Snatches and Clean & Jerks:

Bet You Can’t Do Just One!

You’re truly frightened. It’s not just the way you look. It’s the way you feel. The years are slipping by. You know you are dangerously out of shape. "This time, I must get in shape and stay that way." So you say. But you’ve said this to yourself dozens of times (hundreds, thousands)? How can you make it different this time? How can you make it work? Three things. That’s all.

First, you must exercise in an effective way. Second, your exercise program has to fit into your budget and schedule. Third, it has to be fun. Wait. First, it has to be fun - or you won’t do it. Fun! How could effective exercise be fun? It’s hard. You sweat. You strain. You suffer. This is fun? Only rarely. Here is what I mean.

I ask you to take an object with a long handle, weighted at the end. Something like a hammer. "Swing this toward the ground 100 times" I say. "In between swings you have to stand on your feet, in fact you have to walk a few miles. You’ll be outside in the sun and the rain and there are no breaks once you start. Trust me, you’ll have fun!" Fun? And how! You say "If you call that fun you must have had a very sad childhood." You may be right...but if that "hammer" is a golf club, and you’re playing 18 holes of golf, you probably will have fun, maybe a lot!. You’ll relish the challenge of improving your skill and keeping score. You’ll focus on the game so much that before you know it the 100 swings (hopefully less) will be over and you’ll be begging for more opportunities to play. Ask the millions of avid golfers throughout the world. It’s downright addictive. And, thankfully, so is one special form of weight training - Olympic style weightlifting (snatches, clean and jerks, and related exercises). "Olympic" lifts, you really can’t do just one.

That is why the best kept secret in weight training is the sport of Weightlifting. No, it’s not waiving around some light dumbbells, nor dragging some weights up and down a machine, nor even lifting "free weights". We are talking about sport Weightlifting (a.k.a. Olympic style weightlifting). What? Lifting those heavy weights overhead like the monsters on TV. You’re crazy. Maybe, but...

The Olympic style weightlifting events, the "snatch" and the "clean & jerk", are among the most challenging skills in all of sport. When you do those lifts you are not just lifting weights, you are playing with weights. And in a brief session of playing with weights in this way, you’ll get just as strong and just as fit as those who slog away hour after hour on the most boring exercises imaginable. In fact, you’ll get stronger and fitter. And you’ll do it in a lot less time than those who do separate exercises for each part of the body. Remember, the strongest and most powerful men and women in the world are competitive weightlifters (they also have the strongest bones and some of the most flexible muscles). But most important of all. Olympic weightlifters have fun! They must. They are among the few amateur athletes left on earth and even if they were paid, who could come up with enough money to make them lift the heavy weights that they do? It must be fun, why else would they do it? Why can so few of them ever stop (there are weightlifters who compete into their 70’s and 80’s)? It’s because the sport of weightlifting is so darned addictive. Some addictions are actually good.

If weightlifting is so great, why haven’t I ever heard of it before? Well weightlifters are a pretty exclusive and secretive group (there are only about 3,000 Olympic style weightlifters in the entire US). They train in a very small numbers of specialized gyms scattered throughout the country, with a few weightlifting "gurus" that teach the sport. For the most part, these coaches want to work with potential Olympians. They compete with each other to see who can create more champions. Although most of these coaches are friendly and will help anyone who is interested, many of them simply don’t have the time or the inclination to work with people who simply want to get it shape. But they're often willing to help if they see that you have a real interest in, and understanding of, the sport. So the idea is to get some knowledge and then look for a coach before you actually begin.

What about commercial gyms? Why don’t most of them offer true Weightlifting programs? Well there isn’t a big customer demand. You need a (hard to find) guru to teach it. People will drop weights. They’ll make noise. They’ll make dust with the "chalk" they use to secure their hands on the barbell. And all of this tends to intimidate a gym’s less adventurous members. Worst of all (from the point of view of some shortsighted gym owners), weightlifters will show up regularly, wearing out the equipment and taking up space (many gyms make their greatest profit from members who join and then don’t show up again). These gym owners are flat out wrong.

Amazingly and ironically, the equipment you need for sport weightlifting is quite inexpensive and highly durable. So the economics of the sport are exceedingly reasonable (even for those who want to start their own gyms). But most gym owners haven’t figured this out yet.

What to do? Get started with The Weightlifting Encyclopedia (WLE). Learn about the sport. WLE is the first truly comprehensive book ever written on the sport of Weightlifting. It covers virtually every aspect of one of the world’s least known yet most exciting sports. It gives you the inside secrets of the world’s greatest weightlifters and their coaches. It does all of this in an encyclopedic format that let’s you choose how much depth you want to seek. Whether you just want to get in shape, or you want to become an Olympian, much of the information you need is there. You only need to read about 50 pages of WLE (the introduction to the book clearly tells you which pages) before you are ready to get started in weightlifting - we strongly recommend that you do this with the help of a coach. And if you don’t need the other 500 plus pages, so be it. But it’s nice to know they are there. In the unlikely event that you decide not to become a Weightlifter, you’ll have a book that gives you the insider’s secrets to training, technique, equipment that will prove invaluable in whatever form of resistance training you do. Even if you remain a "couch potato" you’ll gain insight to the Olympic sport of weightlifting that has simply not been widely available in the past.

While you are reading the book, we strongly recommend that you find a coach. The book will help you with that. Or you can get some friends to join you and start your own weightlifting club. Then, for the most part, after some initial training (you can take a course offered by the USAW), club members can coach each other. The book tells you how to contact the USAW as well.

We also recommend that you consider The Weightlifting Encyclopedia Video Companion (WEV). WEV demonstrates the techniques that are used on the competitive lifts, as well as many other exercises that are used by competitive lifters and others in their training (such as squats and power cleans). Because no one should simply come into the gym and try the competitive or related lifts, teaching sequences that break these lifts down into readily learnable pieces are presented as well. Finally, the types of equipment that are used by weightlifters are shown. The video is the perfect complement to the book and just as comprehensive in its own way (three hours in length).

Go ahead. Try it out. Olympic-style, or "sport" Weightlifting is effective, it is economical in terms of the time and money needed to practice at a fitness training level. Most importantly, if you start doing sport Weightlifting, you’ll have fun, you’ll get in shape and you’ll stick with it. Snatches and Clean and Jerks - you really can’t do just one! Order WLE now or take a look at the table of contents of the book and video.

Copyright 1998 A is A Communications. All rights reserved.
Last Revised: September 27, 1999