The Power Position: The Most Important Position In Olympic Weightlifting
The Power Position: The Most Important Position In Olympic Weightlifting
Power Clean From Power Position (Olympic Lifting)
The Olympic lifts are one of the most popular sports in the world. They have been practiced since ancient times and they were first introduced into modern times during the games held at Olympia in Greece.
There are two main types of Olympic lifts: snatch and clean & jerk. Snatch is performed with the barbell while clean & jerks involve using only the barbell. Both exercises require great strength, speed, coordination and stamina.
However, it is not just their physical characteristics which make them so demanding; they also demand different training methods because each lift requires a unique technique.
Snatches are usually done standing while cleans are typically done kneeling or sitting down. There are many variations of these lifts, but the basic principles remain the same.
In order to perform a proper snatch or clean & jerk, both athletes must be balanced and strong enough to maintain control over their bodies when performing the movements. If either athlete loses balance or if they cannot keep their body straight throughout the movement then there will be no way for them to complete it successfully.
Why The Power Position Is So Important
To improve your performance you must be able to perform the various weightlifting exercises with the least amount of energy possible. In other words, you want to spend as little energy as you can while lifting the barbell because this enables you to lift more weight. You can only do this if you have good coordination and enough strength in your muscles.
The Power position is the starting point for the snatch. To get into this position, you must step forward with your front foot and bend your knees. While keeping your back and arms straight, you raise your hips as you bring the barbell upwards to your thighs.
You then descend directly under the barbell while bending your knees, hips and lower back. It is vital that you move your body underneath the barbell at a controlled pace in order to maintain perfect balance.
People make the mistake of bending their backs or trying to lift their knees up too high. This can cause various injuries and it will prevent you from performing well during your lifts. To get into the correct position you need to keep your back straight and bend your knees while raising your hips toward the ceiling.
You should not thrust the barbell upward with only your arms, instead you want to use your entire body in order to lift it upwards. This will enable you to have your body in the correct position at the start of your lift. You do this by thrusting your hips forward and keeping your back straight.
This is very important because if you use your back to thrust the barbell upward then you will not be able to keep it straight during the lift. Keeping it straight during the lift is vital to proper performance as well as protecting yourself from injury.
The barbell will be over your thighs at this point and you will be prepared to begin the lift. You can now bend your knees and hips while raising your shoulders in order to move the weight up to the starting position.
The stance you take before executing a clean is also very important. The proper stance enables you to maintain your balance and keep your body straight during the lift. Your feet should be about hip-width apart and pointing straight ahead.
Your toes should also be pointed straight ahead and not angled inwards or outwards.
Many weightlifters find that keeping their feet at a wider width than normal gives them more stability during the lift. You may also want to try bending your knees slightly and sitting back into your hips. This enables you to stabilize your upper body while shifting the weight of your legs to your heels.
This stance enables you to move the weight of your legs up into your hips, giving you a little more power.
The proper starting position for the clean is also very important because it enables you to maintain balance while lifting the barbell. To get into the proper starting position, take a wide enough stance so that there is a line straight down your legs from your hip to your heel.
Your arms and shoulders should be relaxed and flexible. Your knees should be slightly bent but still have enough strength in order to push the barbell up.
At this point you are ready to begin the lift. The proper execution of the lift requires a great deal of flexibility, coordination, and strength. You will bend your legs slightly and keep your back straight while thrusting your hips forward.
You then extend your knees and hips while lifting the barbell upward.
In order to get under the bar, you will then turn your wrists over so that your palms are facing the ceiling. Your shoulders should be shrugged up and your elbows should be by your sides. At this point you will then pull the weight upward with your arms and straighten your back and neck in order to lift the barbell up.
You then thrust your hips forward, keep your back straight and knees strong in order to push the barbell up.
In order to prepare for the descent of the weight, bring your elbows back and in towards your body. This will rotate your arms so that your palms are now facing forward. Your shoulders should remain shrugged up.
You then flex your knees and hips in order to drop the barbell back down to your thighs. At this point you can then lower the weight downward until it settles back on the floor.
Although the clean is considered easier to lift than the snatch, it still requires a great deal of focus and strength in order to lift the barbell to the proper height.
There are many different kinds of snatches. Each one uses a different amount of weight and has a different point value. Here are three of the most popular variations of snatches:
The Bantam Snatch: This variation is very similar to the regular Snatch. The only difference is that the barbell has been reduced to 56lbs. in order to accommodate younger weightlifters.
