There are many debates in the Olympic Lifting community about proper technique. From the famed Russian, Bulgarian, and Chinese schools, to the Catapult and triple extension methods, you can employ numerous different styles to accomplish the same goal (getting heavy weight from the ground to overhead) The one detail you won’t find in any of the literature or real world examples, though, is a forward jump. Go to any professional Olympic weightlifting meet, or spend some time watching old footage via YouTube, and you’ll notice that the best of the best either jump backwards or stay right where they are.
If you stop to think about it for a second, it makes a lot of sense. Jumping forward during a lift means the bar is getting away from you lots and you’re having to chase it. Any horizontal displacement of the bar means less vertical height. This is going to make snatching 300+ lbs and cleaning 400+ lbs infinitely harder. Forward jumps during the snatch and the clean are big-time faults and they need to be addressed immediately. It is very common for beginners to jump forward. The good news is that I have an easy solution!
Before I get to it, though, let’s go over some of the reasons an athlete might be jumping forward during their O-lifts.
- Not pulling the knees back during the initial deadlift/1st pull.
You must stand with your legs. Doing so will pull the knees back, effectively creating a path for the bar. If the knees do not pull back the bar will have to travel out and around the knees. This will cause your body weight to shift forward from your heels to your toes, making a forward jump inevitable.
- Not keeping the bar close to the body while standing
It isn’t enough to make sure the knees are pulling back upon lift off. You must also keep the bar close to your body. This is done by activating the lats. Doing so will enable you to pull the bar into your body. If you aren’t actively trying to keep the bar close it will begin to drift away, dragging you forward with it.
- Jumping too early.
The most common reason an athlete will find themselves jumping forward. The proper jumping point is once the bar reaches the upper thighs. Anything before that will leave the hips in an overly closed position. Trying to jump straight up while the hips are closed is a difficult task. It is far more likely that the hips will shoot forward (horizontally) if in such an exaggerated closed position. In short, WAIT to jump.
Now for the easy fix!
Yep, that’s right…a line! It doesn’t have to be a chalkline. In fact, any line will do. Our CrossFit gym is littered with them thanks to the 4’x6′ mat flooring, so take your pick (I’m sure our cleaning crew would appreciate the use of the latter). The next time you are setting up for a heavy lift, place your toes right on the edge of that line. Do your best to jump and land behind the line. You’ll be amazed at how effective such a simple tool will be. In focusing on staying behind the line athletes will often find themselves, without even realizing it, correcting the three faults listed above: using their legs more during the deadlift, keeping the bar closer to the body, and waiting to jump at just the right moment.
During the last 6 months of coaching our Olympic Lifting specialty class at CrossFit Kinnick I’ve encountered every possible lifting quark in the book. Along the way I’ve also picked up a trick or two to help remedy some of the most common mistakes. Everyone learns differently. If you know yourself to be a forward-jumper, give the line a shot and watch as your power sky rockets.