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6 exercises that will develop power in athletes better than any Olympic lift

On paper the Olympic lifts are great for developing power in athletes. Strength coaches have been taught that hang cleans, power cleans and snatches or some variation of the three are a must have in every athlete’s program. Otherwise you don’t know what you’re doing….

I’d argue that for most team sport athletes the Olympic lifts are disadvantageous in regards to developing power. Most of them only have 3-6 months to prepare for the season and by the time the inseason rolls around they’re just starting to now get the technique down.

Having that in mind there’s very little room for error when it comes to the Olympic lifts. Based on your limb lengths and torso length and your unique mobility level you may not have great leverage on these movements.

Athletes come in all sizes based on the sport they play and their position. To think the same exercises will benefit a 6’ running back as much as a 6’10” power forward is ridiculous. Exercises to develop power should allow movement that fits any athletes unique limb length profile, easy to master, and promotes max intent during the exercise during the beginning stages of performing it. There are no barbells in any team sports, it’s time to consider other tools in the gym that can do a better job of mimicking triple extension movements performed in sport.

Just to be clear before I upset anyone who’s been performing the Olympic lifts successfully with their athletes or any other key board warriors, I think the Olympic lifts are a great way to develop power when performed CORRECTLY with the right people. I’ve just found in my particular situation, training high school and college athletes in their offseason and preseason that the Olympic lifts are not optimal for most of my athletes. And here’s why.

What makes the Olympic lifts not optimal for developing power in athletes?

- It takes a while to perfect the technique of the Olympic lifts

- There is so much skill that is involved making it hard to heavily load to truly develop

max power.

- Without the proper skill level in place heavily loading the movement increases the risk of injury

- It doesn’t have a direct transfer to the plane of motion of most sports

- It requires mobility that not all athletes possess.

A very important part of training power is that very little thought should be required while performing the movement. You don’t have to think about your technique while you’re sprinting and jumping and the same should be true during your power exercises to produce maximum intent. The only thing that you should focus on is moving the weight, object or yourself as fast as you can and as aggressively as possible.

Since Olympic lifts require so much skill and thought, it takes so much time to get to the point of unconsciously being able to perform the movement perfectly. In this article I will go over 6 exercises that are great for developing power, have a lot more transfer to sport, and require very little time to perfect. In as little as 1 session an athlete can be training at maximum power compared to Olympic lift that will take months if not years to perfect and start training at a weight that stimulates maximum power in the movement.

My Top 6 exercises that will develop power better than an Olympic lift.

1. Overhead med ball toss

2. Trap bar jumps

3. Trap bar high pulls

4. Single arm dumbbell snatches

5. Hill sprints

6. Resisted sprints

While the Olympic lifts are great for developing power when performed correctly with the right technique, intent and load I’ve experience faster more significant power increases with these 6 exercises in my athlete population. If you are someone who likes to program Olympic lifts and teach the technique of Olympic lifts, these are still great exercises to perform and program in while your athletes are perfecting the technique of the Olympic lifts.

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