Bar Velocity in the Snatch. Important?


Alright. This should be my bread and butter (or I hope to make it my bread and butter!). Question today is whether bar velocity is important in the Snatch. "Speed of the bar" is always highlighted by strength & conditioning coaches when training their athletes using the Olympic lifts. However, this is always misused in my opinion (you might not agree with it but this is what I think).

Focus less on getting the speed because no matter what weight you are lifting, the movement of the bar and weightlifter especially in the second pull has to be powerful and explosive! This would then allow the bar to travel to the highest point possible for you to get under and catch it.

Picture from Iron Mind.

Latest study out in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research showed that around 80-100% 1RM, the speed of the bar starts decreasing. Common sense right? The heavier the object, the slower it's going to  move. So the slower it's going to move, the less height you are going to get when pulling it.

But if the factor that remains constant is the speed of the movement, whether it's 80%, 88%, 94% or 99%, because it's already a heavier weight and you are moving as fast as you can and making the bar move as fast as you can, then the only thing that would affect the movement is how you move!

So back to the question, is bar velocity important?

Yes it is important when the weights are lighter (as highlighted in the study I did as well).

No it is not as important ( I repeat, NOT AS important) when lifting maximum weights because by the time you start lifting maximum weights, being fast should be a natural thing. Focusing on other factors such as start position or anything else would be more important.

So giving credit back to strength & conditioning coaches, focusing on speed of the bar is not wrong. Because the weights they usually prescribe to their athletes are weights where bar velocity would still make a difference. But if you are lifting weights any higher than 80% (from my study it would be 88% and above), please start to focus on other aspects of the lift.

Just my two cents on it.

Stay Speeding and Keep on Training,

The Training Geek.