by Joe DeFranco
Most people say they perform the Olympic lifts because they’re “explosive.” The truth of the matter is that any lift can be explosive! By incorporating the dynamic-effort method with sub-maximal weights into your program, you can turn any lift into an “explosive” lift.
For example, if a guy who box squats 500 pounds were to train with 275 and focus on accelerating the weight, the box squat would then become an “explosive” lift. This example can hold true for many other exercises as well. By training with weights that represent 50-60% of your 1RM, science has proven that the weight is heavy enough to produce adequate force, yet light enough to produce adequate speed. And we should all know that speed times strength = power.
Another reason I feel the Olympic lifts are overrated is that they take a long time to teach and most athletes are horrible at them. After all, Olympic lifting is a sport in and of itself! Olympic weightlifters spend their entire lives practicing these lifts and some of these athletes still never perfect them.
The reason that most non-Olympic weightlifters aren’t great at the Olympic lifts is usually because they aren’t strong enough in the right places. After assessing an athlete’s power clean or power snatch form, I usually conclude that their technique flaws are due to a lack of hamstring, glute, and low back strength. This assessment usually means that I end up prescribing more deadlift variations, reverse hyperextensions, glute-ham raises, pull-throughs, etc.
This is called the “training economy.” Getting stronger in the deadlift, reverse hyperextension, and glute-ham raise will improve your power clean, but it doesn’t work the other way around. Basically, I choose the exercises that give my athletes the best “bang for their buck.” Another benefit of economical exercises is that they’re much less stressful on the wrists, elbows, and shoulders, compared to the Olympic lifts.