With Olympic lifting rising in popularity in the UK, more and more people are starting to take part in this intense and explosive form of lifting weights.
However, many new lifters may not realise the importance of having the correct technique when performing these lifts. Throughout this handy guide, we will cover:
- The key reasons why your technique is so important when performing Olympic lifts
- The benefits of perfecting your Olympic lifting technique
- Key weightlifting technique and form considerations
- How to find more support with your lifting technique!
So – Why is Technique So Important in Olympic Lifting?
Technique is important in weight training for a number of reasons but is particularly vital when performing an Olympic lift. First, Olympic lifting is a sport that requires split-second timing, coordination, and precision in order to execute the lifts correctly. Because of this, even the slightest mistake can result in a failed lift or even an injury.
Second, the lifts are very fast and explosive, meaning that if you don’t have the proper form, you will not be able to generate the necessary power to execute the lift correctly. And third, with your barbell loaded with heavy weights, the lifter needs to have the perfect technique in order to be successful and avoid injury.
Olympians are some of the strongest athletes in the world, and their technique is a big part of what makes them so successful. The slightest mistake can mean the difference between a successful lift and a failed attempt, so it is essential that lifters have flawless technique.
The Benefits of Great Form in Olympic Lifting
So now that we know why having good technique is important, let’s take a look at some of the benefits of having great form in Olympic lifting:
- You will be able to lift more weight.
- You will be less likely to get injured.
- You will have more fun!
- You will set a good example for beginners.
- You will be more likely to make progress in your training.
- You will be more successful in competition.
With these benefits only scratching the surface of what effective Olympic lifting can do for you, it’s no surprise that athletes of all levels are eager to perfect their technique. Let’s take a closer look at the considerations you should keep in mind when perfecting your Olympic lifting technique.
7 Key Olympic Lifting Technique Considerations
While there are many different factors that contribute to having good technique, here are a few of the most important ones.
1. Starting Position
The starting position is critical for getting the bar in the correct position to drive it overhead. If you are not in the proper starting position, you will not be able to keep the bar in the correct position to generate maximum power at the top of the pull.
For the snatch, your starting position should be:
- Bar should be over the midfoot – this is usually right above your shoelace knot.
- Grip should be wide – so that when the bar is at the hip, it sits level with the hip crease
- Armpits directly over the bar – this puts your shoulder just in front of the bar at the start, which is vital for a good first pull
- Hips lower than shoulders – this allows you to drive with your legs and keep the bar moving in the correct bar path.
For the clean and jerk, your starting position should be:
- Bar should be over the midfoot – this is usually right above your shoelace knot.
- Grip should be just outside shoulder width, or wherever you want your hands to be when you receive the bar on the shoulders
- Armpits directly over the bar – this puts your shoulders just in front of the bar at the start, which is vital for a good first pull
- Hips lower than shoulders – this allows you to drive with your legs and keep the bar moving in the correct bar path
2. Grip Width
Your grip width is another important factor to consider when perfecting your technique. The width of your grip will affect your range of motion and your stability under the bar.
For the snatch, a wide grip is used in order to pull the bar overhead in one movement. For the clean and jerk, a narrower grip is used in order to generate more power. To find your perfect grip width, you will need to experiment with different widths and see what feels best for you.
For example, a slightly narrower grip in the snatch requires more shoulder mobility but can make the lift more stable and be easier on the wrists. A slightly wider grip in the clean may make the jerk easier to execute.
Working with a coach in a gym can be a great way to perfect the specifics of your lifts, like your grip width and grip type.
3. Hip Position
But what about the hips? Where should your hips sit in the start position? This is a frequently asked question when it comes to Olympic lifting form, and Greg Everett at Catalyst Athletics answers it perfectly:
‘I don’t know – I haven’t measured you. If you’re on the short end of the scale, the hips will most likely be above the knees; if you’re a bit longer-legged, the hips may be even with or even slightly below the knees. Understand that hip height is a product of our two basic position criteria (bar over the balls of the feet and arms vertically from the side), not a criterion itself.’
4. Balance on the Feet
It’s important to maintain your balance while you are lifting. If you are not balanced, you will not be able to generate the same amount of power or be stable in the finish position. The best way to achieve balance in both of these lifts is by placing your feet in the proper position.
