T Nation

Long Overdue Thanks and Looking for Technique Critique


#1

Hey Coach,

A long time ago, or so it feels, you gave me advice back in this thread here:

Along with your suggestions and articles, 6 months after fixing my back and being able to squat again I hit 275# for 5, weighing 140 lbs.

So first off, thank you for your help and time spent on articles, it has been greatly appreciated. Apologies on the bad gym music in the background, it wasn’t up to me sadly.

Now then; I’m looking for feedback on my snatch and my clean & jerk.

As of now, I’m 2 months into Olympic weightlifting. Unfortunately, due to life and time constraints, i.e. work and going to school full time, I don’t have the money to get a coach just yet, and as such I’m self taught. I film all my lifts and exercises every training day.

Looking past having no coach and being underweight for my height;
I’m running the Classic Life Position/Technique Cycle from George Everett’s book, Olympic Weightlifting. Thus far, I have made no modifications and I’m doing the program as written. This is my first week of singles. My current bodyweight is 65.7kg.

Snatch Singles:

61kg, 63.5kg, 65.7kg, 68kg, 70.3kg, 72.5kg, and a miss at 74.8kg where my feet got in the way.

Clean and Jerk Singles:

61kg, 65.7kg, 70.3kg, 72.5kg, 77kg, a blooper 84kg, 84kg clean

Transitioning:
Still trying to figure out how to navigate my knee. From what I’ve read, some coaches feel that long legged lifters are ok with some shooting up of the hips prior to the pull, but I’m not sure if this is something I need to work on preventing or not.

I’ve been working on my hip mobility along with ankle and adductor flexibility and it’s gone a long way into letting me push my knees out and let my knees come forward in the receiving position. My knees coming forward actually almost cost me my bottom position in a couple of lifts because I’m still getting used to my hips not being shifted back so much.

In the jerk:

The blooper pull with 84kg I actually didn’t even brush my thighs, I somehow pulled it straight up and just had to commit to it. The missed jerk at 84kg, the bar rolled forward on my shoulders and cost me my position.

Concerns:

Lockout:
I feel my lockout and upper/mid back stability needs more work. I was thinking of replacing jerk sessions with push press sessions in order to better facilitate coordination of my body for the jerk. I realize it was more of a power jerk; I came across a video of Kendrick Ferris (coach calls it a splot or something like that) and realized that’s what I do. I personally prefer this way of jerking as it’s more comfortable and stable for me.

Starting Position:
Some coaches said that when you set the bar down, it gets most people very close to what their start position should be; in my case, it looks to me that my hips are a bit too high.

Overhead:
It was easy to stand up with 72.5kg in the Snatch, however, my elbows weren’t too fond of it and I could feel that it was my upper back and not my legs that was struggling. I feel continued work on my bottom position and push presses will help with this, as well as with supporting my jerk overhead.

My plan going forward is mobilizing of my hips, more stretching of my adductors and ankles to try to establish a better bottom position, and making more money so that I can afford to buy more food and get a coach.

Apologies for the long post, but I tried to succinctly convey my own observations and critique.


#2

In case the videos don’t appear:

275#x5 @ 140

Snatch Singles:

Clean and Jerk Singles:


#3

I’ll answer you in 2 or 3 different posts since your message requires both me answering specific questions as well as analysing your video (which I will analyse break down into frames of the key positions). I also have a busy schedule so I will post parts of the answer throughout the day.

First as an intro I must say that I am impressed that you developed such a good technique and rhythm without any coaching. Rare are the people who can do what you did so you must be a good athlete or at least have great motor control. Snatching over bodyweight starting from scratch is pretty darn good.

Youi have some slight changes to make but generally speaking it is very good. I’m especially impressed with your rhythm, which is the hardest part to get right.

I will start by answering some of your questions and will break down your technique later today.


