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Ask Greg: Issue 147
Greg Everett

DA Asks: My question concerns proper form when performing snatch or clean deadlifts. I've seen two ways of doing them: one finishes with straight legs and emphasizes being over the bar; the other finishes with a double knee bend/scoop under. If the point is to most closely mimic the pull in the classical lifts, it seems the double knee bend method should be preferred. However, the other method could help strengthen the ability to stay patient/over the bar. Any thoughts? P.S. This is not a question about technique in the 1st or 2nd pulls of the classical lifts—assume the lifter has good technique in the snatch and clean & jerk.
 
Greg Says: The two methods you describe I would consider two different exercises: a snatch/clean deadlift, and a snatch/clean deadlift to power position, respectively. There is a scoop of the knees in the actual snatch and clean, so it seems rational on the surface to try to mimic this in a snatch or clean deadlift, but in reality, that movement of the knees occurs naturally due primarily to the explosive nature of the final extension. As a consequence, trying to mimic it in a slow lift like a deadlift is misguided and won’t produce the result you might naturally expect.
 
A conventional snatch/clean deadlift will strengthen the hips better because the tension remains on them until the end rather than being removed prior to full knee extension. Accordingly, this is the better option for the most general pulling strength development for the competition lifts. The only time I ever use deadlifts to power position is as a remedial exercise for lifters who have unusual trouble during the snatch or clean in bringing the bar and their bodies together properly, and this is extremely rare—I can think of only two athletes I’ve ever done this with, and it was for a brief period of time only.
 
Abby Asks: Why is it important to have loud feet when performing snatch and clean & jerk? I started lifting as a CrossFitter and then moved over to all weightlifting about 18 months ago. I definitely move my feet when lifting, but I land quietly. Attempts to fix this tend to throw off my lifts. Just trying to understand why the audible landing is so important in this sport. Thanks!
 
Greg Says: First, let’s be clear—not every coach agrees that there should be an audible stomp in the snatch or clean. Personally I teach an intentional lifting and replanting of the feet, and have discussed my rationale numerous times, such as in this article and this article. In short, disconnecting the feet from the platform allows for maximal acceleration down under the bar.
 
The sound of the feet reconnecting is not a goal for its own sake, but rather an indication that the feet have landed flat and quickly as they should. If the feet disconnect from the floor and make little or no noise when they reconnect, it indicates that the balls of the feet are connecting first, and/or that the lifter is moving the feet unaggressively. It’s also arguable that the more forceful reconnection with the floor indicated by a noise better prepares the legs to absorb the downward force that’s coming.


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