When I first started Olympic lifting I was taught that the barbell should start approximately over the balls of the feet. If you read around on the internet, you’ll see that this is the preferred position for most people.
For some reason, I got into a different habit. You know sometimes how we might slightly change our technique without realising? This is what happened to me. At one point I was doing my snatches (and probably my cleans – but the effect wasn’t as bad!) with the bar over my toes. Of course, in Olympic lifting – especially snatches – a change even as small as that can have enormous consequences on the rest of the lift!
I will say though, that I’m glad this happened as it led me to quite a positive outcome in the end. Read on.
It’s very easy to become completely consumed by how much weight is on the bar. Even me, although I’m not an ‘ego-lifter’, I still care about the amount of weight I am lifting. Although I don’t compare the weights I lift with the weights other people lift, I do compare the weight I am lifting to what I was lifting before. My big focus is actually what I am lifting now compared to what was I lifting last week, last month, last year… etc.
The problem is, lifting isn’t as simple as this! You can’t just go up and up in weight for every exercise, every workout, every single time. Here I provide some other strategies you can use to measure your performance and have peace of mind that you are improving, even if the weight isn’t necessarily going up. Continue reading
A weightlifting complex is a combination of different exercises done without stopping. Hypothetically you could do as many different exercises as you fancied. Complexes can be made up of any number of exercises. For example:
Snatch Pull + Snatch (2 exercises)
Clean Pull + Hang Clean + Front Squat + Jerk (4 exercises)
If you use fewer exercises you can usually use more weight than if you do more exercises. Because of the high technical demands of Olympic weightlifting, I personally always keep the number of exercises as no more than 4.
You can also make the complexes longer by changing the reps rather than increasing the exercises. For example:
Snatch Pull + Snatch (2+2) meaning 2 reps of snatch pull plus 2 reps of snatch
I have my own views on when and when not to use complexes, which I will list here: Continue reading
Ever thought much about where exactly you look at the beginning of your Snatch and your Clean? I actually never thought about this until I was asked by a coach, “Just out of interest, where do you look?”
So, where do you look? You can experiment with your gaze and see if it improves your lift at all. I’d recommend for your gaze to be at a fixed point, straight ahead or slightly down. (Some people point their head and gaze up but generally this isn’t recommended due to straining the neck.)
Experiment with any or all of these and see if your technique improves!!
N.B. ‘Position of head’ is different to ‘gaze’, in this tip we’re referring to gaze not head position.
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
We use maximal effort with our legs to elevate the bar and explosively shrug our shoulders to get under the bar and with maximum speed.
Practice shrugging under the bar with tall cleans and tall snatches. Continue reading
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
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.
If your lower back is tired or if you have lower back pain, there are a couple of Olympic lift variations that might reduce the load on the lower back, if you still want to continue training them. Always check with your doctor however. And remember that sometimes the only remedy is REST.
The variations are: Continue reading
We can all go a little off track in our training of the Olympic lifts. Sometimes we might get carried away lifting heavier and heavier weights and care or think less about how they are lifted, i.e. our technique.
If you do not have regular coaching, or if you do not film yourself regularly, you may start to develop incorrect movement patterns (technical errors), even without realising.
‘Habits’ are easy to make and hard to break. Lifters often have natural tendencies to lift in particular ways, even if those ways are not optimal or correct. For example, a lifter who is very strong in their upper body might naturally use their arms far more than what is optimal when they are snatching. A lifter who is used to squatting with a very wide stance might catch the bar far wider than is optimal in their snatch. etc.
Someone who does not have coaching regularly or who doesn’t film and observe their own lifts, could very easily be making technical errors and using incorrect movement patterns in their lifting without realising, therefore continuing to train in ignorance that anything was ‘wrong.’ And obviously the more you train a certain movement, the stronger the habit will be and harder it will be to break.
The significance of technical errors
There might come a point where we reach a weight in the snatch and we struggle to go beyond it. If this is not a fear issue, this is most likely a technique issue, i.e. technique is the limiting factor rather than strength.
When this happens, it might be time to stop lifting that weight and go back to the very basics of snatch training… as though you were learning it again for the first time.