T Nation

Wrist/Elbow/Shoulder Flexibility Questions

I am, like a lot of people, someone that is coming to the Oly Lifts very late in my lifting life. I have spent the past nearly 30 years benching, squatting, and deadlifting. I have been trying to re-ignite my interest in training so about 2-3 weeks ago I decided to watch some videos and go all Olympic on myself. My questions are as follows:

  1. I have horrible elbow/wrist flexibility, when I clean the bar I can’t rack it per se, so I just hold it in front like a jacked up OHP and then push it up. This means, for me any way, that I can’t get deep to catch the weight, so I just yank it off the floor and grab it with a slight knee bend (rather than a full squat) As you can imagine this is pretty limiting weight wise, so I can’t pull more than 275 lbs to my shoulders this way. What would you recommend to help get my elbows up?

  2. My shoulders are pretty tight as well, so snatching is an issue, if I drop into the hole all the way my shoulders and torso come forward with the weight, so right now my “snatch” is a big ass loop with again a slight knee bend, anything over 185 stalls at about my eyes so when/if I try to dip under I just fall forward. So how would you address sloppy forward lean and shoulder tightness?

I still do the powerlifts, but more as maintenance than anything else. To get good at the O Lifts do I have to give up benching?

Thanks for the help.

I am no expert and tbh am just a beginner to oly lifting myself so take my advice for what its worth. That being said I’ve been told i have some okay shoulder flexibility so i will share with you what I did.

For starters your problems 1 and 2 are linked. You have poor elbow flexibility in racking the bar because of your shoulder flexibility. The main thing you’ve probably read to do is shoulder dislocations. start doing them now and DO A LOT of them. I bought a simple broomstick and keep it in my dorm and crank out a few sets throughout the day. It will slowly get better. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33P5AI27eiU

Secondly stretch your pecs, like crazy. You said you’ve been benching for ~30 years, and although I havent seen you and real like and don’t know what kind of programs you’ve done in the past I imagine that you have some form rolled over shoulders [again i’m just speculating though based on your flexibility claims]. So stretch your pecs, foam roll your pecs with a lacrosse ball too.

Thirdly, I’d suggest stretching your bicep tendon as well. Elliot Hulse often stresses this and its helped me, and it also gives you another way to stretch your pec (i know it gets boring). [4:00 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A65Rvivs5g8]

Lastly, I’ll share with you one of the things that I think made a difference for me and that was lacrosse ball rolling my tricep. I’m always had a hard time stretching it and I just found it increased my flexibility personally so you can give it a try if you’d like (it hurts like a b***). Also make sure your warming up sufficiently before starting your lifts, not just a cardio warm up but try doing some shoulder circles with a 5lb weight just to get that rotator cuff nice and lose.

Hope this helps, good luck!

edit: no i don’t think you have to give up benching even though it does give you that habit of pressing forward rather than up. I personally always like to balance or overcompensate some back work with my dumbbell presses (ie. 3 sets of pendlay rows for 2 sets of dumbbell press.) but I’m a weak b*tch when it comes to benching and you sound a bit more advanced than I do so take it for what its worth !

Thanks for the advice, I did the shoulder dislocates and the other stretches before and after my lifting today. I figure I am about a year away from being flexible enough to do these things correctly, but anything sooner than that will be counted as a pleasant surprise.

[quote]BrianHanson wrote:
Thanks for the advice, I did the shoulder dislocates and the other stretches before and after my lifting today. I figure I am about a year away from being flexible enough to do these things correctly, but anything sooner than that will be counted as a pleasant surprise.[/quote]

I don’t think it will take you a year or even 6 months to be flexible enough. just attack it aggressively dislocations everyday I’m sure you’ll be incredibly surprised where you might be in 2 months good luck!

I agree with edmrobbyd, broomstick will help and some traditional stretches. Do them at least before and after every session. Be careful not to go too deep too often as that can cause issues too. Likewise, do some wrist mobility eg circles, stretches,

Re rack position, are you getting the bar almost on the windpipe and resting on finger tips? You can also assume the rack position in the stands, release your grip on one side and use that hand to gently push the other elbow up and/or get someone to stand in front of you (out of stands) and gently elevate both elbows, simultaneously.

Another technique is to do plenty of broomstick and empty bar work in the full squat and full snatch position eg fiddling about with grip, elbows, positioning etc.

Generally a good idea to do plenty of rotator cuff and lateral raise type work too (assuming no injuries etc).

One last idea is doing snatch grip lateral raise and hold lying face down on a bench; you can also vary grip width, do this in a good morning position or do the same position with your hands on the wall and stretch (this also helps thoracic mobility).

Would be good to see a video of your lifts.