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Olympic Lifts and How They Can Work for You Training Database Bodybuilding Articles Olympic Lifts and How They Can Work for You

Adding Olympic Lifts - The key to Explosive Power

Olympic style weightlifters have long been known to be the best in terms of explosive power. If you observe an olympic weightlifer in action, you will notice that he or she performs most all movements explosively. Due to this speed and explosiveness, power is developed over time. Typically, bodybuilding workouts are all developed in the same manner and do not necessarily provide for a well rounded athlete. The bodybuilder will be extremely muscular, but because other factors aren't necessary to succeed in bodybuilding, it is easy to ignore them. Adding an olympic lift (or two...or three) into your workout program may be just what you need to become a better rounded athlete.

The table below shows a number of Olympic lifts and their respective benefits:

Olympic Lifts
Power (or Hang) Clean Power cleans are a great full body movement which involve the glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves, traps, and spinal erectors.
Power Snatch Glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves, traps and spinal erectors.
Push Press Delts and Triceps.
Overhead Squat Quads, hamstrings, glutes, spinal erectors, abs, delts, traps, triceps.
Jump Squat Glutes, calves, quads, hamstrings, spinal erectors, and abs.

Problems Involved in Including Olympic Lifts in your Bodybuilding Workout

In order to incorporate olympic lifts in your bodybuilding program, you may want to consider changing your current split. The reason for this is because bodybuilding workouts are designed to allow you to develop a specific muscle group(s) during a training day. For example, on chest day, you may include bench press, incline press, dumbbell flies, and machine presses. It may be difficult for you to include some power movements in your routine because some of these movements involve more than one muscle group, and you may risk overtraining by including these exercises on any given day. For example, as you can see above, the overhead squat works many muscle groups, from the quadriceps and hamstrings all the way to the delts, traps and triceps. If you include this on leg day, you will run the risk of overtraining your triceps if you have already exercised them earlier in the week. Likewise, if you do the overhead squat on arm day, you will run the risk of tiring your legs out if they are to be exercised later on in the week. As you can see, this can present confusion to the bodybuilder wishing to gain explosive power.


The recommended solution to this problem is to divide your workout program into three seperate workouts based on the individual power movements; (1) those working your legs, (2) presses, and (3) pulls. This allows you to incorporate power movements without compromising your bodybuilding recovery. Below are examples of which power movements and bodybuilding exercises you can include on each of the individual days:

Incorporating Olympic Lifts in a Bodybuilding Program
Pull Day Power cleans, power snatches Upper back, shoulders, biceps
Push Day Push presses Shoulders, chest, triceps
Leg Day Jump Squats Quads, back

So, as you can see, with a little bit of planning, it is possible to incorporate olympic lifts into your workout program without compromising your bodybuilding gains, and best of all, gaining explosive power in the process!

Take care,

Matt Canning

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