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20 Tips To Improve Your Olympic Lifts

By Noah Bryant

Everybody wants to perform better, but sometimes you just don’t know where to start. The following list is packed with tips that I have come up with after years of trial and error as both an athlete and coach. A lot of these 20 tips can be applied (with different wordage) to almost any sport.

1. Have a plan and stick to it. Your training should be planned out months in advance with an end goal. If you don’t know how to do this effectively, seek the help of an experienced coach.

2. Warm up properly. Warming up is an integral part of any training program. This should consist of a general warm-up (jogging, jumping rope, etc.) and a more specific warm-up (light squats, cleans, snatches, presses, etc.). Beware of warming up too much though; you should be warm not tired.

3. Do full ROM lifts. It goes without saying that every squat it ass to grass, but you should also do predominantly full cleans and snatches. Power clean and snatch are great…as assistance exercises.

4. Use proper equipment. Every Olympic lifter should own a pair of lifting shoes. Have you ever seen an Olympian not wearing them? In addition, you need to have an Olympic lifting bar. They spin easily, and without one you could miss lifts, or worse, hurt your wrists.

5. Work your weaknesses. We all like to do stuff we are good at, but this is not the way to improve. Identify and attack your weaknesses.

6. Squat, squat, squat! Pretty self-explanatory, I think. This is the single most important assistance exercise, so get the bar on your back and your ass to the grass!

7. Don’t make a habit of missing lifts. Pick your weights so that you aren’t consistently missing lifts. If you miss lifts in practice you will miss lifts in competition.

8. Work the posterior chain. Doing lots of front squats and high-bar squats can build up some gnarly quads, but make sure you are hitting the posterior chain as well. Romanian deadlifts, good mornings, Kang squats, and glute-ham raises are your friend.

9. Develop proficient technique before you up the weight. Your technique should be proper and consistent before upping percentages.

10. Competition lifts should be priority. Assistance work is a huge part of success in weightlifting, but the core of any good weightlifting program is the competition lifts. If you want to get good at snatching snatch.

11. Get out of your comfort zone. Push your limits!

12. ABP (always be progressing). Progressive overload is a law of weightlifting. You need to be moving forward every workout, whether that is increasing volume or intensity.

13. Complete your pull. Too often you see novice lifters to eager to get underneath the bar and they don’t go to full extension. You can’t lift maximal weights without achieving maximum extension.

14. Pull yourself under the bar. Don’t fall underneath the bar and hope that it’s in the right position to catch it, pull yourself under the bar and always stay “connected” to the bar.

15. Be patient. Many times athletes start the second pull too early. Wait for the bar to get in position before you start your second pull.

16. Always move the bar as fast as you can. Your central nervous system is the conductor of the symphony that is your body. Always think about firing as hard and fast as you can. If the weight is lighter move it faster!

17. Don’t get caught up in the mobility craze. Gain mobility and flexibility by doing the lifts.

18. Rest. You have to program in rest or “deload” weeks. You can’t go balls out every day and expect to make progress. The older you get the more rest the body needs.

19. Be hostile. Lifting maximal weights is not something that can be done without aggression. It’s all about controlled aggression.

20. Have fun. What’s the point of lifting if you don’t enjoy it?

Noah Bryant is a 2-time NCAA Champion and 4-time All-American in the shot put, with a personal record of 20.80 m. He holds the school record in the shot put at the University of Southern California. Noah represented the United States in the 2007 World Track and Field Championships and the 2011 Pan-American Games. He was regarded as one of the strongest shot putters in the world, with a 210 kg (462-pound) clean and 150 kg (330-pound) snatch. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and has over five years experience coaching some of the best NCAA Track and Field athletes in the country. You can visit his website at