At the start of either lift, your feet should be narrower –- between hip and shoulder-width apart. If you have a relatively long leg, it’s a good idea to turn your knees out to the side, to ensure you don’t tip forwards as you lift.
At the finish of the lift, when you are catching the bar, your feet should move to a slightly wider position, like a squat. This is more stable than the narrow position and will allow you to stand up with the bar without overbalancing.
5. Overhead Time
It’s important not to waste time at the top of the pull. You want to be as efficient as possible in your movement, and spending too much time with the bar overhead at the top of the pull will only make the lift more difficult. By only extending until the point where you can generate the most power, you will be able to execute the lift and relocate under the barbell more efficiently.
6. A Strong Receiving Position
Instead of focusing on specific physical angles, it’s important to establish the overhead position that best allows you to support the weight and stand up with it. This will vary from individual to individual based on their anthropometry, but there are some general principles you can follow:
- Keep your feet shoulder-width apart or wider, with the toes turned out slightly. A narrow receiving position is a lot more unstable.
- Drop fast into the squat, so that you can catch the bar at hip level.
- Keep your back flat and your chest up.
- Absorb the weight of the bar by punching up aggressively in the catch position. In the clean, this means driving the elbows up hard. In the snatch, this means punching the arms out hard.
Once you have caught the bar, take a moment to stabilise yourself and stand up with it, keeping your core engaged and your feet firmly planted on the ground. Ensuring this strong technique in your receiving position allows you to maintain control of the bar and avoid injury.
7. Rack Position
The rack position is where the bar is received on the shoulders in the clean, and from where the bar is then jerked overhead.
It’s important that the bar is supported on the front of the shoulders (front delts) in the rack position, rather than being supported only on the wrists and forearms.
A good rack position requires mobility in the wrists, shoulders and upper back, and some lifters struggle with this. Work on your mobility by stretching and mobilising the upper back, forearms and wrists, particularly before training.
How To Improve Your Olympic Lifting Technique
Use a Qualified Coach
The best way to improve your Olympic lifting technique is to use a qualified Olympic lifting coach. A coach can help you perfect your form and ensure that you are using the proper techniques.
Olympic lifting is a complex sport, and it takes time to master the techniques. A coach can help you learn the lifts and progress at a safe and effective rate, as well as provide you with the feedback you need to improve your lifts.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The only way to get better at Olympic lifting is to practice the lifts. The more you practice, the better you will become at executing the lifts.
It’s important to keep in mind that quality is more important than quantity when it comes to practice. It’s better to practice the lifts with perfect form and technique a few times than it is to practice with poor form and technique a hundred times.
When you are first starting out, it’s important to focus on the basics and master the techniques before you start adding weight. As you become more comfortable with the lifts, you can start increasing the amount of weight you are lifting.
You can also practice similar exercises to complement your Olympic lifting and help you develop more agility and strength. This could include the overhead squat, push jerk, power snatch, power clean, front squat or even pull-ups.
One way to improve your Olympic lifting technique is to use video analysis. Video analysis is a great way to identify flaws in your technique and correct them.
It’s important to make sure that you are using proper form and technique when you are lifting, as this will help you avoid injuries and improve your results. Using video analysis, you can identify any areas where you need to improve your technique and make the necessary corrections.
Be Willing to Make Adjustments
If you want to improve your Olympic lifting technique, you need to be willing to make adjustments. As you learn more about the lifts and your own body, you will likely need to make adjustments to your technique.
For example, if you find that your grip is too wide or too narrow, you will need to adjust it. If you find that you are not able to generate enough power in your hips, you will need to make a change. The key is to be willing to experiment and make changes until you find what works best for you. There is no one perfect way to lift, so don’t be afraid to try different things and find what works best for you.
Make Use of Technology
There is a lot of technology available that can help you improve your Olympic lifting technique. There are apps that can track your lifts and give you feedback, as well as devices that can help you measure your power output.
Using technology can be a great way to get feedback on your lifting and make sure that you are using the proper techniques. You could also keep up with Lifting Youtube Channels, as many of them provide quality instruction and tips that can help you improve your technique.
Looking To Work With an Experienced Olympic Lifting Coach?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to perfecting your Olympic lifting technique. However, following the tips above will certainly help you to improve. Remember, the key is to practice frequently and be willing to make adjustments as needed.
At Strength Ambassadors, our Olympic Lifting Coaches and Classes can help you to perfect your technique and take your lifting to the next level.