Are you one of those people who second guess the legitimacy of High-Rep Olympic lifting? This has been made famous by the Crossfit Cult over the past few years, and has been received with mixed (negative) reviews from anyone who has a clue about weightlifting. For those of you who don’t know, Olympic lifts are the Clean and Jerk and the Snatch.
Crossfit is infamous for using these exercises as a form of conditioning for its athletes. Well, as I mentioned, anybody who is worth their weight in dog crap knows that conditioning is NOT what these exercise were developed for. These movements were designed long ago for purposes of strength and power, both of which utilize minimal repetitions at a time, not upwards of 20-30. I found a very unique article from T-Nation a few days ago that deals with the problems of using Olympic lifts for high-repetitions, which you can read in it’s entirety here.
The main problem that you are going to run into with high-repetition movements, regardless of the exercise, is fatigue, as pointed out in the article. What happens when you begin to get fatigued?? In a nutshell, your technique goes to shit. That’s true for any exercise. Now, take exercises like the Snatch and C&J where the weight is overhead. What happens then?? Gravity is going to take over when you get tired, and that’s going to lead to some serious problems.
My point behind this article is simple: DO EXERCISE AS THEY ARE INTENDED!!! Just because you see somebody on TV contorting their body in some weird manner to get under or over a bar, doesn’t mean that’s the way that exercise was designed. For the average person, doing an exercise meant for strength purposes with the intent of conditioning can be quite dangerous. There are plenty of exercises designed specifically for strength, conditioning, and everything in between. Find the ones that fit what you’re looking for, and do them properly.