Did you know that Olympic level weightlifters have some of the highest vertical jumps of any athletes? Pretty surprising, right? Guys from the NBA rarely have anything on the best weightlifters in the world.
There are a couple of things we need to cover to get to the bottom of why weightlifters are so good at vertical jumping. Let’s get one thing out of the way first though- Olympic Weightlifters are not to be confused with bodybuilders. Their training is very focused in key areas that will affect their ability to lift weights, but really that’s where the similarity ends.
Bodybuilders are the guys who get all tanned and oiled up and stand up in front of judges, flexing and posing after lifting a lot of weights. They’re the ones who are all about shaping their body with weight lifting, rather than competing over weight and technique.
I know it’s rare to see actual Olympic style weight lifting getting media coverage, so I thought it would be pretty important to get that distinction clear!
So, why is it that these big guys, and others in related disciplines- like shot putting, can jump from a standstill in a way that would shock your average slam dunking Baller?
Simply put, it’s all about explosive power.
One of the main things, that people don’t always realize, is the explosiveness at the heart of weightlifting. In Olympic weightlifting it’s all about what you can lift, in terms of weight, but more importantly how cleanly and smoothly you can lift it. It’s designed as a test of ballistic (explosive) strength, rather than testing the limit of what someone can lift.
In other words, it’s not about the endurance of their muscles but how quickly they can let off that energy, which is the key of any good jump training. It’s no good being super strong if it takes forever for your body to output that strength in any meaningful way.
A weightlifter’s training is all about getting those muscle fibers twitching and moving quickly, so that the energy powers through their muscles quickly, which can be used for lifting weights or high vertical jumping. Because the sport requires it their training programs cover the whole body. So, while the wrong kind of muscle building can make you slow, these Olympians, weighing up to 300 pounds, show that that doesn’t have to be the case!