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Olympic Pull Variations

For someone with no intentions of competing in Olympic lifting, what are the different pulls for?

Let’s keep this limited to the power variations and forget about landing in the full squat. I just can’t imagine an application of that outside oly lifting.

Thibs seems to just love the snatch grip high pull for hypertrophy, athleticism, and probably curing cancer too :smiley:

You’ve got the hang vs blocks vs off the floor. And even here you can set up your hang or blocks at different heights relative to your body.
Cleans vs Snatches.
High Pulls with the clean or snatch grip.
And all the different combinations of these.

I’m running something similar to 5/3/1. For me personally, I want to pick one of these above and stick with it for at least several months for my big posterior chain lift. I would just rather do something fun and athletic feeling for funsies rather than deadlifting not to mention it’ll be sometime before I acquire more weight and a bar rated for that kinda weight for deadlifting.

What are they for? Mostly developping power and speed

Okay so first of all, when comparing snatch and clean variations, snatch variations are always faster than the equivalent clean variations

Snatch and clean high pulls exhibit faster angular velocities at the hip than power snatches and power cleans, and also allow for more loading. However, a correctly executed catch for either snatch or clean is incredibly satisfying, so I still do them. The other advantage of performing the catch is that it standardises the height to which you must pull the bar. You cannot do this with high pulls unless you have access to a bar speed monitor like a GymAware.

The first pull of any olympic lift - from the floor to just above the knees - is pretty useless from a physical preparation perspective. The first pull in O-lifting is intentionally executed relatively slowly, and exists only to get the bar in the correct position (the “power position”) to explosively accelerate the bar in the second pull.

The higher the start position of the second pull, the further to the left of the force-velocity curve the lift moves. A hang power snatch from hip height will move faster, but with less load, than a hang power snatch from above the knees. That said, the positioning of the athlete with the bar at around knee height (“the power position”) exhibits the greatest similarity to acceleration and jumping.

Olympic lift variations from the hang will be more elastic than Olympic lift variations off blocks. Olympic lift variations off blocks will be more concentrically explosive than the equivalent lift from the hang.

Muscle snatches and muscle cleans greatly reduce the explosive strength requirement of olympic lift variations, and should be considered as special strength and/or technical drills to improve the catch of the snatch and clean, respectively

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So that explains the physics and biomechanics of them pretty well. What about from a more applied point of view?

Like do cleans have certain applications, advantages, disadvantages relative to snatches just for one example.

I’ve been hearing and reading that quite a bit about the 1st pull in regards to it being not all that useful outside of oly lifting. So I’ll try nixing that portion and see if my hang clean closes in on the weight I can do from the floor.

Edit: Are oly shoes just worn to stay more upright in the full squat catch position or do they help with anything else when doing these kinds of lifts?

So you select one lift over the other based on what point of the force-velocity curve you want to work on.


Exercises on the right of the curve (the velocity side) are lighter but faster. Exercises on the left of the curve are heavier but slower.

As an easy reference, hang power cleans from the knee will typically sit right in the middle of the curve.

Finishing an olympic lift with a full catch (deep squat) will be further to the left than a power snatch or power clean.

Snatch variations are skewed more towards the right. Clean variations are skewed more towards the left.

Block variations are further to the right. Hang variations are further to the left. Hang variations also give you to opportunity to train more elasticity, where as block pulls will bias for rate of muscular force development.

Pulls initiated closer to the hip are further to the right. Pulls initiated closer to the knees are further to the left.

High pull variations, in comparison to variations with a catch, allow for more load in comparison to power cleans or power snatcges. If performed at the same load as a power clean or power snatch, they allow the barbell to move with more velocity. So, a 60kg snatch grip high pull will be more to the right than a 60kg power snatch. A 70kg snatch grip high pull will exist at roughly the same point as a 60kg power snatch. An 80kg snatch grip high pull will be further to the left than a 60kg power snatch.

Muscle cleans and muscle snatches are further to the left than normal power cleans and power snatches, respectively. However these should be considered as technical / special strength drills that only really carryover to the Olympic lifts themselves.

So, we could say that the “fastest” Olympic lift derivative would be a power snatch from blocks at hip height. The “slowest” would be a hang clean from the knees.

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Yeah, they help people catch the barbell in the deepest position possible, and give them the best leverage to be able to recover from the catch position (i.e. squat the weight back up)

Oh wow! Thx!

My primary 2 goals are muscle and strength and my secondary goal is general athleticism atm. I know that seems like spread out focus but I’ve been out of the game for several months because of Covid and I got a basic weight set just over 2 months ago so it’s actually possible for me to improve lots of things pretty quickly.

Really, I mostly just wanna get everything I can out of muscle memory which so far has allowed crazy strength and muscle gains. When I started I could barely Zercher squat 135 for 2 reps and in that short time I’m already up to 185x7 at a RPE 8.5 Maybe over 300 for reps by next fall… who knows!

I think based on everything you’ve told me, I think the power hang clean from just below the knees suit me best. It’ll be a good bridge between movements like zercher squats, bb rows, and rdl’s to things like jumps, throws, plyo push ups, sprints, tire drags, etc which I’ll slowly phase in between my lifting days.

Once this covid thing clears out and I can get a decent job again, I really wanna do MMA again and I’d feel extra good hopping into it if I were very well physically prepared. But I’ll worry about specializing my training as I get closer to crossing that bridge.

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you don’t really ever initiate a hang clean from below the knees. Just above the knees is the lowest you should go

I would go with hanging snatch grip high pull