even professional weightlifters have coaches and spotters to help them with their lifting routines. If you don’t have a spotter or a coach, you can get seriously hurt if you attempt any of these lifts without proper training.
However, I’m not writing this paper to scare anyone away from weightlifting. As a matter of fact, I would encourage everyone (regardless of age or gender) to do some sort of strength training on a regular basis. It’s a lot of fun and it keeps you in good shape. You will find that your whole body becomes stronger if you weightlift.
This includes your bones. Weightlifting can actually help prevent osteoporosis! I have several friends who are doctors and they all recommend weight training to their patients.
So, without any further delay, here are the anecdotes. As you will see, some of them are quite amazing…and they’re all true.
I. THE SUPPORTING CAST
This section of the paper is for those people who make major contributions to the sport of weightlifting but don’t actually do the lifting themselves. They are just as important as the weightlifters themselves.
A. THE COACHES
There are a lot of coaches in weightlifting. There are national and international level coaches who train athletes for major competitions. In the United States, these coaches are usually paid a salary by the United States Olympic Committee. Some of them even get benefits!
There are also high-school and college coaches who train athletes from the age of 15 to the age of 30. Most of these coaches are paid a small stipend (or even nothing at all) by the schools that they work for. A few of them are even volunteers!
Finally, there are personal coaches. These are people who have training in either kinesiology or physical education and they train individual athletes on a contract basis. Some personal coaches have certifications and most of them have a great deal of experience in the field.
I have been very fortunate to work with many great coaches over the past ten years. Their knowledge of training, their knowledge of sport physiology and their love for weightlifting have all contributed to my success in the sport. I will always be grateful for the time that I was able to spend with each one of these great men.
1) Bob Takano (brought me from a 46″ snatch to a 60″ snatch in three years)
2) Kisik Lee (taught me everything that I know about Olympic lifting)
3) Jim Martin (taught me how to lift with good form and how to be a champion)
4) Don McCauley (helped me with my mental preparation for competition and lifted my snatches and cleans past the 90kg barrier without ever touching a weight himself)
5) Vlade Janajic (taught me the correct technique for the jerk and helped me perfect my form)
6) Andy Galvin (Andy is a great guy and a very smart coach. He helped bring my lifts up to their current heights)
B. THE RULES
You might be wondering what the rules are in the sport of weightlifting. Well, wonder no more! I will now list and explain the rules of sport for you.
1) The most important rule : The goal of weightlifting is to perform a lifting technique known as the “clean and jerk” and another technique known as the “clean and snatch” in such a way that the most amount of weight possible is lifted.
2) Each weightlifter gets three attempts for each respective lift.
In other words, you get three tries to “clean and jerk” a weight and three tries to “clean and snatch” a weight. The heaviest weight successfully completed wins.
3) In the case of a tie, the lifter with the lighter bodyweight is declared the winner.
4) During competition, the lifters will be divided into two groups : Junior and Senior.
There will also be a group of lifters in the 85kg weight class, another group of lifters in the 94kg weight class and so on and so forth all the way up to a group of lifters in the Over-105kg weight class.
5) In each group, the lifters will contest a total of nine lifts.
Three “clean and jerks” for the junior group and three “clean and jerks” for the senior group.
Sources & references used in this article:
- Comparative biomechanics of the jerk in Olympic weightlifting (SA Grabe, CJ Widule – Research quarterly for exercise and sport, 1988 – Taylor & Francis)
- Muscle function in elite master weightlifters (SJ Pearson, A Young, A Macaluso, G Devito… – Medicine & Science in …, 2002 – academia.edu)
- Weightlifting training gives lifelong benefits (WJ Kraemer, LP Koziris – Physiology and nutrition for competitive sport, 1994)
- Relative strength, body mass and height as predictors of olympic weightlifting players performance (ME Lavallee, LA Mansfield – ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal, 2013 – journals.lww.com)