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Olympic Lifting: Leverage Matters

With the Opens looming, we asked Spencer Arnold from The Outlaw Way how one can improve their power in Olympic Lifting. In competitions particularly those held over a few days, efficiency is the name of the game. You may be able to get away with sheer muscle in the short term however cracks will always eventually show. To break things down, Spencer addresses one of the most common mistake in Olympic Lifting. In his own words.....

Don't leave the bar naked…cover it.

Once a week I want to address a common problem most lifters and Crossfitters have with their Olympic lifts. Today the target problem is our inability to cover the bar with our shoulders when snatching or cleaning. A lifter’s best friend is leverage. Just like a see-saw with a heavy weight on one end; the longer the lever, the less power need to be applied to move the weight. This goes back to simple machines in 9th grade physical science. The longer the lever that is moving an object, the more weight it is able to displace with less force. This is how catapults in the middle ages were able to throw giants stones thousands of yards. Leverage.

Many lifters take their leverage away when they snatch or clean by transferring their knees under the bar too soon and getting their shoulders behind the bar too fast. You can watch this happen on video by watching a lifter’s knees. If they have completed a good first pull (post on this to come), then the lifter’s body angles will look like the picture above. With the bar at the top of their knees, their shoulders should be well in front of the bar and their shins vertical. Anyone watching the lift can see from this point if they are using their leverage well. Watch their knees. If they push their knees under the bar IMMEDIATELY after the bar passes their knees then they are taking away their leverage. The torso that is supposed to be acting as their long “see-saw” arm is now not so long anymore and their leverage is gone.

Below are two picture of me snatching with two completely different stances over the bar. One lift I missed, the other I made. Leverage matters.

Olympic Lifting Leverage Demo | wodnut

To give credit where I never thought I would. My high school physics teacher was right. I can actually apply what he was teaching me to real life. At least to the Olympic lifts anyways. Cover the bar. The longer you and farther you can stay over the bar, the higher your success rate will be and the higher your max numbers will be.

Here are two videos of snatches. One I demonstrating poor leverage for not covering the bar, the other demonstrating good leverage and technique.

Poor Leverage

Good Leverage

Short Summary?

Leverage is a lifter's best friend.

Spencer Arnold | Wodnut

Spencer Arnold

Spencer Arnold is the owner and head coach of Power and Grace Performance, an online Crossfit, weightlifting and gymnastic programming resource. He picked up Olympic weightlifting as a 75lb eighth grade boy. Knowing that 75lbs can never make him competitive in any team (varsity) sport and more importantly he would never get a date, he decided to join his high school gym. Lucky for him the coach at that time was an olympic lifter. At the beginning, olympic lifting was there to complement and help improve other sports. It didn't take long for Spencer to discover his love for the sport. Spencer got his first "job" coaching at the age of 18 year and since then have won multiple state and national championships. He is also the head strength and conditioning director at King's Ridge Christian school for all their offield training for every sport on the campus.

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