3 Olympic Lifting Drills for Speed

The Olympic Lifts require patience, perseverance, and a whole lot of technique! My favorite thing about lifting is not realizing how fast you’ve become over several long, grueling training cycles, and then seeing yourself on video. Damn… I got fast!

3 Oly Drills for Speed

photo credit: Molly Bermea


In recent years, more attention is being paid to using good pull technique, which is fantastic. However, when it comes to lifting heavy, getting under the bar as FAST as possible is also essential.

Three key words used in Olympic Weightlifting are Fast, Low, and Close. To lift more weight, the athlete must keep the bar close to the body, get under it as low as possible and move quickly through it all.

Here are 3 Olympic Lifting Drills that will help you become more explosive in your lifts:

1.) Drop Snatch
Place your hands in a snatch grip with the bar behind the neck. Inhale, hold, and drop into a fully flexed “catch” position with the bar locked overhead. Be sure the movement is swift and strong and focus on moving your feet quickly into the catch position! This can be alternated with the snatch balance which is almost an identical drill except that before dropping under the bar you will “jump” or kick the bar off your neck/traps.

2.) Snatch/Clean from Blocks
In this drill you can choose to perform power snatch/cleans or full lifts. Rather than starting with the bar on the floor, use blocks to raise the height of the start position above the knees. This shortens the distance and time available to accelerate the bar during the pull. As you load weight, pulling becomes more difficult requiring more speed to catch it.

3.) Hang Snatch/Clean
With the bar in the hang position there are several degrees of a hang snatch or clean to choose from. You can perform a “dead” hang (no descent from a standing position) or hang cleans starting from a standing position then descending at varying degrees from 1″ to just above the knees before you start the pull. Careful not to hold the recoil position; descend and extend quickly, getting under the bar as fast as possible.

Start each of these movements with light weight and focus on SPEED and FORM. Gradually add weight as each drill becomes more comfortable.

Finally, don’t forget that getting more explosive takes practice! These drills should be practiced 3 times per week at the least. Speed won’t improve overnight, but your overall training cycle for speed should yield some good results! To see for yourself how much faster you become, film your lifts before and after a 4 week cycle.

Let us know how these drills work for you. Or, even better, share your lifting video…

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