If you have been around weightlifting for any amount of time you’ve probably read about, seen, or heard the multiple different debates that go on amongst coaches about the most efficient way to get the bar from the floor to overhead.
Travis Mash and I were joking at the Arnold’s that if each coach gave a “title” to the way they specifically teach the lifts we would each have our own “style.” He said he was going to copyright the “Trampoline style.”
What makes this sports so unique is that each coach has their own way of teaching the lifts. None of us, for the most part, are particularly wrong or better, we just teach the lifts a specific way. We teach the lifts the way that we do because the influences in our lifting career or coaching career along the way have created the specific style that we teach.
With all that being said, however, there are some standard positions and concepts surrounding the lifts that every single coach I have ever heard teaches. These 6 standards that I’m going to list are the 6 things that I have never heard weightlifting coaches disagree on. How we achieve these 6 standards does differ, but ultimately we are all trying to make these six things happen in the way that we teach the lifts.
1. Position yourself in the start to allow for the greatest amount of leg drive off the floor.You must be set up at the floor as to not compromise your back strength and allow the bar to move away from you off the floor. Ultimately, a largely agreed-upon idea is that the use of the legs is paramount to a successful lift when moving the bar off the floor. From the moment of separation from the floor it is more efficient and creates more power when you’re able to rely on your leg strength and not on your back strength.
2-The bar must move to the hips. I don’t care who you talk to or what style you have lifted in the past but every coach I have ever talk to knows that the bar must move from the floor to the hips. Whether that bar track is a sweeping motion or gradually moving back from the floor all the way to the hip is not the concern. The concern is that you bring the bar to your hips rather than your hips move to the bar. Hips moving to the bar creates excessive horizontal movement of the barbell away from the body. The bar must reach the hip. This is not a question or up for debate. When the bar gets to the hips the feet must be flat and able to apply explosive power to the floor and the shoulders must be even with the barbell. Again this is not up for debate. Shoulders behind or in front of the bar will create excessive movement of the bar away from the body and if your feet are not flat you’re not able to create the greatest amount of explosive power.
3. Hook grip the bar. It’s sort of sad and slightly pathetic that I even need to put this truth on this list. I don’t care if you are a beginner or you have been “lifting weights” for a decade. This is a must.
4- The bar must stay as close as possible to the body. This is a matter of simply physics. The closer the weight of the barbell is to my center of mass, the more control I have over it. The combined center of gravity between the barbell and the lifter needs to be as close staying over the center of pressure in the foot as possible. This allows for the greatest percentage of power application to the barbell and allows for the most efficient movement of the lifter in relation to the barbell.
5-A violent hip extension is the primary mover for the lifts. What happens after the hip extends is merely a result of violent extension. The knees and ankles extending for instance is just the “follow-though” of the hip extension. Any coach worth 2 cents will tell you that hip extension is a requirement for proficient lifting.
6- Speed under the bar is not a request or an option. Being able to leverage your bodyweight and pull yourself under the bar is a requirement for proficient lifting. No coach on the planet can make the case that once the bar leaves the hips it picks up speed. It simply can’t and doesn’t. Therefore, from the time the bar leaves the hips the lifter has to be concerned with pulling under the bar. Any delay in that process is a waste of time, energy, and effort.
There’s 6 simple truths that are backed by every coach I have ever met or ever known and what’s more they are backed by physics. You can’t beat physics. 🙂