Olympic Lifting, Volume 1

Last Thursday I felt like doing something different workout-wise, so I decided to switch my normal CrossFit class to attend the Olympic Lifting class at the gym. Spoiler alert, it was SO FUN!


No, really, it was fun. And OMG I just keep laughing at that All-Drug Olympics gif.

We started with high hang squat snatches, focusing on pulling the bar up (squat snatch: pick the bar up overhead with a wide grip and land in a full squat). The program was for 5×3 at 60-70% max rep, but since I don’t really have a max rep I just worked up from a PVC pipe to a junior bar to the women’s bar and eventually loaded the 2.5kg plates to give it some weight. This way I could focus on the form instead of “you want me to lift THAT over my head?!?” My biggest problem so far is keeping the bar close to me. I tend to swing it out front and try to muscle it up overhead instead of pulling strong and getting under the bar when I turn my wrists under it. To be honest, snatches kinda scare me. The wide arm position is not one I’m used to, and it seems contrary to self-preservation to willingly dive UNDER a huge weight overhead. But the more reps at a low weight I do, the better I can dial in my form and get more comfortable with the movement. There is a lot to think about!

Next we moved on to high hang squat cleans, which I like a lot better. With a clean you grab the bar slightly wider than shoulder width, and catch it at your shoulders in a front rack position, so it’s not going OVER MY HEAD OMG WHY DO YOU DO THAT. I started with just the bar for this one since I was warmed up from the snatches and I feel more comfortable with cleans. I did maybe 8×3 working up to 25kg, just focusing on form and keeping the bar close. My cue for this was to keep my chest up and open (like a ballerina!) when I pull and catch the bar, I tend to throw the bar in front of me and I have to jump out really far to catch it; if I keep the bar close and my chest open, the bar path is more straight up-and-down and I don’t have to jump so far to get under it.

Finally we wrapped up with split jerks, which I really like to do but don’t work nearly enough. I started at 5×3 with the 25kg that was already on my bar since I’m pretty comfortable with overhead movements. I’m just not used to jumping into the split stance, and my coach had to remind me almost every set to get my front foot forward more. By my last set, I was starting to fatigue and my form was getting sloppy, so I was glad to wrap it up …

With some front squats! Since I wasn’t resting between sets very long I blasted through the workout so my coach had me do “the squat of my choice” for a cash-out. I chose front squats to work my front rack position a bit more. I loaded up 35kg and did 5×3 until I couldn’t feel my legs and Hulk was done with his class. Then I ate a can of tuna (protein!) and collapsed in a heap.

Now that I understand the structure and pacing of an oly class, I’m pumped to work on light technique work in the garage gym on my own.

Perform the following. Rest as needed between sets:

  • High hang squat snatch, 5×3 @ 60-70% max
  • High hang squat clean, 5×3 @ 60-70% max
  • Split jerk, 5×3 @ 60-70% max

Cash out:

  • The squat of your choice, 5×3 @ a reasonably heavy weigh

That’s it for now, go make it a great day!