Olympic Weightlifting

Jun 26, 2014 | by AIF

Long gone are the days when Olympic weightlifting was just for elite athletes, but is it right for you? Suzanne Cox, Coach at the Australian Institute of Fitness NSW, discusses.

So many people want to give Olympic weightlifting a go, not only because of all its benefits but also because it’s fun! Before you get too excited and jump straight in there attempting these high level lifts, reflect on whether you or your personal training clients are ready to give them a go.

Olympic lifting is a fantastic strength and conditioning tool that is beneficial for a wide range of goals. Many of the lifts have a lot of functionality and because there is so much muscle involvement, the metabolic effect, due to the large number of muscle fibres recruited, is massive! A lift will cover a large range of movement patterns, usually with a high level of force applied, meaning a solid strength and power base can be achieved.

If you’d like to incorporate some Olympic style lifts into your program there are some things that you need to consider to make sure it is safe and effective.

Client Level

How long have you been training? Olympic lifts are an advanced training technique requiring a high level of coordination, power and strength. For most of the population the minimum training age would be between 12-18 years, and past exercise and resistance training experience will determine if it’s right for you. If you have an extensive sporting background with a high level of neuromuscular strength and coordination they may be able to accelerate a little faster into the lifts than your average client. You’ll know this by checking off on the following points!

Primal Movement Patterns/Muscle Activation

Can you perform the basic primal movement patterns correctly with good technique? The primal movement patterns consist of;

  • Squat front squat in particular as many of the lifts incorporate this movement
  • Lunge
  • Bend deadlifts are an example of a bend movement and they are heavily used in lifting
  • Push both vertical (e.g. shoulder press) and horizontal (e.g. push-up)
  • Pull both vertical (e.g. assisted chin-up) and horizontal (e.g. seated row)
  • Twist (e.g. woodchop)


Does your posture weaken with any of the above movement patterns, especially under fatigue? If so, you are not ready to lift yet and could damage joint structures, particularly in the shoulder and back. In static posture, if you are highly lordotic or kyphotic this can also impact your safety. Lift your arms above your head. Do you lose their neutral spine and excessively arch your back? Again if you do, you’re not ready and need to work on their postural imbalances first.

I’m in! Where to now?

If you have some work to do in any of the above areas, it is recommended that you work on these weaknesses first. These areas are the building blocks of concrete training techniques that will ensure a smooth transition into advanced training, without encountering injuries along the way!

If you’re sold and keen to get into some Olympic lifting for you and your clients, there are some good resources to get you started. Working with another Personal Trainer who has experience in this area can be invaluable. Trainers with a Crossfit qualification are generally masters in the finer details of correction for these lifts. Textbooks are also a great place to start. Enjoy!

If you love Crossfit then make it your career and get qualified as a Personal Trainer – find out more here!



The Australian Institute of Fitness
The Australian Institute of Fitness (AIF) is the largest and longest established fitness training organisation in Australia, with dynamic training methods and expert course coaches nationwide - spanning fitness, massage and nutrition. The AIF qualifies more fitness professionals than any other provider in Australia, as well as offering a broad range of continuing education courses (CEC), upskilling resources and partnership programs for existing industry.

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