Anyone who Olympic lifts knows that it is a continuous learning process and that there is always something you can do to get better at it. I also do believe that if you don’t practice a lift enough, you won’t get better at it.
Common “weaknesses” of my snatch have always been the tendency for the barbell to swing out in front of my body and a failure to complete triple extension. These are different problems but they are very much linked. After all, the perfect snatch is one smooth lift and not the individual components that make up that single lift. This means that every component will have an impact on the rest. You know the drill, a poor snatch set up position will almost guarantee a failed – or very messy – lift.
In this post I want to focus on the second pull, how that links to the failure to complete triple extension, and the proper way to snatch high pull (which is, in essence, the second pull in the snatch).
What is the second pull?
There is a good breakdown of the snatch second pull here. If we look at this awesome frame-by-frame photo of the world chamption Lu Xiaojun, we can see the second pull starting at the last two frames in row one and the first two frames in row two:
What does it mean to fail to complete triple extension?
Triple extension means that the ankles, knees and hips are extended at the same time. You can see this in the picture above, row two frame two. At this point, the arms should still be straight. A failure to complete triple extension typically means that the arms will bend and the transition into the squat position will occur before everything is fully extended. In other words, it could be described as “rushing” or “hurrying” too fast to get into the squat position.
This web page is a great resource for learning about this.
Why is incomplete hip extension bad?
It means you are rushing the lift, missing out on all the power that comes from triple extension, the bar is more likely to swing out in front of you and therefore you are more likely to lose the bar. It also means you are using too much of your arms because you are pulling too early. The arms are levers only in the Olympic lifts, all the strength and power come from the hips.
How to snatch high pull the proper way
Executing a snatch high pull the proper way will encourage triple extension before transitioning into the squat (the third pull). You can also prevent an early arm bend by rotating your shoulders out (shoulder external rotation) during the snatch high pull.
Starting from the floor, the proper way to snatch high pull means this, in this order:
- Set up your snatch start position
- Rotate your shoulders outward
- Execute the first pull
- Once the bar is above your knees, you want to sweep the bar towards you and up your thighs
- At the same time, you have an upright torso
- Triple extend – so get on to your toes, extend your knees and hips
- Only once you have finished triple extension should you bend your arms and pull the bar upward as high as you can (the high pull)
- As you are pulling the bar upward, think of keeping the bar close or “stripping your T-shirt up” (I have found these helpful cues)
- “Get up to get down”. This means do not stay on your toes for too long. As soon as you’re up there, get down again on to heels
- And drop the bar
The snatch high pull is a superb exercise to develop an aggressive start (“rip that bar off the floor”), promote triple extension and delay the arm bend for those of us who bend our arms too early! This in turn will carry over to the full snatch and I would hope that your ability to reach triple extension is a lot better, the bar should be closer to you and your arm bend will be appropriately delayed.