For those of you that follow my instagram account @cheshirebarbell, you will have seen that in a recent poll, most of you highlighted that it is speed, rather than strength, that is lacking in your weightlifting performance.
In the next couple of emails, I aim to help you overcome this barrier by providing you with a series of quick tips.
My next piece of advise is associated with a skill that will take you a short while to develop, but once second nature will guarantee you more speed under the bar!
The image above was taken this weekend during the Welsh Open in Bangor. Here you can see Dan (77), one of my junior lifters at the point of completing his second pull in the snatch.
I want to draw your attention to his elbows, specifically, and how straight they remain despite his efforts to get the bar high enough to descend under.
Why is this so important? I hear you ask?
Well, it comes down to timing.
Getting beneath a bar that is heavier than you is no mean feat! You must time it right, or it'll never happen.
Should gravity be the only force present then it's pretty obvious that the bar is going to win... right? Luckily, you can wear a trick up your sleeve. That is, to momentarily make the bar weightless.
You throw a tennis ball at the ground. Upon contact the ball deforms and ground reaction forces cause the ball to bounce upwards. Eventually, these forces become equal to that of gravity and the ball does what?...
You with me?
Momentarily the ball is stationary in mid-air. It lasts milliseconds.
Now translate that into weightlifting. The forces you apply into the ground with your legs during the pull send the bar rocketing into the air. Once you run out of extension, those forces applied to the bar eventually become equal to those of gravity. The bar, momentarily, hovers!
That is your cue to get under the bar.... boom!
It's pretty simple really. Take a look at some of the world's best lifters perform the snatch and clean in slow motion... you'll see how the bar floats and they descend under, what seems to be, a static bar in mid-air.
This is only possible because they have been able to simulate weightlessness and have very good timing.
The biggest issue I see with almost everyone I have ever worked with is that they are not capable of making the bar 'weightless' because they pull with their arms at the top of the pull.
Take a look at the following images...
Here is Pam pulling 100kg for 3 reps in a recent training session...
And here is Pam (69) pulling 39kg in her first snatch attempt during this weekend's Welsh Open. Notice how her arms are bent before her legs have finished extending? You can even see the tension in her biceps! Compare this to the other picture when pulling 100kg. Arms are almost locked whilst the knees and hips and fully extended doing a good job of driving the bar upwards!
In the image of Pam snatching, she is making work harder for herself. At the top of this pull, the bar is not going to become weightless as she is continuously trying to produce vertical force on the bar only this time with the arms. It is unlikely that her legs will fully extend as as a result the bar will no doubt feel a lot heavier than it actually is. Timing will be off and therefore it'll be extremely difficult to get under the bar quickly.
My advice this time is pretty simple. Learn to pull whilst keeping your arms straight and relaxed. Pull using your legs. Achieve full hip and knee extension and whilst at the top of the pull learn to feel when the bar becomes 'weightless'.
You can develop this skill by including pulls regularly within your training programme. Perform these from various heights and at various intensities. If you're and intermediate or advance lifter you should look to pull as heavy as 120% of your snatch/clean PB. Beginners should look to pull as heavy as possible before form starts to breakdown.
I'll cover this in more detail in another post, but another great method is to work from blocks. Block work is a very useful tool to help any lifter reduce the use of the arms during the pull and therefore develop speed!
I'll catch up with you again in a couple of days and provide you with the next installment of 'how to develop speed in your lifting'. Until then, have a great start to your week! If you ever have any questions then please feel free to drop us a message!