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Ask Greg: Issue 149
Greg Everett

Rene Asks: How do I fix awkward foot position when catching a snatch or a clean? The inner side of my foot is always first in the ground and my foot is also turned out too much. Thanks.
 
Greg Says: Usually this is a combination of immobility in the hips and ankles, but also can be at least partly due to errors in the movement. With limited ankle mobility, the body will naturally tend to throw the feet out wider than they should be and turn the feet out more in order to achieve more depth without needing as much dorsiflexion of the ankle. In other words, this allows the knees to move inside the feet and for the shin to rotate inward rather than only hinging along the line of the foot, and to achieve even more depth by allowing the feet to roll inward (meaning the shin/knee can move in/down even more).
 
However, this problem can also originate from the opposite direction—that is, instead of the position being caused by immobility, the movement is caused by the position, which is reached for any number of reasons in error. If you throw your feet wide for any reason—a common one is the conscious or unconscious belief that a wider stance will feel stronger and more stable—even if you have adequate mobility, the knees will be inside the feet and as you sit into a squat, the knees will move inward more and the feet will be forced to roll onto the inside edges, as well as spin outward if they’re not turned out significantly already.
 
Verify the source of the problem first. If you can sit into a full-depth, comfortable and solid front squat and overhead squat, mobility isn’t the problem. In this case, look to the movement of the legs and feet during the third pull, because something is going wrong. You can practice this movement with tall snatches and cleans, high-hang snatches or cleans, or snatches or cleans from power position to help focus on that movement.
 
In either case, spend more time in the proper bottom position of your lifts. In the snatch, hold every rep in the bottom for 5 seconds. Same goes for overhead squats and snatch balances. In the clean, work on more front squats, especially pause squats. This will both help improve mobility and comfort and confidence in those positions.
 
Carolina Asks: How do weightlifters stay lean while lifting? Do they incorporate cardio if so what type and when?
 
Greg Says: Typically athletes are either lean or not naturally, and what they do in terms of training and nutrition has significantly less of an influence than their genetics. Almost to a person, the leanest lifters I’ve coached have had the worst nutrition (e.g. pizza and cookies) while those with perfectly dialed-in nutrition ranged from pretty lean to not even close. I realize people hate to hear this, but that truth has been borne out in my experience over and over.
 
Having said that, training and nutrition still can and do influence body composition to at least some degree (how much varies among athletes). In any case, nutrition will have a far greater influence than training. You can create larger calorie deficits and elicit more hormonal shifts through nutrition than you’ll ever be able to through training. More importantly, using training (i.e. cardio) in an attempt to lean a lifter out is counterproductive—it sends contradictory signals to the body for adaptation, and eats up some of the very finite resources each athlete has for recovery.
 
If some kind of conditioning must be done, I find it better to get it by changing the structure of accessory work—do your accessory exercises (where appropriate) in circuits with little to no rest. This will give some amount of conditioning without fundamentally changing the training or adding inappropriate exercises or work to the program.


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