Let’s Fix Your Starting Position

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“Did you get out on the wrong side of bed this morning?”  More than likely, someone has asked you this question at least once in your life – probably your mom or dad.  Of course, the side of bed you roll out on has nothing to do with your daily mood, but instead is just our way of saying that something must have gone wrong with the start of our daily routine.

It is true in other areas of our life that how we start out will impact how we finish.  This is true for weightlifting.  The wrong starting position can wreak all kinds of havoc during the lift: on our joints and muscles, our confidence, our enjoyment, as well as our lifting performance.  This may not be as noticeable if the bar is light.  But load the bar up close to your 3-rep max (3RM), 2RM, or 1RM… I bet you’re already imagining a failed lift and can pinpoint exactly where you would feel the pain or discomfort.

Let’s try to fix that!  Beginning today and in the weeks to follow, I will be adding to a handy checklist that you can use to improve your starting position in the snatch and the clean & jerk.  Each item on the checklist begins with a common fault and is followed by a recommended DIY fix.  The first in our series (i.e. grip placement) might seem like an easy fix, but others may pose a bit of a challenge for you due to strength and/or flexibility issues.  If you would like to learn more fixes for your starting position in advance, check out the CFG Clean Clinic on Saturday, September 12th.

Grip placement is uneven and/or is suboptimal for the liftEnsure grip is even AND adjust for an optimum pull & catchAn uneven grip on the bar is more common with youth or teen athletes. This is a completely unnecessary fault yet an easy fix. Use the segments of knurling and smooth rings on the bar as landmarks: for example, lining up the pinkies on the edge of the first set of rings for a clean grip. Having a grip that is optimally placed requires a bit more consideration.  What is optimal for person A (e.g. hands against the collars for snatch) might not be for person B (e.g. index fingers lined up along the second set of rings for snatch). 

Optimal snatch grip allows the bar to be pulled into the hip crease at the start of the 2nd pull AND allows a lifter to catch the bar at full depth in the overhead squat position: (1) stand in the tall position with an empty bar in hand, and (2) slide the grip outward along the bar (evenly) until the bar rises approximately to the height of the lower abs (placed comfortably above the pubic bone). 

Optimal clean grip allows the bar to be caught at full depth in the front squat position with a PROPER front rack (elbows pointing forward, not down). Something to consider: the further the grip is away from center, the more the body is pulled lower to the ground – all other things being equal, the person with the narrower grip performs LESS work than the person with a wider grip.
people working out in a group fitness class


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