I am frustrated. It seems like everyone in the world of fitness, and every other world for that matter, is afraid of the Olympic lifts for a variety of equally absurd reasons. I am going to do a little monologue-style, self-interview in which I debunk the 5 most common misconceptions regarding the Olympic lifts and the corollary effects that they have on the human body. My answers to these questions are pretty detailed so I am going make this a five-part series (5 round fight). Round 1: Here we go . . . ding ding!
1. Complaint (misconception) #1: All of the lifters competing in the Summer Olympics look fat and out of shape. I don’t want to do the Olympic lifts because they will make me fat. I want to be cut and lean, so why would I want to incorporate the Olympic lifts into my training regimen?
You are absolutely right, some of the competitors that you see in the Summer Olympics do look overweight, but I have a little secret for you: IN THE SPORT OF OLYMPIC WEIGHTLIFTING THERE ARE DIFFERENT WEIGHT CLASSES! Consequently, there are weightlifters of all shapes and sizes who compete every four years in the summer games. Here are the men’s weight classes: 56 kg (123 lb), 62 kg (137 lb), 69 kg (152 lb), 77 kg (170 lb), 85 kg (187 lb), 94 kg (207 lb), 105 kg (231 lb), and over 105 kg.
The reason you think that all Olympic weightlifters are overweight is because the “main event” in Olympic weightlifting is the heavyweight class (105kg and over). The heavyweight class (I like to call it the “overweight class”) has the biggest guys, which means that they lift the most weight and set the highest records. The heavyweight class has no weight cap, so the athletes in that class get as big as they can so that they can lift more and more weight. If we were only discussing the heavyweight class I would agree with you, but there happen to be seven other weight classes which are packed full of guys who look like they are in excellent shape.
Here is a video of Rezazadeh, the best heavyweight Olympic lifter in the world: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOE-PZJq2sk
Yeah, Rezazadeh is definitely overweight, but he is overweight for a reason. The more he weighs (while retaining mobility and agility) the more weight he can lift. Although the heavyweight lifters’ bodies look like they are completely de-conditioned, they are actually pretty amazing athletes. Check out this video of a heavyweight American weightlifter doing a high box jump and tell me that he is a bad athlete: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UoCZne0g-e8
Here is a video of Pyrros Dimas: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOWcrqOSevs
If you think that Pyrros is fat you need to get your head checked out.
I have another secret for you, Mr. I-Don’t-Want-To-Do-The-Oly-Lifts-Because-I’ll-Get-Fat, the lifts themselves will do little to nothing to your body composition, unless you are completely deconditioned (in which case you will probably LOSE weight performing these multi-joint lifts regularly). Rezazadeh is overweight because he chooses to be overweight, in other words he eats way more calories than he uses up in a day. The old adage, you are what you eat, is right in this case. If you eat really big (granted that you don’t have the metabolism of a jack rabbit on crack) you will get really big. Plain and simple. So if you don’t want to get fat performing the oly lifts find out how Razezadeh eats and don’t eat like that.