Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Faster is Not The Fix By Coach Dan Bell

One of the easiest ways a coach can get someone to hit a personal record Olympic lift at a clinic is to tell them “move faster” or “pull faster,” the core precept of the philosophy that “speed kills!” And it works. Many lifters will hit PRs. CrossFitters and casual weightlifters will walk away singing that coach’s praises when their snatch goes from 60kg to 63kg in a weekend.

The extra speed works for a while, anyway. For a little more weight on the bar and a nice ego boost. However, speed added to flawed technique most often combine for a faster missed lift when the weight gets truly heavy. When you are learning to lift, speed is down the list of priorities.

First on that list of priorities are positions. You must have the mobility and ability to hit the critical positions of the pull. A good starting position . . .

Shins vertical and bar close at the knees . . .

The power position, shoulders behind the bar, heels down . . .

And complete extension without pushing the hips too far forward . . .

When you can hit these positions you can start working on smooth transitions between them with lots and lots of drilling. You must “groove in” the technique, making the new motor pattern precise and repeatable as a matter of habit, hitting light lifts without thought. This will take more time than you’d like. Maybe a lot more. But it will be worth the patience and commitment to the process.

In time the rhythm of the lift will come. The bar will accelerate continuously from floor to full extension and you’ll move under the bar in the right timing, pulling down while the bar is still going up. With hundreds to thousands of repetitions, you’ll have forgotten how to do the lift wrong. (It’s worth noting that hitting the positions properly and getting the rhythm of the lift down will make you faster without intending to go faster, especially moving under the bar)

NOW you can add more speed. You’ve built the proper motor pattern and grooved it in so well that you can add speed and stay in that pattern. The focus on speed will not cause you to lose your technique. The extra speed will be useful. You’ll still be putting the bar in the right place and ultimately add more than a kilo or two to your bar.

Finally you can put the emphasis getting strong as an elephant. Your technique may need a tweak now and then, but taking the time to do things in the right order—positions, smooth transitions, rhythm and timing, then speed—will pay off in bigger lifts in the end and a better chance to reach your potential.

Dan Bell will be instructing the Vulcan Weightlifting Seminar Sep 21-22 in Akron Ohio!  For more info on seminars or if you would like to host a seminar at your gym contact us at 

Vulcan® Strength Training Systems is a manufacturer and supplier of high quality strength and conditioning equipment for CrossFit® , Olympic Weightlifting, and all things related to strength training


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