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Olympic weightlifting and the biomechanical similarities to sporting movements

Updated: Jan 29, 2021

Weightlifting and in particular Olympic weightlifting training and the associated nutritional practices can improve athletic performance due to biomechanics, and joint movements during the clean and jerk as the movements are reflected within many sports.

Consequently, developing an athlete's ability to react from these positions explosively would seem to be a valid reason to incorporate the Olympic Weightlifting movements within training programmes and exercises.

The Athletic Position

Olympic weightlifting's effectiveness to improve an athlete's ability to adapt and discharge from the athletic position gets very little attention. During the second pull phase of the Clean and the Snatch, the starting position has an observable similarity to the athletic position (Figure 1). It has also proven that the second pull phase during the Clean and Snatch and the pressing stage during the Jerk all have remarkable kinetic and kinematic similarities to jumping (Canavan et al., 1996).

(Figure 1)

Gourgoulis et al., (2009) found an interesting finding that performance during the Snatch was dictated by the acceleration force vector applied to the barbell. This means how much force is applied, and in what direction. Furthermore, the second pull produces the most significant levels of force, getting an athlete into an exemplary second pull position may be vital to apply enormous forces to the barbell in the correct direction. Getting an athlete to assume an optimal second pull position is necessary.

Optimising jump mechanics allows better athletic performance within explosive sports. This would include optimising the second pull position, which is also observably similar to the athletic position.


Canavan, P.K., G.E. Garrett, and L.E. Armstrong. (1996). Kinematic and kinetic relationships between an Olympic-style lift and the vertical jump. J. Strength Cond. Res. 10 (2):127–130.

Gourgoulis, V, Aggeloussis, N, Garas, A, and Mavromatis, G. (2009).Unsuccessful vs. successful performance in snatch lifts: a kinematic approach. J Strength Cond Res 23(2): 486–494.

Garhammer, J. & Gregor, R. (1992). Propulsion Forces as a Function of Intensity for Weightlifting and Vertical Jumping, Appl. Sports Sci. Research, 6(3): 129-134

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