Powerlifting has been around for a while (its first Olympic appearance happened in 1896!). In the past couple decade it’s gained even more recognition for its many benefits. Snatches and clean and jerks — the two main Olympic lifts — are full-body, intense movements that have the power to strengthen your legs, glutes, back, abs, shoulders and arms. In one explosive movement, if done properly, you can work a plethora of muscles. While there are endless benefits to perfecting these movements, here are just seven you might not know about…
Olympic lifting can help prevent injury
This hidden benefit may surprise you. While Olympic lifts require precision and attention to detail, they also require joint strength — which in turn can help prevent injury. Controlling heavy loads requires strong ankles and flexibility and stability across a myriad of joints. The better you get at performing Olympic lifts, the more strength you are likely to have performing everyday activities like carrying groceries, carrying your kids or bending down to lift up heavy objects.
They improve core strength and stability
Want more defined abs? Then incorporate more Olympic lifts into your workout routine. A strong core is necessary to perform heavy Olympic lifts. The more reps you do at a manageable weight; the more core strength you’ll build. Whether you’re snatching with a weighted barbell or a dumbbell, a strong core will help propel you to reaching a powerful landing position. Next time you perform an Olympic lift, think about engaging your core. This will help propel results and improve overall body composition.
They improve body composition
Speaking of body composition, Olympic lifting goes hand in hand with increasing muscle mass. Because Olympic lifts are explosive in nature, they can burn a lot of calories in a small amount of time. They’re a great way to decrease body fat, build muscle, increase strength and maximize your ability to train. Plus, the more lean muscle you build from powerlifting, the more fat you’re likely to burn outside the gym.
One lift can improve multiple movements
By practicing snatches and clean and jerks, you’re also improving your deadlift, squat and press. Since Olympic lifts incorporate many movements in one, their mastery will help influence you to be a better, more well-rounded athlete.
They improve grip strength
Again, mastering Olympic lifts will translate to improved strengths in many other lifts. Particularly, developing better grip strength can help improve other movements like pull-ups and farmer carries. And, as we all know, these functional movements have the power to make your life outside of the gym easier, too. (Hello, one-trip grocery hauls — your hands can handle it!)
Olympic lifting encourages active goal setting
Similar to shaving off time on your one-mile run, adding weight to your snatch and clean-and-jerk PR can help boost motivation and confidence. When we set goals and work hard to meet them, we establish a positive feedback loop. Think about the last time you attempted a new PR and accomplished it. This simple action tells your mind that, “yes, I can set big goals and achieve them.” This pattern of thinking can show up in other areas of your life, too. Big projects at work won’t seem as daunting and staying engaged with your children for longer amounts of time might not seem as tough.
It improves posture
Good, strong posture is required to effectively powerlift — and the more you practice Olympic lifting, the better your posture will become. Great posture is all about balance, and balance allows the body to do other demanding activities and workouts. Plus, who doesn’t want have more beautiful posture? Train more with the Olympic lifting and you’ll inevitably improve your posture.
Increased power and speed
When we think of high power outputs, we think of snatches and clean and jerks. Power, the combination of strength and speed, is a key component that aids in other activities like running faster and jumping higher. By weaving in Olympic lifts to our workouts, we help to develop more power and increased speed in several other areas. It’s a win-win!
It improves bone density
One of the reasons why we workout is to avoid health risks down the road. Even if you’re a young athlete, developing strong bones early on is important. Especially for females, Olympic lifting can strengthen bones critical to preventing osteoporosis and bone fractures. By focusing on legs, spine and arms, Olympic lifting can help stimulate better bone growth and improved bone density.