If you have just started crossfit, or you just want to add some Olympic lifting to your routine you should do your best to avoid the top 3 most common mistakes for first time lifters. Olympic lifting takes a combination of power, coordination, and strength. People like to jump into Olympic lifting and they run into some mistakes that can really hurt you down the road. While there are many mistakes that can be made, here are the top three I have seen a lot of people do. I have also seen all three of these mistake all happen at once and serious injury ensued.
- While I am a huge advocate of athletic versatility and not “needing” specific equipment to lift weights, this one can hurt you. Running in running shoes = good idea. Olympic Lifting in running shoes = bad idea. A running shoe is designed for repeated pounding on hard concrete primarily with a heel strike to a full rotation forward to your toes. Shoes have been pretty well designed over the years to execute that exact motion.
- This is the EXACT motion you do not want in an Olympic lift. You want to place your feet firmly on the ground and let them be the basis for you controlling the lift. If you roll forward in an Olympic lift, the lift if most likely over. You will lose your balance and most likely not be skilled enough to recover. Not to mention having your knees rotate past your toes can cause serious injury. When you get more skilled and are moving more weight you will realize that the squishy shoe is taking all your energy away when you are pushing against the ground instead of pushing back. Simple physics.
- It would be a good idea to go barefoot, get some Chuck Taylors, or even invest in an Olympic Lifting Shoe.
Too Heavy Too Soon
- I generally see this with the guys who have been Olympic Lifting for about a month and want to really move up in weight. With bench press and bicep curls gravity has a very linear response to your muscles not being able to lift the weight. Not much danger involved (assuming you have a spotter on bench press). You lift, or attempt to lift, your muscles say no and the weight comes back down. This is not always the case with Olympic lifting.
- Olympic lifting is a skilled lift that takes a lot of practice to get just right. You may be able to muscle through a power clean that was just a little too heavy, but when you start getting lifts over head it gets very dangerous. You can use momentum in Olympic lifting to get weight over your head. If you developed that skill, but don’t have the mid-line stabilization or strength to keep it above your head you will be in a world of hurt. Your back can be very badly injured on top of dropping weight on yourself.
- It is best to move up very slowly in Olympic lifting. Master the SKILL not the weights. My suggestion would be to practice all the Olympic lifts with a PVC pipe for a MONTH before you even touch a barbell. Then slowly move up through weight. Skill can be more important than strength in the Olympic Lifting world.
Straight to the Bar, Straight to Your Face
- I see some guys, having never done any Olympic Lifting, practice with PVC for two minutes than run straight to the bar for an attempt. Spend .5 seconds on the setup and then perform a horrible looking lift. Setup is very important for Olympic lifting. You need to concentrate and think about your stance, your hand placement, and imagine yourself doing the lift. When I lift I go through the same setup and precision I would for 45lbs, 135lbs, and 285lbs. It is always the same.
- Never rush a lift. Take your time. Think about the lift and all the practice you have done. Something that is not used enough in physical fitness is the mental side of things. Any idiot can power through lifting. What make a person great is knowing themselves and applying their intellect to the barbell.