T Nation

Bumping the Bar Up With Your Thighs?



I just started training the olympic lifts with a coach in a nearby gym.

The coach showed me that I should use the thighs to push the bar upwards by bumping the thighs onto the bar after the second pull (bar above/on the upper portion of the thighs). I think it's not a specific thing to do consciously rather than it should happen normally when you explosively extend the hip and the knee from that position (after the 2nd pull). Note that he never used the "2nd pull" or any other technical terms, it's just my interpretation based on what I've read.

Today I managed to do it when doing the clean super slowly. It never happened in the previous training sessions when I did the lifts normally. I don't know if it improved my lift or not because I did it with relatively light weight (not to mention the super slow part).

I've never read or heard about this before, what do you think about it?


That's not quite how it works. Here's the thing. I'm sure you've done cleans and snatches from the hang. Many lifters find it easier to learn the lifts from the hang because that is the start of the second pull. In the second pull, your body should be in the optimal power position. It just so happens that when you start the lift from the hang, the bar comes in connect with your thighs. If I had to get into your power position and drew a line from the bar to the floor, you would see that it would cut through your knees. This is a problem when you start the lift from the floor - you need to get the bar passed the knees, but then you want to get into the power position. What lifters do, then, is they actually rebend the knees slightly to get into that proper power position for the second pull. It is at this point that the bar comes into contact with the upper thighs much like it would if you had simply started the lift from the hang. Think of this as almost incidental contact. At most, it is a brush of the thighs.

You definitely DO NOT want to bang the bar on your thighs. Banging the bar may cause it to move away from your body. One of the key points in OL is to keep the bar as close to your body as possible. This becomes very evident when the bar gets heavy and you can no longer muscle the bar back towards you. Trust me on this - stuff you could get away with when using lighter weights while learning the lifts will cause you to outright miss the lift when you start adding weight. The power comes from your hips - not banging or bumping the bar on your thigh. The bar path should be close to your body and vertical, or nearly vertical.


Here's a good video on bar path trajectories.


That's the problem, my coach definitely showed me about the "banging" part. He said that the "bang/bump" can help you lift the weight (but I'd like to repeat that it should not be done consciously, it just so happens because the nature of the lift - I think that's the theory). I guess that's just not normally accepted/taught, or perhaps, never.

It's interesting that you mentioned about the hang clean/snatch. If I think about it, it should be from this position that the "banging/bumping" happens. At this time, I'm still not sure how it could happen.

And thanks for the double knee bend explanation. In my experience when doing the lifts super slowly it become apparent that if you want to keep the bar as close as possible to your body you have to rebend the knees after the bar passed them.


Here's an article by Charles Staley. In the section "What the hell is the scoop," he seems to be saying something similar to what your coach is saying:


Not to get too theoretical here, but the question is, as a result of a powerful hip extension, does the bar go up because it gets "pushed" up by the thighs or does it "pulled" by the muscle of the hips? Is a bit of both? Should we care? I prefer to think of it as a pull where the bar happens to brush my thigh. It's simpler, and it avoids the problem of getting, as Charles puts it, "too exuberant" and whacking away at the thigh.

At any rate, it sounds like you're on the right track. Getting the bar around the knees and back to the power position can be difficult for many lifters, and the fact that you were able to do it shows progress. Understand that the power comes from getting into the power or "hang" position where the bar has no choice but to make contact with your thighs. That's really all you need to worry about.


Thank you for the interesting article!

Yeah I also think so.


I could be wrong but I thought the double knee bend was controversial in the sense that Kono doesn't like it (around the 6 minute mark):


I think I saw that video once. At around 6:50, he said that you want to bring the bar up until your knees are almost straight. That's great if you have a lifter with a long torso and proportionately short legs. Kono seems to have that build. The lifter demonstrating the lifts has that type of build, which is rare because most women have proportionately long legs. I also have that build. When I finish my first pull, I don't need to completely straighten my legs to get the bar past my knees and still stay over the bar. My long torso allows me to do that while still have some bend in my knees. Basically, when the bar gets past my knees, I'm pretty already in the power position. Kono has a problem with a very exaggerated double knee bend as his lifter demonstrates. I agree. You want to use your glutes and hams as well as your quads during the second pull. You don't want to be in a position where your torso is vertical and your knees are bent so that you're only using your quads. I don't have that problem. My double knee bend is very subtle, but it's still there. I suspect many lifters with my body type will also have a subtle double knee bend.

Now, take a tall kid who is all leg, or even a not so tall kid who has proportionately long legs (one of my coaches was like this - although he was only 5'3", he had to do some funky things to get the bar past his knees) and it's a different story. A lifter with those proportions will need to get into a stiff-legged deadlift position to get the bar past the knees. Sure, you can clean and snatch from a stiff-legged deadlift position but you won't get much power.

