Kingfield Barbell Philosophy: Close (Part III)

Doing the classic lifts (snatch and clean and jerk) are always fun, but sometimes we need to take a step back from them in order to fine tune components of each lift. In this week’s blog, we will be talking about a few exercises we program for our athletes to enforce the importance of closeness.

1. Hang snatch/Clean high pull:

Doing high pulls from the hang can be very beneficial for athletes because it will reinforce keeping the bar close. The athlete can now use their legs while continuing to pull with elbows up in a straight line. One way to think about the hang high pulls would be to have it feel similar to a kettle bell swing.  We want the athlete to hinge at the hips (with a slight bend in the knee), keep shoulders/chest over the bar, and fully extend the knees and hips. Once full extension is reached the athlete must pull up on the bar.

Athletes should aim to pull for the sternum or collarbone, while keeping the elbows pointed upwards (the bar should stay close to our torso.)  If an athlete struggles with the desired height range, have them aim for their belly button. We want to keep these pulls fairly light and the rep/set scheme should be moderate (ex: 5 x 3-5.)    

2. Muscle snatch/Clean:

This variation is very similar to the hang high pulls, but now we complete the movement by snatching/cleaning it, with straight/locked out legs (this can be done from the floor or the hang). The athlete should focus on a hard leg drive and keeping the bar close through the entire movement. We typically program the muscle variation in the beginning of our athletes’ sessions to prime their bodies and reinforce the desired movement pattern.  Performing 3x3 at a moderate weight is ideal.

3. Tempo snatch/clean pulls:

Tempo, as it pertains to this movement, means to move slower than usual.  The tempo pull is performed just like any other pull, but the focus is put on the speed of which the athlete lifts the bar off the floor (it could be three or five seconds on the way up). By moving a little slower, this allows the athlete to be more aware of where the bar is, in relation to their body and will help teach which muscles to use to keep the bar close.

Performing 4-5 sets of 4 reps with a 3-5 second ascent will be plenty. It is crucial the weight stays light, since we want the athlete to maintain good position throughout this lift.

4. Strict Barbell/DB High Pull:

The high pull should be performed with light weight. Control on the eccentric portion of the movement is essential because it ensures the athlete is keeping the weight close.

For the actual pulling portion of the high pull, we want the athlete to focus on pulling with elbows up and not back.  If we pull with our elbows back, we put ourselves in a position where we're doing something similar to a reverse curl (there is a time and place for curls, don’t worry). Usually when we have an athlete do high pulls for the first time, we like to use dumbbells to enforce pulling with elbows up.  

Doing single arm high pulls can also be beneficial because it gives us a chance to even out some imbalances the athlete may have.  When programmed, we like to do 3 sets with 8-10 reps at a light-moderate weight.

If you're struggling to keep the bar close, give a few of these exercises a try!

-Kingfield Barbell