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Build a massive upper back by performing bodybuilding's forgotten four ...

One day, while training at my local gym, I spied young man who decided to break up the monotony with an unorthodox way of training. Who was this person disturbing the harmonious tranquillity of the gym's atmosphere? What was he doing? He was doing Power Snatches. And, I might add, he was doing them well. Others in the gym did not know what he was performing and their ignorance showed in their comments, "What's this guy think he's doing? That's not the way you do upright rows!" And the more obvious remark, "He's doing those shoulder presses all wrong!" After hearing this I took it upon myself to enlighten these bloated gym rats and self-proclaimed personal trainers, who by the way where all "certified." I explained that he was performing a variation of an Olympic lift called the "Snatch." Most specifically he was performing the Power Snatch. "What's a snatch?" Was their reply. Yep, Personal Trainers, what a gas!


Why didn't my gym cohorts know what this guy was doing? Well, most do not know what true weightlifting is, or, for that matter, the benefits in muscular development and strength these types of movements can lead too. Whew! That was a mouthfull. But, it's true. Most who pump iron, do not know the difference in Olympic lifting, powerlifting, sport training or true competitive bodybuilding.

Olympic weightlifting should not be confused with powerlifting, weight-training, bodybuilding or sport-specific training. Powerlifting is performing a maximum lift in the squat, bench press and deadlift during competition. Standard weight training uses resistance type equipment such as free weights or machines for general fitness. Sport-specific training encompasses all FOUR lifting techniques: powerlifting, weight-training, bodybuilding with agility, speed and quickness drills to develop athletes for an individual sport. Bodybuilding is the art of aesthetic development using free weights, machines and cardio equipment for show presentation.

The Olympics have been in existence since 1896, that's a little more than 100 years since its conception. Most individuals who workout have no clue that the Olympics have a medal round for weightlifting. This style of weightlifting has been a major event in the Olympics since the beginning. Olympic lifts, over the years, have changed though. Just as the football helmet has evolved from a leather cap to the hard covering that players use today, so has Olympic lifting evolved.

Did you know that Olympic weightlifting has developed into the most complete, widely practiced strength sport in the world today? You thought I was going to say bodybuilding, didn't you? No, not even close. I said strength sport. Even though powerlifting is considered a strength sport - Olympic lifting is the main one. What about bodybuilding? Isn't it a strength sport too? Well, when you're in the gym lifting then yes it is. But, hold on a minute. Before you get upset, what may be of interest to you is that bodybuilding, in its conception, used to have strength feats, such as weightlifting, as part of the physique presentation. The funny thing is that the strength feats performed, in early bodybuilding shows, where Olympic lifts. Eventually, the lifts were taken out and what you see today is what bodybuilding has become.


Olympic weight lifting consists of two lifts. The 2-hand Snatch and the two hand Clean and Jerk. The Snatch is an overhead lift consisting of lifting the barbell from the floor to overhead in one motion, and the Clean and Jerk is done by lifting the barbell from the floor in two stages. The first stage is from the floor to the shoulders, called the clean and then second stage is overhead in a split or lunge position.


Using Olympic exercises in your bodybuilding training creates tremendous physique development. Here are just a few of the advantages derived from Olympic lifts. Coordination, balance, concentration, flexibility, speed development and most importantly, for bodybuilders, great upper body thickness! That's right amigos, I said "thick." If you want a thick upper back, and wide shoulders that will even make Ronnie Coleman envious, then these exercises should be added into your bodybuilding regimen.

The four lifts described below are Olympic auxiliary lifts. These lifts usually start slowly and finish fast and dynamically. These lifts should be performed under control. So keep the bar off your thighs with no wild, jerking or bouncing motions.

Snatch High Pull

Start position: Place the barbell on the floor, then place your feet under the bar. Bend over and grab the bar, both hands about 6-8 inches wider than your shoulders with an over hand grip. Now flatten your back, chest out, head up with eyes looking straight ahead. Lock your arms. Your hips should be higher than your knees but lower then your shoulders.

Finish position: Start to squeeze the bar off the floor, make sure to keep the hips higher than the knees and lower than the shoulders and back flat while moving the bar. As the bar gets above the knees start accelerating the bar speed, and as it gets closer to your upper thigh, explode with as much force as you can pulling the bar up to your rib cage, extending up on your toes and at the same time shrugging your shoulders. Recover and repeat.

Clean High Pull

Start and finish position: Same as the above. The only difference is hand placement on the bar. Bend over and grab the bar in an over-hand grip wider than shoulder width - almost to the end of the bar.

Push Press

Start and finish position: Stand erect, grab the bar slightly wider than your shoulders with the bar resting on your shoulders and clavicles. Begin by bending your knees. Now, quickly, drive your legs up, pushing the bar off your shoulders with your arms and your leg drive. The bar should be directly over your head. Try these three words to help you, DIP. DRIVE. PUSH.

Jerk or Split Jerk

Start and finish position: Grab the bar slightly wider than shoulder width and rest the bar on your shoulders and clavicles. Bend your knees and drive your legs pushing the bar up with your arms. This will explode you up on your toes. As the bar passes your head one leg goes forward, the other leg goes back immediately into a lunge. As your feet hit the ground your arms lockout the weight overhead. To recover, push back with your front foot and step up with the back foot with the bar still overhead. Then lower the bar to the shoulders. Remember, the first initial dip of the legs is done slowly, and then the splitting with the legs is done extremely fast.

Make it Routine

Implement this routine on non-consecutive days--once every ten to fourteen days adding weight when needed.

Day 1
Snatch High Pull
Warm-up 1 x 45 (bar) x 5
1 x 75 x 3
1 x 85 x 3
2 x 95 x 3

Push Press
Warm-up 1 x 45 (bar) x 5
1 x 85 x 3
1 x 95 x 3
2 x 100 x 3
Day 2
Clean High Pull
1 x 45 (bar) x 5
1 x 75 x 3
1 x 85 x 3
2 x 95 x 3

1 x 45 (bar) x 5
1 x 85 x 3
1 x 90 x 3
2 x 95 x 3

After a couple weeks of executing the movements you will find out
you have muscles in places you never thought you had. Remember, everything benefits from getting Olympic and most specially the upper back, shoulders and trapezoids. Perform these exercises in your bodybuilding routine and watch your upper body explode into incredible thickness that will make Ronnie Coleman envious. Well, maybe not, but at least everyone in your gym. So, keep pumping and give me one more rep!


Many explosive exercises involve a maximum or near maximum rate of force. This high-velocity, specific movement training produce the best gains for strength and power sports. Then how does this entail to bodybuilding and physique development? Well, even the novice weight-training enthusiast knows that more strength means more muscle and more muscle usually offers bigger muscles. In any movement the speed of the exercise influences the muscle recruitment sequence. This is your percentage of slow-twitch-to-fast-twitch muscle fibers and your ability to recruit those muscles during exercise. Explosive strength training can be performed by using heavy weights with great force and speed to using heavy weights in your slow movements and then utilizing your fast speed movement with a lighter weight. The muscle hypertrophy caused by heavy training includes growth from slow and fast twitch muscle fibers. But, in contrast, the muscle hypertrophy from explosive training is primarily fast-twitch fibers and this also increases neural activation.

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  • rep this user

great article

Jun 11, 2012 12:59am | report
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