Olympic weightlifting is both a dynamic and explosive sport. Many athletes perform Olympic weightlifting movements to become better in their respective profession. One of the limiting factors in completing one of the two lifts comprising of the snatch and the clean and jerk is upper body strength. If the bar is dropping behind you or you fail to lock out your arms working on your overhead presses would benefit you greatly and remove any faults in your technique. Here are 4 lifts to improve your shoulders, triceps, and stabilising muscles such as the rotator cuff, traps and the lats in order to lock out these enormous weights day in and day out.
TIME TO GET STRONGER OVERHEAD.
1.PRESS. AKA MILITARY PRESS, OVERHEAD PRESS OR SHOULDER PRESS
This is a basic exercise and a must for programming when getting started in Olympic weightlifting.Stand with the barbell in your front squat position or jerk position (usually outside shoulder width). Press the bar straight up using only your arms, once it passes your head lock your arms out and reach full extension to resemble the end of the jerk position before lowering the bar for the next rep. Note that your head should push back at the start of the lift and then push forward at the end of the lift in order to press the bar in a straight line.
Perform this exercise using a 4-0-1-0 tempo and focus on your lockout, increasing strength and control of this exercise will yield greater lockout strength when trying to complete the Jerk. This exercise can also be done behind the neck, ensure you have mobility in the shoulder before perform the exercise this way.
2. SNATCH GRIP BEHIND THE NECK PRESS
This is a basic exercise for strengthening your overhead position in the snatch.Stand with the barbell behind your neck as it would be in a back squat, holding it with a snatch-width grip, the same position you would hold the bar in a snatch deadlift position. Press the bar straight up into the proper snatch overhead position, locking your arms out tightly before lowering the bar for the next rep.
Perform this exercise using a 4-0-1-0 tempo. This exercise works effectively on stabilising the shoulders, traps, lats and rotator cuff muscles. This exercise will help reduce the rate at which your arm bends when catching the weight in the squat snatch position. It is also a fantastic rear delt builder.
3. PUSH PRESS
The push press is an effective Olympic weightlifting movement used to overload the triceps during lockout. It is also a great way to effectively overload the eccentric part of the overhead press.
Stand with the barbell in your front squat position or jerk position (this movement can also be performed in a snatch grip position). Using some help from the legs by performing a bend in the knees then launch the bar upwards with speed and press the bar up at the same time. Ensure you have locked your arms out and then control the weight back to your starting position in order to begin the next rep.
This exercise is performed in a much more explosive manner so use a 4-0-X-0 tempo. X meaning fast drive from the legs and a quick press overhead. After creating a base of strength with Overhead presses and Snatch Presses add this to your programming in order to overload your Jerk or Snatch lockout.
4. OVERHEAD SQUAT
Normally performed in an overhead snatch squat position however it can be done in an overhead squat position provided you have good mobility in the shoulders and squat. I would give a beginner a snatch grip overhead squat to determine how much mobility work is required in order to get them started in performing squat snatches.
A strict press or push press movement is performed to gain an overhead snatch position. As the arms are pressed out a partial range or full range squat is performed with the bar remaining locked out in the overhead position. You then rise with the weight remaining overhead in order to begin the next rep.
Perform this exercise with a 4-0-1-0 tempo in order to become more comfortable in a squat snatch position. This is a squat with an Isometric hold so maintain tightness in the arms and the trunk. If you cannot perform a full squat then work on your overhead, shoulder mobility and perform power snatches before getting into full snatches.