Below are all six of Gwen Sisto’s attempts (and makes, she went 6-for-6) at the 2012 Olympic Weightlifting National Championships.
I’m putting these up for two reasons. The first is that Gwen is super-duper cool, and I’m proud of her.
The second is because I think you could learn a lot by watching her technique. She’s got remarkable technical skills on the snatch and clean and jerk, that are closely aligned with the particular way in which I like to teach them.
I want you to focus on this one thing, that is so often messed up with beginners. It might seem small, but it is actually a huge deal.
Notice where her shoulders are relative to the bar, as the bar is being pulled off the floor. She doesn’t let them drift forward past the bar. She keeps them basically right on top of the bar for as long as she can. This helps her to keep the bar over her center of balance better, and that means she is far more likely to end up with the bar in the right place.
Think about it. That bar is getting heavy. It’s well over her bodyweight in every one of these lifts. If she allows the bar to drift out forward (which is bound to happen to most people when they allow the shoulders to poke forward too far too early), then the bar will drag her forward and she’d never have made these lifts look so sweet.
I generally teach new people to start with the shoulders BEHIND the bar … not because that’s actually where you’ll be starting in the long run, but because it gets you used to the idea of at least not being in front.
Sometimes a lot of what teaching is, is over-exaggerating something in the beginning to make a point …
And the point in this case is that there should be an imaginary wall shooting up from the barbell – don’t let your shoulders poke through the wall. They can touch the wall (be right above the bar). But not through the wall (shoulders forward past the bar).
Obviously, at some point during the pull, the shoulders will be forward over the bar. But this is a byproduct of your rising your hips to get your knees back out of the way and putting yourself in what is basically a Romanian Deadlift position.
It is not the goal in-and-of itself.
Next time you’re on the platform, channel your inner Gwen, keep the shoulders in the right place, keep the bar over your center of balance, and if you make it … Tebow!
Clean and Jerks
You can hear me in the background being a “woo girl” on the Cleans … 😉 Hey, I’ve accepted what I am.
Hip Drive …
Did you notice her ridiculous hip drive? That’s how it’s done!