Originally Published in This Issue
International Olympic Lifter April 1974.
Thanks to Liam Tweed for Letting Us Read It!
The modern pull is a lift, not an extension.
It is a summation of straight forces from the floor to the top.
Let us go through some of the highlights of the pull which make it so. We pull the bar off the floor slowly. This is because:
1) a fast pull from the floor usually results in the bar being pulled out front.
2) a muscle loses its contractile force rapidly when contracted fast.
Because the body is at a poor leverage for pulling when the body is at the floor and because the bar has a long distance to be pulled it is mandatory to wait to pull fast.
The weight of the body is centered on the balls of the feet when starting the pull. Then it is evenly transferred back to the middle of the feet as the bar is lifted to the knees. Also, as the bar is lifted from the floor, the hips are kept in. They don't shoot back. They go up VERTICALLY because the knees are straightening. The straightening of the knees permits the bar to continue in a straight line past the knees. The back angle from the floor to the knees remains constant.
As the bar comes past the knees, the weight of the body is at its furthest point back. It has come from the balls of the feet back to the middle of the feet. From this position the weight MUST return to the balls of the feet again. This is very important. Some lifters get into the correct position for a second pull but their weight is still centered on the middle of the feet not on the balls of the feet. So when they pull they are off balance and they pull in a rotation instead of straight up.
With the bar past the knees and the bodyweight coming forward, the knees bend (they are bending the second time; they were bent to start with when the bar was pulled off the floor), and the hips come FORWARD AND UP. The bending of the knees causes the forward motion. The up motion is caused by the rising of the back and the lifter going UP onto the balls of his feet. This has been described as a scooping or sliding motion. It is in this manner that the lifter gets his body into the best possible pulling position. If this is done right, the bar continues to be pulled in a straight line UP. If this is not done right, what commonly happens is the hips come forward but not up because the bodyweight has not come forward and the lifter has not come up onto the balls of his feet. This results in a rotation caused by the back straightening and no up motion. Then when the lifters does his second pull, there is a continuation of this rotation and a rotary force is added onto the preceding straight forces so that they don't add up to as much resulting force as would the addition of straight forces. Thus the lifter does not get the maximum pull, and many times the bar is lost behind the lifter and he jumps back.
With the body in the best possible position, the second pull causes greater acceleration of the bar. The preceding sliding motion is done faster than the first pull but the main acceleration comes from the second pull. This second pull is started by accelerating the straightening of the legs and hips. As these big muscles accelerate the bar, the extension of the back THEN blends in (not before). This results in a continuation of the up motion which is further continued by the later blending of the elevation of the shoulders. The end of the pull results in the lifter up on his toes, body fully elongated and shoulders shrugged. maximum height with maximum force has been implanted to the bar.
The second motion can be thought of as pushing away from the platform or jumping with a weight in the hands. When done right, it gives the impression of a sudden elongating or lengthening of the body. This is because the motion takes off straight up.
These are some of the highlights of the pull which make it a lift not an extension. Let me briefly review them in outline form.
1) The lifter pulls slowly off the floor.
2) The bodyweight starts off on the balls of the feet when the bar is pulled from the floor, shifts to the middle of the feet when the bar is at the knees, then back to the balls of the feet for the second pull.
3) The back angle from the floor to the knees is kept constant.
4) The lifter is on the balls of his feet for the start of the second pull.
5) During the whole pull, the hips must not go back.
6) From a nearly straight position at the end of the first pull, the knees go into a bent position again during the slide to the start of the second pull.
7) The second pull is started by an acceleration of the straightening of the legs and hips, NOT an extension of the back. The extension of the back blends in after.
Though this is a snatch, the photo shows pretty good position other than he has allowed the bar to swing out from his body.
A very strong man, but rotates and pulls the weight back instead of straight up. At one time this type of pull was taught but today it is taboo.
1) The bodyweight, as the bar comes off the floor slowly, is on the balls of the feet.
2) To get the bar to knee height, the knees have straightened (not as much here, in the frog kick style, as some other styles), the hips have come UP BUT NOT BACK. The shoulders have gone slightly forward. The back angle from the floor to here has remained constant. The bodyweight has shifted backward toward the middle of the feet.
3) The lifter has shifted or slid into the bar. This is done by bending the knees (not as much here in the frog style as some other styles), the bodyweight shifts from the middle of the feet to the balls of the feet (note - the lifter's heels are not in contact with the floor), the back has gone up. This is the strongest position from which to pull.
4) From the position in No. 3 the lifter has first straightened his legs and hips and THEN, NOT BEFORE, his back shoots straight. The shoulders have elevated. This is the fully elongated position (note - straightened knees and the lifter on his toes). A summation of straight forces has caused this and the bar has moved with tremendous speed to a position whereby the lifter's arms pull and go underneath.
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