Should everyone be doing Olympic lifting?
As personal trainers we are responsible for prescribing safe and effective exercise plans for our clients and tailoring programmes to meet their needs.
"Everyone should be doing Olympic lifting". "You should be able to bench press your body weight". "Bear crawls are great, we should all do them". I hear this sort of maxim all the time, and while there is positive intention behind them (undoubtedly there are benefits to all the exercises mentioned and having targets is a good thing), we need to careful about sweeping generalisations.
My own personal experience helped me fully appreciate this principle. My training at any one time is generally based on gaining or maintaining lean muscle mass, reducing or maintaining body fat or preparing for a challenge such as an obstacle race or mud run. In my early training days, I did heavy squatting on a regular basis to help me with my goals. Then a back injury during my rowing career at university knocked my confidence with high loads and I've been reluctant to squat with more than 100kg on my shoulders since.
At first this frustrated me - I would build my strength up and then begin wondering how far I could push things without potentially injuring myself again. I was surrounded by other people squatting heavier loads routinely and the norms tables in the textbooks told me I should be lifting more.
Then it dawned on me.
I asked myself the question: “do I actually need to squat twice my bodyweight?”.
The answer, for me, was “no!”. So why was I trying to??
It seems so obvious now but all too often we get caught up in comparisons with others and accept certain practices because everyone else is doing them. As soon as I realised that I could achieve my goals of hypertrophy, fat loss and conditioning without specifically working on increasing my squat 1 rep max, not only did this take a huge psychological pressure off me, but I actually saw better progress with my training as I could truly focus on the physiological improvements I was aiming for.
Ultimately it comes down to YOUR specific goal. Will the exercise help to move you closer to achieving it? Is it absolutely necessary and are there better ways? As personal trainers we are responsible for prescribing safe and effective exercise plans for our clients and so as soon as we apply this thought process to our programming for them - truly tailored programmes will follow.
Here’s another recent blog post> what are you training for...on the topic of specificity in training!