I’m going to be completely transparent. I’m not a professional Olympic lifter. I started with a powerlifting base so strength has always been my go to. I was always pulling heavy shit. And to be honest, it will always be my first love and foundation. But when I moved into CrossFit and began learning Olympic style lifting, it was a completely different dynamic for me. And I really liked it. It was having that technique, that precision, and being able to be proficient in the movement, not because you can pull something heavy, but because you hit every single technical cue you have to hit in order to get to that place.
A DYNAMIC WORKOUT
Olympic style is a dynamic type of lifting that’s completely different from the type of training I was doing. As a powerlifter I was used to pulling 3 times the amount of weight I was now doing. But after working on my form over and over, I was getting an incredible workout from something I questioned would even be challenging when I first started. And I think that’s a key motivator for me. I get so exhausted because I’m working so hard going through the movement over and over. But that’s why you need the mental discipline and patience as you dissect your technique. I can easily spend half an hour of my warm up just working on a single movement, such as simply dragging the bar up my thighs a few inches.
OLYMPIC VS POWERLIFTING
In a powerlift, the range of motion is half the distance it would be for Olympic lifting, because the bar in Olympic lifting travels from the ground all the way up. In a bench press for instance, a staple powerlifting movement, you can imagine the distance the bar travels compared to a whole dynamic movement. That’s why when you’re starting from the ground in an Olympic lift, something even as mundane as deciding where you’re going to stand on that first pull is something you think about all the time. You’re always actively thinking. The mental effort alone it takes to be consciously training can be exhausting!
RESIST THE DARK SIDE
Another key aspect in Olympic lifting for me is the necessity to stay present. It’s easy for me to just turn off my mind sometimes, and summon the anger and pull a heavy deadlift. But you can’t be jaded by emotion when you’re doing a technical lift. You have to be present and conscious of your training.
SUPPORTS EVERYTHING YOU DO
Olympic lifting will support all the other sports or activities you do. It’s a dynamic movement that will supplement any movement because it’s a full body workout. You’re having to fire every muscle to get that pull. Before starting in powerlifting, I was training at a bodybuilding gym with the goal of simply wanting to lose weight. So I have experienced all types of lifting. That’s why I would never discriminate against any form of lifting or athleticism. And you can’t really judge something until you try it, which is why I have so much respect for anyone who lifts, no matter what their reasons are for doing so. But for me, it’s about performance. I always want to show off my physical exertion, rather than my abs or my delts. Because I believe if you prioritize performance over aesthetics, the aesthetics will follow.
Written by Karina Lemoncrystals
Karina is a Certified Trainer and nutrition coach who is committed to inspiring a lifestyle of happiness, health and fitness in others. She currently trains at CrossFit Lions and Dynasty Gym. Follow her adventures @lemoncrystals on Instagram.