Training on the Olympic Lifts - Peary Rader
Training on the Olympic Lifts
by Peary Rader (1955)
Every bodybuilder should spend some time training on the three Olympic lifts, for this type of training will impart qualities to his physique as nothing else can.
Good lifting requires that you be strong, fast and very flexible. You must move very fast both in pulling a weight and in getting under it. If you are not fast you can not lift to the full capacity of your power. You must be very flexible to get into the low positions required in the Snatch and the Clean & Jerk. Practice of the lifts will develop all these qualities in your physique in addition to giving you better coordination, timing and confidence. In addition to these things, lifting imparts certain developmental qualities that you can get no other way. It gives your physique a ruggedness that regular bodybuilding exercise cannot duplicate.
After you have developed a sound base by following a beginner's program for some time, until your development is fairly satisfactory, you should periodically work for a month or two on the three Olympic lifts and heavy squats, as well as high, fast dead lifts.
Your lifting program should look something like this:
First, you will do the Press. Perform 5 reps with a poundage that is fairly easy. Then add 10 lbs. and do 3 more reps, then 10 lbs. more and do 3 more reps, then another 10 lbs. and, if possible, another 3 reps. You may only be able to do 2 reps at this stage or after a few more weight jumps. You will reach a stage in this progressive fashion where you can do but 1 rep. At this time you quit the press and start the snatch.
The two arm snatch should be performed with the same schedule of poundage increases and repetitions until you can do but 1 rep. When doing the reps for the snatch you should perform the second and third rep from what is called the dead hang position; that is, don't lower the weight completely to the floor between reps, but lower it until the plates are about 2 or 3 inches from the floor, and immediately pull again for another snatch. That gives you a muscular rebound that is very effective in developing power and muscularity.
After you are finished with the snatch you should practice the clean & jerk with the same schedule of reps and poundage increases. Your second and succeeding cleans of each set should also be performed from the dead hand position.
If, after practicing the lifts for a while, you find that your jerk is easier than your clean you should start doing one jerk during a set of cleans. In other words, a 3 rep set of clean & jerks wound mean 3 cleans and 1 jerk (with the last clean). If, however, your clean is easy and your jerk is hard, you should work the jerk more by doing 1 clean and 3 reps of the jerk for each set. Thus you work your weaker lift the most and it improves.
After you have practiced the three lifts as described you should perform some heavy squats. Use the same schedule of repetitions as you did in the lifts, working up until you reach a near-maximum single rep. Then go to the high dead lift and use about the same amount of weight you use in your best clean. Pull the weight from the floor as fast and high as you can. It should come about chest high, then lower it to the dead hang and pull again as high as you can and continue until you do as many reps as you can without losing form, usually 5 or 6. If you are quite weak in the clean you can perform this with the same system of sets and reps as used in the lifts.
Many men, on days when they have an abundance of energy, will work back down on the lifts by lowering the poundage and increasing the reps when they reach a near-maximum single. Thus they work up to their top and then back down to where they started.
You should lift in this manner two days per week and on the other day you should use light weights and higher reps and train for style and technique development, as well as speed, flexibility, timing and coordination. You should practice exercises to increase the flexibility of the shoulder joints, such as taking a wide grip on a bar at the hips, then swinging it overhead and down to the back of the buttocks, while pulling out on the bar with a tight grip and the elbows locked straight. As your flexibility increases, narrow the grip. This will help you to get the weights well back overhead so that you can hold them easily in the snatch. You should also practice going into low splits and rocking back and forth with the body to loosen up the hip region so that you can go into a low split without touching the knee, which would disqualify you. If you are a squat-style lifter, practice going into a deep squat position while bearing the bar overhead or in the front rack and holding the position.
It will help your lifting if you do some "shadow lifting" with an empty bar or broom handle. This will teach you proper positions.
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