Olympic Lifting Versus Powerlifting in Football Players


                The article “Comparison of Olympic vs. Traditional Power Lifting Training Programs in Football Players” from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research  is about comparing the different benefits of training for power with Olympic Lifts and training for strength with traditional Power Lifts for football players. This study illustrates their effects on different measurable physical tests commonly used such as 1RM Bench Press, 1RM Squat, Vertical Jump, 40 Yard Dash, T test, and body mass. The subjects participated in the same initial 5 week preparatory resistance training program and then were split up with half of the players doing a more explosive Olympic Lifting based resistance training program and the other half doing a more Power Lifting based resistance training program. Each group consisted of about 20 players split up evenly by positions and their test results prior to the study were compared to their test results after the final resistance training program was completed. Statistically the results showed that the group assigned to the Olympic Lifting resistance training program made significant gains in 1RM Back Squat, Vertical Jump, and especially in the 40 yard dash time while there were little significant differences found between other test numbers.
            I think this article is very important because it demonstrates the quantitative effects of two vastly different types of training styles. Traditionally Power Lifting has been the training method for football players but only recently is Olympic Lifting being incorporated more and more into their resistance training programs. Since most sports occur with ballistic movements, it only makes sense that Olympic Lifts would be more sport specific and carryover more into any sport such as football. 
I would use this study as a resource to justify training athletes in explosive sports such as football (or most other sports for that matter) with Olympic Lifts and other explosive movements that would mimic the sport. I definitely think that the type of training for football should be customized to a player’s position as best they can. Offensive and Defensive Lineman should have more Power Lifting incorporated into their resistance training programs based on their positions and body mass required for the position. Olympic Lifting absolutely helps lineman as well but not nearly as much as it would help a wide receiver or defensive end that requires speed, agility, and the ability to jump high. Olympic Lifts such as power cleans and snatches have similar mechanics to the 40 Yard Dash and Vertical Jump so it makes sense that this group improved significantly in these areas.
            There were of course some variables that did confound or skew the results somewhat in my opinion. First of all, the sample size of athletes was rather small with 10 players in each group and 3 of them had to drop out due to non-compliance or injury. A larger sample size would give more accurate results especially if there were any data outliers. Secondly, this study used Division III football players very experienced with resistance training. This means two things. The players at the Division III level are very different from those at a high school, NCAA Division I, or professional level obviously so this study may not carry over to football players of all ages. 

There was some overlap in training methods too as both groups performed similar Bench Press and Back Squat training and both groups had to include a speed and agility program concurrently with their resistance training program. This would seem to alter the results as the Olympic Lifting group would still be maintaining strength on the Bench Press and Back Squat and the Power Lifting group would still be maintaining speed and agility for the 40 Yard Dash and the T test. Also, the football players were very experienced with resistance training so their gains on certain exercises (especially bench press which they have probably been doing for 6 years at this point) are not going to be very significant no matter what program they are on.



 I feel that it is easier to improve on Olympic Lifting gains because they haven’t focused on them as much over the years and technique improvement can lead to increased poundage. Increased poundage on Olympic lifts therefore results in improved numbers for tests that are similar to these lifts such as the Vertical Jump and 40 Yard Dash. I feel that similar but improved studies (bigger sample size, different football player populations, etc) should be performed to get more accurate and conclusive results on the differences in these resistance training methods. I personally would incorporate both types of Lifting in my athletes’ workouts but the proportion would depend on the sport, position and, areas needing improvement. 

Frugal Fitness