Episode # 28

Why Removing Olympic Lifts From Your Program Will Make Your Athletes MORE Explosive

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Released on September 10, 2015

In this weeks episode, Joe D. explains why the Olympic lifts are NOT the best option for the majority of athletes looking to increase their explosive power.

During this 45-minute rant Joe explains:

  • Why the Olympic lifts are so popular among strength & conditioning coaches
  • How to turn virtually any barbell exercise into an “explosive” lift
  • Other ways to train “triple extension” besides Olympic lifting

Hogan med ball full extension

  • The single most important question that EVERY Strength & Conditioning coach must ask themselves before designing any program
  • How incorporating “idiot-proof” exercises into your program will accelerate gains
  • The hidden secret about training Pro athletes that would shock the mainstream public!
  • The single most butchered exercise at every level of sport…Are YOU doing it too?
  • The Hang Clean “illusion” that fools everyone! [Find out what to look for]
  • How to get creative with your jump and med ball throw variations! [Way too many coaches neglect this!]

 All this plus other tips, “inside scoop” stories and information on improving power output!  


Hope everyone enjoyed the show!

It would mean a lot to me if you could share this podcast on social media – and now it’s easier than ever! Just click on the Facebook or Twitter links below (above the comments section).

As always, I appreciate your support!

Joe D. 


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  1. As a powerlifter I love the squat bench and deadlift but I recently finished my internship with a colligiate football team and they did so many olympic varations I thought are we training football players or are we teaching powerlifters/olympic lifters/sprinters/. I do believe all exercises have a place when programed right. My main question is would it be better to use movements like med ball, tosses, snatch pulls, clean pulls and jumps instead of the actual power clean and power snatch.

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  3. First of all, I love the podcast. It is awesome and very refreshing to listen to every week.

    I just have one question, what if you had an athlete or athletes who are very efficient in Olympic lifting, would you let them Olympic lift or would you use your med ball and jump variations?

  4. I love the sport of weightlifting. I absolutely HATE the shit form football players do on their “cleans” thinking they’re bad asses. Knock it off already.

    Joe, huge fan BTW!


    I forgot to mention this on the podcast…
    The reason why a lot of athletes have shitty Olympic lifting technique is because their posterior chain is WEAK! If your spinal erectors, glutes and hamstrings are weak, you’re NOT going to perform the Olympic lifts properly – I don’t care how good your coach is.
    Young athletes should focus on developing STRENGTH in the posterior chain (by performing “slow” lifts properly) BEFORE THEY START THE OLYMPIC LIFTS. In other words, if you can’t perform a slow deadlift properly, you have NO BUSINESS trying to do that same motion FASTER (which is what happens when you Power Clean). Some of my favorite “slow” lifts for developing posterior chain strength are: box squats, deadlifts, hyperextensions, reverse hypers, eccentric leg curls (w/ furniture sliders), upright sled drags, hip thrusts, RDL’s, etc. Develop general strength FIRST in the posterior chain, while “teaching” your muscles to contract quickly with “idiot-proof” exercises like box jumps and before you know it your athletes’ Olympic lifting form improves dramatically.
    In other words, go from “shit” to “suck” by developing general strength (in conjunction with low-level jump training); then, once your athlete has a solid foundation of “suck”, you can slowly start to teach the Olympic lifts (if that’s your thing). Building that “foundation of suck” first will make your life MUCH easier. Trust me.

  6. Michael – Thanks for listening to the entire show (even though I pissed you off during the first 15min :))
    The fact that you’re able to “question” your current training is a true sign of intelligence. We should all ALWAYS be questioning our training and seeking a better way to do things.

    Sami – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on the other side of that condescending response…”Well you obviously don’t know how to teach the lifts properly.” (Usually they’re telling me this as their athletes are in the background reverse curling their way to “explosiveness”!! lol)

    Shaun – Thanks again for your input on the subject

    Phil – In your specific situation I agree with what you’re doing. If I were in your shoes (and I had young athletes that were going to HAVE TO perform the Olympic lifts when they get signed by a Pro team), I would have them train the Olympic lifts sub-maximally (almost like a conclusion to their warm-up). Have them rehearse the lifts and “work up” to 50-60% for multiple sets of LOW reps (ex. 3-5 sets of 2-3 reps), then I would go into a “max-effort” med ball throw or jump variation (for the training effect.) This gives you the best of both worlds…You’re not spending all day on the Olympic lifts, yet you’re still preparing your athletes for when they get signed by a Pro club – and you’re still incorporating your med ball throws and jumps in order to get an immediate training effect. (BTW, when you incorporate the Olympic lifts in this manner, they act as a great “CNS primer” for your med ball throws and/or jumps.)

    *And I love that you DON’T do the broomstick thing…I never thought it did shit. You definitely need some weight in your hands in order to rehearse those movement patterns.

