Ask Greg: Issue 125
Greg Everett

Mark Asks: It appears that there is more than one version of the High Hang Snatch. In version one, the body is positioned like the Tall Snatch, bar across the hip line, but the knees are slightly bent. The lifter, whose torso is in the vertical position, then extends the legs and “jumps” upward, and pulls under the barbell as usual. There is no hinged torso movement about the hip. In version two, the back is slightly bent forward (i.e., a small angle at the hip), the bar is ever so slightly lowered as a result, and the knees slightly bent as in version one. Then with a quick extension of the hip and the legs, the bar is moved upward by the hip and leg strength and the athlete pulls under the barbell as usual. What are the advantages and disadvantages of both version?

Greg Says:
One of the problems in weightlifting is the lack of standard terminology. It can get confusing. What I call a high-hang snatch is what you describe as version two. Version one is what I would call a snatch from power position (it sounds like the lifter is starting from a static position). And then to complicate things more, version one with a countermovement (i.e. starting standing tall, then bending at the knees only and snatching without any pause in that dip position) I call a dip snatch.

The high-hang snatch would be used for a few of possible reasons, such as a snatch variation to be used on lighter training days because of its self-limiting nature (similar to a power snatch), or to work on aggression in both the final part of the second pull and the third pull. It can also be used to work on the third pull in a more general sense just as an abbreviated variation of the snatch. All three variations can be used for these last purposes, but the high-hang is something I would use for a lifter who is pretty technically proficient and has no particular trouble getting adequate leg drive in the pull.

The snatch from power position would be more appropriate for a lifter who has problems getting into this position during a snatch, has balance problems in this final part of the second pull (e.g. tends to be forward on the feet), doesn’t drive with the legs adequately in the finish of the pull, has trouble keeping the bar close to the body either at this stage or in the third pull, and is not controlled or proficient enough for the dip snatch, which I would prefer.

The dip snatch does all the same things as the snatch from power position, but allows a bit more weight to be used, hence my preference for it if the lifter is capable of performing it correctly.

Scott Asks: I've been weightlifting for a little over a year but my work schedule is changing and I will not be able to do any classicals except on the weekend. How would you recommend programming? My thought is to hit the squats, pressing, and pulling hard during the week and do 20+ reps of snatch/C&J on Saturday.

Greg Says: You’re on the right track. Basically you need to try to cram everything you can’t do during the week into Saturday, which means snatch and clean & jerk variations that you either have to drop or there is a possibility of your dropping.

There is plenty you can do in another gym during the week. Squat, press, snatch press, push press, snatch push press, overhead squat, press in split, push jerk in split, jerk balance, drop to split, jump to split, muscle snatch, muscle clean, snatch pull, clean pull, snatch deadlift, clean deadlift, all the halting, floating, segment variations of pulls and deadlifts, etc. You should be able to accomplish quite a bit.

I would probably set up alternating days of pushing/squatting emphasis with pulling emphasis. That is, on the pushing/squatting days, you would squat, do jerk-related work, push presses and other overhead strength work. On the pulling days, you would do all pulling-related work like pulls, deadlifts, SLDL/RDL, good mornings, muscle snatch/clean, etc.

Eva Asks:
I've been doing weightlifting about one year now and I have a serious technique issue that's limiting my progress a lot. I have long arms and I'm using those arms way too much in my lifts resulting in early arm bend especially in snatch but also in clean & jerk. Could you please give me some ideas to learn away from this bad habit? Currently I'm doing lot of tall snatches and cleans as well as pulls. Thank you!

Greg Says: The first thing I would suggest is trying to widen your grip as much as you can without causing wrist pain overhead or problematically reducing your grip integrity. See how close a grip-width change can get the bar to the crease of your hips in the snatch (it will always contact the thighs in the clean, but you can still use a wider grip there as well).

Next, you need to make sure that in your lifts, you’re staying over the bar long enough. That is, don’t try to initiate the second pull (i.e. begin extending the hips) before the bar reaches mid- to upper-thigh. Premature initiation of the second pull will really magnify the problems of long arms and naturally encourage early arm bend.

Finally, if these things are inadequate, learn to lift the bar up high toward the hips with a shrug back and up rather than by bending the arms. You can get a sense of how much this can lift the bar by standing in a hang position with the bar around mid-thigh, and then squeezing your shoulder blades back and a little up. You should get a least a couple inches of elevation. While this is not ideal, it’s better than pulling with the arms.

You can check out more info on this problem in this article.

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