Olympic Weightlifting without Bumper Plates (with Cast Iron Plates!)

Olympic Weightlifting is a fun sport and makes for an excellent workout. For optimum safety, one should do the overhead lifts with rubber bumper plates. With bumper plates, after completing a lift the weight can just be dropped in a controlled manner and no energy is wasted on the descent as you do when using cast iron weights (if you don’t want to destroy your equipment like me).

However, rubber bumper plates are much more expensive than cast iron plates! At JesupGym.com, for example, two 45’s, two 25’s, and two 10’s (all rubber bumper plates) would cost a total of $316 (and that doesn’t include the bar or the collars, or shipping and handling). Whereas a standard 300 pound Olympic weight set including bar and collars can be had for less than $200. Especially if you already have a cast iron set, ponying up for an extra set of bumpers can seem like an unnecessary cost.

Here are a few points on how to do the Olympic lifts with cast iron weights. Don’t forget: at one time the only option was iron!

1. Get a 3/4 inch rubber mat (from a farm store, etc.) and place 1/2 inch sheet of plywood over it. This is your launch pad.

2. Don’t EVER miss a lift that you put over your head! If in doubt, don’t get under it! You will probably never know your true max. without using bumpers, but you can still get in great shape with sub-maximum attempts.

3. Don’t drop the weights after a completed attempt. Dude, this is my house and my equipment! Using a clean grip, return the weight to the shoulders/chest while absorbing the impact with your legs, drop down in a little squat and lower the bar to the ground after bouncing it of off of your thighs.

You can see Dimas doing this a little bit in this awesome video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K837AwoIpFI). For snatches, get a clean-grip at the top ala’ Dave Rigert (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_LVFWmbBGs) and return to the floor as described above.

3. Snatches: power snatches combined with overhead squats using sub-maximum full snatch weights will get you in awesome shape. With some courage and good technique you can get into a full squat snatch using cast-iron weights.

4. Clean & Jerks: Do clean & push presses instead. You can monster-up so much weight in the clean & jerk that it can be difficult to bring back down to the ground as described above. There’s also a good Russian article out there (somewhere?) detailing how shoulder injuries increased in lifters after they dropped the Press from the Olympics. Also, my shoulders and arms feel and look stronger when worked through the greater pushing ROM that push presses provide.

5. Toss in at the end of a workout as finishers Turkish get-ups, overhead squats, front squats, bent presses, etc. and you won’t miss the bumpers at all!

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