The Olympic Lifts

There are only two lifts that are actually done in competition: the Clean & Jerk and the Snatch. There are a number of other exercises that Olympic Lifters do in their training for these two lifts; descriptions and videos of them can be found HERE. In this section however, we are only going to cover the big two.

The Clean and Jerk

Beginning
The athlete begins the clean by squatting down to grasp the bar. Hands are positioned approximately a thumb’s distance from hips using what is known as a hook grip. The hook grip requires grasping the bar so that the fingers go over the thumb. This makes it much easier for the lifter to maintain his grip on the bar. The lifter’s arms are relaxed and just outside the legs with the bar up against the shins. The hips are as low as necessary to grasp the bar, with the feet placed approximately at hip width. Weight is kept on the heels. Toes may be pointed straight ahead or angled out according to the lifters preference. The chest is up and the back is neutral to slightly hyper extended. This is the starting position of the “pull” phase of the lift.

Clean phase
The lifter jumps the bar up through triple extension (in very quick succession) of the hips, knees and then ankles. When the legs have driven the bar as high as possible, the lifter pulls under the bar by violently shrugging (contracting) the trapezius muscles of the upper back (“traps”). This pulls the lifter under the bar and into a deep squat position. The lifter then stands (similar to a front squat) in preparation for the second phase.
Position after an overhead split jerk.

Overhead jerk phase
From the standing position, the lifter bends the knees and then straightens them in order to propel the barbell upwards. The lifter pushes slightly with the arms. This pushes the lifter underneath the barbell. A split jerk is most often used, in which one leg lunges forward while the other moves backward. The lifter must hold the barbell overhead, keep the arms locked, and move the legs directly underneath the torso so that the entire body lines up in a single plane. A push jerk can also be used, in which the lifter keeps both legs in position, bends the knees and jumps into lockout position.

The Snatch

The essence of the event is to lift a barbell from the platform to locked arms overhead in a smooth continuous movement. The barbell is pulled as high as the lifter can manage (typically to mid chest height) (the pull) at which point the barbell is flipped overhead. With relatively light weights (as in the “power snatch”) locking of the arms may not require rebending the knees. However, as performed in contests, the weight is always heavy enough to demand that the lifter receive the bar in a squatting position, while at the same time flipping the weight so it moves in an arc directly overhead to locked arms (the quick drop). When the lifter is secure in this position, he rises (overhead squat), completing the lift.

The lift requires not only great strength, but mastery of technical skills, a high degree of shoulder flexibility, excellent balance, and speed. However, power and strength do play an important role in differentiating athletes in competition, particularly at advanced levels, where the majority of competitors have mastered the technical aspects of the lift.

Approach the bar and with back straight, crouch low and grasp the bar with it positioned over the balls of your feet. Legs should be bent with the buttocks close to the heels. Any kind of grip may be used, however it is standard to use a wide grip, with the hands near the ends of the bar. A hook grip is normally used in competition. The chest should be puffed out and the shoulders slightly forward of the bar.

Begin lifting. The hips, shoulders and bar should move at the same pace. Push from the toes and slowly transition the weight into the mid-foot as you lift. The angle of the torso relative to the ground should remain constant.

Keep the bar close to your legs as you lift – this ensures proper alignment of the body. The bar should brush your legs a little on the way up.

When the weight is at mid-thigh, accelerate the bar upward by powerfully extending the knees and hips (and to some degree the ankles) until the body is fully erect. At the same time, shrug the shoulders. This part of the lift is known as the ‘scoop’ or ‘second pull’. Often, a lifter will bend the knees slightly and bring their torso to vertical before the second pull. This is called the ‘double knee bend’ style of lifting.

At the apex of the bar’s height, pull your body underneath the bar, catching it with locked arms overhead while squatting. This part of the motion requires a developed sense of timing and coordination, and is the crux of the entire lift.

Lock your arms with the weight overhead and stand up from the squat position.

This lift requires coordination, torso (core) stability, and explosive power of the legs to generate the upward momentum required to snatch hundreds of pounds overhead. Tremendous speed is required to get underneath the bar after the second pull.

Reference:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clean_and_jerk
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snatch_%28weightlifting%29

Comments on this entry are closed.