YOU MAY BE (EMOTIONALLY) UNSTABLE, BUT YOUR LIFTS DONT HAVE TO BE

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The title of this blog post has VERY little to do with the actual content, but it’s catchy and I like it.

Because there is so much to focus on in the actual lifts, we rarely think about our feet and how they feel against the ground. And when we disconnect from our feet, it’s easy to disconnect from our legs. And if we disconnect from our legs, we’ve lost our main source of power and might as well just quit weightlifting all together (may be a bit dramatic).

I touched on this concept a bit in one of my earlier blog posts, “How Well Do You Know Your Feet”, but maybe “feeling your feet or feeling your legs” are cues that don’t seem to work for you.

If that’s the case, I challenge you to think about this: “the floor is your source of power and source of stability”.

How can we use the floor for STABILITY?

In the beginning of the lift, when we’re pulling from the ground, we spread our feet and use every inch of our shoe to push the floor away from us. Use the ground as a reference for how balanced you are on that initial lift off. The initial lift off will set you up for success or failure in the rest of the lift depending on how balanced you are.

But even more important, in terms of stability, is the end of the lift. When you pull yourself down and around that bar, whether it be on a snatch or a clean, how your feet land against the ground is a HUGE indicator for how tight you are going to receive that bar. If you land with soft feet, or if you aren’t paying attention to how the floor feels under your feet, you’re probably going to be wobbling around under that weight. Being shaky and loose under heavy loads is not an ideal situation for anyone.

On the other hand, if you think about the ground staying strong and steady under you, you can jump your feet out FAST and imagine your feet STICKING to the floor like glue. Really really strong glue.

How can we use the floor for POWER?

One cue that I love that my dad uses all the time: “stay flat footed as long as possible”. What he means by this is… until you have fully extended your body as much as it’s capable of extending (aka jumping ALL the way through legs), you CANNOT stop pushing through the floor. Until you are up on your very very tip toes, milliseconds away from jumping your feet out into your landing position, you need to be pushing through the floor. This push through the floor is what is generating power into the bar.

To summarize,

1. Off the ground, use the floor to stay balanced on your lift off.

2. When you’re jumping and pulling, feel your feet pushing through the ground AS LONG AS PHYSICALLY POSSIBLE.

3. When you’re pulling under the bar and you’re about to land, connect with the floor and land firm in your feet. Use the ground to help you stabilize under that heavy weight! In other words, STICK IT!

WHEN TO USE A BELT

Belt

When first starting the olympic lifts, it’s hard to know when you should or should not use a weightlifting belt.

All coaches have different opinions on the matter so we thought we’d share ours since it’s the only opinion that is actually fact (kidding) ( kind of).

As a beginner, there needs to be a clear understanding that if one wants to become proficient in the olympc lifts, they MUST develop strength in their midline. This is a process that takes time and lots of accessory work, but keeping a belt out of the picture in the beginning stages of an athlete’s career is an easy, quick way to teach their midline how to fire on it’s own. It also allows the athlete to build confidence in their body, rather than feeling dependent on a piece of equipment.

With that being said, we’re (fairly) reasonable people and we KNOW that there is a time and a place for the belt! The belt is a great tool and a great tactile reminder for athletes to brace HARD during a lift. The minute we go to tighten our belt, it’s as if it’s telling us “Hey! Feel this area I’m squeezing? Brace there!”.

So, our rule of thumb is: athletes are allowed to use their belt at 85% or above.

The “85% rule” seems to offer enough volume at lighter weights to really make our midline work, but it also allows us to use the belt with the weights where we tend to need a little more support and confidence.

In short, don’t feel dependent on your belt. You should know that you won’t actually die in a training session if you forget your belt at home. BUT, don’t feel guilty if the belt brings you a little comfort with heavier loads.

Side note: When dealing with back injuries, belts can typically be used a little before 85% to protect the athlete from further irritating the area.

Brush Up, Don’t Bang

Natalie lift

Brush Up, Don’t bang

HIPS UP, BAR UP

In our sport, there seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding the hips and what their exact role is in our lifts.

It is very common for people to be hip dominant lifters. They think that in order to create acceleration on the bar, they need to BANG the bar off their hips.

While there is absolutely contact of the barbell and the hips, we want to think about the contact being more of a BRUSH UP rather than a BANG OUT.

If our focus is on brushing the bar UP off the hips, that will help to create more of a VERTICAL acceleration on the bar rather than a horizontal one… which is generally the path the bar will travel when we think “bang”.

In addition to a more vertical bar path, thinking “brush” rather than “bang” naturally forces lifters to turn to their legs as their source of power. And when we’re using our legs as our source of power, we’re pushing STRAIGHT down through the floor with a ton of force. That straight down push creates an increase in elevation on the barbell…making the pull under and turn over SIGNIFICANTLY easier.

So, the next time you think about banging the bar aggressively off your hips…don’t.

Instead, pay respect to your legs, and the amount of work you’ve put into making them as strong as possible, and let THEM do the work! And, as a result, watch your elevation and acceleration of the barbell (in a vertical fashion) increase as brush the barbell up off your hips.