Taken From This Issue (March 1964)
Over the past few months this series [published from 1961 to 1965 in Muscle Builder magazine] has dealt with how to lift weights properly with the SPLIT SNATCH style. Before moving to squat style lifting, there is one important phase of the lift that we should not overlook -- recovery from the deep split.
A bad recovery from the deep split is often related to a poorly executed lift. One weak link in the closely coordinated chain throws the others off, too. A bad get-set position leads to a bad pull . . . which puts too much weight on either the front or rear leg and makes recovery difficult.
In an earlier article I described what happens when the barbell is pulled too far back, causing a too-long backward step. When this happens, a lifter has to poke his head forward to compensate and this puts him in an awkward spot, his body and back thigh almost on a line, and his lower chest resting on his front leg.
When a lifter leans forward on his front leg in the split, the weight of his body and the barbell are mostly on that leg. As a result, he tends to push the weight even farther forward and step forward with his rear foot.
The fault of trying to recover forward is not always caused by the backward pull or forward leaning in the split, however. You will often see lifters land in good position under the bar, with trunk and arms nearly vertical, supporting it solidly with the stress distributed evenly on both legs. Considering the good position, the recovery I'll describe is a real weight lifting crime!
To start to recover, the lifter pokes his head forward under the bar, which puts him in as bad a position as if he had pulled and split too far back. Trying to recover forward sends the weight over his front leg, putting all the stress on that leg and often resulting in his losing the weight forward.
Correct Recovery Method
The recovery from the balanced deep split should be as follows:
Tilt the weight slightly backward to transfer more of the burden toward the rear foot and reduce the stress on the front leg. As you tilt the weight backward, hold the rear leg fairly rigid (but not straight), as a prop, and push to straighten the front leg. This sends the barbell upward and backward, but you have to take great care not to tilt the barbell too far backward or you may put too much stress on the rear leg. If you overload the rear leg by tipping the barbell too far back, you may be unable to keep the leg rigid -- which can cause a disqualifying knee-touch -- or you may send the bar back so far as to lose control and drop it.
If you should drive forward off the rear leg too soon and too strongly, on the other hand, it will tilt your body forward and the bar may be lost in front of you.
Limited Hip Extension
One reason that leg action must be so carefully controlled in coming up out of the split is this: hip extension is limited. You can prove this to yourself. Hold a light barbell overhead with a snatch-width grip and assume the position low split position. Then straighten the rear leg. You will feel your head and chest tilt forward.
Another experiment you can try, which also shows how limited is the extension possible with the hip joint in the split: Assume the low position with an empty bar held overhead with a snatch-width grip. Maintaining the low hip and leg position, bend backward, as though you were pressing. This limited hip extension will force your rear thigh forward, causing a knee-touch.
Once you are fully aware of the limitations of hip extension, you will understand why you can't straighten your leg in the low split position and why you can't lean back while in the low split position. The rear leg must be held slightly bent.
You should, however, keep the back leg fairly rigid as you recover. There is a very great difference between "straight" and "rigid" in this instance. The leg can be both bent and rigid, as long as the amount of bend is kept constant, and that is what you must do as you tip the weight back and straighten the front leg. Only when the front leg is almost completely straight do you straighten the rear leg.
Inch Foot Back
To recover, you should push up and back vigorously with the front leg, taking the weight off that leg and permitting you to inch your front foot backward as the weight is taken by the rear leg. While doing this, keep your trunk and arms straight up.
If you feel a tendency to step back any more than a few inches, you will know you have tipped the bar back too much. The front foot should slide only a few inches back. Next, after pulling your front foot back, you should tip the barbell slightly forward. This will shift most of the weight to your front foot and you will be able to bring your rear foot up in line with the front foot, where you can hold the barbell under control for the count.
Remember, use your brain to make the load lighter for the muscles.
First tip the bar backward to free the front foot, then tip it forward to free your rear foot and enable you to complete your recovery.