Ask Greg: Issue 103
Greg Everett

Francisco Asks: Hello Greg, First of all thanks a lot for the amazing work you are doing there. I follow it and buy the videos about weightlifting as they come out. My question: how to solve the "tuck under" position, you know, the hips chasing the knees in the end of the squat...? Another one: do you have any video or info about programming for starters. I have a humble 60k snatch and a 90k power clean. Find difficult to full cleaned (guess i pull to much with my arms). Thanks a lot again!!!

Greg Says: Generally speaking, the tuck-under of the pelvis in the bottom of the squat is the result of inflexibility of the hip extensors and adductors combined with weakness in the spine extensors. The basic prescription is a lot of lower body stretching and back strengthening work.

More specifically, I like back extensions with and without added weight, stiff-legged deadlifts, and especially good mornings, which will not only help strengthen the back greatly, but will help stretch the hamstrings, and with a wide stance, also get the adductors a bit. Another odd one is the good morning back squat—start standing, do a good morning, then from the bottom position of the good morning (hip flexed), move the hips down into the squat position while forcefully maintaining the back arch. I think unweighted back extensions can be done every day you train—before and after your workout. Three-four sets of 10-15 reps is a good start. Then 3-4 days each week, do a weighted exercise such as a good morning variation.

For flexibility, all the basic hamstring and adductor stretches are on the menu. This is just something you’re going to have to hammer away at for a while. Here are several free articles to help:

Sample Weightlifting Flexibility Program

Back Extension(s)

Flexibility For The Overhead Squat

The Russian Baby Maker: The Best Hip Stretch You've Never Heard Of

The Superhero Complex: Stretch & Activate Easily For Squats

Back Training for Weightlifting

Regarding beginner programming, there are some free articles on the website, and also plenty of information in my book about it.

Giacomo Asks: I'm italian guy who admires what you do. I am sending an e-mail at you because i cannot find a good explanation for my clean and front squat problem: when i do clean (80% to 100% of one rep max) i almost faint... When i do front squat (70% to 100%) sometimes i risk to faint. But: I never tried a similar experience in power clean, back squat, deadlilft, etcetera ... (ok in one rep max deadlift could be little dizzy, but just a little bit :) ). Have you any suggestion?
Thanks a lot for the time you'll spent on this email, i could imagine the big amount of e-mail you receive, so sorry for the trouble and for my English.

Greg Says: Typically there are two issues that cause dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting in weightlifting: occlusion of the carotid arteries by barbell pressure and vasovagal stimulation. In the rack position of the front squat or clean, if the shoulders are not elevated slightly, the barbell may compress the carotid arteries and limit blood flow to the brain. This is why I teach that the rack position must involve both scapular protraction and slight elevation.

Vasovagal stimulation can result from the action of holding your breath and exerting great effort, much as you do in a tough clean or front squat. Add to that a barbell pressing against the carotid arteries, and these two lifts will be your most likely opportunities for dizziness and fainting. To help avoid it, you can release some of your air during the sticking point of the squat recovery.

If neither of these things is the problem, you need to take a look at your sleep, hydration and nutrition.

TJ Asks: I came to an advanced seminar last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. Love keeping up with what you and your amazing athletes are putting up!

To my question, what are your thoughts on athletes using the split variations of the Olympic movements? I have a couple of friends that struggle with mobility at the bottom of a snatch and have thus resorted to split snatching for example. I have a hard not time feeling like, as they pass me up weight-wise, that somehow I am doing it right and they are kind of cheating to add weight to their snatch. I worked really hard to improve my bottom position and feel like it is something that you should earn too and not just bail to the less demanding version. Perhaps this is completely misguided thinking and the split version is equally valid but I thought I would ask for your thoughts. Thanks!

Greg Says: I don’t think you can really call split snatching “cheating”, as it actually forces you to lift the bar higher because you can’t get into as low of a receiving position and it takes more time to relocate the feet. The only way it would be cheating is if your rule was that the lift had to be received in a squat stance. Unless of course they’re pressing their lifts out, which is common with splitters. Then they’re lying, horrible cheaters who deserve your disdain.

I commend you for sticking with the squat snatch and putting in the time and effort to develop that mobility. I think it’s a very worthwhile goal, and certainly using a split instead is a way to circumvent the problem instead of solving it. That said, if they’re passing you up with weights, maybe you need to step it up a bit—are you doing pulls, overhead squats, snatch balances, power snatches, etc.? You do need to be training with heavy weights, not just light weights that allow you to get into what it sounds like is still a precarious bottom position. You can do both at the same time—spend time on lighter technique/mobility-oriented snatches, but push strength development on the related supplemental exercises as you improve the lift.

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