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  • Writer's pictureZac Zuspann

Why Do We Snatch, Clean, and Jerk?



In order to get the most out of what you do, it is really important to understand WHY you are doing it. So why do we practice the Olympic Lifts? (hint: Strength/Load are not in the top 4 reasons, there are way better movements for that!) 1. Speed

We want to develop and maintain speed/explosive power.


It is incredibly rare for adults to use their fast twitch muscles. Gone are the days of sprinting, jumping, and changing directions quickly. We can stimulate these fast twitch fibers and the systems that support them in an extremely powerful way with the Snatch and Clean and Jerk with far less risk of injury when compared to sprinting, jumping, etc

These fast twitch muscle fibers are like a founatin of youth. They allow you to continue to create speed, power, explosvieness and move like an athlete.

When you train the O-Lifts - Speed is the stimulus you are chasing - not load - Heavy and slow misses the boat.

2. Coordination

Have you ever watched a world class weightlifter perform a Snatch in slow motion? It is like watching poetry in motion with every joint and system in the body working together in harmony and with precise timing.

The Snatch and the Clean and Jerk are similar to hitting a fastball in baseball, smashing a big drive in golf, or stroking a smooth jump shot. They all require the brain, nervous system, and body to work together in perfect unison.

When you train the O-Lifts - Skill and Coordination is HUGE and focused repetition with the right loading is the key. Performing reps with BIG intention and storing those to muscle memory.

Your body memorizes your reps..Are they fast and snappy or slow and sloppy? You are teaching it how to move

3. Mobility

the Snatch and the Clean and jerk require incredible mobility in nearly every joint system of the body. Ankles - Knees -Hips - Thoracic Spine - Shoulders - Elbows - Wrist. They must be able to move through full ranges of motion under speed and load to nail the lifts. This places a demand on the training that is very different from movements like bench press or deadlift.

They are an incredible litmus test as to how well your body moves as a whole!

When you train the O-Lifts, are you taking your mobility into consideration? You may have the speed, strength, and coordination but if you lack the mobility you will not get the full benefit of the training.

If you lack mobility, you may need to lighten your load and force a little fuller ROM in your positions every rep like the overhead squat, front rack, or lift setups.

4. Dynamic Strength

Yes, you need to be strong to be a great weightlifter. Top tier weightlifters are some of the strongest squatters and deadlifters in the world. What makes weightlifting unique is the ability to apply that strength in such a dynamic and explosive way.

Weightlifting makes you move LIKE AN ATHLETE is a sport like expression of strength and skill.

Do you want to be a great weight lifter and get the most out of your weightlifting? Consider how you move during all of our strength building exercises. Deadlifts, front/back squats, presses.. I could name dozens. Are you moving your body in a way that emphasizes full ROM with intent? Take the back squat for example. If I squat shallow and with no explosiveness for months and then expect my body to get under a heavy clean and explode out what do you think happens? Your body says, NOPE, I like half squats with poor position and no explosiveness

In conclusion...

All of your movements carryover. The Olympic lifts tell the story of how you train and move.

Putting all 4 together makes the O-Lifts the KING OF STRENGTH BASED MOVEMENTS


They have incredible power to change the way your body moves if trained properly and DAMN THEY ARE FUN WHEN YOU GET THE GROOVE!

There is no better feeling than nailing a huge snatch or clean and jerk with FAST. NASTY. GREASY. VICIOUS. DRIPPING LIGHTNING. SPEED.

Next time you get your hands on the bar for a snatch or clean, understand the power you have and focus BIG on speed, coordination, mobility and dynamic strength!

Happy Training!

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