Friday, November 20, 2009

Olympic lifts and throwing

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I have no idea when the concept of using Olympic lifting for strengthening the modern day thrower began but I imagine it caught on when the realization that it was the quickest way to to gain strength and mass. In my opinion, the concept people have to understand is that with the advent of Olympic lifting also came the onset of illegal drug usage such as steroids. Although I agree that Olympic lifts are wonderful for achieving great levels of strength, the sad truth is that there is a limit the average athlete always hits which cannot be overcome unless the use of illicit medication is involved. The harsh reality is that a majority (not all) of world class athletes that have monstrous numbers in the O lifts are not to be envied because they are not attained without the help of substances, which are banned.
The problem I have with O lifts is the concept that you constantly have to continue to increase the amount of weight you lift in order to throw farther. I admit that this is true on many levels but at the same time it makes it seem as though if you cannot lift a certain amount of weight, you cannot throw a certain distance, which i disagree with. There are many other avenues of strength out there. Just because you do not have the best power clean does not mean you will never throw any farther.
Although I admit that Olympic lifts are the fastest way to increase strength and explosiveness, they are not the only solution. Olympic lifts are not for everybody and can actually contribute to many severe chronic injuries in the future if over emphasized. I am a firm believer in a concept I like to call the balanced diet of fitness. Imagine a pie chart that is cut up into various types of exercises, which include power lifts, aerobics, Olympic lifts, body building, plyometrics and throw specific. Now make a mental image on how big a portion of the pie is dedicated to each and you will find that we are all guilty of overcompensating with the Olympic lifts and power lifts versus putting more time into doing throw specific and plyometric strength training. My philosophy is that everybody will have a realm which will be their weakest, all this means is that they will have to dedicate a bigger portion of the other slices of their pie to other exercises which will help them improve. Therefore, understand that variety is the spice of life and realize that although the Olympic lifts are wonderful, there are other, less harmful ways to get stronger.
Leave me a comment and let me know what you think! or email me at


Anonymous said...

interesting take you have, but I want to play devil's advocate here for a second. Think of most explosive movements that a thrower performs in a workout. Where do they derive from? Olympic lifts.Olympic lifts are not the end all and be all for throwers but I feel they are the best exercises for throwers to do. I also would check your source on the drugs = big numbers in o lifts. Athletes who have huge o lifts yes could be on drugs but I also feel that time, experience and god technique produce these numbers. I am not trying to pick an argument here I just want to state the other side. My coach at my college is huge with the o lifts and ever since we made the transition to them our throws have increase dramatically. But in order to get to the numbers we are at we needed some time to work on our technique in order to progress. Just some thoughts I have, but I do not claim to know it all or to say you are wrong. Your pie idea sounds interesting.

Y. Ayeni said...

Tom, great points! I see where you are coming from as well. Take it from me buddy, I would not be where I am today if not for the O lifts. As I mature as an athlete I guess my eyes begin to open and see the possibilities of acquiring strength from other sources, which is why I came up with the pie chart idea. It seems as though too many of us are relying too much on the O lifts so a majority of our pies are over dominated with them and leave barely any room for anything else.

Leffe said...

i remember hearing somewhere from someone who said that al feurbach only did two 'main' lifts- incline db press, and full snatches....I thought that was pretty interesting.

Y. Ayeni said...

I hope my latest post answered your question