In this blog series, I take inspiration from one of the day’s Olympic events. Today: weightlifting.
What a cop out, you might think. After all, I’m a bodybuilder, I lift weights all the time. Ah yes, but actual Olympic “weightlifting” isn’t just lifting a weight up and down. It’s a strict set of lifts, which are highly technical… and none of which are anything I ever do in the gym.
Not one to be perturbed by such small barriers as technical ability, I set about learning how to clean and jerk.
This isn’t something I would attempt to teach myself (I wouldn’t know where to start) but, thankfully, I was due to be at the athletic training facility Locker27 today (on a mission for Muscle & Fitness magazine – all will be revealed) and I asked coach Steve Rudkin if he’d help me with my Olympic blog challenge. Sure, he said. What did I want to do? We decided against judo and realised equestrianism was a no-no because the horses probably wouldn’t fit in the lift up to the gym.
“Artistic gymnastics!“, I suggested, spotting a pommel-horse in the corner and a set of rings suspended from the ceiling. Steve looked dubious but kindly hauled the pommel-horse out and manned the camera.
The rings were even less of a success. I have no idea how those guys do any of that stuff.
After a short silence, Steve suggested we try a spot of weightlifting. This was a much better idea, after all, it’s exactly the kind of thing the guys at Locker27 coach athletes to do. I chose to learn the clean and jerk, a kind of combination of a deadlift, clean, front squat and overhead press. Steve coached me right through it, breaking down every bit of every movement and helping me put it all together. We used a very light weight, concentrating on form and technique first and foremost.
I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it at all – it’s always looked so technical, and my co-ordination isn’t up to much! But to my amazement I was able to do it (more or less!) and really enjoyed it. I actually feel like I’ve learned a new skill! Although obviously I have a long way to go before I could call myself a weightlifter. It was great to be coached through the lift, though, and to feel that I’ve learned something.
Here’s a silly video of me doing the clean and press with the staggering, earth-shattering weight of….. 15kgs (No, it didn’t feel at all heavy but we were just going through the movement. Please don’t point out flaws in my technique – I’d had about 10 minutes worth of coaching at this point!)
So how do the Olympians do it? Well, our girl Zoe Smith (who’s just 18 years old) broke the British clean and jerk record earlier today, lifting 121kgs…. I’ve no idea what weight I’d actually be able to C&J but it wouldn’t be anywhere remotely approaching that. Props to Zoe – can you even imagine lifting that kind of weight?
How have the London 2012 Olympic Games inspired you today?
Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.