The Ladies Snatch: This variation of the snatch uses a 44lb. kettlebell. The ladies snatch is perfect for women who are just beginning to lift kettlebells because it is easier to maneuver than the regular snatch and still gives you a great workout.
The Overhead Snatch: This variation of the snatch involves lifting the kettlebell overhead rather than just lifting it straight up. The overhead snatch is more difficult because it requires much more flexibility in order to lift the weight up high enough. The overhead snatch also gives you a much greater workout for your shoulders and upper back.
The Snatch can be performed with either one kettlebell or two kettlebells. The only difference between a single and a two kettlebell snatch is that you will lift the weight more than twice as much when you are using two kettlebells. This means that if you are using two kettlebells in order to perform the snatch, you will need a lighter kettlebell than you would for a single kettlebell snatch.
The press will require you to lie supine with the kettlebells in your hands. They should be right next to your shoulders. In order to prepare for the lift, you will then push the weight up so that your arms are straight.
This is called the “set-up”. At this point you are ready to perform the actual press. In order to do this, you will extend your arms and lock your elbows at the top of the movement.
The Press can be completed with one or two kettlebells. The only difference between a single- and a two-handed press is the weight that you will be lifting. A heavier, two-handed press will require more strength than a one-handed press.
Sometimes, it is much easier to learn how to perform a movement first and then learn how to do it correctly later. The same thing can be said for the swing. It is perfectly fine and even recommended to start out by using an improper, but comfortable form when you are first learning how to do the kettlebell swing.
However, it is very important to master the proper form before advancing to a more challenging movement like the snatch or the clean and press.
You may have seen kettlebell swings being performed in the wrong way in many different places. They are often times done for high repetitions in circuit type workouts or even worse, they are swung behind the back without proper control because the person doing the swing is a fan of certain types of music that has a fast beat.
The most common mistake that people make when they first learn how to do a kettlebell swing is trying to use their hips, buttocks or legs to lift the weight up. This is completely wrong and will never allow you to get the most out of your kettlebell workout.
A proper kettlebell swing should be performed using a combination of the arms and the back. Your legs are merely there for balance and to give the weight something to push against, just like in the squat movement where your heels are positioned slightly behind your hips.
The mistake that most people make when they first learn the movement is trying to lift the weight with their legs rather than their back. The weight of the kettlebell should push your hips forward at the top of the swing rather than your knees being bent. This will ensure that your back is straight and that your legs are only used for standing, not lifting.
The proper way to do a kettlebell swing is to position yourself in a similar stance as the top part of the deadlift movement.
Hold the kettlebell with both hands and position it between your legs.
Your feet should be shoulder width apart and turned slightly outward.
Tilt your head down slightly and keep your back straight.
Bend at the hips and knees and position the weight between your thighs while keeping your back flat.
Straighten your legs while keeping the kettlebell between them.
Begin to pull the kettlebell to your chest using your arms while keeping your back flat and head tilted downward.
As the weight passes your hips, bend your legs slightly and thrust your hips forward. In addition, push the floor away with your feet so that you can move under the kettlebell as you lift it upward.
At the top of the swing your arms should be fully extended and the weight should be slightly behind your shoulders.
Lower the weight back down slowly until it is between your knees.
Keep your back flat and head tilted downward during the entire movement.
Make sure you do not bounce the kettlebell on your thighs as this will put undo stress on your joints.
If this form is done properly it should not cause any strain on the lower back. People who suffer from low back problems over extend their back while doing this movement. The weight of the kettlebell should push your hips forward at the top of the swing rather than your lower back being curved.
This will also cause your legs to straighten at the top of the swing rather than your knees being bent.
If you do not have access to kettlebells, then you can use dumbbells for this movement as well.
The advantage of the dumbbell is that it can be held in one hand and swung in a manner similar to the real one.
Choose a weight that you can lift comfortably so that you are not trying to swing it over your head with each repetition. You only need to swing it from between your legs to just past your waist. At the top of the swing your arms should be extended but not locked.
Also be careful not to grip the dumbbell so hard that you lose your feeling in your fingers. I have seen this done before and it is no fun!
Workout #1 – Power Kettlebell Complex
Perform five repetitions of each exercise for five sets. The first set is a warm up and you will not use your maximum effort. Our goal here is to practice proper form and get a feel for the weight.
Begin with your feet shoulder width apart and tilt your head down slightly while keeping your back straight. Hold the weight with both hands in front of your thighs. Bend your knees and tilt your hips backward while keeping your arms straight.
Allow the weight to slide down your legs toward the floor. Stop when you have a slight stretch in your hamstrings.
