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Does Olympic Weightlifting Improve Muscle Power?

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When it comes to improving jump and sprint performance, not all training programs are equal, says a study published in Medicine &s; Science in Sports &s; Exercise (2017; 49 [4], 736–45).

Researchers wanted to discern a best practice for helping athletes sprint faster
and jump higher. The scientists analyzed three methodologies—Olympic-style weightlifting (OWL), motorized strength and power training (MSPT), and free-weight strength and power training (FSPT)—to see which was most effective for improving muscle power.

The study featured 39 athletes (aged 17–23) from three sports: badminton, volleyball and ice hockey. Each was assigned to one of the training protocols for 8 weeks. The OWL group performed clean-and-snatch exercises, while the other two groups did high-force, high-power double- and single-leg squats. Countermovement jump, loaded countermovement jump, drop jump and squat jump were used as jump-performance assessments. The athletes also underwent a 30-meter sprint test. Secondary variables were squat 1-repetition maximum, body composition and quadriceps thickness.

In nearly all measures, OWL proved inferior to the other training methods. It fell short of MSPT and FSPT for countermovement jump, squat jump, drop jump and squat 1-RM. MSPT produced the greatest improvements in 30-meter sprint time. Both MSPT and FSPT increased thickness in the vastus lateralis and rectus femoris, whereas OWL did not.

“MSPT was time-efficient and equally or more effective than FSPT training in improving vertical jumping and sprinting performance,” the authors concluded. “OWL was generally ineffective and inferior to the two other interventions.”

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Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

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