T Nation

Setting the Upper Back for Snatches


I think...

When one sets up the shoulders are pulled down and back (um, scapula retracted?).
Then one contracts the lats as one transitions from midfoot to heel and the bar comes back towards you...
Then one keeps that all tight like that?

And for the catch... Um... Are the shoulders still supposed to be pulled down and back?
If you shrug to help push yourself under the bar faster then when do you time pulling the shoulders down?
Or is it more about back rather than down?

I hope that makes some kind of sense.


No why do you want to keep your scapulae retracted at the start?

You automatically do that though when receiving the bar to keep the upper body tight.


I don't know why you would want to do that at the start. Guess I'm trying to figure what I'm supposed to be doing...

I think I read Everett say about setting the shoulders back and down to keep the upper back tight. Then maintaining that through to the second pull anyway. I think the idea is that the tighter the upper back is set the more the force from the hip drive gets transfered to send the bar up.

I'm not sure that I am retracting my scapula when I receive the bar. I think I'm shrugging with the weight overhead. That is bad - right? Especially when the bar crashes down on me a little?


Retract shoulders back tight and hard
Contract lats
Arms bolt straight
Chest up
Hips down
Take in a big breath of air, hold it

Raise hips up then down in to my start position and start to pull the bar

I feel my 1st pull is stronger when I make a concious effort to make sure my shoulders are back, tight and same with my lats. I never use to think about this but now I make it a point. I don't want any flex when I pull the bar off the floor from my shoulder/ body.



Really, Koing?

Perhaps I should read what Everett has said about the matter, but when you deadlift, if you retract your blades at the start, the weight of the bar will separate them at the moment you lift the bar.

I think people automatically shrug when they receive the bar, just like at the end of the positive phase of the press.

This just comes from my experience BTW but I'd like to be proven otherwise.



Yes I brace everything back when I pull from the floor and my lats are really contracting.

IMO it sets the lifter up for a really solid 1st pull that will then transfer in to a monster 2nd pull and then for speed under the bar.

on the receive I don't really think. I just get under and punch the bar up. Not really aware of what my shoulders etc are doing. I just punch the bar up and get under and squat up and hopefully it's in the right place.



Kono said that you shouldn't do that because "You've lost a lot of pulling power.". I'm not sure about that (though I can imagine why) but from what I understand, blades are retracted mainly to make the shoulders more stable, thus it's useful in bench press for example where the weight is above and your body automatically does that in some movements (i.e. jerks).

Now, your shoulders are already stable when pulling because that's just the way it is. Perhaps I can make an analogy: think the barbell-shoulders relation in pulling like a chandelier hanging from the ceiling while in benching, like a candle standing on top of a table.

I understand what you're saying, Koing, but when the last time I tried that when deadlifting, I just couldn't prevent the bar from separating the blades when I started pulling. Perhaps I should try again.


Hmmm...how would I lose power by doing this? I'm more solid off the floor. If I don't retract and brace strong off the floor my back would be less tight and I'd probably flex off the floor and be pulled out of position? Granted I never really felt this happen to me even when I never really braced as much as I did now though. I just feel it's stronger now.

I think it's a minimal thing for me. It may help someone else more? Remember when you rotate your elbows so that they trace along the bar this will rotate your shoulders forwards. I tell my lifters to brace their shoulders backwards after this. I think it's a better position to pull from.

I tell them to brace backwards so that they don't flex forwards when you break the bar off the floor on the 1st pull and to maintain the back position better. If the shoulders break forwards or are relax and they rotate forwards a bit this will put your 1st pull off. Again this is a very very minimal thing I'd imagine unless it really broke the lifter badly.

Not really getting the analogy :frowning:

DL would be different as the load is much heavier then a Cn. I think some separation when your trying to not separate would be better hten not making an effort? But for a Dl it wouldn't matter too much, your just concerned with getting the weight up. Not for setting up a really sweet 2nd pull position.



