Olympic Weightlifting is a unique breed of lifting weights. Where a power lifters lifts have more muscle isolation, and require ultimate power from a single grouping of muscles, Olympic Weightlifting requires rapid power, with transfer of the weight from one grouping of muscles to another, with continued effort to the finish of the overhead position. The two lifts included in the Olympics are the Clean and Jerk, and the Snatch.
In the Clean and Jerk the weight is lifted from the floor up onto the shoulders, before proceeding to drive it overhead into a locked position. It takes amazing power and speed to perform this two step combination of lifting. When you consider weights in excess of 575 pounds have been lifted and locked into position overhead the feat is truly amazing.
The Snatch is the second Olympic lift, and requires taking the weight from the floor to the overhead locked position in one fluid motion. The lifter will lift the weight to the overhead position, ducking under the weight with bent legs, and then while maintaining control of the weight, straighten their legs into a locked position. Due to lifting non-stop to the overhead position, weights are considerably less in this lift. Consider the power it takes to lift over 450 pounds overhead into a locked position, and then straighten your legs.
Training for Olympic weightlifting is much different than training for power lifting or for bodybuilding. An Olympic lifter will specialize in a very narrow series of lifts focusing on the muscle groups needed to complete the lifts. Most commonly the lifts are done for low reps with heavy weights. Where a power lifter also focuses on a narrow set of lifts, the lifts are completely different. The power lifter is never in a fully upright position with the weight above their head. The power lifter never transfers weight between two body parts, allowing them to more narrowly train their muscles.
One of the big challenges for any Olympic lifter is training hard, getting enough nutrition, while still maintaining their weight class. The require massive nutrition to fuel strength growth, muscle repair, and to fuel their workouts, without putting excess weight on their bodies.
A normal workout by Olympic lifters will include lifts like the power clean, front squat, bench press, back raises, snatch squats, inclined sit-ups, close-grip bench press, and the list will continue. The lifter needs to have fast power starting from the soles of their feet, all the way to the top of their uplifted arms. Every muscle in their body must be strong, and trained to work in unison to make the lifts.
If you want to have explosive power which shoots towards the stars, Olympic weightlifting is an excellent method of training, and an exciting sport. Even if you have no intention of lifting in competition, their training methods will give you a very powerful body, designed to work in unison. Adding some of their training methods into your current weight workout is an excellent way to increase your overall coordination and body skills. Next time you watch the Olympics, watch these lifters closely. Their feats of strength are almost magical, and beyond belief.