The bottom line is that you want some bend in the knees during the second pull. The second pull has been compared to a maximum vertical jump and this is accurate. When you try to jump as high as you can, you'll bend at the waist, knees, and ankles - that's the same triple extension used in weightlifting. Try jumping by just bending forward at the waist with bending your knees or ankles. You might jump a little just from the upward momentum of your upper body, but you won't jump that high.


At around 6:50, he said that you want to bring the bar up until your knees are almost straight. That's great if you have a lifter with a long torso and proportionately short legs.

I wondered if build might have something to do with it.

I don't quite get how one can have properly loaded hamstrings from that position but maybe I'm not forward over the bar enough.

When I finish my first pull, I don't need to completely straighten my legs to get the bar past my knees and still stay over the bar. My long torso allows me to do that while still have some bend in my knees.

So when you pull from the floor the bar is out in front of your shins enough to clear your knees?

You don't want to be in a position where your torso is vertical and your knees are bent so that you're only using your quads.


Need to practice :-/


I guess... If one can do a Romanian deadlift so the bar is lower than ones knees without the knees getting in the way, then one should be able to do the reverse movement with more hip drive without hitting them while shrugging the bar up...


I would say that my proportions are similar to the young lady in the video - without the breasts of course.


The bar should never hit the thighs in the snatch, your hips should hit the bar not your thighs. Push your knees back, keep your chest over the bar and when the bar is into your hips you hit the bar with your hips as hard as you can, and then get under the bar as fast as you can! watch every world class lifter in the last twenty years or so, they all hit the bar with there hips in the snatch! yes there are a few that do hit with there thighs, but not many at all. This is just my opinion. In the clean it seems to be about 50/50 with thigh and hip hits.


Agreed Jon, hitting the hips is a necessity in the snatch, so the bar can get right over your ears overhead. In the clean it can hit the thighs and not be a problem because you are catching the bar on the shoulders, which is much more in front than catching it over the ears.


so then why is it that every local meet I go to I see athletes hitting the bar on the thighs or not having the bar touch them at all! Sometimes I feel like I am going crazy! when you lift at big meets in America there are a lot of hip hits, and some thigh hits, but every athlete at a national level is hitting the bar with either there hips or thighs. I am a big big believer in the hips because in my opinion its faster, stronger and for me easier. I coach no pull, there are no arms in weightlifting, just legs and hips.

The arms are just cables, they are there for hanging and catching, never ever pulling. Hit and drop, that's it. 1st pull?? 2nd pull?? 3rd pull?? shrug?? what!!!!!!!! how about pull the shit out of the bar and SMASH it with your hips and then move faster then Alis feet and get under to catch! I would love to hear from other people on this, I still have a lot to learn and I am learning everyday, so please lets hear all the opinions! Jon North 2012


I think it really just depends on the lifters personal style. I do agree that one the snatches the bar should contact the hips NOT the thighs. If the bar hits off of the thighs then the lifter is likely not staying over the bar long enough.

I dont agree that the bar needs to be SMASHED off the hips as this would cause some lifters to swing the bar and therefor be very inconsistent. This works for some lifters but not for everyone. For me thinking of sliding the bar up the legs and then throwing the bar off the hips (above the crotch) helps me keep the bar VERY close and in a VERY straight line which allows me to use all of me strength and also be much more consistent then when i used to really hit the bar with the hips.


check your PM


How does a hip bump make the bar go up? I guess I figured it was because the hip drive transfered force to the bar via the rigid torso down through the arms. One can pull with the arms (e.g., on olympic lifts, chin-ups, rows) but it's more efficient (and ultimately more productive) to think of pulling being more about the back.

If hip drive helps the bar go up via the transmission of force... Wouldn't more force be produced if hamstring tension was used to help generate the hip drive, and for the hip drive to be followed through with shrugging of traps?

I wonder if arm length and grip width impacts on where the optimal position is to do that part of the lift. Or perhaps optimal grip width is determined by arm length so the hip bump thing occurs.


It's good to hear from you, experienced lifters, that apparently there's indeed direct contact between the thighs/hips and the bar.


Hip bump doesn't make the bar go up; you are right, that powerful hip and knee (re-)extension does during the second pull. When you do that second pull correctly, the bar tends to hit the hips slightly before it's way up. The bar will then come out slightly forward and then back over the ears (guided by high-and-out elbows), like you see in one of those Dartfish software videos where it shows the path of the bar. So the hip bump serves more of an indicator of where to hit the bar constantly, then to aid the barbell to travel upwards.

Go to californiastrength.com, and check out some of those technique videos towards the bottom, especially the ones with the girl. She shows that there is indeed an optimal grip width in the snatch... one where you do it just wide enough so that when you bend your knees slightly while standing (without hip flexion), the bar will just graze the very bottom of your hips.


Rezazadeh would actually hit himself in his stomach on the snatch.