Your Top 5 Olympic Lifting Questions Answered

1.    During a clean or a snatch should the bar hit my hips?

We don’t teach bashing the bar into the hips. We teach pulling it close to the hips or brushing past them on the way up. The truth is that contacting the hips with the bar is beneficial. However, it should not be forced or overemphasised during the learning process. Instead, focussing on keeping the bar in contact with the quads anytime the bar is above the knees is a priority. As you start to develop better awareness and strength with a barbell you’ll begin to naturally make contact with your hips without trying to force it. Attempting to strike the bar with the hips with new athletes will always lead to improper contact, making the bar bounce out and away from the athlete and cause them to miss the lift.


2.    What is the most beneficial mobility or flexibility drill for Olympic Lifting?  

The truth is that there is no one size fits all solution to this question. A great place to start is by getting a Functional Movement Screening from a health professional who will check for limitations in different ranges of motion to highlight areas which need to be worked on with specific mobility and flexibility drills. Each person is different and needs to be looked at individually to truly find THE BEST mobility or flexibility drill to work on. Three of the best practitioners we have personally worked with are:

Health Space Clinics Rozelle: Dr Callum Forrest

iMove Physio Rozelle: ExPhys Michael Rizk

Instead of guessing and making something up on your own ask an expert who will give you a plan to follow. It is well worth the investment. In the long run it will save you so much time and frustration and will get you lifting better sooner! 


3.    Why do I always catch the snatch or clean on my toes?

This can happen for a number of reasons, but it usually occurs when you shift your body towards the bar during the pulling phase. (The pulling phase is any time the bar is below your hips) The bar should stay close to the body, and after it passes the knees, it should be swept back along the quads and hips as you extend vertically. Athletes will often leave the bar in front of them and shift their weight towards the bar. This will make everything fall forward, hence landing with weight going forwards onto the toes and this is more often than not what leads to missed lifts.

A great drill for practising the catching position is to hold a barbell or broomstick overhead or in the front rack and drop into a good catch position with bent knees and bum back and down. (As if you’re initiating an overhead squat for a snatch or front squat if working on your clean)  


4.    I can full squat snatch and squat clean when the weight is light but as soon as it gets heavy, I can’t get into the full squat. Why?

The issue clearly does not lie in your ability to squat. That means there are only two explanations:

1. You are not comfortable and strong in the bottom of the squat or 2. Poor placement of the bar which does not allow you to get into a full squat. The first issue: when the load is heavy, many athletes tend to panic and simply aren't comfortable getting into a full squat with this large weight. Becoming stronger in the overhead squat for the snatch or front squat for the clean will fix this problem. Another method to gain strength in the bottom is to use tempo squats where you hold the bottom position for a number of seconds before standing back up. The second issue: Poor bar placement could be caused by many different things, there is something in your technique that is throwing off your balance. We generally find it is related to question 1 or 2.


5.    Why can I lift more from the hang than from the floor?

This is actually a pretty common thing; so if it happens to you, know that you’re not alone. The main reason some athletes are better from the hang position is that when the weight starts getting heavy athletes tend to rush the lift from the ground. This sets the bar on a path which is not close or brushing up against the quads and hips and leads to the weight being out in front of the body. When the bar is lifted from the hang it is much easier to keep it close to the body as it is already starting against the body.  

Our best tip for athletes new to these lifts or even those struggling through a plateau is to slow down the start of your lift if pulling from the floor to allow you to control where the bar goes. This will set the bar on a better path and you will have much more success in these lifts.