Ask Greg: How Do I Get Faster in the Olympic Lifts?

Ask Greg: How Do I Get Faster in the Olympic Lifts?

Jessica Asks: I’ve been religiously watching your videos for about a month now and am amazed at the speed at which Aimee gets under the bar!! I’m still a novice at Olympic lifting but have been doing CrossFit here in Miami for over three years. I know she has a huge amount of experience and training but are there any exercises and or techniques that will improve my speed in that area?

Greg Says
: There two main things to consider when we’re talking about speed in the Olympic lifts. First is the obvious: being able to make your muscles contract at a high rate of speed, which makes the associated joint(s) move at a similarly high rate of speed. The second is the speed of changing the direction of movement during the snatch, clean or jerk, i.e. transitioning from moving the body up to moving the body down. This is not really related to the rate of muscle contraction directly, but is a function of timing and skill.

The rate of muscular contraction can be trained of course, but much of an individual’s speed is simply genetic, the result of factors like muscle fiber type dominance, anatomical differences that improve mechanics, neurological function, etc. In any case, there is certainly a genetic ceiling on maximal speed characteristics irrespective of training methodology. This is where truly elite athletes come from: individuals who are genetically predisposed to being excellent at certain physical tasks and who then put in the time and work to develop those innate abilities to the absolute maximum degree. Read More…