The sport of Olympic Lifting has for some time been simply referred to as weightlifting. However within the United States of America, weightlifting has been recognized as an ambiguous sporting activity, as such the term weightlifting was seldom adequate to characterize and differentiate the sport activity of Olympic-type weightlifting from bodybuilding, powerlifting or from the traditional strength training routine containing weightlifting exercises performed at the local gym. For this reason the term Olympic Weightlifting was adopted as the more widely acceptable term instead of weightlifting.
The sport of Olympic Weightlifting generally consists of two distinctive lifts known throughout the sport as, the Clean and Jerk and the Snatch. In the Clean and Jerk the weightlifter must lift the weighted barbell from the floor to the the shoulders completing the Clean motion and then from the shoulder region to over the head recognizing the Jerk motion. However in the Snatch the weightlifter lifts the weighted barbell from the floor to overhead in one single motion recognizing the Snatch.
The Snatch today is actively viewed as one of the most explosive and athletic movements in any sports activity requiring a huge amount of finesse which when perfectly executed allows the weighted barbell to seem almost weightless in the hands of the weightlifter.
In the Snatch lift the weightlifter begins the lift by positioning himself in front of the weighted barbell with both feet under the bar and at hip-width apart. He then leans forward using a wide grip of about thirty or more inches to firmly grip the barbell. After grabbing the bar he lowers himself into a squat ensuring the back is vertically aligned, both arms held straight, hips positioned higher than the knees while the head upright and eye looking directly ahead.
The lift is effectively performed with the use of the legs, gluteus and the back ensuring the bar is kept extremely close to the shins without touching. As the bar is extended upwards the weightlifter will exercise a burst of acceleration once the bar passes the level of the knees extending the ankles, knees and hips while standing up on the toes. This movement is conventionally knows as the Triple-extension part of the lift.
While extending himself the weightlifter will raise his shoulders pulling himself under the bar positioning in a full squat. As the bar begins to pass the weightlifter's head the wrists are turned over pushing the bar into a full lockout driving the movement with the triceps and shoulder muscles. At this point he is in a full squat position with both arms locked out at the elbows, the barbell positioned directly overhead and the back and torso vertically aligned. After maintaining control of the barbell within the squat the weightlifter extends his knees and hips to stand erect. While in this erect position the weighted barbell is directly positioned above the weightlifter's hips and ankles.
In the Clean and Jerk the weightlifter completes the lift of the barbell from the floor to overhead in two separate motions. The first motion observes the weightlifter cleaning the barbell to the shoulders and the second motion thrusting the bar overhead to complete a full lockout. This lift has been dubbed the single best lift used for increasing raw strength and power in the weightlifter as the motion requires a huge pull for the Clean and a significantly large front squat to get up out of the squat position additionally with a colossal amount of power to complete the Jerk motion when using a heavy weighted barbell.
The weightlifter begins the Clean and Jerk by standing in front of the barbell with both feet at hip-width and under the barbell. Leaning forward the individual grabs the bar using a shoulder-width grip lowering himself into a squat position similar to the Snatch.
Using the legs, hips and back the bar is pulled violently maintaining a close distance to the shins without coming into contact. Once again the Triple-extension motion is used during the pull.
When the weightlifter's body is fully extended he pulls himself under the bar by shrugging the shoulders, positioning into a full squat as the barbell begins to pass his torso. He will then thrust his elbows forward turning the wrists over accepting the barbell on the deltoids and clavicles. The weightlifter then stands erect by driving both heels into the floor performing a type of front squat shifting the hips slightly backward ensuring the barbell is positioned over the ankles completing the Clean motion.
The Jerk is achieved as the weightlifter lowers himself by bending the knees and hips then extending the hips, knees and elbows in a burst of power forcing the barbell in an overhead position. His head is tilted backwards while thrusting the bar above the shoulders performing a split placing one leg forward and the other backward locking the bar overhead. He will then return his head to a neutral position ensuring the bar is located above the ears bringing both feet together and standing fully erect with both feet shoulder-width apart.