Do you reach the Power Position?

I never knew what the Power Position in weightlifting was. I knew about Power Snatches and Power Cleans, but the Power Position is something different.

As I understand it, lots of people do not reach this position naturally in their lifts and it often needs to be practised. The people who do not reach the power position tend to use their arms too much and bend their arms too early in the second pull.

It might be helpful for you to record one of your snatches or your cleans and play it back in slow motion to see if you actually reach this position or whether you miss it!

What is the Power Position?

The power position is the point in the snatch or the clean, where the bar is at maximum height before the triple extension occurs. In the clean, this will be at the top of the thighs. In the snatch, it will be at the hip crease.

I will describe the power position in four points:

  • The arms are straight
  • The feet are flat on the floor
  • The torso is close to vertical
  • The knees are bent

In a good snatch or clean, this position is reached naturally by the lifter.

The power position is important because, as the name suggests, it generates a lot of power!

Problems that occur when the power position is not reached

  • The arms bend too early (“early arm bend”) and can take over the lift, when it should be the legs and hips being used
  • The bar moves forward and away from the body, when the bar should be as close as possible
  • The bar does not follow a vertical path
  • The speed of the bar is reduced

This all leads to a lift that is far more difficult than it should be, and a lift where the bar may swing out in front. The lifter will probably not experience that ‘weightless’ feeling of the bar (you know, when the bar feels far lighter than it actually is!).

How to learn the power position

You can do snatches and cleans specifically from the power position. Set up as the four bullet points listed above and continue to execute the lift from this point. So you will be executing the clean or the snatch fully except your start position will be the power position.

Note, it is important to remember that immediately from the power position is when the triple extension must occur – so you ought to be thinking about getting up on to your toes, extending your knees and extending your hips.

The power position can be difficult if you are not used to it. Since you are starting from a static (still) position, there is no momentum to assist you. It can also feel awkward to be at this position whilst your feet are still flat on the floor.

Snatches and cleans from the power position will require far less weight than snatches and cleans from the floor.

Weight, reps and sets for the power position

As with all Olympic lifts and their variations, I would advise people to keep reps between 1 and 3. This low number of repetitions allows for high quality technique training. I like to use 3 or 5 sets but occasionally will do 8 sets.

The hands can easily be kept on the bar for this exercise, i.e. the bar does not have to be dropped between reps.

The weight used will be lighter than for full snatches and cleans. Gauge the weight depending on feel. I like to use very light weights (25-35% of max snatch/clean) for a warm up or for training speed, and go a bit heavier if I’m using this exercise as one of the main exercises of the session. The key however isĀ technique, so the weight should never be heavy enough that technique is compromised.