Lab Report 365 – 24/01/16


🎓 📝 LAB REPORT-365 📝 🎓
#24: Why is the Bench Press relevant to Olympic Weightlifting?

There’s a mistake in your O-Lifts that you might not even be aware of. I’ll get to that in a moment. Firstly, let’s talk about bar trajectory or bar path. Many weightlifting coaches talk about the ideal upward trajectory would be a straight line for the bar. This makes sense from a Physics point of view (the shortest distance between two objects ids a straight line). However, in order to get around anatomy, many elite weightlifters use an S-shaped pull. This means that the bar is pulled towards the shins, swings out a little around the knees, pulled back in towards the thighs and so on. I’m not purporting to actively coach this style of pulling. It is just an observation. However, this leads me to my next point: there has not been much credence given to the bar being pulled uneven laterally. That is left and right: One side being pulled higher than the other. Needless to say that this isn’t ideal. The pull is uneven. What could be the cause?

One of the main causes of this fault is asymmetry between the muscle tissues on left and right hand sides. With one of my own athletes I had noticed that when they performed maximum effort cleans (greater than 95% 1RM); they would rack one side of the clean but would be unable to rack the other side. I had tried many cues but was unable to figure out the main cause of the fault. It wasn’t until I watched this athlete perform a good morning exercise, that I noticed that there was a huge difference in development between the left and right erector spinae muscles.

I spoke with numerous professionals, including Physiotherapists, Exercise Physiologists, Chiropractors, other weightlifting coaches, and even yoga instructors! They gave all sorts of “exercises” to help; Clams, bird-dogs, cat-camel, Glute bridges, you name it. None of which seemed to assist this problem. It wasn’t until I spoke with a Power Lifting Coach that assisted in answering this question. Perform a Bench Press. This Coach mentioned that if you have uneven musculature between your left and right hand sides, you would notice that a similar things would happen on the bench that would happen in uneven o-lifting; one side would lag behind. It would usually be the dominant side.

What does this mean for Olympic weightlifters? The Powerlifting Bench Press is an excellent assistance exercise for Olympic Weightlifting as it requires you to utilise musculature evenly otherwise the lift would be unsuccessful. By tucking the legs under the bench and pushing evenly with the legs and the chest, you fully engage the posterior chain into the movement. The other key point is to make sure that you don’t allow your elbows to flair outwards.

I guess the whole point of this rant is that you can learn from every different coach and apply it to your own sport to improve the performance of yourself and your athletes.

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