Olympic Lift Yourself Stronger and Faster

Men's Health |

Your inside track to get into the shape of your life, without providing your credit card details over the phone.


Olympic lifts (like the snatch or clean and jerk) are only for serious weightlifters and powerlifters.


Olympic lifts will overhaul your body and muscle groups faster than any other gym exercises. These moves are used extensively in Crossfit routines due to the fact that they are such effective muscle-makers.


Rapid increase in explosive power and strength; accelerated fat loss.


“The three most effective Olympic lifts that we use in Crossfit are the squat snatch; power clean and jerk; and overhead squat,” says Du Preez. These are complex moves that require perfect technique, so don’t try them until you’ve been taught by an expert. Add these three moves to your workout plan.

A) Squat snatch

Stand with a barbell on the floor in front of you, with the bar over your toes. For the snatch movement, pull the barbell off the floor using your legs and hips, immediately followed by a pulling motion with your upper body and arms. Pull yourself under the bar while the weight continues upwards. The barbell arrives at arm’s length about the time you arrive in a squat position under the bar. Stand up from the squat position to complete the lift.

B) Power clean and jerk

Begin the clean by squatting down to grasp a barbell. From a crouching position, explosively pull the weight from the floor to a racked position across your shoulders. Then bend your knees into a squat, and straighten powerfully in order to propel the barbell upwards. In this explosive movement, move into a lunge position underneath the barbell. Hold the barbell overhead, keeping your arms locked. To end the exercise, move your legs directly underneath your torso
so that your entire body lines up in a single plane.

C) Overhead squat

Stand holding a bar overhead with an overhand grip, hands wider than shoulder-width apart. Pull your shoulder blades together to keep the bar in line with or behind your ears throughout the move. As you lower your body into a squat, imagine pulling the bar apart and pushing up on it. Pause when your thighs are parallel to the floor, then push yourself back to a standing position.


“These are fully-functional movements that build explosive power and strength,” says Du Preez. “This, combined with doing bodyweight movements at high intensity, creates the best workout and results in a short time.” These moves are the cornerstones of Crossfit training, and help the participants improve their functional strength, not just adding muscle mass for vanity sake as many bodybuilders do. Ironically, due to the nature of Crossfit training, many of their athletes end up stronger and bigger than some bodybuilders. “Natural bodybuilders (not on steroids) never approach the mass that our athletes do,” says Du Preez. “One of the beautiful ironies of training is that the athletes who train for function end up with better form than those who value form over function.”

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