Olympic Weight Lifting for Lacrosse Players, Part Two

By Brian Yeager

In part one of this article, we discussed the two main Olympic lifts that are utilized in most strength and conditioning programs. The Power Snatch and the Power Clean are excellent exercises that can be used for the development of power in most sports, but it is important to realize that they are just tools that should be used in conjunction with a proper planned and well-executed program. In this installment we will go over the assistance or supplemental exercises that should be the basis for developing strength in your training program. These movements will give you the proper strength levels necessary to perform the snatch and clean with maximal force.

Strength Assistance Exercises

Front Squat

This exercise is excellent for developing the muscles of the hips, quads, and lower back. This is also a good tool to assess whether or not you have proper flexibility as the position that you need to get into to properly perform the front squat demands that you have a flexible low back, hips, ankles, wrists, elbows, and shoulders. Developing strength in the front squat will have a direct correlation to your power clean as it closely mimics the catch phase of the clean.
  • Take the bar in the "rack" position. Position the hands just outside shoulder width and drive the elbows up.
  • With feet hip width or slightly wider, slower lower into the squat position, keeping the back in proper alignment. Only descend as low as you are able with proper posture.
  • Return to the standing position by "punching" your heels through the floor and driving the elbows up.

Press-behind-neck, clean grip

In addition to developing great arm and shoulder strength, this is a good exercise for helping the lifter build awareness and comfort with holding weight overhead. This will be essential once you are able to perform the complete Olympic lifts.
  • Set the width of your grip slightly wider than the shoulders. The bar should rest on the trapezius muscles, not the neck
  • Before lifting, take a deep breath and fill the lungs with air
  • From the start position, push the bar smoothly overhead
  • The arms should be fully extended and the bar slightly behind the ears, with your center of gravity over the heels
  • Keep your eyes focused straight ahead at all times.

Press-behind-the-neck, snatch grip

This exercise holds much of the same benefits of the clean press, only with a wider grip. The bar is positioned on the trapezius and the movement is the same. Just make sure to use your snatch grip when performing this variation.

Back squat

Often considered the king of all exercises, the back squat should be a mainstay in any serious conditioning program. I truly believe that if you are serious about building your strength in any sport, you should be squatting. The leg press is no replacement and is often detrimental to the development of an athlete.
  • Take the bar from the rack and position on the traps and upper shoulders.
  • Fill your lungs with air and initiate the movement by pushing the hips back followed by the knees tracking out over the feet.
  • Sit back as if sitting into a low chair until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor. I am a proponent of going as deep into the squat as your are able while maintaining proper posture.
  • Return to the start position by driving the heels into the floor and accelerating upward.

Power Assistance Exercises

Snatch pull

Snatch pulls along with clean pulls, are fundamental exercises in weightlifting and have a high transfer value into power production. It is essential that the lifter execute this movement with maximal speed once technique is proficient.
  • Grip the bar in the starting position for the snatch
  • Inflate the chest with air and initiate the movement by extending the legs.
  • As the bar clears the knees, there is a slight rebend of the legs
  • Shrug the weight upward violently with the arms straight and the elbows externally rotated. It is critical to the success of this movement that max force be used.
  • The bar then returned to the platform and the movement repeated for the indicated number of reps.

Clean Pull

As with snatch pulls, this movement is great for developing power in the lower body. Execute this movement like the snatch pull only use a grip slightly wider than your shoulders.

Push press behind neck

This exercise is the next step in develping upper body power after you have built strength with the press behind neck.
  • Dip down into a quarter squat position, preparing to drive the weight upward.
  • From this position, push the bar smoothly overhead, while driving up forcefully with the legs
  • The arms should be fully extended and the bar slightly behind the ears, with your center of gravity over the heels
  • Keep your eyes focused straight ahead at all times.

Push press from chest

This exercise is similar to the previous one except for the start position will be the rack position as in the front squat. This will help you to generate force in front of your body in a vertical plane

Romanian, stiff-legged deadlift

An excellent tool for developing strength in your low back and hamstrings, this exercise is just as vital as the back squat for developing overall lower body strength.
  • Grip the bar with a slightly wider than shoulder width grip
  • Bend the knees about 15 degrees
  • With the chest high and the lower back held in proper alignment, slowly descend by pushing the hips back
  • Keeping the bar over your feet, lower the weight with the bar brushing your thighs
  • Only descend as low as you can while maintaining proper spinal alignment
  • Return to the start position by driving your hips forward
Remember to only perform these exercises under the supervison of a qualified weightlifting coach. Please feel free to contact me directly with any questions you might have.

Olympic Weight Lifting for Lacrosse Players, Part 1
Top 10 Rules of Nutrition for Optimal Athletic Performance
Functional Training for Lacrosse: Part 2
Functional Training for Lacrosse: Part 1
Building Explosiveness
Improving the Velocity of your shot

Brian Yeager is the owner of Pro Strength and new head strength and conditioning coach for the Philadelphia Barrage. In addition to training several players from the Philadelphia Wings, Brian has also worked with athletes from Villanova University, Malvern Prep, and Villa Maria Academy for Girls, in Malvern, Pa. Formerly a strength consultant for Lightning Fast training systems in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Brian has also worked with athletes from a variety of sports including football, volleyball, golf, and MMA.

For more information on Pro Strength, visit www.prostrength.net or contact Brian at phillyfitpro@yahoo.com.

Medical Disclaimer: The information and routines outlined in the article are intended only for healthy individuals. Individuals with health problems or a history of injury should not use these or any exercise routines without a physician's approval. Before beginning any exercise or dietary program, please consult with your physician and/or coach, as well as with your parent/guardian if you are a minor.


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