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Olympic Lifting: The Big Three…Pulls, That Is

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This week’s post is coming straight to us from Coach John!  Check out his quick tips for improving your Olympic lifts.

Remember your first attempts at the Olympic lifts? At 3-2-1 go, more than likely you were enthusiastically throwing yourself into your idea of the lift and hoping for the best. How’s that working out for you? If you really want to access the explosive power these lifts can develop, you’ve got to get serious about your technique.

Whether you are performing a Snatch or a Clean, the Olympic lifts can be broken down into three pulls. The first pull takes place from the floor from the knee. The second pull takes place between the knee and the hips. The third and final pull comes from the hips to the catch.

Here are my top tips for each pull:

The First Pull: The most important part of this pull is the placement of the bar in relationship to our legs. Athletes need to “feel the steel” as they begin to pull the bar from the floor, pushing through the middle part/heel of their feet as they initiate the lift. One common mistake during the First Pull is starting with the bar too far away from the body. A simple rule of thumb is that when you are standing over the bar, your shoelaces are covered. Then, make sure you don’t allow the bar to move as you set up for the lift.


The Second Pull: One common mistake I see here is when an athlete pulls the bar into their hips while they are still in a hinge position. When this happens, the hips will not extend as they should and the athlete will then be resorting to “muscling” the bar to the catch position. This increases the potential for injury in the back because now those muscles are working overtime to execute the lift. Keep pulling the bar back into you, with your arms straight, until the hips fully extend. Then you can bend them as you begin to pull under the bar.


The Third Pull: The most important component for the third pull is the actual pull to get under the bar. The most common mistake I see here is when the athlete will only rely on the power of their hips to get the bar high enough to catch. In order to complete the lift successfully the athlete must pull up on the bar shrugging their shoulders as if they are pulling a massive root from the ground.

Olympic lifts start to improve when you pay attention to technique. Try one of these suggestions the next time we’re practicing our lifts and see how it feels!

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