Kim and Tami working on their Olympic Weightlifting technique.
By now I should no longer be surprised one someone assumes that lifting weights will make you bulky and inflexible. However, after several years of talking to people about CrossFit and Olympic weightlifting I understand many folks don't understand the difference between weightlifting and lifting weights.
Weightlifting is a sport, in fact there are two competitive weightlifting disciplines. Powerlifting which consists of the deadlift, back squat and benchpress, and Olympic weightlifting which consists of the snatch and clean & jerk. Olympic weightlifting is an Olympic sport and is governed by the International Olympic Committee. Powerlifting is not an Olympic sport, and has several national and international regulatory committees.
Lifting weights is not a sport, but rather a fitness pursuit. We do not lift weights. We practice the sport of weightlifting. Like any sport, weightlifting requires flexibility, coordination, agility, balance, accuracy, power, speed and strength. All of these physical characteristics, along with stamina and endurance are specific adaptions we try to illicit through the demands of our training program.
Flexibility (which we often call mobility) is a physical trait that can be trained and it is ESSENTIAL to the sport of weightlifting. You simply must have full range of motion of your ankles and knees to squat to depth. You must have full range of motion in our shoulders, elbows and wrists to support and receive the bar.
One of our favorite methods for flexibility and mobility training is the physical practice of yoga. Yoga asana (the poses) develops flexibility, balance, coordination and to some extent strength. If you don't believe me, take a look at Dmitry Klokov's warm-up in the video below. You will recognize the plow (halasana), seated forward bend (paschimottanasana), wide-angle seated forward bend (upavistha konasana), and the squat (malasana). Klokov is a Russian Olympic weightlifter who won Silver at the 2008 Summer Olympics. His flexibility is so good he can do the splits. So, tell me again why you don't want to lift weights because it will make you inflexible.
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