Lol sorry if it doesn't make any sense. What I'm saying is basically that the scapulae retracted position can be/is used if you need to make your shoulders to be more stable (by being to be more restricted). When pulling your shoulders are already stable because the weight is hanging from them and is not above like in a bench press.


Everett says (for what it is worth) that the first pull is quite a lot different from a first pull because in a true max effort deadlift you actually don't have all that much control about how your body lifts the weight whereas in a true max effort clean you still can control the way your body does it because the weight is that much less. he says the start position for olympic lifting is all about setting things up for a maximal second pull. whereas a deadlift stops before the second pull so can be done fairly different.

e.g., - in a deadlift the bar will roll back against your shins before it leaves the ground if you didn't set it up there already. in a clean or snatch you set up with the bar further forward and have it swing back towards you.

e.g., - in a deadlift the hips will rise early to deload the legs since the knee is in a disadvantaged position with the hips being low. in a clean or snatch you can keep your hips down. you can. (i tell myself repeatedly)

e.g., - in a deadlift your shoulders will come forwards if you didn't set them up there already. in a clean or snatch you set up (and maintain) the shoulders down and back posture.

do people feel their lats when they hold the bar in a stable position overhead? nevermind about the catch for a minute... once you have stood the weight up and it is stabilized... what are your shoulders doing then? not shrugged, i guess. scapula retracted??


I see. I still brace them back to maintain position. My position won't get better but it won't get worse by them pulling forwards when the Clean is heavy

Pushing up.

Do you struggle with the bar when it's over head?



i have trouble with the women's bar because the circumference is so small and i have long fingers to go with my long femurs :frowning:

if i just hook the first joint of my thumb under the bar is in a comfortable position for pulling - but it is too far down by my fingers when i roll my wrists back for the catch. so either it skids back down my hand (which hurts) or it puts a lot of pressure on my wrists (which hurts). i can hook more of my thumb under so the bar is up by the base of my thumb for the lift, but then it really seems to pinch the skin on my hands in an awkward way which hurts during the pull.

i think (but i'm not entirely sure) that contracting my lats / pulling my shoulders down and / or back a bit when the bar is overhead pulls my wrists into a different position so the bar feels stable rather than trying to snap my wrists backwards.

i think i have sleepy lats. i'll work on waking them up a bit with some wide-grip pull-up grip pulling. need to do that for first pull anyway.

it is hard because i'm probably not as stable as i should be with the bar overhead because of my high heels.



Some people relase the hook when they lift and others don't (myself). I' not aware of releasing my grip. I just grip it in a hook grip.

I would grip more of your thumb but find a position that it is fine in. I can grab my thumb with my middle finger. I have a tight grip on it and my thumb and fingers are moderately long.

Not sure why doing that to your lats, back etc would effect your wrist position. Try and lock them out up over head, not behind and let them relax. I know my wrists go back a bit but not too much when I rack it over head.

Your lats would only control your shoulders and not effect your wrists.

Do OHS with wrists wraps.

Hey do you wear wrist wraps when you lift? If not wear them.



I don't have any problems at all with the circumference of the guys bar - just the women's bar because it is narrower. I always use the women's bar for Oly Lifting so I should be used to it by now. It is only a problem on my heavier snatches.

I release the hook for cleaning since I can grab the bar with my elbows up well for the rack. Don't overhead press / jerk with a hook grip. I certainly don't release it for snatching, though. Try and grip it as tightly and securely as possible for the whole movement.

I think... Contracting lats? scapulae? alters my shoulder position (back) which pulls my arms down a bit which straightens my wrist (if that makes sense). not entirely sure, though.. will take some vids for me to try and figure. Probably need to learn what a properly balanced overhead position feels like (since not much of anything comes naturally to me).

I actually got some wrist wraps when my wrists started feeling unstable for the catch. Got some powerlifting ones though (all they had) and started wrapping them tighter and tighter then needing to redo them for every lift... Worried they were becoming a crutch so trying to learn to do without them.