Video analysis is one way to review your lifts to make sure you are pulling efficiently. Another way that provides immediate feedback is True Pulls.
Tommy Kono was one of the greatest weightlifters of all time. Aside from his tremendous success on the platform, he was a champion bodybuilder and authored two excellent books. I learned the concept of the true pull from him (this is what I call it).
Essentially, the point of using this training technique is to make sure you are pulling, whether it be a clean or a snatch, to the proper height to get under the heaviest weights, most efficiently. It is common for lifters to “cut” the pull and rush to get under the bar. This can work when the weight is manageable, but once the weight becomes more challenging, it is less likely you will make a successful lift. There are many cues, such as, “be patient, stand tall” or “finish the pull” that are used to help lifters focus on pulling the bar as high as possible before getting under it. The True Pull is a way to train your groove so that you instinctually pull correctly every time.
It goes without saying that warming up is important (I said it anyway). I like to start with simple shoulder rotations, forward and backward and then proceed to stick work and some freehand squats, knee kicks, and whatever I may need to loosen any particular tight areas.
Next comes the bar work. I recommend stringing together movements for a nice superset that gets the blood pumping and heart beating. Back in the day, We used this type of warm up at weightlifting camp in Gettysburg. Before every workout, someone would lead us by calling out exercises for a set of ten with the bar. It was a great warm up that I use to this day.
When teaching weightlifting, it is usually broken down into manageable pieces. This makes it easier for beginning lifters to digest the movement. While it’s important for the lifter to understand the mechanics of the lift, the body needs to feel the groove and get accustomed to the motor pattern. Typical starting points will include assessing a lifter’s position in the front squat and overhead squat. After all, you need to be able to hit a proper catch position for a successful lift. Moving past that, lifters are taught the movements from the top down. For instance, hang cleans or snatches are done at different heights (hip, knee) before working from the floor.
Weightlifting is an extremely challenging sport. One of the things that all lifters must do is maintain that sharp edge of proficiency in technique, coupled with the mental strength and confidence to attack a difficult weight. Advanced lifters sometimes find themselves banging their heads against the wall, thinking, “When did I forget how to lift?” I’m not talking about a bad day. I’m talking about a rut. A good coach will catch when lifters are slipping into a bad groove and work to correct it. One way to approach it is by going back to the basics and breaking down the lifts. If a snatch is bouncing away from its vertical path, you need to correct it by using an exercise rather than just telling yourself, “don’t do that.” For instance, high pulls should help to keep the bar close and focus on finishing that pull. One of the exercises in our tool belt is the 3 step snatch (or clean & jerk). I set up blocks at high, mid and floor levels. The high level is a height that simulates around the top of the pull – the lifter barely has an inch of explosive hip movement before having to pull himself/herself under the bar. The mid-level is roughly above the knees. This exercise is just another complex that works the transition from the floor to completion. We start from the highest point. This is a tough start, there is no time to think – only do (sound familiar?). Getting good from this height, builds confidence and a helluva finish. This could also be its own exercise (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8bK-6VcNc4).
It’s important to keep your shoulders healthy. Here’s a routine I learned from Dr. Kobrin (Chiropractor) about 20 years ago that is still relevant. He used this while working with the NY Jets.
He advised doing this routine at a time opposite your workout, on its own. For instance, if you’re working out in the morning, do this at night for time – 30 seconds to 1 minute per exercise. This hasn’t worked with my crazy schedule so as an alternative, I do it at the end of a workout for 10 reps per exercise. It’s a great routine to work your shoulders/rotator cuff. Remember to keep the weight light – especially if you’re doing the timed version. There are a lot of small muscles in your shoulders. This exercise will help with mobility and strengthening the shoulder girdle.
Kobrin Shoulder Routine
Bent over dumbbell laterals
Kung Fu – rotate wrists until your knuckles touch