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Getting the Basics Before Going Strong in Lifting Movements

To reach full strength lifting you must first work on your position and technique. You need a proper movement foundation and posture before you start to focus on adding more and more weight. Otherwise, injuries occur or you’ll stop seeing improvement in your performance. Work on your technique until you don’t even have to think about the steps and the form. And don’t do it alone, you need a coach to correct the position of your back, shoulders, elbows, knees, hips, arms, toes… etc. Olympic lifting is very technical, you might feel good doing something, just to discover the technique is all wrong.

When you’re starting, doing your movements from the floor is important to work up strength. Patience and time are important for everyone, but more so for novice lifters. Well design programming and experienced coaching will help you get the right technique, improve strength and consistently fix your lifts over time. Last but not least, this consistent practice and familiarity with the lifts, will help you get faster in weightlifting. But your main concern should never be to move fast, but to move properly.

“Build a movement foundation first,” this is the first step in the Olympic Weightlifting Training according to Barbell Shrugged’s Olympic Lifting Guide: “until you get comfortable with the fundamentals nothing else matters.”

Off The Ground Technique

Starting position may vary a little, mostly in grip and arm width. But for most of us, the first time we grab a bar on the floor we need to be coached through the correct position. This comes before any movement.  One basic thing is to protect your back and neck. Your back should never be rounded or floppy, it must remain tight to avoid injuries. When bending over to reach for the bar look ahead or down very slightly, to keep a neutral neck position, looking up will strain your neck.


Starting Position

So let’s start with weights resting on the floor. If you’re using only the bar, it should be at the height where the weights would have it, which is about halfway up your shin. Use blocks or some sort of support to help you keep the bar at the correct position to practice your setup.

Olympic lifting starting positionFeet shoulder width apart, bend knees with toes slightly pointed outward so knees will be pointing out as well. Toes can be looking forward but knees should point outward when you add weight to your squat.

– Grab bar with arms straight just wide enough so your forearm is almost touching your leg and shins almost touching the bar. If you need to go wider you can adjust a little, this will depend on your arm length, but close to the knees is a good starting point. Different movement will require a different width, but let’s use this one to get off the ground first.

– Shoulders positioned right over the bar, shoulder blades pressed back and tight. Not excessively tight because you need to be able to move.

– Hips low, just above the level of your knees.

– Lower Back flat and tight (make sure you are squeezing shoulder blades and tightening abs to keep your whole back tight). Back position is important to protect you from injuries.

– When your down here, just holding the bar, your weight should be on your mid foot, not on your toes.

The First Smooth Pull

With emphasis on the smooth. If you watched the cleans on the 15.4, it was all about speed, because the clock was ticking. But these guys have the movement down as a second nature. When we’re working technique, getting off the ground is just that. Keeping the correct angle of back, shoulders and hip to smoothly lift the bar, with or without weight, off the ground and up to your mid thigh.

Smooth First Pull

– Pull bar up, close to shins. As you drive with the legs, press knees back so you won’t hit them or bounce the bar off. If you’re a beginner, this will need practice.

– Keep chest and shoulders bent over the bar. Back angle remains the same as in your starting position. While ascending hips, chest and shoulders should go up at the same rate. You never round your back or lift your butt too high.

– Arms stay straight, don’t bend your elbows.

– Your weight should rock from the mid foot towards the heel to help you bring the bar up close to your thighs.

Olympic Lifting technique for all levels at our Denver box and Stapleton box

It may feel like you haven’t even started. But you have. Getting the bar correctly off the ground is truly the starting point to lifting. If you get this part right, we can move on to cleans, snatch, jerks, squats. But if you don’t learn the correct way to do that first, smooth pull you’re off to the wrong start. Come back for more of the basics and ask our coaches to walk you through these movements. Remember, practice makes perfect!

You may be a high level athlete competing in the Crossfit Games or a novice who doesn’t even know what you should wear to one of our group trainings. At Project Rise Fitness Denver and Stapleton, we promise you one thing: we’ll hold you accountable to your fitness goals. If you’re committed to getting stronger, leaner and more disciplined, Project Rise is the right place to be.

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