Getting the pull right in the snatch or the clean is one of the most important things to achieve a good performance in weightlifting. More importantly, being able to perform a good pull with a decent amount of weight will give you the best chance possible of lifting heavy weights with good technique and subsequently efficiency. If you are constantly struggling with getting a grasp on how to lift the bar off the ground and maintain good balance (i.e. centre of mass over the base of support), here are 4 types of exercises typically used to help improve your pull in the weightlifting movements. 1. PULLS.
Yes. I am not trying to be funny but doing pulls will definitely help with pulling mechanics. Snatch pulls or clean pulls are basically the first progressions to learning the lifts. It is important to get this exercise right because it WILL transfer to your lifts not only from a strength perspective but a movement pattern aspect.
Pulls are usually done from 90% to 110% or more depending on the proficiency of the individual using this exercise. Learning to pull right will also teach you to properly execute the correct sequencing for leg drive as well as the coordination of the leg drive with the shrug. More importantly, it also allows you to understand the role of momentum upon executing the second pull.
Most of the mistakes made in the turnover are due to the arms being too active in the turnover, resulting in a loss of velocity and subsequently momentum of the bar. Using pulls to emphasis less of the arms and more of the shrug and keeping it close will help with getting that "floating" or "weightless-ness" feeling of the bar during the turnover in the snatch or the clean.
Deficits movements are done with you standing on an elevated platform. Typically used to strengthen up the back as you are starting with the bar in a lower position, these do put alot of emphasis on getting good mobility and back strength in the start position.
Mr Deficit, Klokov himself.
In weightlifting, using deficits can help in many ways to improve the pulling mechanics off the ground. Firstly, it allows for better utilisation of the leg drive to initiate the movement off the floor. This is due to your back being in a more vulnerable and taxed position due to the deficit. So to get the bar moving, the legs will have to do the work and it should be the legs driving the movement off the ground.
Another benefit of deficits to pulling mechanics is the prolonged duration of the pull. As the bar travels over a longer distance, it helps emphasis the tempo of the pull. This will be useful if you constantly begin your second pull too early without getting the bar at the same level as the hips before being explosive during the second pull.
3. HANG/PAUSES BELOW THE KNEE.
This is one movement I picked up from my coach, Mr Robert Kabbas, from Phoenix Weightlifting Club who taught me everything I know about the sport and its immerse history. He had me doing hang snatches below the knees as part of improving the "finish" of my pull. The purpose of the exercise is to extend the use of the leg drive in the second pull and not just bringing the hips through.
Expanding on that, I see any hang movement at knee level or below the knee as an opportunity to teach the body how to balance and create leverage. More importantly, many individuals have trouble negotiating around the knees and that results in bringing the bar forward to go around the knees. When that happens, the combined centre of mass of the weightlifter-barbell system gets pulled forward over the base of support, resulting the lifter being pulled forward with the bar due to momentum or the lifter having to do more to pull the bar back into the centre (which often results in pulling back too much and jumping back or excessive looping).
So adding a pause below the knee or doing a hang movement below the knee will allow the lifter to learn how to get the bar moving straight while the knees get out of the weight, maintaining balance through the feet and not coming onto the toes or balls of the feet too early. If all that is done, it will place the lifter in a better position to execute the second pull properly in as vertical a direction as possible.
4. TEMPO REPS.
Tempo reps are reps performed under a certain time duration during the phases of the lifts. Usually prescribed for the eccentric, end-range, and concentric part of the movement. So if you want to build strength fast, increasing the tempo of the eccentric phase by doing a three-second eccentric in the deadlift for example will help build strength in the back.
How I approach teaching the lifts and ensuring that technique is emphasized is to slow the movement down. I adopt a slow-to-fast approach, meaning that any progressions given to the individual, it will be done with control and less emphasis on speed till the correct positions are adopted. I have found this to be very effective in nailing the correct position in the lifts.
This is where tempo lifts come into play. By introducing a tempo to the lifts, it forces the lifter to put into place the key points of each position and phase. It will be easier to pick out things like the use of the arms, or the lack of use of the back to hold the weight or not getting the weight off the ground through the legs. It also helps with getting newcomers to understand how to get the bar off the ground without ripping it too quickly to generate movement.
These are the four main assistance exercises which I typically use to help work on technique. They can be used to emphasize not only different positions of the pull but also build different components of the lifter (i.e. strength, balance, stability etc). Depending on what the lifter's weaknesses are in the lifts and what portion of the entire movements needs to be addressed for more efficient and effective lifting, these exercises can be part of a cohesive program to improve weaknesses if used appropriately.
Stay Strong and Keep Lifting,
The Training Geek.