The effect of ‘toes out’ on knees during the Olympic lifts

I was always taught that my toes should be straight forward in the snatch and clean starting positions. I recently had a one-off coaching session with a coach because I was a bit concerned with the movement of my knees during the snatch and the clean. I wanted someone to check that my technique was OK.

The coach made an interesting comment. He said that many people find it beneficial to start their lifts with their toes pointing outwards rather than straight forward (the degree to which they point outward dependent on the individual’s body structure, what feels comfortable, and the effect on the lift).

When I snatch and clean, I have what you might call “a very aggressive double knee bend”. How this looks is that my legs almost completely straighten when the bar is at my knees, before my knees re-bend. Continue reading

Tip: Point your toes out in the starting position

You might find it more effective to begin your snatch or your clean with your toes pointing slightly out instead of straight ahead. The positioning of your toes will change the positioning of your hips and shoulders.

(Apparently), many lifters see quick technique improvements when they point their toes out in the starting position of their snatch and clean. Continue reading

All 3 jerks are useful

When I was first being taught the Olympic lifts, my coach was really keen on me learning the split jerk. His views – at least how I took them – were that if a person only does one type of jerk then they get really good at that type of jerk.

I see his point and I generally have the same view, which is: if a person wants to get good at a particular exercise, they have to do lots and lots of that particular exercise.

He was also not keen on me using different legs to do the split jerk. He wanted me to get very good at using my dominant leg to do the split jerk. My thinking however was that I wanted to prevent myself from getting muscular imbalances! We came to a compromise that I could do my warm up sets using either leg, but I was to do the heavier work on my dominant leg.

That’s the background for this post! It’s been a long time since those days and I’ve done lots and lots of my own reading, self-coaching… etc. in that time. Only an experienced lifter will know what the right choices are for them. A beginner would never know. And the only way you become an experienced lifter is to train the Olympic lifts correctly and consistently over many years. My point here is that when I started out I didn’t know enough about lifting or about myself, so I took my coach’s advice without questioning it.

I’ve never wanted to compete in Olympic weightlifting, so perhaps that has some weighting as to how I train, i.e. at the moment I am training the 3 types of jerk regularly and frequently. Perhaps a competitive lifter would have a completely different mindset (similar to the views of my first coach). This is a new phase of training for me as I have spent 90% of my lifting time to date training split jerks. I’m now at a different phase in which I’ve been training all the 3 jerks a bit more and balancing my time between the three.

I’ve decided that all 3 jerks have their benefits. They are all good for training different things. For example: Continue reading

What is the optimal elbow position and movement for jerks?

What should the rack position look like for jerks? This is a question I have pondered over and I wasn’t entirely sure myself until doing some research around the subject. If you watch various lifters, you will notice they all have different elbow positions and movements. I was feeling a bit confused about how they should be.

Some lifters have their elbows pointing down, but the majority have their elbows up. Indeed, one of the most common cues you have probably heard is “Elbows up” (which means having your elbows parallel with the floor and perpendicular at the torso). Here is an image which shows the jerk rack position with low elbows vs high elbows, i.e. elbows at a nice right angle with torso: Continue reading

What equipment do I need to do Olympic weightlifting at home?

Here’s a list of what I consider to be ‘the essential’ things to have. I’ve noted a few ‘luxuries’ at the end!

Essential Olympic weightlifting equipment for home

Bumper plates

You can’t just use any plates for Olympic weightlifting. Bumper plates are important because:

  • They were made to be dropped, i.e. they can withstand the ‘abuse’ of regular drops from overhead height! Using other types of plate will cause damage to not only the plates, but also your barbell and the floor
  • Most Bumper plates are the right diameter i.e. the 5kg, 10kg, 15kg, 20kg are all the same diameter as the 25kg plates. The diameter of the 25kg plate is the standard Olympic plate size and this diameter enables you to set up the bar at the right height. Other types of plate tend to all be different sizes (for example, even a 20kg plate will be smaller in diameter than a 25kg one). If you are just starting out you most likely won’t be starting with the 25kg plates, so Bumper plates let you set up at the right height whilst being able to use lighter plates

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Tip: Try 1.5 reps to break strict press plateaus

For me, the strict press is always one of the hardest exercises to get stronger at. I like to do 1.5 reps for these.

If you are stuck on your strict presses too, you could try lifting 1 and a half reps to help you move up in weight.

How to do it:

  • perform half a rep of the press (pressing bar from shoulders to half of full arm extension)
  • bring the bar back down to your shoulders
  • perform a full rep through the entire range of motion

This is “1.5” reps and counts as ‘one’ full rep. Perform these at the weight you are currently stuck at for the desired rep/set scheme. Check progress in a couple of weeks. See if it has helped you successfully break your strict press plateau.

Drills to stop hips rising first in the snatch

A common error in the snatch is that the lifter’s hips will come up before their shoulders do. I have discussed before that in the first pull the hips and shoulders should rise at the same rate and this means that the back angle will be constant until the second pull begins.

First pull: from floor to around mid-thigh

Second pull: from mid-thigh to triple extension 

A common error is that the hips rise first. Let’s look at how we can try to fix this error.
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