Ask Greg: Issue 94
Greg Everett

Heather Asks: My question is about how to get better at the power clean or snatch after developing the hang position. I do OK when I go from the hang but when I try to go from the ground I struggle and end up hitching through the middle. What auxiliary exercises can I do to help develop my movements from the ground.

Greg Says:
There are a few possible ways to try to fix this. First is to gradually lower the hang position so you’re incrementally increasing the distance of the pull while focusing on keeping it smooth and without a hitch. This might be in the form of a multiple-position lift, such as the first rep from your normal hang position (presumably right above the knee), the next from in front of the knee, and a third from below the knee (high shin). These small differences should help you not get as mentally wound up about the unfamiliar starting position. Over time, you can continue both spreading these positions out and lowering them, e.g. eventually doing the first rep from above the knee, the second from below the knee, and the third from the floor.

A different way to approach it would be starting the lift from the floor but making some adjustments to help set you up for a successful finish. The simplest way to do this is to slow down the first pull dramatically: about 3 seconds from the floor to the explosion position. This forces you to keep tension on the bar and body and allows you to time the lift properly. However, you need to be cautious that you don’t allow yourself to slow down or pause at any point—move slowly and deliberately to upper thigh, and then accelerate smoothly. The easiest way in my opinion to think about this is to focus on constant pressure against the floor with the feet/legs. That is, push against the floor continuously as you extend and never let off. As you get comfortable with this drill, begin gradually speeding up the first pull to your normal rate.

A final thought is that the hitching may be coming right from the start of the lift. Often people who are better from the hang than the floor are so because the lift feels heavy and slow from the floor. This causes them to either freak out about getting under it, or to try to rip it off the floor too violently (or both). A very sudden yank on the bar to get it moving often means the lifter has to slow it down before being able to accelerate it again higher up in the lift. Focus on separating the bar smoothly from the floor, maintaining tension the entire lift. One way to think of this is moving the body properly rather than lifting the bar. Often a focus directly on the bar will mean that the body moves improperly. If you move the body correctly, the bar will follow.

Anders Asks: Hello Mr. Everett! I've read your book "Olympic Weightlifting: A Complete Guide for Coaches & Athletes" and learned about everything I need to know about technique in the snatch and clean & jerk! Thank you for this great information!!

My question is about the squat. My own technique in the squat is to move the hips straight up and down. To be more exact - I move the seatbones down between my heels/midfoot and then drive my seatbones straight up. I feel that this way I can control my hips from moving backwards during the ascent. Is this wrong? Should I press away the floor with my heels instead?

Thank you in advance! Best Wishes!

Greg Says
: This is essentially correct. The idea is to squat up and down while maintaining as upright of a trunk as possible and also being balanced over the feet. You will not be able to move the hips in a direct vertical line—they will need to move backward somewhat to get around the knees, then move back in as you settle into the bottom position. How much of an arc the must move through will depend mainly on the build of the athlete’s legs. Again, though, the goal is simply to minimize that backward movement and squat as directly down and up as possible.

For most people, the pressure on the foot will shift forward somewhat in the very bottom of the squat. This is not necessarily a problem—it should never be significantly more on the balls of the foot than the heel, but a balance across the foot is fine rather than having a majority of pressure on the heels. As you stand, however, you do want to shift the weight back more toward the heels. Again, this doesn’t mean entirely on the heels, it just means more on the heels than balls of the feet.

Mike Asks:
Hi guys, hope you're doing well. Quick question, I'm wondering if I can reach my goals of snatching 137.5kgs and C&J 170kgs by following the workout posted on the home page everyday.

Currently do 114/130, work full time, 34 y/o and 94kg lifter. Aside from minor individual tweaks and adjustments, I'm worried that I need more specialized programming, but don't have a coach.

Greg Says: Those are some serious lifts and would place you near the top of national competitions. To make those, you will need to really dedicate yourself to not only training, but also recovery. Being 34 years old and working full time are not conducive to this goal. Without knowing more about you, I can’t say if it’s possible or how long it would take if it is.

My suggestion would be to start setting some short-term goals first and knock those out along the way. Having such a huge, long-term goal can be really daunting and frustrating as your short-term progress will be fractions of these numbers.

To answer your actual question, it’s possible the workouts I post could get you there. However, you’ve set some very ambitious goals, beyond what many lifters will ever achieve. That being the case, a coach is very important. Programs are just guides—a coach needs to constantly adjust for each athlete to ensure effectiveness. You may be able to do this on your own, but it’s difficult. So do what you can to find a coach, even if it’s one you can just consult with periodically if you can’t actually train daily with him or her. Having the outside perspective of someone else and the wisdom of an experienced coach will make reaching your goals far more likely.

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