Opinion: Stop Thinking About Your Weightlifting Technique

Keep the bar close to you. Shoulders in front of the bar. Push the ground away from you. Fully extend the hips, knees, and ankles. The Olympic style lifts can be overwhelming at times. So much technique, precision, and not to mention strength, is required for the snatch and clean & jerk. I’ve written about the need to slow down when learning the Olympic lifts. When learning technique or even warming up for your work sets, it’s very important to train with intent and groove the correct patterns, slowly.

This doesn’t mean you should do the same when you’re trying to max out. You MUST be able to flip the switch when lifting heavier loads. When done optimally, the snatch and clean & jerk are reactive, explosive, and dynamic. There is no time for any thoughts, ifs, ands, or buts.

Do you remember the scene in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, when Jason Segel’s character, Peter, is learning how to surf and Paul Rudd, his instructor, keeps telling him to “do less”? Until the point at which Peter does nothing at all, and his instructor tells him “you have to do more than that, do less”! It’s funny, but very similar to doing the Olympic style lifts.

There is a time and a place to perform the movements slow and get the technique down, but for heavy weights you need to just go. Quit thinking about the exact position your hips need to be in, and let your unconscious mind put to work all the hours you already spent practicing slow to get there. Don’t be afraid to miss and fail—it happens, and that’s the best way to learn. Miss 3 attempts? Drop the weight a little and get back into your groove.

I see it all the time. Lifters start their first pull super slow and decelerate even slower once they get to the knee. That is a prime example of paralysis by analysis. The lift should accelerate from the floor to the hip in one fluid motion.

So, next time hammer your warm up and technique work with precision, but explode through your work sets, speed the bar up, and let the unconscious mind do the work!

by Ross Curtis