Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Split Stance Lifting for Athletes

I do a lot of split-stance training with my clients -- lunges, step-ups, split squats and so on. But I have never really considered using split stance work with the Olympic lifts. And I only have a couple of clients who could handle it. But this looks awesome and painful, which means I'll need to try it and see how bad it hurts.

Split Stance Lifting for Athletes
Improved Training, One Leg at a Time

In any competitive industry, there comes a time when ideas are scarce and it seems like there's nothing left to "invent." One common way around this phenomenon is to add variations to the things that already work, but are becoming tiresome and overdone.

Another way of breaking through stagnant programming, or concepts in need of change, is to bring old methods back from the dead and breathe new life into them through modern application.

This is especially true in the strength and conditioning industry, where new methods of training, movements, exercises, and even lifting devices are constantly being modified, reinvented, and reintroduced to become the latest fad... again.

Every coach out there has a few things they cannot live without. Even as methods, tools, and other concepts of one's training change, there always seems to be a place for those few favorites.

As a strength coach that primarily works with athletes, Olympic-style weightlifting has been a mainstay in my program for many years now. Just take a look at the sprinting speed and jumping ability of any top Olympic weightlifter, and you'll see why.

By using exercises like the power snatch and hang clean, athletes can build the total body strength and power necessary to excel in sports. The traditional method of Olympic lifting has never really disappointed me, but like I mentioned above, there's always room for growth and improvement.

For a long time, I played around with creating complexes and combinations in order to satisfy my need for "new," but after a while, I decided to look back to the old days for some inspiration.

History of the Split

Back in the 1960s, Olympic weightlifters used a lifting technique called the split style. The lifter would use a split or lunge position to catch the weight after the initial pull from the floor. These lifts were both stylish and graceful to observe.

1960s Olympic Lifter

Unfortunately, they fell out of favor over the last 40 years, and squat fever spread like wildfire. More weight is alwaysthe goal in competitive lifting, and the squat style allowed lifters to do just that, due to an increased leverage and control over the weight.

Today, just about all top level lifters use the squat style in competition. Although the split has been abandoned by the Olympic weightlifting community, the lifts still offer some real benefits for athletic development.

As strength coaches, we're not preparing our athletes for Olympic lifting competitions (except for those who work with actual Olympic weightlifters), so maximizing loads should be a secondary concern. At our facility, we use several variations of the Olympic lifts to help develop certain strength qualities that will enhance sport performance.

Read the whole article. Be sure to check out the videos.

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