by Matt Wiggins – MMAWeekly.com
In recent years, performing the Olympic lifts (snatch, clean
& jerk) as well as their variations, power versions, and assistance
movements (clean, clean & press, power snatch, high pull, jump shrug, etc.)
with dumbbells and kettlebells has become rather popular.
This is for a variety of reasons – the main of which
is that dumbbell (DB) and kettlebell (KB) versions of the Olympic lifts
(O-lifts) are usually easier to learn than their barbell (BB) counterparts. (NOTE
– I don’t feel that the O-lifts are as hard to learn as many think, but
that’s a topic for another discussion.)
The O-lifts are great movements – they build
tremendous explosiveness, full-body power, are great for conditioning, and the
work it takes to do them (the range of motion is as long as you can get – from
the floor to overhead) can build great work capacity.
There is one major difference between DB/KB versions and the
BB versions though. The BB versions can build power much more than the DB/KB
versions do – not just because more weight can be used, but because you
(usually) have to put the BB back on the floor, usually reset, and start over.
It’s almost as if each rep is the first in a set.
The DB/KB versions, however, are many times done in more of
a "swinging" fashion (whereas the BB versions are pulled more
vertically). This allows for many more reps to be done.
Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing – in the case
of KB Sport, it is the goal. The additional reps greatly tax conditioning and
work capacity can go through the roof.
However, because of the swinging fashion, momentum is often
used in the movement and part of the execution of said movement is to control
said momentum. With the BB versions, there is no momentum between reps –
in most cases, each is pulled from a dead stop.
The circumstance you run into when going for the swinging
version of the O-lifts is that you don’t build as much power because not as
much power is needed to pull the DB/KB off the floor.
To more simulate the BB versions, try what some coaches call
a "grip and rip" approach.
Here the movement isn’t done in a swinging fashion –
rather it’s pulled more vertically. Say you were performing a KB snatch.
Instead of the ‘bell swinging back behind your ankles and behind you, it would
come no further back than the arches of your feet. And instead of swinging the
‘bell in front of you in an arc shape, you would pull the ‘bell straight to
This movement path simulates the BB version much more, and
can build much more power.
A method I really like to use is "1 Left, 1
Right." Put the DB/KB on the floor. "Grip and rip" it to
overhead (in the case of the snatch, this will of course change depending on
what exercise you’re doing) with your left hand. Lower the DB/KB and put it
back on the floor. Now repeat with the right hand. Continue to switch hands
every rep until your set is done.
This will allow you to keep your form tight for each rep by
giving you a small amount of rest between, yet allow you to do higher reps for
conditioning, work capacity and endurance purposes. And doing each from the
floor also allows you to concentrate on generating maximum power with each rep.
Hard, Rest Hard, Play Hard.
"Wiggy" Wiggins is a strength coach and author living in Cameron, NC.
Having trained 15+ years, Wiggy is a strength moderator at mma.tv, columnist
for MMA Weekly, and an avid fan of Mixed Martial Arts Training. His
site, Working Class Fitness.com,
is dedicated to designing low-tech, high-result workout programs for "regular
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