The importance of pulls for Olympic lifting

By on January 12, 2016. Posted in , , . Tagged as , , , , , , .

I’ll keep this one nice a short and use pictures and videos to illustrate my point rather than ranting on. I coach 12-15 Weightlifters per week, every week (Lifters who specialise in Snatch/Clean and Jerk for competition purposes) many of whom come from a CrossFit background, some still actively do CrossFit and only see me for Weightlifting coaching.

ALL of them could Squat, Snatch, Clean properly (and most importantly safely) within an hour of coaching.

Only about half of them could do Snatch and Clean pulls properly …. Which is a problem considering 50% of an Olympic lift and the phase which generates all the power is the pull!

This is how to do Snatch pulls correctly:


And this is how to do Clean pulls correctly:


As you will notice the ONLY difference between this movement and the full lift is that they do not go underneath the bar, they get full extension WITHOUT leaning back like a Slinky and then lower the bar.The idea is to train the EXACT positions you will hit during a snatch/Clean and strengthen them, so make your pulls exactly the same as your full lifts.

Here are a few pictures which show the final positions you should be aiming for:

DSC_5058 DSC_4627

(the picture on the right is a millisecond too early and ideally he would be slightly more extended but you get the point)

As a coach I would programme pulls a minimum of twice per week but this can go as high a 4x depending on what phase of training you are in and how heavy they are. Here are 3 variations you can use to mix things up and work on different things:

  • Pulls from blocks to overload the top position or to save the lower back during hard training
  • Pulls just from the floor to knee to overload the bottom position
  • Touch and go pulls where you don’t put the weight down between sets to strengthen positions
  • Hang pulls from the knee to work on transitioning around the knee

Finally here are a few guideline around programming pull, in terms of percentages, sets and reps:

  • Use anything from 90-110% of you best snatch/clean
  • Mix up the rep ranges often, using 5’s,3’s and 2’s with different weights and from different positions is most effective
  • Complete around 15-20 reps per session, this can be broken up how you wish e.g 3 x 5, 5 x 3, 4 x 4 etc
  • USE STRAPS! These are horrendous on your hands so protect them by using straps to take the strain, NO HOOKGRIP!





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