By Allan Collins
One question which seemed to be on the lips of those that watched our Olympic Weightlifting demonstrations or attended our Vintage Training REPs session at LIW this year was, “How do you combine Vintage exercises with Modern Olympic Weightlifting exercises?”
Vintage exercises were commonly performed in the late 1800s and early 1900s, as the era of fitness and exercise was increasing in popularity with proponents like Eugene Sandow. Examples would include the one hand Barbell Snatch, Windmill, Turkish Get Up, Overhead Squat, the Side Press, the Bent Press, the Two Hands Anyhow, or the Get Up Sit Up. Many of these drills focused on lifting a barbell with one hand, and as such would require more lateral core strength, lateral hip stability, grip strength and wrist stability than similar two hand variants. Although sometimes performed with Kettlebells, it is highly unusual to see gym users performing barbell versions of the Windmill, Turkish Get Up or Snatch. But these were the original versions and have several advantages and safety benefits over their Kettlebell derivatives.
So what are the Modern Olympic Weightlifting exercises? Well, if you watched the action from London over the summer, you would have the athletes performing the two hand barbell Snatch and the two hand barbell Clean & Jerk. These entail lifting the weight above the head with two hands in one or two movements respectively. Because they are performed with two hands, these lifts enable significantly more weight to be lifted. These lifts have a great carryover to improved acceleration, vertical jump height, relative strength and subsequent athletic performance in many sports, which is why they form the cornerstone of strength and conditioning programmes.
So we use the 2 hand modern lifts (the Snatch and Clean & Jerk) as a more stable way of overloading the lifting, pulling and squatting muscles, allowing more weight to be lifted, but keeping it more in the sagittal plane. The Vintage single hand lifts, and presses will use much lower weights, but will allow greater single arm strength, grip and wrist strength, as well as more lateral core and hip stability to be developed. They also provide more stress in the frontal and transverse planes, allowing for development in all 3 planes of motion. In addition, the slow tempo vintage exercises like the barbell Windmill, Turkish Get Up, and Get Up Sit Up were the basic screening drills used in Vintage times to screen and develop mobility, shoulder stability, core stability, hip stability and proprioception. Although their use has decreased over the decades, their benefits to the ‘average’ gym user cannot be underestimated.
I believe that correctly understood and taught in a logical and progressive programme, all of these drills, both modern and vintage, can have an excellent carryover to improving the functional and sporting ability of the average gym user or athlete. They also provide new and interesting ways to stimulate adaptations (improvements) through unusual lifts. Jordan Fitness’ new digital instructor courses on both Olympic Weightlifting and Vintage Training will allow trainers to fully understand the correct way to coach and apply these exercises within our functional training philosophy.