In Olympic Lifts, Powerlifting

January 07, 2009

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Coach Bill Starr is a legend in the strength and conditioning world. He was a world-class competitor himself, and has been a renowned coach for nearly four decades. Here is an excerpt from Hip It Before You Whip It:

Learning how to pull a weight off the floor or a platform correctly can help every strength athlete to better perform a number of very beneficial exercises: power cleans, power snatches, full cleans, full snatches, clean and snatch grip high-pulls, and conventional deadlifts.
It has been my observation that most athletes do not pay close enough attention to this essential aspect of a lift from the floor. Instead, they casually jerk the weight upward, thinking ahead to the finish. But if the start is not perfect for a max attempt, the lift is generally missed. Unless, of course, light weights are being used. Then the finer form points aren’t a big factor. However, when the weights get demanding, technique is paramount for a successful lift.
When a weight is moved off the floor incorrectly, the odds of completing the lift go way down. This is because when that first move isn’t right, the middle and top are adversely affected, sometimes to a great extent. This is particularly true for power snatches and power cleans since the bar has to be pulled very high. Conversely, when the start is done perfectly, following through into the middle and finish of the lift is a great deal easier to do correctly.

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4 Comments on “Pulling Exercises: Hip It Before You Whip It”

1

wrote …

Very well written article. Thank you Mr. Starr. I feel like I'm stealing this Journal at only $25 a year.

2

wrote …

I was surprised about his recommendation to hop on machines to correct muscle weaknesses.

I also don't agree w/ the idea that mirrors could be beneifical in the short term to self-correct form. It seems to be near-impossible to look at your own form and correctly judge it in the mirrror. I have personally had more success NOT using the mirror and relying on feeling. I learn what position feels stronger, what position allows me to lift more, and rather than just cognitively, I believe my muscles remember these positions.

3

Neal Thompson wrote …

Leah,

Bill mentions the use of a mirror for athletes that do not know or feel that their technique is "off". He quickly follows that statement with a warning of not staying in front of the mirror or you risk becoming visually dependent.

We have a few mirrors at CF Boston, left by a sub renter that taught martial arts, and they are periodically used by beginners and experience lifters alike to get into the proper position visually. THEN, they may begin to learn by feeling. We also use video for the same reasons. Both are invaluable.

I think Mr. Starr's achievements and that of his athletes provide more than enough validity for any tip he may fell kind enough to share.

As for machines, I have used them myself when necessary for imbalances. But only in the darkest basements of Boston where it can never be spied upon and proven! ;-)

4

wrote …

Coach Starr,

Sir, thanks for the great article. However, I have a couple questions. You mention on page 4 "That’s your most powerful thrusting position—feet at shoulder width with toes pointed forward." I've also been reading a lot of articles from Coach Rippetoe, and he seems to suggest the toes should be pointed outward - which comes in to play with the squat, especially, in order to get correct hip positioning at the bottom of the squat (with the knees pointed out).

My questions are: is out "better" than straight for the toes? I'm basing this on an assumption (hate to use that word, but it fits) that foot position for deadlifts and squats (and cleans, etc) should be the same. Is my assumption incorrect?

Thank you,
David

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