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Low Back Working During High Pulls

I started doing high pulls (snatch grip) from hang today, in sets of 3-5 reps. Not sure if I’m doing something wrong but I feel them much more in the lower back than when I did them from the blocks. The movement feels basically like a power romanian deadlift + high pull.
What I feel is the back working, nothing painful and no discomfort, but was wondering if it’s normal or a sign that the movement is not correct.

Of course your will feel it more from the hang the from blocks. From the blocks the lower back is under high tension for a fraction of a second, just to stay rigid while the legs and hips produce power in the initial trust. In the lifts from the hang your lower back is heavily involved in the eccentric phase, then transition phase (from eccentric to concentric) and to initiate the concentric. It is then used to absorb the load on the “catch”. I never measured the time under active load but it would not surprise me if the lower back worked 3x a much during lifts from the hang vs. from blocks


Thanks for the in depth reply. I did all the sets from hang today and a few sets without resetting the posture, trying to high pull in a continuous way (think it’s called “trapi”). That last way of pulling is even more taxing on the lower back.

While we’re on the subject - I noticed in your videos that when you pull and the bar gets near the sternum, elbows start to point back behind you. Same thing happens in a few videos of Klokov doing high pulls, but I’ve seen some chinese lifters who do the full pull with elbows always pointing upwards or moving back just a bit.
Is this difference relevant? I was talking about it with a trainer in my gym and he said that ideally, elbows should point upwards as much as possible since if they point back, the bar tends to move towards the body and makes it more difficult to move under it in a snatch - basically, reinforcing a bad habit if you get used to pull with elbows going back and you want to use the exercise to reinforce the actual snatch pull instead of using it as a standalone exercise.

That makes no sense. In a snatch the bar is “racked” BEHIND the midline of the body when overhead. How can it get there if the bar doesn’t move in a slight backward arc at the end of a pull??? The bar MUST be pulled toward you to be able to have it in the right place overhead.

Look at the bar path analysis of a snatch. That trainer must not have tons of experience with olympic lifting (full lifts) or maybe he’s done it as part of crossfit classes and never took the time to learn the actual biomechanics of the lifts…

As a stand alone the “elbows back” means that you are allowing external rotation to take place, which is much less stressful and likely to cause shoulder impingement than keeping the elbows pointing straight up


I hope you don’t think this is “just a bit”



On that 3rd one if you look at the left elbow it might be misleading because of the camera angle, but look at how far back the right elbow is pointing.

I’ve seen one girl us a “elbows pointed up” pull, but it is the exception and would require 1) exceptional shoulder mobility and health (you are loading the shoulder in an severely internally rotated position, not a great idea) and 2) have a the perfect body proportions to snatch with a perfectly upright posture (so that the bar doesn’t need to be as far back in the catch position… long torso, short legs with longer tibias than femurs, and short arms.

As with everything don’t focus on what “some” are doing. Focus on what "most’ are doing.

Ask the trainer how to achieve that bar path without pulling toward you at the end of the pull??? Because you’ll notice that after the “explosion” the bar is actually moving forward a bit… does the barbell magically change direction in mid air? God I hate pseudo experts who think they know everything from watching a few videos.


BTW sad thing is that he could actually be a good weightlifter. A lot of skilled lifters do the right thing but think they are doing something else. Some are great movers but don’t understand the biomechanics they are applying

Here, weightlifting legend Pisarenko is doing a snatch pull… you clearly see that the elbows are pointing back


Ilyia Illyin demonstrating a snatch pull, you can see the elbows are back at the top of the pull.

Greg Everett of Catalyst Athletic is one of the best olympic lifting coach in the us. Here is one of his athletes doing a snatch pull,again notice the elbows pointing back.


I literally could go on for hours. But I must leave to give a seminar.

P.S. I could find a few example of elbows up pulling but almost NEVER in elite lifters.