Want to increase your strength or improve your resilience? Or maybe it's a bit of a confidence boost you're after? Well, Olympic Weightlifting offers all of this, as Grenade® ambassador Pollyanna Isabella found out when she started the sport a year and a half ago. The former bikini athlete has since gone on to compete in her first Olympic Weightlifting competition and has gained a whole lot of skills from the sport that has now become her passion.
Find out why Polly thinks we can all benefit from Olympic Weightlifting and how she's transformed her training thanks to this popular sport.
How did you first start Olympic weightlifting?
From a young age, I was always very sporty. Growing up, I competed in a variety of sports, predominantly swimming and athletics. When I was old enough, I joined the gym. I started as a cardio bunny and then, shortly after that fad, I got heavily into bodybuilding training. Following that, I went on to compete in bikini fitness for a couple of years, however, whilst I enjoyed my stint in bodybuilding, it had some really negative effects on my mental and physical well-being, so I made a conscious decision not to continue.
At this point, I’d hit a plateau with my training, I felt a bit lost and I knew I needed to get stuck into something new. Olympic Lifting was pretty new at my gym at the time (2018) and so I started having sessions with a BWL coach to see what it was like. Let’s just say, I’ve not looked back since. One year on and I’ve competed in my first BWL competition and have more in the pipeline!
Olympic Weightlifting consists of two independent lifts – the “snatch” and the “clean and jerk”. The objective of the snatch is to lift the barbell from the ground to overhead in one continuous motion. The objective of the clean and jerk, as its name suggests, is made up of two movements. The barbell is first lifted from the floor to shoulder-height. Then for the jerk the barbell is transitioned from shoulder-height to overhead, finishing with straight arms.
Whilst both movements may look simple, there are so many details and stages that form every second of each lift – from the moment you set up to lift, to the moment the barbell is overhead. It certainly teaches you the importance of determination and patience.
While we can probably all instinctively walk into a gym and perform a squat, it takes a very long (and frustrating) time to master the intricate technical aspects of Olympic weightlifting. I’m still very much learning and while I can only dream of putting twice my body-weight over my head, I’m grateful that I’ve learned – and am still learning – some very important life lessons by immersing myself in the sport of Oly lifting.
What are the benefits of Olympic weightlifting?
1. It teaches you resilience
Yes, it’s challenging and requires a tonne of perseverance, but that’s why I love it! Not every day will be a good day – you won’t always make every lift. But trust me when you do, nothing feels better.
2. It's empowering
When you can lift your own body-weight over your head, what can't you do?! Getting stronger and more aware of my body has made me feel more able in life. I get a huge sense of empowerment from Oly Lifting.
3. It boosts confidence and self-esteem
I know its cliché, but it’s you vs you on the platform. Adapting my body and mind to extreme discomfort and challenging my limits daily has proved to me that I’m stronger than I ever thought I was, or could be.
4. It provides you with transferable skills
Alongside Olympic weightlifting, I’m a keen netballer and I’ve definitely felt that my Oly weightlifting skills have had a positive impact on my on-court performance, in particular my co-ordination, power and endurance.
5. It's for everyone
I’m almost 6ft which, for a female Olympic weightlifter, is “tall”, but it just ges to show that this sport is for everyone. Weight categories range from 56kg to 109kg+ for men and 45kg to 87kg+ for women. So no matter who you are, with the right coaching and dedication, you can experience all the amazing benefits Olympic weight training has to offer!
How can I start Olympic weightlifting?
My top piece of advice would be to invest in a coach and persevere! Don’t give up when the going gets tough – getting through those sessions will make the good ones even sweeter. Don’t compare your journey to anyone else's. Stay on top of your training and nutrition and be consistent! Look after your body and fuel it with the correct nutrition to support your goals. I’m lucky to have Grenade® on my side making this element of my training so much easier. Lastly, enjoy yourself and have fun with it. Good luck!
So, who's got their sights on perfecting their snatch? If Polly's inspired you, head over to her Instagram for more Olympic weightlifting tips. You can also find out more about starting a new hobby or sport over on our blog, from Dynamic Pilates to Boogie Bounce.
Image credit: James Pardon Photography