#4

[quote=“Unk0wn, post:1, topic:213735”]
Transitioning: Still trying to figure out how to navigate my knee. From what I’ve read, some coaches feel that long legged lifters are ok with some shooting up of the hips prior to the pull, but I’m not sure if this is something I need to work on preventing or not. [/quote]

Do not think about moving “from the hips”. What you need to focus on is getting in the best position when you are at the knees or just above them. Namely your shins should be perpendicular to the floor with your shoulders are above the bar or even slightly in front while your balance point stays in the middle-back (not totally on heels but a bit further back than the mid foot). What the hips do to get into that position will depend on your body type, but as long as you get there you are fine.

This image is from Yasha Khan’s blog. I find it to be one of the best illustration of the concept I just mentioned. As you can see the position of the hips (and torso angle) depends on the body type, the mechanical constant is the angle of the shins and the position of the shoulders relative to the barbell.

Lifting is much like postural changes: improving mobility only helps you improve your potential to reach certain positions/postures… you still need to actively work on getting there. You must engrain the motor habit of pushing the knees out when you receive a snatch. I suggest Holding the bottom position of a snatch with an empty barbell focusing on pushing the knees out. Hold for a total of 3 minutes done in as many sets as needed (do not lose the position just for the sake of holding longer).

Then do drop snatches or snatch balance with the empty barbell focusing on pushing the knees out as soon as you hit the bottom position. Something like 3 sets of 5.

These two drills should be part of your warm-up prior to every session until the position comes naturally.


#5

The power jerk is fine. Lots of elite lifters jerk like this (Bedzanian, Thorokthy, Martirosyan for example… who were at one point either World or Olympic champions or world record holder in the jerk).

However you need a lot more mobility to do a power jerk. I’ll get back to this when I do the video analysis of your jerk but you need to get under the barbell more. The receiving position should be similar to that of power snatch with the hips back more, the chest forward more and the barbell behind your head. That requires more shoulder, thoracic spine and hip mobility. More on that later.

I do not agree that the push press would be the right strategy. The push press actually teaches you to stay more upright in the end position and doesn’t teach you the proper timing of moving under the barbell. Until your jerk is solid I wouldn’t do push presses. A better drill would be behind the neck power jerks. This will allow you to more easily get into the proper low position as well as contract the upper back to hold the bar. You really have to et that upper back “squeezed” in the catch position as if it where the upper back, not the shoulders holding the barbell.


#6

In the clean maybe. Looks fine in the snatch.

More on that with the video analysis


#7

The push press would help mostly if the problem was weak shoulders/triceps. But it seems like either your upper back is weak or you simply don’t understand how to activate it correctly when you have the barbell overhead.

  1. Supplementary upper back work (band pull-apart, DB reverse flies, Chinese barbell row or barbell row, seated rowing, etc.) would help strengthen this muscles.

  2. Use lower skills snatch/jerk drills where you can focus solely on squeezing/contracting the upper/mid back when you move under the barbell. Behind the neck power jerks, snatch balance/drop snatch focusing on “receiving” with the upper back, muscles snatches focusing on contracting that upper back hard as the bar gets overhead, overhead squats focusing on maximum upper back contraction, etc.

The athletes I work with do a lot of work specifically to strengthen that overhead position. We do it in the form of complexes that allow us to keep tension on the muscles we want to build. For example:

2 muscles snatches + 2 overhead squats + 2 snatches

All focusing on tension/squeezing the upper back when the bar is getting overhead.

Or…

2 drop snatch/snatch balance + 2 overhead squats + 2 snatches

Focusing on the upper back again


#8

Seems I have much to work and dwell on. Greatly appreciated, Coach; your help is invaluable.

I’m pretty sure it’s a motor control issue with my upper back, because sometimes I do feel my upper back holding the weight, and sometimes it’s my shoulders.

Would it make sense to combine keeping tension in the upper back while I sit in the bottom position of the snatch (3 minute warm up drill), or should I focus on keeping my knees out and add that in once the bottom position is more autonomous?


#9

Ran through my training videos and found a brief jerk grip overhead squat; the shaking probably means a little bit of both the issues you described. I actually bring my band with me everywhere I go and do band pull aparts while I’m standing around in lines at stores, on my break at work, etc. Gotta love the weird looks you get.


#10

The most important thing is how you hold the bar overhead. So you should focus more on the upper back when doing the drills.