Continue to bend your knees and slide the weight down your legs as you push your hips forward. Allow the weight to swing up and back between your legs and settle there.
Grasp the weight with both hands at your sides and tilt your head slightly downward. While holding your breath, stand up with the weight as you would a barbell, allowing it to slide up your legs.
Quickly pull your arms back while lifting the weight to just below your chin. Use your hips and legs to give the weight momentum as you snap your arms forward allowing it to swing back between your legs.
Hang on the weight and tilt your head downward briefly before beginning the next repetition.
The best way to learn this movement is to get an instructor or knowledgeable friend to show it to you. If that is not possible then I have provided a link to a video I like below.
You will find that this is a highly intense exercise that will require the use of proper breathing to maximize your performance and comfort. It should never be so difficult that you cannot complete a repetition within 10 seconds, but it should not be so easy that you do not feel the muscle working.
Remeber to focus on perfect technique rather than how tired you are becoming. You will soon find that mastering the kettlebell swing can be a very rewarding experience.
Workout #2 – The Kettlebell Workout
Perform the following three exercises as a circuit. Rest briefly and then repeat the entire circuit twice.
Begin with one minute of the kettlebell swing (see above).
Next perform five repetitions each of the Goblet Squat and the Overhead Press.
5 Goblet Squats – Hold a weight at your chest as if you are hugging it to your body while you squat.
5 Overhead Presses – Hold a weight with your arms extended above your head as if you are preparing to press it above you.
5 Swings – As described above.
If you find this workout to be too challenging then reduce the number of repetitions for each exercise. For example perform 3 sets of 5 squats, 3 sets of 5 presses and 3 sets of 5 swings. When you can easily perform all twelve reps then add another set to each exercise.
If, however, you find this workout to be too easy then try performing the kettlebell swing with both hands. This will increase the challenge for your core and hip rotators. It will also force you to pay more attention to your technique because it is all too easy to allow one hand to take over.
When performing a one handed swing make sure you practice alternating hands because this will further even out the workload.
You can also increase the difficulty of the other two exercises by performing them one handed.
Workout #3 – The Kettlebell Complex
Perform the following five exercises in succession without setting down the weight. Rest briefly and then perform the entire complex two times through.
Begin with five swings.
Then perform a Goblet Squat.
Follow this with five Presses.
Finish with five Snatches.
And then begin again from the beginning.
This routine is more complex and it is recommended that you learn it under the guidance of an experienced coach or trainer before attempting to perform it.
You can also learn about kettllebell complexes by watching this training video .
Workout #4 – Kettlebell Sport Session
This is a sample routine designed to prepare you for the demands of the competition sport ‘Girevoy Sport’.
It will improve your endurance while training the specific skills involved in the sport.
Perform each of the five exercises in a row without setting the weight down. Rest briefly and then repeat this entire circuit two times through.
Before you begin make sure to warm up thoroughly.
Begin with 8 – 10 Turkish Get Ups.
Then perform 5 one handed Swings.
Follow this with 5 one handed High Pulls.
Next do 5 one handed Snatches.
Finish with 5 Two Handed Swings.
There are many other varieties of kettlebell exercises such as the figure 8, cleans, presses, jerks, etc. These can all be used to keep your training fresh and interesting.
Also remember to keep your core engaged and maintain a straight back when performing any of these exercises. This will help you to avoid injury and will also improve your strength by working the muscles the kettebells are designed to work in unison.
Kettlebells have been shown to produce greater gains in strength and endurance than traditional weight lifting.
If you need more information on how to perform the various exercises then watch the training video mentioned above or search online for videos of the specific exercise.
Also see our page of Kettlebell Routines .
Don’t forget to take the Girevoy Sport Quiz and find out what type of Girevoy Sport athlete you are!
Return to the Weight Lifting Exercises Main Page .
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Sources & references used in this article:
- Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology position paper: resistance training in children and adolescents (DG Behm, AD Faigenbaum, B Falk… – Applied physiology …, 2008 – NRC Research Press)
- Effect of body position on force production during the isometric midthigh pull (GK Beckham, K Sato, HAP Santana… – The Journal of …, 2018 – cdn.journals.lww.com)
- Youth resistance training: updated position statement paper from the national strength and conditioning association (AD Faigenbaum, WJ Kraemer… – The Journal of …, 2009 – journals.lww.com)
- Biomechanics of the snatch technique of highly skilled and skilled weightlifters (RG Burdett – Research Quarterly for Exercise and …, 1982 – shapeamerica.tandfonline.com)