Friday, June 12, 2020

Using the Olympic Uprights to Become a Monster Athlete.

There are quite a few people who think that the Olympic lifts, the load, and the start, are practically the Holy Grail for athletic performance. She claims that the triple extension of the hips, knees, and ankles that occurs with O-lifts mimics that of sprinting and jumping. The fact that Olympic lifters are some of the most explosive athletes out there helps their claim.

Korean weightlifters with impressive bench jumps.

The people who follow know I am not trying to sweeten people's ears about O-lifts, my thinking has always been that Olympic lifts are very good indicators of athletic power, but they do not necessarily build athletic power on their own.

Now that being said, if done correctly, starting (or loading) from on-hook is an easy way to monitor yourself and increase the rate of development and speed force in addition to vertical jump over time. They are great "tools" to control your increase in athletic power. Olympic lifts (start-up and loaded) intrinsically require a lot of acceleration and, if DONE CORRECTLY, require simultaneous extension and contraction of the ankle extensors, knee extensors, and hip extensors. For these reasons they can be a valuable way to decrease the explosive force deficit and improve the rate of force development if they PERFORM CORRECTLY.

In another study a few years ago, they took 2 groups of athletes: one group performed squats and plyometric exercises. The other group performed squats and Olympic lifts. The group that performed the Olympic lifts improved their vertical jump more than the other group. Awesome.

However, one can achieve the same thing with a jump squat as you can with Olympic lifts: triple extension of the ankles, knees, and hips under load, but the best thing about O-lifts compared to a jump squat is that they're much easier (and I think more fun) to monitor than a jump squat because the lift either completes or not, and the weight either gets heavier or not - it has something more tangible to shoot at. It is a little more difficult to monitor jump squats.

I like the versions from hanging on start and loaded because they are almost exactly like a jump loaded. Here are a couple of videos by Lance Shultz that teach a useful boot and load:

The variations from hanging are relatively easy to learn, easy to implement, and also provide a highly empowering exercise. They also help the sport-specific strength of the upper body when it comes to rebound and the like.

The problem.

One of the problems with O-lifts is that, although they require a triple extension of the hips, knees, and ankles, their effect on the ankles is considerably less than that of the hips and knees. This is truer the better one becomes at doing them. In other words, they don't force you to go hard on the balls of your feet like you would in a jump. This is why I often like to get people I train to alternate a series of O-lifts with a series of plyometric variations such as deep jumps, knee to chest jumps, and so on. You do the O-lifts especially for hip and knee extension power and the poles for ankle extension power.

Series and Reps.

As for loading, Olympic lifts are inherently fast on their own so that you can work with a relatively high percentage of 1RM and still put a lot of focus on PTO. Loads of 80-90% of 1RM are quite successful. You can do this anytime you work your lower body and would normally do this early in the workout, before any other heavy lifting. As long as you keep the reps in between 1-5 and keep in good shape it is hard to screw up and you will make progress. Many Olympic lifters don't even count sets, they only work up to one replay of the day, and then get some weight off and do a few sets. plus.

How often should you do them? Two days a week per lift is fine. A heavy/light simple approach works well. Here is an example:

Day 1: (Monday)

Loaded / Start: 4 x 3 working up to 3 reps maximum.
Depth jumps 4 x 5 from a 60-centimeter drawer.

Day 5: (Friday)

Loaded / Start: 4 x 3 with 90% of the weight of day 1.
Jumps in-depth: 4 x 5 from a 45-centimeter drawer.
Squat: 5 x 5 with 90% of the weight of day 1.

The Formula to Become a Super Monster Athlete with the Olympic Uprisings…

If you want a simple formula to shoot in terms of lifting gains for overall athletic success, add up your bench press, legal squat in midstance, start from on-hook, loaded from on-hook, and divide everything by your body weight. The number to reach is 6. If you reach that number it is most likely that you are going to be an explosive boy (or girl). I learned this formula years ago from a pitching coach named John Smith. His wife was a sled competitor and a former college basketball player. According to my notes, he said that in college basketball he smoothed his butt for 4 years and was running 40 in 5.1 with 94 kilos when he left basketball. Two years of weight training later she weighed 96 kilos and ran 4. 7 and had improved his vertical 15 centimeters without running or jumping training. In 1985 her ratio of body weight and strength in the 4 lifts was just below 3.00. In 1987 she rose to 5.33 and became a different athlete.

I had a boy a few years ago who went into that formula after I talked to him. His main objective was to get bigger and more muscular, the explosive gains were secondary. I trained him for a while and then he somehow took things under his control with occasional input from me. In a couple of years, he went from 70 to 84 kilos and increased his vertical from 66 to 99 centimeters! Everything he did besides that was occasionally some deep jumps.

Well, I hope you have found this informative and give you something to play with.

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