The Olympic lifts (Snatch & Clean and Jerk) have increased in popularity recently. CrossFit and an increased interest in strength and conditioning training has really put the Olympic lifts in the spotlight and you will often see them being performed at commercial gyms as opposed to being solely performed in actual weight lifting gyms
The benefits of incorporating the olympic lifts into your routine are truly endless, both the Snatch and the Clean & Jerk are very dynamic moves that recruit a wide range of muscle fibers and also require a great deal of skill to perform properly. Both moves involve lifting a weight explosively overhead from the floor, the clean and jerk has two stages to the lift and the snatch has only one. There are also variations such as the power clean and power snatch but these are basically just stripped-down versions of the standard lifts.
The Olympic lifts can be used to develop speed, strength and power for other sports. Whatever sport you are involved in you will undoubtedly benefit from incorporating the olympic lifts into your training.
Crossfit has really helped to push the olympic lifts into mainstream lifting, and because of this many more people are incorporating the lifts into their routines to help with a variety of different fitness goals. It has become increasingly popular to perform the Olympic lifts for high reps with light weights to produce increases in cardiovascular fitness and to speed up fat loss. While this all sounds great, there are of course drawbacks… The Olympic lifts are explosive movements that require a lot of concentration, skill and strength, and are best performed fresh and while not excessively fatigued. Performing high reps will drive your heart rate up and burn a ton of calories but you must also remember your technique will start to slip as you fatigue, this can be extremely dangerous, for example if you have a rounded lower back, slack shoulders, lack of abdominal bracing etc you could do end up with a serious injury.
Power can be defined by the formula Force x Distance + Time. In simpler terms power is basically the ability to display strength quickly. The Olympic lifts are extremely effective for this purpose, whilst the three main compound movements (Bench Press, Squat and Deadlift) are often emphasized in most elite strength and conditioning programs, the Olympic lifts cannot be ignored, the power output from performing the Olympic lifts are significantly higher than the basic compound lifts.
Whilst the basic compound movements will often do the opposite and in turn reduce flexibility, the olympic lifts will actually increase it. The olympic lifts not only require exceptional dynamic and static flexibility, they also develop these qualities. In fact components of the snatch are often used to asses dynamic and static flexibility in many personal training and physical therapy screening programs.