Having read the previous sections, it is clear why strength and conditioning coaches will often use Olympic Weightlifting to improve athletic performance. However, these lifts are only be used for improving athletic performance, but also as a tool for monitoring performance and the effectiveness of their training programme.
Recall earlier that there are seven independent qualities that contribute to an athlete’s ability to generate power (9):
- Maximum strength
- High-load speed strength, or strength-speed (>30% of 1RM)
- Low-load speed strength, or speed-strength (<30% of 1RM)
- Rate of force development
- Reactive strength
- Power endurance
- Skill performance
As each sport requires a different combination of these qualities, testing an athlete’s ability to perform each one provides the strength and conditioning coach with a blueprint for training prescription. This simply means that if the coach understands their athlete’s weaknesses, in terms of the power qualities listed above, then they can design the training programme more specifically. To add to this, it has been proposed that training the athlete’s weakest power qualities will result in the greatest performance improvements (9) – so understanding the athlete’s strengths and weaknesses is vital.
Due to the inaccessibility of most laboratory equipment in practical environments, strength and conditioning coaches will often use the 1RM back squat, 1RM power clean, and a vertical jump to analyse the power profile of their athletes. Each exercise is used to analyse power capacity in a different manner:
- 1RM Back Squat – Maximum strength
- 1RM Power Clean – Strength-speed
- Vertical jump – Speed-strength
Analysing these three aspects provides the coach with an understanding of the athlete’s ability to generate power. Therefore, the coach can understand that if an athlete’s vertical jump is good, but their 1RM power clean is not, then the emphasis of training should be to improve their strength-speed ability.