Olympic Weightlifting vs. Powerlifting

Okay, a hypothetical situation:

You have one year to train a sprinter and, for the strength training component of their training, you must train your sprinter either as an Olympic weightlifter or as a powerlifter. Assume the sprinter has adequate technique in all exercises. Which do you choose, and why?

That’s what I’m looking for - opinions with reasoning. Anyone want to offer alternatives to DavidW’s approach? Also, how trainable is RFD? I know David has opinions on this, and I’m sure others do as well.

but doesnt a powerlifter have more evenly spread ratio of red/white fibres?

As this is for a sprinter, wont weightlifting with 3 reps max do more harm than good?

Neither: Olympic style back squats with bands on top third and hg power snatches.

David, i understand the neither part, and i understand the words that you`ve written, the sentence doesnt make sense to me though:P

Can we stick to the rules please?

Just kidding, Dave. Your exercise selection would probably be more appropriate than either of the options I presented, but I’m interested in how people view the importance of the strength/power qualities that are developed by training either as a weightlifter or powerlifter.

i think a powerlifter has more leg strength, so i say powerlifter.

I think the weightlifter has more power (evident in emg studies, the fact that no powerlifter has gone on to become a world champ in weightlifting, but weightlifters have gone on to become top powerlifters (Drechsler), +anecdotes about SLJs and High jumps of weightlifters) so i say weightlifter

Assistance lifts are used by both weightlifters and powerlifters. Here is the menu of lifts to choose from:

Weightlifter: Clean&Jerk, Snatch, Clean, Jerk, Front Squat, Back Squat, Power Clean, Power Snatch, Hang P Clean, Hang P Snatch, Snatch-grip DL, Romanian DL, Clean Pull, Snatch Pull

Powerlifter: Half squats (parallel), box squats, conventional deadlifts, sumo deadlifts, good mornings, bench press, military press, incline press, assistance work for triceps, biceps, lats, and lower back.

WHy not do both. I have two leg days. one day I do just Ham work like deadlifts, stiff legs, leg curls. On my quad day i do my power cleans snatch squats and all that good stuff. I say mix it up.

Of course you wouldn’t want to restrict yourself to one or the other if you were training a sprinter, but this is a hypothetical situation.

You’re all missing the point.

Power = Force x Velocity

Velocity is trained through sprinting itself therefore sprinters need only train to develop maximum force in the gym. This calls for limit strength lifts, e.g. squat. I prefer squatting over dead lifts for reasons we’ve discussed many times (high CNS stress, low range of movement, difficulty in determining a strict repetition maximum etc etc).

Why then do I recommend Hg power snatches you’re all asking? Its not a limit strength exercise. Its at the velocity end of the F:V curve!! You just contradicted yourself. WELL…

First of all we need an upper body exercise. The obvious choice is bench. What’s the first thing you get asked when people find out you lift weights?.. Maybe its just my reaction to the bench mania you find seemingly in every gym in the world. Its not that its even a bad exercise I just feel Hg Snatch offers more bang per buck.

The advantages? First of all the exercise is performed standing so you’re gonna get much greater ‘core’ activation than lying on your back. You’re hitting delts, traps, lats and tris so you can cut those killer pull ups.

And finally… Plyos are back in fashion and I believe H.Sn is the beast choice of plyometric exercise available. Again we’ve discussed the advantages over drop jumps all before - more easily quantifiable, less stressful, hip dominant etc

I can’t be bothered going further, believe me guys, I’m right :smiley:

the bench press seems to be a relatively worthless exercise for sprinters. The upper body mass derived from it is mainly so those guys can look buff in their one piece outfits.

Hang Snatches are tough on the CNS as well though :slight_smile:

Are you saying that if you did hang power snatch and squats as your only weight room exercises on top of a proper sprinting program with speed, plyos, free bodyweight exercises (pullups, pushups, squat jumps etc) you would have a complete routine?


No - I am saying if you do full squats & hang snatches (plus some auxillary hamstring exercises) and do speed/tempo you do not need any other training mode (plyos, circuits…)

Really? I dont know man, I think sprint specific plyos are very important as are circuits in certain times during the year. I think doing hang snatch in place of plyos/circuits is a bad idea. Good complimentary lift but not so much as a staple. Squats need to be there regardless but I am not so sure about hang snatch replacing plyos/circuits altogether. I would think they would be a helpful addition but not a replacement…


I feel limit strength is the most important quality to perform in the gym, however, I do think the idea of replacing bench for hang snatch is reasonable although I’m not totally convinced. I’m also unsure whether hang snatch can replace plyos such as alt. leg bounds. At present I do no oly lifts, relying on limit strength, plyos, and sprinting.

Donm79 proposed:
(You have one year to train a sprinter and, for the strength training component of their training, you must train your sprinter either as an Olympic weightlifter or as a powerlifter. Assume the sprinter has adequate technique in all exercises. Which do you choose, and why?)

Having been around Olympic lifters and powerlifters for many years, I believe that olympic lifts develop specific power attributes more related to sprinting, throwing and jumping. For instance, I have seen an Australian heavyweight chmapion, 168kg snatch, run 11.2h with little training and ordinary technique. I have also seen many powerlifters perform rather ordinary in overhead shot tests and other power tests.

Neverthless, in 1984, my opinion was challenged by an Australian body building champion who did a 90cm standing vertical jump before my eyes having never done one before. He merely did squats and other basic strength exercises.

In summary, I believe that if one sprints, throws or jumps, he or she will develop the specific power necessary whether he does Olympic lifting or powerlifting in combination with specific training.

Yet, Olympic lifters are much more likely to possess favourable power qualities than powerlifters in terms of power gains from their sport alone. Afterall, Olympic lifting is quite obviously much more explosive.

David- I appeciate that this question is discussed on another thread but could you elaborate on why we “need” an upper body exercise? I haven’t yet seen a compelling argument for the positive effect of increased upper body strength/size on sprinting performance.

Peter - don´t forget that the body works as a unit. You can´t combine a million dollar pair of legs with a two-bit upper body and expect synergy.