Tout dans la vie est une question d'équilibre d'où la nécessité de garder un esprit sain dans un corps sain.


Everything in life is a matter of balance therefore one needs to keep a healthy mind in a healthy body.


E. do REGO

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Why Don't Olympic Weightlifters Overhead Squat? Part 2

I show you doubt, to prove that faith exists." - Robert Browning

Snatching is a bitch. It simply isn't like any other lift in the gym.Getting good at the snatch is nothing like getting good at the squat. It is more like getting good at the piano. And that means your approach to becoming a great snatcher must be different than your approach to anything else.

In part one of this article I discussed why the analogy of "front squats to cleans" with "overhead squats to snatches" didn't make any sense in the argument for why a lifter would use the overhead squat as an exercise to increase their snatch.

But honestly, who cares?! That was the boring stuff.

snatch, overhead squat, weightlifting, olympic weightlifting, nick hortonWhat is interesting is what is happening between your ears. Snatching well has more to do with your mind than your body. And it is for this reason that after your early beginner phase overhead squats will not help you anymore.

NOTE: I want to avoid being dogmatic here. There are obviously cases where the overhead squat might have some benefit. But the population I am discussing is Olympic weightlifters who are no longer beginners. (This point will aid in the avoidance of confusion.) Overhead squats are simply not a part of the programs of most lifters in this population. That is a fact. I aim to answer the question, "Why is this true?"

To Overcome A Fear, You Must Face It

Everyone thinks the scary part of snatching must be catching it in the hole with that heavy weight held precariously overhead. And this is why they think the overhead squat is the fix. But that is not an accurate assessment of the problem.

The fear of catching in the bottom is a theoretical fear. It is the fear you have when you arethinking about the snatch. The fear we're concerned with is the one that hits you when you are in the middle of actually snatchingUnderstanding this difference is imperative.

You don't have a conscious fear during the act of snatching. It is not a fear you can put into words easily, other than, "Damn! This weight feels heavy!" It is an emotional (and immediate) response, a knee-jerk reaction that has broad consequences.

Your only recourse is to figure out where in the chain your fear response is triggered the most often, and then attack those spots as often as possible with as heavy a weight as possible - AKA, you face your fear.

The Four Scariest Phases Of The Snatch

Here are the places fear will getcha:

  1. Immediately off the floor
  2. Past the knee
  3. At the hip
  4. During the pull-under

In other words, the entirety of the pull, NOT the parts of the lift associated with the overhead squat.

snatch, overhead squat, weightlifting, olympic weightlifting, nick hortonWhen the weight comes off the floor it will feel heavier than you want it to. This is because what is good form for a snatch is crappy form for a deadlift - you are in a "weak" position for pulling. But that doesn't matter because your snatch is less than half of your deadlift. Your goal is a better sweep into the hip, not maximum strength off the floor.

Suck it up and stick with it.

When the bar gets past the knee you need to keep your shoulders over the bar, your hips up, and your heels down for as long as you possibly can - FAR longer than you will feel comfortable. A shift too early into the double knee bend is a mistake that is fine for beginners who are still learning how to hit the hip, but is a disaster for more advanced lifters. It will feel too heavy to actually get over your head. It isn't.

Suck it up and stick with it.

Once the bar is in the hip, your job is to explode as hard and fast as humanly possible - or even faster. This means your hips need to fully extend (which is a hyperextension at the hip joint), your quads need to contract maximally, your feet need to drive through the platform hard, and you need to make sure that (through all of that) you don't allow yourself to fall forward and ruin everything. If you go all-out, you'll make it. If you wimp-out and cut this short by even a tiny bit, you will miss.

Suck it up and stick with it.

Finally, you must pull yourself down under the bar. Falling down under it is not only less efficient, it can be dangerous. The pull doesn't stop at the hip; it simply shifts directions. Instead of pulling on the bar to bring it up, you are now pulling on the bar to bring yourself down. An aggressive pull under is far more likely to result in a rock solid lockout than a dive bomb will. Fear will cause you to fall rather than pull yourself down.

Suck it up and stick with it.

If you can do all of that, then all you have to do is stay tight, stabilize, and stand up. In other words, the easy part psychologically is the overhead squat, because by the time you are there, you are basically done.


snatch, overhead squat, weightlifting, olympic weightlifting, nick horton
I watch people snatching for hours every day. And these are the four places where I see the biggest breakdowns in form during a snatch done with weight heavy enough to cause problems. Only rank beginners are honestly failing on their snatches because of a weak overhead squat. Everyone else is failing because their mind is screwing up some part of their pull.

The overhead squat is a great exercise for people who aren't snatching heavy weights every day. But it becomes irrelevant once you ARE snatching heavy weights everyday.

If you want to snatch big, then you need a lot more time workin' that pull - mostly through more snatching!

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