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Weightlifting Movements From Full Extension

The Snatch and Clean

DiSanto, Mark MS, CSCS1; Valentine, Gary MA, CSCS*D2; Boutagy, Nabil PhD3

Strength & Conditioning Journal: February 2015 - Volume 37 - Issue 1 - p 1–4
doi: 10.1519/SSC.0000000000000121
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ABSTRACT WEIGHTLIFTING MOVEMENTS REQUIRE SUFFICIENT BODY SPEED TO SQUAT DOWN AND CATCH THE BARBELL. BODY SPEED CAN ONLY BE MAXIMIZED IF THE CORRECT POSITIONS ARE REACHED BEFORE THE TURNOVER AND CATCH PHASES. THE SNATCH FROM FULL EXTENSION (SFFE) AND THE CLEAN FROM FULL EXTENSION (CFFE) ALLOW THE ATHLETE TO TRANSITION FROM THE FULL EXTENSION POSITION TO A QUICK SQUAT UNDERNEATH THE BARBELL. THE SFFE AND CFFE CAN BE INCLUDED INTO THE WARM-UP OR COOL-DOWN PERIODS OF A TRAINING SESSION, FOCUSING ON THE RESPECTIVE LIFTS. CORRECT BODY POSITIONS AND SPEED, AS OPPOSED TO BARBELL LOAD, SHOULD BE EMPHASIZED.

1Old Greenwich Sports and Wellness Center, Greenwich, CT;

2Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven, CT; and

3The Skeletal Muscle Physiology Lab, Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, VA

Conflicts of Interest and Source of Funding: The authors report no conflicts of interest and no source of funding.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (http://journals.lww.com/nsca-scj).

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Figure

Mark DiSantois a strength and conditioning coach at Old Greenwich Sports and Wellness Center, Old Greenwich, CT.

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Figure

Gary Valentineis an adjunct professor of Exercise Science at Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven, CT.

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Figure

Nabil Boutagyis a postdoctoral fellow at Virginia Tech University in the Skeletal MusclePhysiology Lab.

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INTRODUCTION

The snatch and clean, along with their variations, are often included in strength and conditioning programs. These full-body movements are time efficient and help to improve intermuscular and intramuscular coordinative recruitment patterns and muscular hypertrophy, often leading to improvements in strength, rate of force development, body speed, high intensity exercise endurance, and balance (2,7,12,15). Importantly, body speed is vital for lift success (3,9,15,16). Once the maximal height of the barbell is reached (slightly after the completion of the pull), the barbell will start to move downward (1,6,10,11). Therefore, a sudden action-reaction must take place at the completion of the pull for the athlete to quickly squat down to appropriately position his/her body to catch the barbell either overhead (snatch) or upon the front of the shoulders (clean). Garhammer (9) reports a period of approximately 0.346 and 0.324 seconds for weightlifters to move into the catch position for the snatch and clean, respectively. Campos et al. (6) conclude times of 0.219 ± 0.015 and 0.114 ± 0.020 seconds for the turnover and catch phases, respectively, for lighter lifters (56 and 65 kg) performing the snatch lift. Times for heavier lifters (85 and 105 kg) were 0.230 ± 0.01 and 0.135 ± 0.0139 seconds for the turnover and catch phases, respectively. Collectively, these data show that weightlifting movements demand the athlete to squat down quickly to secure the barbell.

Two drills that strength and conditioning coaches can include in an athlete's program to teach body speed for the snatch and clean are the snatch from full extension (SFFE) and clean from full extension (CFFE), respectively. The SFFE and CFFE may be included within the warm-up period of an athlete's training session as they aim to practice movement patterns related to the respective lifts and prepare the athlete for a given activity (4). Athletes may also perform these drills during a cool-down period for additional practice. Weightlifting coaches have implemented both the SFFE and CFEE; however, no peer-reviewed literature exists regarding the benefits of these drills. The following article will review the proper technique of the SFFE and CFFE, along with their benefits. Common mistakes that may occur when performing these drills will also be discussed.

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HOW TO PERFORM THE SNATCH FROM FULL EXTENSION

The athlete grabs an empty barbell with a snatch grip and stands at full extension (Figure 1A). Full extension is reached by plantarflexing the ankles, extending the knees and hips, and elevating the shoulders using the respective musculature responsible for these joint actions (For a description of the musculature used, the reader is directed elsewhere (8,17)). The elbows are pointed slightly outward, while the arms remain straight. Following a brief (2 seconds) pause at this position (this resembles the top position of the pull), the athlete quickly snatches the weight, moving into a full overhead squat position (Figure 1B). The athlete secures the barbell overhead and then stands to full height, finishing the lift (Figure 1C). Finally, the barbell is lowered to hip height, and the athlete prepares for subsequent repetitions (Figure 1D) (see Video, Supplemental Digital Content 1, http://links.lww.com/SCJ/A153, which demonstrates the SFFE).

Figure 1

Figure 1

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HOW TO PERFORM THE CLEAN FROM FULL EXTENSION

Similar to the SFFE, but with a clean grip, the athlete grabs an empty barbell and stands at full extension (Figure 2A). Full extension is obtained by plantarflexing the ankles, extending the knees and hips, and elevating the shoulders using the respective musculature responsible for these movements (For a description of the musculature used, the reader is directed elsewhere (8,17)). The elbows will be pointed slightly outward, as the arms remain straight. Following a brief (2 seconds) pause at this position, the athlete quickly cleans the weight, moving into a full front squat position (Figure 2B). The athlete then stands to full height, completing the lift (Figure 2C). Finally, the barbell is lowered to the thighs, and the athlete prepares for additional repetitions (Figure 2D) (see Video, Supplemental Digital Content 2, http://links.lww.com/SCJ/A154, which demonstrates the CFFE).

