Many of you may ask yourself, “how do I get better at Olympic Weightlifting?” Generally speaking, if we take a relatively average person with little to no exposure to Olympic Weightlifting, well, the good news is that for the most part, we can get someone past the novice stage and performing the lifts competently within 1-3 months. Competent being proper technical execution of the lifts (would be judged acceptable at a competition) and lifting more than they can just throw around with no effort. When someone is first learning the lifts, some very rapid progress can be made when it first clicks that they have to accelerate the bar and move fast. This is great and those “beginner” gains stimulate that initial euphoric high of accomplishment.
Many people will reach this point and think that they’ve got it “figured out” and never move on from there. That’s too bad, because that’s when the fun really starts.
F – Frequency
One must be consistent in their training. You have to keep showing up! Of course, you can consistently show up once a month, so it’s really the frequency that matters. The frequency of sessions must be enough that one does not “unlearn” all the gains they made from the previous session. Our general recommendation for this is a minimum of 3x a week with no more than 2 days off in a row. Any less than that and the time between sessions is long enough that you will spend most of the next session trying to remember what you learned from the last session and never progressing.
Some of us train so frequently, top of the line weightlifting shoes last less than 6 months.
I – Intensity
You can’t progress unless you are training at a high intensity. By intensity, we mean what weight you are using relative to your 1 rep max. The weight has to be heavy. It has to be hard. If you only ever practice using light weights, you’ll only ever get good at lifting light weights. You’ll never learn what a heavy weight feels like if you never attempt it. Positive adaptation will never be made unless the body is challenged. You may look technically amazing, but the whole point of these exercises is to get stronger, faster, more powerful. The intensity also needs to be there mentally. If you’re not fully concentrating on the lift while you’re standing over the bar, you’re not going to be able to lift to your full capacity. The mind – body connection has to be there to channel all your energy into completing the specific task of throwing heavy weights over your head.
T – Technique
After the basic technique is learned, further progression is made by constant minor adjustments and fine tuning of the technique. When one is in the beginning stages of learning the technique, the variability from rep to rep is often very large. Once you get to a point where every rep starts to look similar, then small corrections can be made that will increase your efficiency. This is where one really needs the “coach’s eye”. An experienced and qualified coach can properly identify which adjustments need to be made, and what the best cue is to give the lifter such that the corrections will be made. You’ll make that change and hit a new PR, and then when you add weight again, a new problem will creep up! It’s these small adjustments and improvements that make weightlifting such a challenging, but rewarding sport!
Fine tuning the jerk position; any small variance away from the midline is magnified when the weight is held overhead.
FIT – Frequency, Intensity, Technique – Follow these basic principles and you’ll keep progressing! If just one of these principles is missing from your training, don’t be surprised if you aren’t making progress. Identify the changes that need to be made and follow through!