Q: Can I improve my endurance and burn fat with Olympic lifts?
A: Performing Olympic lifts, such as Power Cleans or Snatches, for high reps or until failure is certainly challenging. Your heart will beat out of your chest, and you may be tempted to sprawl on the floor in complete exhaustion.
However, these complex exercises may not offer the best path to endurance and fat loss.
The primary purpose of Olympic lifts is to develop power by lifting heavy weight as explosively as possible. To do this, it's generally recommended to perform only one to five reps per set to challenge your muscles and maintain your power and form throughout the set. If you go beyond this rep range hoping to improve your endurance and burn fat, you could run into a problem.
Olympic lifts are among the most complicated exercises you can perform. You must execute several phases of each movement perfectly, or you may put yourself at risk for an injury—especially to your back, shoulders and wrists. And if your muscles are tired from performing too many reps, your form is more likely to break down, and you might hurt yourself.
Other exercises that offer similar benefits can be performed for high reps with a much lower risk of injury. They include Dumbbell Squat to Press, Dumbbell Lunge to Press, Burpees (with or without Push-Ups), Mountain Climbers and kettlebell exercises.
For example, the Dumbbell Squat to Press works your entire body, and it will certainly challenge your endurance; but it involves a controlled Squat and Press and is not explosive. The movements are familiar to almost anyone with some training experience, so there are no complex form issues to consider.
Put simply, you can torch your body with simpler exercises. Thus, the risk of performing Olympic lifts is not worth the reward.
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