Figure 2

Figure 2

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BENEFITS OF THE SNATCH FROM FULL EXTENSION AND CLEAN FROM FULL EXTENSION

Benefits of both drills are presented for the strength and conditioning coach to have a better understanding of each exercise and why it may be beneficial to the athlete.

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BODY SPEED

The SFFE and CFFE can assist athletes who lack body speed moving down to catch the barbell. As stated, body speed is important for lift success (3,9,14,15). The SFFE and CFFE demand the athlete to move his/her body quickly because the barbell is not accelerated as fast and displaced as great as it would when the pull begins from a different position (e.g., starting the lift from the floor).

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ARM AND WRIST TURNOVER/ELBOW TURNOVER

Athletes who do not possess an adequate amount of arm and wrist turnover may not be able to correctly position the barbell and secure it overhead during the snatch. With the SFFE, the athlete can focus on moving the elbows upward and finally externally rotating the shoulders, while slightly extending the wrists to receive the barbell in its proper position. Elbow turnover applies to the clean lift for those who have difficulty quickly whipping the elbows up to develop the proper rack position to secure the barbell on the front of the shoulders.

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MOVING FROM TRIPLE EXTENSION

Once the athlete reaches the top position of the pull, he/she should quickly transition into a squat to catch the barbell (15). Energy expended to continually move the barbell upward may decrease lift success. Both the SFFE and CFFE allow the athlete to concentrate on finding triple extension and moving quickly into the catch position. Submaximal force output and improper bar trajectory may result if triple extension is not reached during the lift.

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COMMON MISTAKES

Knowing the common mistakes of the SFFE and CFFE will allow for proper corrections in technique. This will decrease injury risk and increase the likelihood of the athlete receiving the benefits of each drill. The following will address some common mistakes that may occur when performing the SFFE and CFFE.

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EXCESSIVE HORIZONTAL BARBELL DISPLACEMENT

A focus should be placed on minimizing horizontal displacement of the barbell and keeping the barbell close to the body throughout the lift (5,13,15). Increased horizontal barbell displacement will increase the energy demand needed to control the barbell and keep it close to the athlete's center of mass (5,13,15). Improper horizontal displacement may be caused by an overemphasis of hip extension, which may bump the barbell forward. In addition, this may be due to the lack of torso stiffness. If the torso is not stiff, compensatory movement patterns may result (e.g., arm bending). Rather, if the torso remains stable because of isometric contractions of the trunk musculature, the barbell will be kept closer to the body and the athlete can efficiently use his/her body during the exercise.

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EXCESSIVE RESISTANCE

In general, increasing barbell load should not be stressed when performing the SFFE and CFFE. Inappropriate resistances may adversely affect proper movement patterns. A common objective of each drill is to emphasize body speed. An incorrect load may limit the athlete's ability to perform the SFFE and CFFE optimally and may lead to a negative learning experience. Proper progression of the SFFE and CFFE will be discussed in a later section (see Practical Applications).

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PREMATURE ARM INVOLVEMENT

Although the athlete needs some arm involvement as he/she moves down to receive the weight, pulling with the arms should not be emphasized. Too much arm involvement may be due to improper resistances used or incorrectly practiced movement patterns.

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IMPROPER CATCH POSITION

This can be related to an increase in horizontal barbell displacement or the inability to move into a full squat. The athlete should accept the barbell in a full squat position and limit jumping forward or backward as the barbell is received.

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PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS

The strength and conditioning coach must be knowledgeable of the recommended training volume and resistances used when performing the SFFE and CFFE, along with their progressions. This will allow for proper inclusion within an athlete's program, improving overall effectiveness. The authors' recommended training volume for these drills is 2–4 sets of 5–10 repetitions. This volume seems to be sufficient to accomplish the desired goal(s) of these drills. Athletes who require more practice may perform the higher end of this volume.

It is suggested that athletes start with an unloaded barbell. More specifically, the use of a youth or women's barbell may be needed when introducing the SFFE (PVC piping may be appropriate for youth athletes), as this is a harder variation and requires lower resistances. When the load of the barbell is increased, the coach should do so in small weight increments. For example, the barbell may be increased by a total of 2.5 and 5.0 kg for the SFFE and CFFE, respectively (athletes using PVC may progress to a youth barbell). The coach should always monitor for any of the previously mentioned faults and correct when necessary. Moreover, weight increase will depend largely on body speed. Because of the mechanical disadvantage that these drills place the athlete in, the athlete may not be able to produce high force and power outputs at this position. Therefore, the coach should limit the amount of loading that is prescribed. This will place emphasis on proper execution of each drill and improve the likelihood of achieving the desired outcome. Once the athlete has performed a given volume, focusing on the aforementioned objective(s), he/she can progress to a more specific lift (i.e., a training lift) that will allow for greater loading emphasis.

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CONCLUSION

Because of the technicality of weightlifting movements, it is important that athletes reinforce correct movement patterns to receive the full benefit of the performed exercises and decrease injury risk (14,15). The exercise(s) performed during a warm-up can help prepare the athlete for exercises later in the session (4). Strength and conditioning coaches may choose to include the SFFE and CFFE into an athlete's program. The SFFE and CFFE help to improve body speed when moving into the catch position of the snatch and clean lifts. The athlete will be allowed to practice moving from full extension into the catch position. Both body speed and reaching full extension are important for lift success (3,9,15,16). Emphasis should be placed on body speed rather than barbell load when performing these drills. If barbell load is to be increased, it should be done in small weight increments.

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REFERENCES

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Keywords:

weightlifting; snatch; clean; body speed; full extension

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