How Olympic Weightlifting Will Increase Your Performance

Post Attributed to Shane Anderson, FAST Facility Manager

Foothills Acceleration and Sports Training provides sports performance training and personal training in Phoenix that will help you achieve your fitness goals. Whether you’re interested in training for a specific sport, or just want to increase your overall fitness level, FAST can develop a unique training program that is right for you.

Shane Anderson, manager of our North Central Phoenix facility, has a degree in Health Science and impressive experience as an athlete. A football MVP in high school and wide receiver for University of Nevada, he also attended training camp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Shane interned with ASU Sports Performance and worked closely with many different ASU sports teams. He is here today to explain what Olympic weightlifting is, and how it will improve your sports performance.

When it comes to sports training and performance, finding the correct method of training can be very difficult. Many people struggle with which types of exercises to do, how to do them, and how many sets and repetitions of each should be done. However, there is one type of training that has been proven to increase sports performance: Olympic-style weightlifting.

Olympic weightlifting consists of two major movements; the snatch and the clean and jerk. The snatch and clean and the jerk are the only weightlifting movements that are conducted in the Olympics every four years. This is because these two movements are the ultimate test to see who the strongest, fastest, and most flexible athletes in the world are.

The objective of a snatch is to lift a barbell from the floor to completely overhead, in one single, explosive motion. The athlete’s arms are placed in a wide grip on the barbell and fully extended. They must demonstrate tremendous speed and total body strength to quickly pull the bar up as high as the can, while sustaining a difficult wide grip. As they pull the bar to its maximum height, they must now exhibit flexibility and balance as they drop underneath the bar and catch it directly over their heads. As they gain stability with the bar directly overhead and arms locked out, they will stand completely vertical, thus completing the movement of the snatch.

The second lift performed after the snatch is the clean and jerk. This lift is also used to move a barbell from the floor to completely overhead, but is completed in two movements. Due to the addition of a second movement, more weight is typically lifted. This movement allows the lifter to move their hands closer to the body to get into a more mechanically advantageous position. This movement is also explosive, as the bar will be lifted as high as possible. Once this extension is completed, they will drop underneath the bar, catch it in a front squat position, and use their leg strength to stand all the way up with it. Once standing tall with the weight across their chest (as shown below), the lifter dips down and then uses their entire body to propel the bar above their head, with arms completely locked. When the bar has been lifted completely overhead and the lifter has shown control and stability with it, the lift is complete.

Sports Training - Olympic Weightlifting

So how do the Olympic lifts help you in your sport?

Olympic lifting makes you more powerful, meaning you are able to display your strength quickly and effectively. Though there are other lifts that can help with increasing your power, none are as effective as the Olympic lifts.

Olympic lifting also is a great tool for improving vertical jump ability. We have recently placed one of our basketball athletes on a strict Olympic lifting program. Since beginning this program, he has increased his vertical by 7 inches in 6 months. He is five feet five inches tall, and can now dunk easily.

Sports Training - Olympic Weightlifting 2

Increasing your explosiveness with these lifts will also help with your short duration sprint times. In most sports you will not be required to sprint in a straight line for more than ten yards. Your body will use the same energy system in the Olympic lifts as it will in the sub ten yard sprints, helping you improve your overall short distance speed.

Both of these lifts help increase motor unit recruitment (the amount of muscle fibers used when you use a muscle) and rate of force development. Because the load is being lifted so fast for a long distance, your body is required to recruit all the motor units (muscle fibers) within the muscle to help complete the lift. The more motor units your body learns to use, the stronger you become. Rate of force development is the speed at which your body can use these newly acquired motor units. In essence, it helps you utilize all the strength that you possess, in the instant you need it. Whether it’s winning a header, blocking a shot, or catching a touchdown pass, Olympic weightlifting will help you improve your performance in whichever sport you play.

If you’re interested in sports and physical training in Phoenix, contact us at, or schedule a free assessment online here. To find out more about personal fitness, follow our blog!

Foothills Acceleration and Sports Training (FAST) is empowered by Foothills Therapy Partners (FTP).