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An Easy Way to Teach the Olympic Lifts
Denis Reno (2004)
* Pre-lifting preliminary instructions will be covered at the end of this article.
Preparation - Snatch and Clean:
1. Walk up to and place feet/toes under the barbell, hips over feet, shoulders over hips.
2. Hold arms loosely at your sides, your elbows aimed out to the sides. Shoulders are also relaxed.
3. Lean chest over the barbell by pivoting at the hips. Keep your spine held rigidly straight or arched.
4. Bend your legs until your hands reach the barbell. Hips and shoulders have moved downward at the same rate (back angle staying constant to the floor and your butt sticking out backward as though you were a Duck). Take your grip on the barbell.
(Just before you lift off of the platform, your THIGHS AND LOWER BACK should be somewhat tight - MAINTAIN THIS TIGHTNESS and lift upward from this position!)
The main idea of Olympic lifting is to get your torso vertical and upright while keeping the weight close to your body -- then to get your hips and shoulders locked under the bar while continuing to hold the torso upright and vertical.
Execution - Snatch and Clean:
1. Using leg and butt strength, lift the barbell along your shins to your mid-thigh while keeping your chest above the barbell.
2. As the barbell reaches mid-thigh (but not earlier) jump UP keeping the barbell close to your waist. (Do not jump your feet more than an inch or two off of the floor).
3. As the barbell passes your lower ribs, quickly squat your torso down and rotate under the bar
* for Snatch, rotate shoulders and wrists
* for Clean, rotate elbows and wrists
4. Immediately recover to standing by straightening your legs.
Stay Over the Thighs
Jump the Finish
Keep it Close
Preparation - The Jerk:
1. Feel your full foot on the platform, shift your weight to your heels.
2. Hold your shoulders high, with shoulders over hips over heels. (Some lifters may have to tilt or rotate their hips forward to put them over the feet).
Execution - The Jerk:
1. Using legs, lower your torso strongly about six inches, keeping your weight on your heels.
2. Explosively extend/straighten your legs so that the barbell goes directly UP off the shoulders. Force remains on the heels. (Of course, your heels will rise up off the platform).
3. Only after the bar goes UP & OFF the shoulders, split your feet under the barbell to put your hips directly below the bar. The arms push up and the shoulders lock to catch the bar overhead. The front foot is directly below or in front of the knee. (The splitting of the legs will put the hips quite low - maintaining the torso upright will allow a strong lockout and balance).
4. Carefully straighten your legs, pushing the front foot backward a bit, then the rear foot forward. (Many little steps may be taken as necessary to stand upright).
Weight on Heels
Chase It (Yes, if it's overhead but getting off balance, move your legs to keep your balance)
All new trainees with me get the same preliminary instructions, as follows:
- Stand comfortably with arms at sides, feel your full feet on the platform, imagine large feet.
- Now put/feel your hips directly over your feet. (Note that the thighs seem a bit tense).
- Now place your shoulders directly over your hips.
Note that you feel in vertical balance, bodyweight over feet.
You are in balance.
Bar Overhead: Concentrate on REACHING UP with the shoulders, which really helps to hold your body tight and straight upright. The weight really rests on your hips through your upright torso.
For Pulls: To find your pulling foot position, jump up as high as you can. Do this a number of times to find where you can jump highest. This is a good foot spacing for you to pull from.
For Snatch: (Overhead support position; this is not for learning grip width!)
- put a broomstick behind your neck. Make sure your elbows are over your hips, your hips are over your feet. Take a snatch-width grip (found in many texts and DVDs on Olympic lifting).
- open your hands to cradle the stick between your thumbs and forefingers. Rotate your wrists backward a bit.
- Now PUSH the stick a few inches directly above your shoulders - STOP.
- Push the stick a few more inches directly UP - STOP.
- Continue these steps until the stick is over your shoulders with arms fully extended overhead.
- Reach shoulders upward. This makes your deltoids seem to be closer to your ears.