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THE

JOURNAL
Warm-Ups, Flexibility and the Olympic Lifter
If your pre-workout prep consists of a cup of coffee and a few squats,
Bill Starr has some advice for you.
October 2014

All pics: Dave Re/CrossFit Journal

By Bill Starr

As every Olympic lifter fully understands, doing full snatches and clean and jerks requires a high degree of flexibility in every part of the body. All the major muscle groups and corresponding attachments are involved in the two competitive lifts: shoulder girdle, back, and hips and legs. A lack of flexibility in the shoulders will prevent the lifter from locking out snatches and jerks. It may also keep him from racking a weight on his shoulders while cleaning. Tightness in the hips will have an adverse affect on getting into a low position for snatches and cleans.
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Warm-Ups ...

(continued)

Because every part of the body is activated during the execution of the two Olympic lifts, every joint and muscle group needs to be given some attention before doing any heavy lifting. And this is where there is confusion between the two disciplines needed to enhance flexibility: warming up and stretching. While closely related, they are not the same. Merely stretching a muscle or joint isn’t sufficient preparation for a heavy session in the weight room that will be filled with complicated athletic movements.
Stretching your quads and calves may be enough prior to a run, but much more has to be done to get ready for an
Olympic-lifting workout.
In this article, I will explain why warming up and stretching are both vital disciplines for all Olympic lifters. Warm-up exercises come first and should do just what the name implies: elevate the body’s core temperature. When the body temperature is raised, the arteries, veins and capillaries are able to deliver more oxygen to all the muscles.
Hemoglobin is responsible for providing oxygen to the working muscles, and it does that more effectively when the muscle fibers are warm. In addition, a slightly higher body temperature creates a positive pressure between

the muscles and the bloodstream, which enables more oxygen and nutrients to be pumped into the muscles and attachments, allowing them to function at a higher level.
And equally important to a lifter who is about to attack the quick lifts, a higher core temperature facilitates the transfer of nerve impulses while doing these high-skill exercises.
Yet another plus is a well-functioning nervous system, which helps the lifter concentrate on the many form points of snatches and clean and jerks. When the nervous system is clicking on all cylinders, it’s easier to prepare for the psychological demands of going after a personal best on a lift or learning how to do a new, complicated lift such as the drop snatch or hang clean.

It’s only common sense to know supple muscles are less prone to injury than tight ones.

Bill Starr recommends focusing on the core during a general warm-up designed to raise the body’s temperature.

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Warm-Ups ...

(continued)

There’s more: warmer muscles help a lifter perform at a higher level by releasing those enzymes responsible for the multitude of chemical reactions that occur during exercise.
The body’s energy system depends on these enzymes, and anyone who starts in on his routine without a sufficient warm-up will be more sluggish than the athletes who take the time to warm up properly. Everyone knows a warm muscle is more elastic and reacts better to movement than…