Prepping isn’t anything, it’s everything. What you do before you lift is just as important as what you do while you are lifting. To be successful and healthy for the long term, here are FIVE easy ways to prepare for Olympic Lifting.
ONE: Activation! In order to move weight properly, your muscles must activate properly. You have to wake them up before the barbell goes up. Main areas of focus can include glutes, shoulders, and core.
To get those glutes ready to lift, take a small resistance band and place it around your ankles. While standing with feet shoulder width apart and knees bent, take 10 steps to the left and right. Don’t bring your feet completely together! Keep that band taught. If you don’t feel your buns on fire, bend your knees more and squeeze those glutes hard!
For shoulders, core, and glutes you want to take a longer resistance band and step on it. Next, grab the other end of the band and lift it so you are in a pressing position. Finally, press overhead while keeping your belly tight and your glutes squeezed. Three sets of eight will get you ready to move weight overhead.
While holding a longer resistance band at one end with both hands, step on the other end of the band with both feet. Next twist the band so it looks like an “x”. Now pull your hands to collar bone level with your hands placed shoulder-width apart. Make sure your feet are shoulder-width apart and your knees are bent. Take 10 steps forward and 10 backwards, 10 to the left and 10 to the right. End this warm up with 10 air squats while holding the band in the same position.
Another thing you can add in is some 90/90 breathing work, to really get your core, glutes, and other muscles ready to lift. Start by placing your feet against the wall making a 90 degree angle.
From here squeeze the glutes so the hips barely raise off the floor. During the next parts of exercise, it’s important to keep your ribs down (think belly tight) and make sure every time ou breath in it is a belly breath and a forceful exhale.
Next, there are many different ways we can go, single leg internal rotation while breathing out is great to open the hip for any full squat. Or for example, while breathing out and squeezing your belly you can raise your hands overhead getting as close to the floor as possible. This will improve shoulder and t-spine mobility.
TWO: It’s important to open up your hips, t-spine, ankles, and shoulders. Having a good range of motion will help you complete efficient, effective and safe olympic lifts.
To open up your upper back area, take 2 lacrosse balls and tape them together. Lay on the lacrosse balls so that 1 ball is on either side of your spine. With your hips off the floor, press the part of your back with the lacrosse ball underneath down into the ground. Be careful to ease into this. Drop your hips, shove your lower back down and repeat.
Make sure your shoulders are loose by hanging from the pull-up rig with your hands touching each other. While hanging, drive your head forward and squeeze your belly hard. You should feel stretching from your shoulder all the way down your side. Try doing three 30-second holds.
To open the hips, sit in the bottom of a squat and with your elbows inside your knees, place your palms together. Use your elbows to drive your knees outward. Hold this position for 30-seconds and complete it for 3 sets.
For the ankles, face the wall and place your foot against the wall with your heel as close as possible to the wall. Lean forward while keeping the leg straight. You will feel the stretch at the top of your calf. To stretch the lower part of your calf, simply place your heal close to the wall and drive your knee towards the wall.
THREE: Hit your problem areas. Tight shoulder? Creaking hip? Hammies like rocks? If you know you are tight or lack range of motion in any specific area, then it’s important for you to mobilize that area.
To attack a problem area, it’s always good to try and roll out the area with high pressure. Be sure to roll slowly and get a light stretch. If your hamstrings feel like steel cables, take a lacrosse ball and find a sitting position where your feet can hang. Sit on top of the lacrosse ball and start at an area that feels the most tight. Apply as much pressure and you can and then roll slowly.
If you have a tight hip flexor (right at the top of your thigh), try the “couch stretch.” Start in a lunge position with your knee on the floor, facing away from a couch. The leg you DO NOT WANT TO STRETCH should be out in front. Place your back foot on the couch. Then move your knee close to the couch. Next squeeze your glutes and you will feel a stretch down your leg.
FOUR: Use an empty barbell to get your heart rate up and really get a sweat going. Completing a dynamic warm up is important, but when prepping to lift, it’s good to use a barbell to get in a grove before your session even starts. Use the progressions of the movement to not only work on technique but also as a tool for your warm up.
Start by going through a couple reps at each progression to get your heart rate up. For both the snatch and clean, start with some pulls starting at above and below knee making sure your shrugging at the top and extending both your hip knees and ankles. Next, add in the high pull where you rip your elbows backwards like you’re elbowing someone in the face you don’t like! (Think about getting your arms in the same position of a hanging scarecrow.) Then you can go through some power cleans and or power snatches. End with full squat clean and squat snatch.
FIVE: Always, always, always go through progressions of each lift before doing the actual lift. Jumping right into snatching or cleaning is a sure way to limit your potential. Going through proper progressions each and every time will train your body on how to move correctly. This will enable you to move more weight and also prevent injury from bad form. Once you’ve finished your progressions, go through the full movement. First with just the bar and then with light weight.
“I’m glad I skipped my prep. It helped me PR!” said no one, ever. Friends don’t let friends skip prepping! Warm up with a buddy today.