This week on TechniqueWOD, we talk about the 3 things we use with all of our new weightlifters. This is a simple and effective strategy for improving your technique and strength as quickly as possible.
1. Start with the overhead squat test.
If you can compete this drill then you probably don’t have any serious mobility restrictions keeping you from performing the Olympic lifts correctly.
Start with a light PVC pipe and hold it overhead with a snatch grip. As a twist, turn your hands up towards the sky and let the pipe sit on your open palms. This is little a tricky, but enforces full external rotation at the shoulder, which ultimately makes for a more stable overhead position.
You might fail this test at first. Or, you might struggle outright. But the more you can practice reaching and holding this upright position in the squat – without wrenched shoulders and flopping heels – the better off you’re going to be.
Get comfortable and you’ll see a big improvement in your lifts, guaranteed.
2. Know your power position.
The secret to lifting a heavy barbell is keeping it as close as possible to your center of mass. This is why the power position is such an important idea in weightlifting.
During the second pull of the snatch, for example, the barbell should brush (not crush!) your pelvic crease. Right where your torso and thighs meet. For the clean, that contact point will be just a few inches down, right at pocket height.
If you miss that mark and make contact lower on the thighs, the load will feel much heavier than it should. That’s obviously terrible for performance. Further, if you make a habit out of hitting a different spot every time, then you’ll always struggle to master your technique. It’s like trying to win a race with your emergency break on. The barbell is already heavy enough without you handicapping yourself, right?
Practice proper hip contact over and over again, until it becomes second nature. That’s the single best thing you could right now to accelerate your progress.
At the crease and pockets, ideal for the snatch and clean. @klokov #stronglikebull
3. Finally, squat for strength!
Mastering the Olympic lifts is a huge challenge. It takes a lot of time and repetition before the movements become engrained and barbell loads start to increase.
For that reason, you can’t afford to skip the heavy lifting during the early learning stages. All of those practice snatches and cleans are great, but the light weights will never make you strong. Until you’re capable of snatching double bodyweight, for example, your weightlifting loads won’t be heavy enough to stimulate serious strength adaptations.
That does take time, so you must start accumulating progressive, heavy sets of squats as quickly as you can. Also, you really should be spending a lot of time performing deadlifts, presses, rows, and other heavy assistance exercises as well.
The stronger you can get all over, the easier it will be to maintain those tough new weightlifting positions.