Thursday, November 3, 2022

Now Let's Improve Our Pull -- Carl Miller (1981)


The Author 

Lifters are relaxing a bit and looking forward to the next lifting season. Now is a good time to plan a cycling routine for your next year of lifting. A cycling routine will take the pressure off when you start back lifting again.

This would be a good time to thoroughly learn the pull I discussed before, popularly known as the double knee bend. Here are some of the points I brought out about doing the pull: 

1) The lifter pulls slowly off the floor.

2) The angle of the back is constant from the floor to the knees.

3) 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.

4) During the whole pull, the hips must not go back.

5) The lifter is on the balls of his feet for the start of the second pull.

6) From nearly a 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.

Here are six exercises in the proper sequence to learn the pull 

Exercise 1 - Shrug

From the second pull position from the boxes or rack, straighten the legs and hips, then blend in the back extension, and then shrug the shoulders straight up. Hold the top shrugged position on the toes for 3 seconds. If you do it right, you can keep your balance. If coordination is not good, you will fall forward or backward -- usually back. Head should be kept level -- not thrown back. Higher elevation of the shoulders can be gotten this way Head going back will throw balance to rear, shoulders won't elevate as high and will probably go back instead of up. Do 3 singles in 4-5 sets.

Exercise 2 - Clean or Snatch from Second Pull Position

When you have learned the sequence of legs, hips, back, and shoulder shrug you will consistently maintain this balanced shrugged position. Next you should snatch or clean from the second position from blocks. Use about 45-50% of the next projected goal to start with. Do three singles, 4-5 sets. If this exercise is too difficult, then go back to exercise No. 1. What is wanted is a pull that goes straight up and not back. Check to see that the final elevation of the shoulders is straight and is complete. 

In going through exercises 3 to 6, always use exercise 1 or 2 first. In the progression from exercises 3 to 6 use 70-80% of your next projected goal as a guide to when to move on to the next exercise. This will be a relatively light weight since 70-80% of your next peaking goal will be light because this is the beginning of your year cycle. When exercise 5 is reached, do 5a and 5b at the same time. 

With the coordination the lifter will have picked up by this point, he is at a comfortable enough stage to work the scoop both from the floor and from the knees. This leads the lifter to a natural overlap of stages that blend the coordination into one beautiful pull. 

These exercises are done with either the clean or snatch grip. Work each grip twice a week, either in separate sessions making a total of 4 very short workouts per week, or together making 2 workouts per week (if the latter is done, start one time with snatch grip and the next time with clean grip). 

Exercise No. 3 - Olympic Dead Lift to Knees 

With the back angle held constant, pull the weight off the floor slowly to the knees. The knees almost straighten, the hips go up vertically and not back, the bodyweight goes from the balls of the feet to the middle of the feet, the shoulders will lay out more in front of the bar. 

Work in 4 or 5 sets of singles. Concentrate all the time on: )1) back angle constant (2) knees almost straightening (3) rear going up vertically not back (4) shoulders laying out in front of bar, and (5) bodyweight going from balls of feet to middle of feet. 

Exercise No. 4 - Knee Scoop

From the box at knee height or in a power rack, assume position attained after Olympic dead lift to knees is complete. Scoop forward and up by letting the knees rebend, bodyweight coming forward onto balls of feet, back coming up. 

The position reached is the second pull position with the bodyweight on balls of feet, back 15-25 degrees from the vertical. (It is very important to stop here. This is how the lifter learns where the second pull begins), head is vertical, knees rebent. The hardest aspect will be coordinating the bending of the knees and the bodyweight going forward onto the balls of the feet. The two common mistakes are that the back comes up too soon and the back is too vertical so the bodyweight never gets transferred back from the middle of the feet to the balls of the feet and a rotation backward results. Do 3 singles, 4-5 sets. 

Exercise No. 5a - Combine Olympic Dead Lift and Scoop

This is probably the most difficult exercise because you must coordinate the bar coming past the knees. Again, remember, you must stop after the scoop with the weight forward on the balls of the feet and the back angle at 15-25 degrees from the vertical with knees rebent, head level. Do 3 singles 4-5 sets. 

Exercise 5b - Combine Scoop with Shrug

From knee height off the boxes or rack assume the position already described when bar is at knees. Go through the motions of scoop and shrug as already described. Don't forget to stay on toes for three seconds. Do 3 singles for 4-5 sets.

Exercise No. 6 - Olympic Dead Lift, Scoop & Shrug (High Pull with Straight Arms

This is the moment of truth. If every stage has been learned correctly, the bar should be pulled in a straight line with straight force adding on top of straight force for a maximum possible force. When doing this exercise for the first few times, go slowly and feel the movements you are going through. End up on your toes and stay there for 3 seconds. As you feel confident in what you are doing, go slowly off the floor, then the scoop should be a little faster and finally the second pull should really accelerate with the shoulders elevating straight up. As form is more consistent eliminate staying on toes for three seconds. 

Note the slight change in position as Fred Lowe pulls this 275 snatch. The bar moves back slightly and hips shift forward slightly bringing the thighs under the bar an body has become a little more upright putting thighs in better pulling position. Style will vary a little with men of different body proportions. 

Photo by Bruce Klemens. More, much more here:

Enjoy Your Lifting! 

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