  7. Joe, great podcast as always and plenty to think about. We run youth programmes for 9 upto 18 year olds here in the UK and with our 14 to 18 year old kids we do now teach the Hang Power Clean. We are not trying to get it as perfect as olympic lifters we just want it to look athletic and as you say get the triple extension. We don’t use broomsticks to do it as I feel you need some weight to be able to do it correctly anyway. Instead we have light bars and rubber plates and we basically use the progression used at Mike Boyles which is in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqlkAECbr-c from one of Mike’s Coaches. Basically set one is hands free front squat, set two is front squat to teach them where the bar should end up, then we have them go to position one mid thigh (which has come from pendlay), tell them to jump, shrug and catch and it generally doesn’t take them long to get it. I have been on courses with olympic lifiting course such as ex GB coach Tamas Faher and they broke it down much more but again with a light bar however as where not training them to be olympic lifters I felt we didn’t need this and following the MBSC progression has been much better.

    I always feel its important to start with why when including an exericse etc. My why for teaching the kids,is that most play Rugby and if any get picked up to play for the Professional teams youth squads which happens at 15 they will more often than not have to learn and do an Olympic lift variation as part of the club’s training. By us Coaching them the Hang Power Clean I feel at least they will be prepared better than others who have been picked up by the club. In the UK there is no S&C at schools and not many private places running youth programs so their first exposure to any lifitng at all is usually with the pro club or doing their own thing in a commercial gym. We do also do med ball throws and jumps every session after the warm up and with some kids who just really struggle they will do trap bar squat jumps or barbell jumps but from position one or two of the hang power clean. Plus, the kids love doing the exercise as well

    With our Adult Rugby players who come to us and MMA athletes we don’t include them and use Hang Clean Pulls/shrug or other alternatives which you mentioned in the podcast instead, because they won’t have to do the hang power clean anywhere else. Their only S&C is with us and often they come with previous wrist injuries, poor mobility for the catch position etc that I feel it’s just not worth including in their programmes when we can train power in other ways like you suggested. Last year I went to Dan Bakers weekend seminar/workshop, he worked with the Brisbane Broncos Rugby League team for 20 years and he would often have his adult players do Hang Clean Pulls/power shrugs instead of hang power cleans for many of the same reasons. Anyway, always plenty to think about and would be interested on your opinions with our situation and the progression used at MBSC which we have adopted.

  8. @Michael, I always hear about how the O lifts are the ONLY POSSIBLE WAY to train violent hip extension, but when you frame-by-frame a lot of these guys’ heavy pulls, how many of them fully extend their hips? The majority of non-weightlifters get the bar to the pockets position, and then power shrug it. But I can usually get full extension of the hips with a few minutes of training with a medball.
    Not to mention the training liability. We had an Irish rugby player who was on holiday for a month, and she had been doing power cleans with her team’s S&C coach for two years. She was still on a broomstick. The coach didn’t have time to teach thirty girls how to clean well, and so there she was stuck. How much wasted time is that when she could have actually been getting more powerful with something simpler.
    I’ll cut and paste something I wrote yesterday on Joe’s fb page to someone else.
    “I was certainly on that bandwagon for a number of years, but I found myself using them less and less. I’ll give an example of why. Say you have an athlete who comes to you to run his S&C. He competes in MMA and wants to get stronger and more powerful. The O lifts seem like a perfect fit.
    Except this guy is training 6-7 days a week in his actual sport, and so can only spare 3 sessions in the weightroom. For starters, how many people have the mobility to squat overhead well. I guarantee fighters can’t, because they’re notoriously tight. So you need to fix that before he goes on. Then, how long until he is proficient enough to snatch and clean in order to load it up and start getting an effect? Probably quite a while.
    Also, remember how many movements that this guy already needs to be good at: all of his standup and striking, his takedowns and takedown defence, his grappling, his submissions, his submission defence, his escapes and get-ups… the list goes on. Now he needs to learn how to clean and snatch as well?
    I know you can just get them to do power cleans, or hang cleans, or clean high-pulls etc. And they’re good movements, but nothing is quite as simple as something like an overhead medball toss. Total learning time: roughly 8 seconds.
    Some of our athletes who we train as individuals clean (but not snatch) but for groups of athletes I find it much easier to get them doing jumps and throws, or things like trapbar jumps than teach twenty kids to snatch. Check out POWER if you haven’t already. It’s pure gold.”

  9. Loved the show! For almost 10 years I’ve been the outlier saying that the risk/reward-ratio on oly lifts is way too bad for most people. Always got told I don’t know what I’m talking about and you just gotta coach it right (in a friendly-condescending tone) …

  10. As someone who incorporates the OLY lifts into most of my programming I must admit the first 15min of this podcast kind of pissed me off. After listening a little more Joe became very convincing. Mainly because I’m honest with myself and it’s not uncommon for the clean to turn into a cheat reverse curl once my guys reach approx. 75-80% of our top training weight for the day. (I know the logical thing to do would be to keep my athletes in the 60-70% range when training the clean. But thats where Joe D’s point of view really grabbed my attention. On average, 65% for my guys would be about 165lbs – would I rather have a group of hs football players performing cleans with 165lbs,, or jumping on a 30″ box while holding 25lb dumbbells? I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM SOME COACHES WHO READ THIS BLOG. ANY ADVICE?? I’m torn.) I don’t think I’m going to drop the OLY lifts altogether but if for nothing else this podcast really made me rethink everything I do with my athletes. And for that I thank you Joe D. You definitely have a knack for explaining things. ANd your passion makes you all the more convincing!!
    PS- designing programs was much easier when I didn’t know anything lmao

  11. Can’t wait to listen to this after work! Thnx for getting us a show this week even with your busy schedule coach. JB

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