It’s a Set-Up

Have you ever seen a painter paint a wall with little or no preparation? He doesn’t sand the the rough areas, patch the holes or apply a primer/undercoat. No matter how meticulous he is, after all his hard work, the finished product is going to look like crap – or worse, it will look ok for a short period of time until some cracks begin to show and the paint starts to peel off.

Don’t worry – this is not a blog about remodelling your house. I was asked recently about the set-up position of a lift. The question was: How important can the set-up of a movement (or lift) be in determining your finishing position or end result?

Here’s what you need to know.
Like the painter, you will have a difficult time finishing correctly if you set-up incorrectly. It’s as simple as that. You may be able to muscle the weight up now with no problem. But, you could potentially move more weight AND alleviate the risk of injury with a better set-up.

What does the ideal set-up look like?
Think about your current set-up position.

As coach Bob Takano says, “If you are comfortable, you are probably doing it wrong!”

The set-up for the snatch and clean should not look the same as the set-up for a deadlift. Let me repeat that – it should not look the same as the set-up for a deadlift.

In Olympic lifting, the set-up forms the basis of an efficient first pull which, in turn, optimizes the second pull. The first pull begins from the floor and ends roughly at mid-thigh. In the starting position, we want to maintain an upright posture with the arms approximately vertical when viewed from the side. This is important because having an upright torso minimizes the stress placed on the lower back. It also allows for the bar to be kept closer to the center of mass and ensures better balance. During the first pull, we want the bar to start away from the shins and for the hips and shoulders to rise at the same rate, as such, this will cause the bar to sweep back.

Here are some points for consideration during your set-up.
I’d be the first to admit that, although these are general guidelines and can vary depending on the anatomy and proportions of the individual, I have found them to be a good place to start. Only a couple of things to remember. Easy right!!

 –Hook-grip the bar

–Feet below the hips

–Barbell over the balls/mid-foot.

–Hips at or slightly above knee level.

–Knees flared out to the sides and in contact with arms, this allows the knees to be clear of the bar path.

–Flat back.

–Arms internally rotated to prevent looping the bar.

–Weight in the front edges of heels.

–Eyes straight ahead.

–Get tight.

If you cannot set up in this position there’s a high chance that mobility and flexibility are an issue. More than likely, it’s tight hips, hamstrings, ankles and thoracic spine. As much as we all love to hate foam rolling and lacrosse balls, it may be time to rekindle that romance. Spend some time finding your restrictions and weaknesses and make them a priority.

And remember, the purpose of this blog is to help you achieve a better starting position in the Snatch and Clean. Ask yourself, “am I able to set-up correctly in the start position of a snatch or clean from the floor?  What does this look like?” If you wouldn’t tolerate a dodgy paint job on your house, do not tolerate a poor starting position to your lifts. Trust me, your future self will thank you for it.

 Friday’s Workout
Spring Break

A) In 15min establish max effort
Muscle ups

200m Run
10 Hang power snatches (95/65)
15 Hand-release pushups

And Coming Monday
Spring Break

10 RKBS (32/20)
1 Squat cleans (85%)
2 Squat cleans
3 Squat cleans


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