Regardless of the athletic movement being performed, it is essential to master the first step to ensure success as you graduate to each progression of a movement. It is especially common with beginners in weightlifting, to forego the fundamentals of a proper setup of their first pull.
To begin, the bar should be roughly over the distal third of the metatarsals (the long bones in the foot) and this depends on ankle flexibility and the starting position of the hips. Ideally, the bar should be kept close to the body throughout the pull. A bar placed well in front of the feet puts the lifter at a mechanical disadvantage in terms of being able to get the bar to the proper position for the next phase of the lift. Once the bar is aligned at the proper distance there are 3 key points of performance you will need to be aware of:
1. Hip Placement
2. Shoulder Placement
3. Back Position
If the hips are too high, such as the picture on the right, the shoulders are too far in front of the bar and excessive stress is placed on the lower back as increased extension will be required, from a biomechanical disadvantage, to get into position for the final pull. Starting with the hips too low inhibits the ability of the hips and lower back to contribute to the pull as the shoulders are directly over, or even behind, the bar. There are a few distances and angles that you will want to stay in range of when setting up your first pull:
1. 30-45 degree thighs – shoulders angle
2. 2 – 3 inches – shoulders over the bar
3. 10-30 degrees – back extension
You will want your hips positioned so your thighs are approximately at a 30-45 degree angle with your shoulders about two to three inches over, or in front of, the bar. Of course, it will be apparent that the snatch, because of the wider grip, will necessitate a lower starting position than the clean. The lighter weight will make it easier to rely on the legs to get the bar started off the platform. It is always a good idea to video yourself so you are aware of your starting positions, so always keep in mind your hips, shoulders, and back position, when setting up for your first pull. We always recommend our Brute athletes to film videos at a 45 degree angle, or a side angle in some cases, to give our coaches the best view of the starting position.