By Joe Black
If you recall the first time you snatched or cleaned a barbell, you probably remember that you had a hundred different thoughts and cues running through your mind.
Grip the bar this way. Keep your chest up. Push your feet into the floor. Keep the bar close. Stay balanced. Fast elbows. Punch up against the bar. Stand up!
It can certainly be overwhelming.
Over time, these cues and the proper mechanics start to become ingrained, so you can spend more time focusing on lifting the weights and less time focusing on how you lift the weight.
It also helps to be exposed to weightlifting terminology, so when you are getting coaching on the lifts, you have a much better understanding of what the mechanical and technical modifications you need to make to clean up the lift.
Today we will review the different segments of the snatch and clean: the first pull, second pull and third pull.
The First Pull
This segment of the snatch and the clean begins when the weight is pulled off the floor (really, we are pushing our feet into the ground, but that is a topic for another blog post) and ends approximately around your mid-thigh.
The first pull is important because it sets you up for a successful second pull.
The Second Pull
The second pull starts where the first pull left off (around mid-thigh). The bar is brought into the hip crease and you explode upwards, driving the bar straight up using a violent extension of your hips, knees and ankles.
The Third Pull
Once you have accelerated the barbell up during the second pull, you have to actively pull your body under the weight – the third pull of the movement.
On the snatch, you pull yourself under the weight and “punch up” against the bar to maintain tension in your overhead squat position.
On the clean, you pull your shoulders to the bar. When timed correctly, the bar doesn’t crash onto your shoulders, dragging you out of position. This is moving your elbows quickly around the barbell into the front rack position.
When you break down complex movements like the snatch and clean into segments like this, it helps you figure out what segments require the most work and you can plan your training accordingly.
Here are examples of weightlifting exercises and derivatives that you could use to improve the three segments of the lift:
First pull: halting snatch or clean deadlift, snatch or clean lift-off, pauses below the knee
Second pull: hang movements above the knee, block work set up above the knee
Third pull: tall snatch or tall clean, hip snatch or hip clean, muscle snatch and muscle clean, snatch balance
Pick a couple of variations from above in areas that you want to work on, complete 2-4 sets of 3-6 reps and film all sets. Watch the video after each set and focus on the positive parts of the lift and the parts that need work. Then make adjustments and repeat!