More Heresy

The original post was not or is not intended as a diatribe against Olympic lifting, rather it is a plea for sanity and common sense in exercise selection and application. Dan posted this comment that I think requires further comment: “Though, the catch is valuable as it trains deceleration and control of bodyweight + bar.” This is another example of drinking the Kool-Aid that is the party line that no one seems to be willing to question. THINK! There are so many safer ways to train deceleration. It also begs the obvious question – Deceleration of what? The bar – great I need to decelerate the bar if I am a weight lifter other wise where do I decelerate in that pattern of movement. I always think in terms of risk and return. That is too high a risk move, especially when fatigued for the commensurate return. Also forearm length and overall arm length dictate some of the ability to properly catch and rack the weight. Where is this taken into consideration in most programs? If you want to work on eccentric loading (deceleration) in a similar pattern it is safer to do a medicine ball throw up against a wall. Believe me on the subsequent catch you will get good high eccentric loads. I use this in season with volleyball quite often, it is much easier to teach and safer. In summary I want to restate my general philosophy in regard to strength training – A sound strength training program must include pulling , pushing, squatting and rotational and derivatives of those movements in a all planes of motion with a variety of resistance modes.


At 12/3/07, 1:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I wanted to clarify my comments on the catch and deceleration. I agree with you, there are other means of training eccentric loading (and I use a variety). You always have to evaluate the athletes and situation and choose the best benefit/risk ratio. I have the luxury of working one-on-one with clients. With my EXPERIENCED athletes (who don't have injuries or anatomical limitations), we use squat cleans (so athletes perform triple extension and then catch the bar while dropping under it). So the movement pattern is squatting and the legs are decelerating bar + body weight. We train the movement patterns and mobility as part of our warm-ups with a 5kg bar every session. Obviously, this is very challenging and carries greater risk in a group setting (I would likely use another means of training eccentric loading in that setting).


At 12/3/07, 4:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a few questions...

Is it possible that by honing your technique and training in 1 plane of motion (ie the OL family of lifts) that you are in essence doing a disservice to the global motion, stabilty and nueral adaptation of the body?

Is it automatic that an offensive lineman does OL because they "set" in that posture? How does the OL account for the footwork needed by a lineman needed before he can set? Is the "set" more important than the footwork?

I use OL myself, but find they are a very small portion (<5%) of the volume training that any athlete I have does and most of that is because they have a psychological comfort level with doing them in college.

Jeff W

At 12/4/07, 12:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I assume you are addressing your question to me. I would tend to a agree with you that we are neglecting movement patterns, however after analyzing the athlete's needs, we progress to other planes and progress to multiplanar movements (i.e. med ball, kettlebells, etc.) The O-lift "drilling" that we do in warm-ups is to warm-up, develop timing and mobility. We do not use the O-lifts for strength/power or eccentric loading every workout. I employ periodization. Of course all athletes are different and I use a series of progressions over time. The single-plane O-lift serves as a potent power exercise when loads can be progressed and the foundation for the multiplanar movements (using a variety of tools, single leg stances,varying hip/knee angles, etc). This is the fun, creative part.

Take care,



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