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Ask Greg: Issue 155
Greg Everett

Dave Asks: How much does technique contribute to lifting the bigger weights?
 
Greg Says: Technique is what allows the optimal use of the lifter’s available strength. For any given level of basic strength a lifter possesses, technical proficiency determines how well that strength can be applied to the movements of the snatch and clean & jerk. If you have two lifters who can both front squat 200kg, and one can clean & jerk 150kg and the other can clean & jerk 180kg, the latter has more developed technical skill, allowing him to utilize more of that strength when performing a specific task.
 
All lifters need to continue to get stronger over the course of their careers, but they also need to continue refining technique to continue to be able to use increasingly greater amounts of whatever strength they have at the time.
 
For an example using an extreme, take a powerlifter who can deadlift 1,000 lbs and see what he can snatch—you’ll find many elite weightlifters who can snatch as much and more with far lower deadlift numbers. That’s what technique does.
 
DA Asks: My question concerns proper form when performing snatch or clean deadlifts. I've seen two ways of doing them: one finishes with straight legs and emphasizes being over the bar; the other finishes with a double knee bend/scoop under. If the point is to most closely mimic the pull in the classical lifts, it seems the double knee bend method should be preferred. However, the other method could help strengthen the ability to stay patient/over the bar. Any thoughts?
 
P.s. This is not a question about technique in the 1st or 2nd pulls of the classical lifts—assume the lifter has good technique in the snatch and c&j.

 
Greg Says: First of all, I would consider those two different exercises: a snatch/clean deadlift, and a snatch/clean deadlift to power position. Overwhelmingly, I would use the first as the “correct” deadlift. The deadlift to power position has very specific uses for specific athletes in specific circumstances—it’s more of a remedial drill for someone with a serious problem in the lift than a strength lift for the snatch or clean.
 
The double knee bend or scoop is a product of the peculiarities of the movement of the snatch or clean at its proper speed—it’s an unavoidable reaction to the intentional motions. That being the case, performing it in a slow movement, and one without an explosive upward extension, like the deadlift, is actually not mimicking the snatch or clean—it’s an artificial movement that can actually interfere with the proper motion in the competition lift.
 
As you mention, using the more traditional snatch/clean deadlift will better help strengthen the ability of the lifter to stay over the bar longer, which is a critical element of successful lifting. It also allows the lifter to fully extend the knee with the hip, which again is critical—it’s pretty common to see complete hip extension and a failure to continue the knee extension adequately.


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