Thursday, August 20, 2009

Olympic lifts REALLY DO help improve athletic performance....

Just pulled up a couple of older studies looks at the effects of Olympic lifting on things like short sprint and vertical jump performance. The first study compares Olympic lifting to traditional plyometric training on vertical jump performance and sprint performance.

The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research
Article: pp. 433–437
Volume 19, Issue 2 (May 2005)

Short-Term Effects on Lower-Body Functional Power Development: Weightlifting vs. Vertical Jump Training Programs
Valmor Tricoli
1, 3, Leonardo Lamas1, 2, Roberto Carnevale2, and Carlos Ugrinowitsch1
1. Department of Sport, School of Physical Education and Sport, University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, SP, Brazil, 2. Center for Sports Conditioning, Esporte Clube Pinheiros, Sao Paulo, SP, Brazil, 3. Address correspondence to Valmor Tricoli, E-mail:
Tricoli V, Lamas L, Carnevale R, Ugrinowitsch C (2005) Short-Term Effects on Lower-Body Functional Power Development: Weightlifting vs. Vertical Jump Training Programs. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Vol. 19, No. 2 pp. 433–437 -->

Tricoli, V., L. Lamas, R. Carnevale, and C. Ugrinowitsch. Short-term effects on lower-body functional power development: Weightlifting vs. vertical jump training programs. J. Strength Cond. Res. 19(2):433–437. 2005.—Among sport conditioning coaches, there is considerable discussion regarding the efficiency of training methods that improve lower-body power. Heavy resistance training combined with vertical jump (VJ) training is a well-established training method; however, there is a lack of information about its combination with Olympic weightlifting (WL) exercises. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to compare the short-term effects of heavy resistance training combined with either the VJ or WL program. Thirty-two young men were assigned to 3 groups: WL = 12, VJ = 12, and control = 8. These 32 men participated in an 8-week training study. The WL training program consisted of 3 × 6RM high pull, 4 × 4RM power clean, and 4 × 4RM clean and jerk. The VJ training program consisted of 6 × 4 double-leg hurdle hops, 4 × 4 alternated single-leg hurdle hops, 4 × 4 single-leg hurdle hops, and 4 × 4 40-cm drop jumps. Additionally, both groups performed 4 × 6RM half-squat exercises. Training volume was increased after 4 weeks. Pretesting and posttesting consisted of squat jump (SJ) and countermovement jump (CMJ) tests, 10- and 30-m sprint speeds, an agility test, a half-squat 1RM, and a clean-and-jerk 1RM (only for WL). The WL program significantly increased the 10-m sprint speed (p <>

Pretty significant stuff when a weightlifting program can increase sprint and jumping performance more than an actual jumping program. This most likely speaks to the efficacy of the Oly lifts helping to possible develop a more "syncronized" firing and strength/power of the body to perform things like sprint and jumps.

The next study looks at a group of football players and compares Olympic weightlifting vs. powerlifting protocol on sprint and vertical jump performance.

The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research
Article: pp. 129–135
Volume 18, Issue 1 (February 2004)

Comparison of Olympic vs. Traditional Power Lifting Training Programs in Football Players
Jay R. Hoffman
1, 2, Joshua Cooper1, Michael Wendell1, and Jie Kang1
1. Department of Health and Exercise Science, The College of New Jersey, Ewing, New Jersey 08628-0718, 2. Address correspondence to Dr. Jay R. Hoffman, E-mail:
Hoffman JR, Cooper J, Wendell M, Kang J (2004) Comparison of Olympic vs. Traditional Power Lifting Training Programs in Football Players. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Vol. 18, No. 1 pp. 129–135 -->

Hoffman, J.R., J. Cooper, M. Wendell, and J. Kang. Comparison of olympic versus traditional power lifting training programs in football players. J. Strength Cond. Res. 18(1):129–135. 2004.—Twenty members of an National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III collegiate football team were assigned to either an Olympic lifting (OL) group or power lifting (PL) group. Each group was matched by position and trained 4-days·wk−1 for 15 weeks. Testing consisted of field tests to evaluate strength (1RM squat and bench press), 40-yard sprint, agility, vertical jump height (VJ), and vertical jump power (VJP). No significant pre- to posttraining differences were observed in 1RM bench press, 40-yard sprint, agility, VJ or in VJP in either group. Significant improvements were seen in 1RM squat in both the OL and PL groups. After log10-transformation, OL were observed to have a significantly greater improvement in ΔVJ than PL. Despite an 18% greater improvement in 1RM squat (p > 0.05), and a twofold greater improvement (p > 0.05) in 40-yard sprint time by OL, no further significant group differences were seen. Results suggest that OL can provide a significant advantage over PL in vertical jump performance changes.
Keywords: athletic performance, football, resistance training, periodized training

This study is a little more telling. Now we get to see a direct comparison.....Olympic weightlifting based training vs. traditional powerlifting training. The results are quite significant, twofold greater improvement in 40 yard times and significantly greater improvements in vertical jump.

What does all this mean? Well, if you are training athletes and are relying on heavy powerlifts or traditional plyos to improve vertical jump performance (which, BTW, is probably the #1 variable in predicting athletic ability) I want to make sure you're on our schedule!