Why I Don’t Use the Olympic Lifts

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Blogging is funny sometimes.  There are instances where I feel I put a lot of time and effort into a post thinking to myself that I’m easily going to win some kind of blogging Pulitzer or that I’m going to step outside my apartment and a ticker-tape parade will just spontaneously erupt complete with a Stealth Bomber flyover and Kelly Clarkson busting out the national anthem in my honor.

Low and behold that’s never even come close to happening (yet), but still…I’m often bemused at which blogs actually catch on, gain momentum in terms of traffic and shares, and which fall by the wayside.

Take for example one of my posts last week, Success = Strength. This was something I wrote in like 30-45 minutes and something I just tossed up on my site because I didn’t feel I had anything important or revolutionary to say that day.

Funnily enough, it’s a post that, despite not getting a ton of “Likes” (which doesn’t really mean all much anyways), did result in quite a few people reaching out to tell me how much they enjoyed it and that they enjoyed the overall message.

In addition, I also had a fair number of clients at the facility walk up me throughout the week telling me they really liked it. Go figure!

And with that, today’s post, I feel, is another one of those hit or miss scenarios which may resonate with a few people and win me a few internet high fives; or maybe more appropriately make people want to throw their face into their keyboard in a fit of rage.

I’m hoping for the former.

One of the more prevalent and frequent questions we receive at the facility from other coaches and trainers who visit is: Why don’t you include any Olympic lifting into your programs?

Seemingly I think many who visit are under the impression that we (or more specifically I) don’t find any efficacy in their use and that we feel they’re a waste of time, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

I don’t feel I need to insult anyone’s intelligence and delve into the in’s and out’s of why Olympic lifting is efficacious or why it’s a superior way to train speed, power, explosiveness, and overall athleticism.

They work. Nuff said.

I’d be a complete moron to state otherwise.

That being said, and I’m speaking on my own behalf here (and not for the rest of the CP staff), I have my reasons why I don’t use them in my programming.

Numero Uno

I know I’m going to catch some flak some of the internet haters and gurus out there, but I’m going to say it anyways. Point blank:  I know my limitations as a coach.  

I don’t have a lot of experience with the OLY lifts personally, and I just wouldn’t feel comfortable pretending otherwise. That said, it doesn’t make much sense to me to spend an inordinate amount of time coaching/teaching something I don’t have a lot of familiarity with.

It’s certainly not going to do my athletes and clients any good. And it most certainly won’t paint me in good light.  At best I can probably get by and fudge my way through coaching a half-way decent hang-clean.  At worst I end up hurting someone.

And I don’t feel any less of a person or coach admitting that this is a weakness of mine.  If anything I wish this is something more coaches and trainers would admit to themselves. That they’re not Superman and that they DO have weaknesses.

Hi, my name is Tony Gentilcore……and I don’t know how to coach the OLY lifts.

Of course this isn’t to say I’m never going to improve my OLY coaching prowess.  I’m sure at some point I’ll ask someone to coach the coach and take me through the ABC’s. But until that happens I’m most certainly not going to pretend I’m something I’m not.

Numero Dos (<=== That’s About the Extent of My Spanish)

There are other, more “user friendly” ways I can train power and explosiveness.

I never quite understand why some coaches and trainers take an “elitist” attitude towards any one modality or way of thinking. One of the more common examples would be some people’s gravitation towards everything kettlebells.

I like kettlebells, I use them with my own clients. But I also believe they’re a tool in the toolbox and aren’t the end-all-be-all-panacea of health and fitness.

I can use the same train of thought with regards to powerlifting, CrossFit, Zumba, Yoga, the Shake Weight…..you name it, and you’re bound to find your zealots.

Okay, maybe not the Shake Weight…but you get the idea.

When talking about power and explosive training, as paramount as OLY lifting is, when working with a specific population like baseball players, I feel we can serve them well by implementing med ball training into the mix.

Hell, I’d argue it’s more “specific” to their needs in the first place and a lot less detrimental in terms of joint distraction forces on both the shoulder and elbow:

And this doesn’t just apply to baseball players either. We use med ball training with our general population clientele as well.

Numero Three

Pigging back on the point above, I don’t necessarily know how long a particular athlete or client will be training at the facility.  Some have been with us for one, two, three, four+ years.  But more common are those who may come in for a 1-3 month span.

Teaching and coaching the OLY lifts (well) can easily take months to accomplish, and if I only have a limited amount of time with someone I have to be overly judicious with my time with them.

With that I tend to opt for med ball training, skipping drills, heidens, sprint work (when applicable), and the like to get my “power” training in.

And not to blow sunshine up my own arse, but I feel the results that I (and the rest of the CP staff) have been able to accomplish speak for themselves.

And That’s That

Hopefully I didn’t offend anyone or cause someone to blow a gasket.  Just to reiterate, I understand that OLY lifting is important and that it works.  So save the hate mail.

I just don’t feel that you HAVE to include them to be a successful strength and/or performance coach. As the saying goes – there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

Maybe even most important of all: I think we can’t be afraid of knowing our own limitations as coaches.

It’s nothing to be ashamed of, nor is it something to cower away from.

It’s as simple as that.

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