Cycle 1 Olympic Lifting Explanation/Tutorial

I’ve received a pretty high volume of questions, comments, and videos related to the OLY work in this cycle.  Let’s take a look down through the variations we will be using on both the snatch and clean to try and clear up some of the questions of how and/or why.

The olympic lifting focus in this cycle is mostly about getting back to the basics.  It’s a great time to work on technique with all of the slow lift volume we are doing.  There are positions in both lifts that we need to have deeply engrained in our natural movement patterns and we attempt to accomplish that by forcing you to get there, pause, and then move.  Working the lifts from the top down gives you a better understanding of how we can really move big weight in a step by step process.  The two biggest issues we are seeing are just plain doing it wrong, which we will try to address in this post, and then the ego side of the equation.  We promise no one cares how much you can jam into your hip pocket, early arm bend, and hump over your head.  This will get you some great videos, but won’t do much for the progression on your lifts.  Keep that in mind moving forward.  Cycle 2 is a full on heavy OLY party, so don’t be sad.

Power Position Pause Snatch


  • Weight distributed mostly in heels
  • Knees bent and in front of the bar
  • Arms straight
  • Torso 100% vertical and behind the bar
  • Upper back tight keeping shoulders stable without bending arms
  • Extend vertically through heels
  • Pull yourself under the bar

Common faults:  

  • Weight 100% in heels, which pulls the toes up and makes us unstable.  Your whole foot should be down from the moment the lift starts until your heels come off the ground.  Weight distribution is more about loading areas more than others, not about loading only that area and putting us in a very un-athletic position.
  • Knees bent in front of the bar turns into resting the bar on the thighs and using the knee bend to bounce the bar up with the legs.  This is not realistic in any way when we have a goal of getting better from the floor.
  • Bent arms typically go hand in hand with the leg bounce I just referred to.  If we can cheat the extension, we can start the pull under with bent arms instead of staying long and using our levers.  Keep the arms long, learn to use them.
  • I want to put this bullet in bold, italic, neon green font.  Listen up.  The torso angle and the pause force you to feel what a real power position is and most of you get there at first, but the first explosive step isn’t the correct one a lot of the time.  Throwing your torso back out over the bar to create momentum kills the point of the lift altogether.  It doesn’t matter if you can lift as much as you want to because it’s technique work.  Keep your torso perpendicular with the ground, extend through the heels, and that’s it.
  • A lot of people overextend when they try to activate the musculature of the upper back and end up in a broken position.  If you see your chest poking way out and your butt way back with a nice banana torso shape in your videos, you need to get back to a straight up and down position.  That being said, make sure keeping your arms long doesn’t lead to leading the shoulders roll forward, because the catch will be terrible.
  • If you slow it down, I don’t do a great job of extending through the heels in this video.  If I did it better you would see the angle on the back of my knee close down more.  Make sure your extension is vertical and doesn’t push the bar out in front of you.
  • This is a great drill to teach people to use the weight of the pull to actively pull yourself under the bar.  Without much speed vertically we have to use the bar to pull under because just dropping won’t cut it.  This is the part of the lift you need to master if you ever want someone to say “what the fuck was that” about your speed under the bar.

Low Hang Pause Snatch


  • Lower yourself into a position of leverage with the bar hovering roughly 1″ away from your knee
  • Pause to feel your posterior chain activation and what it’s like to be out over the bar (also to halt momentum completely)
  • Weight distributed mostly in the middle of your foot
  • Engage lats to sweep the bar back towards your hip before moving your torso
  • Move towards power position by lifting torso and starting to regain knee bend
  • Stay patient until you feel your weight shift to the heels, knees re-bend, and finally torso completely straight up.  Think of the first half of the lift being a timer and the alert sounding the second your torso is straight up.  That’s the signal to unleash hell.
  • Snatch

Common faults:

  • People forget that we haven’t gotten back to power position yet and start their lift by dropping down to power position before lowering to the low hang.  This typically allows too much knee bend which pushes the bar away from the body, and more importantly dramatically effects the leverage we are trying to create.  Because I have a long torso it is very easy to see what sort of leverage we are hoping for.  That 90 degree angle between my femurs and torso turns me into a human catapult (sorry if your body doesn’t create that much of an angle.  I have tiny hands so I don’t feel bad for you).
  • Too much knee bend at the low hang.  They just need to be soft enough to keep us away from hyperextension.
  • Not stopping.  Make sure you pause.  Feel those posterior chain muscles wind up to help you create the whip.
  • Weight already in the heels.  We are much more stable with our weight evenly distributed at this point.  Press through your arch.
  • Not pulling from the floor can make the lat activation harder, but I would argue that you develop a much higher understanding of what the lat sweep feels like and how to do it from here.
  • Moving back to power position from here often results in the weight being pushed forwards instead of backwards.  Make sure you pass the weight back and avoid being front loaded before you get aggressive.
  • By far the most common fault is just not getting back to power position before snatching.  Some people struggle with it so much that they have to pause again at power position before going, which is another way to completely void the purpose of snatching from the low hang.
  • Not patient enough.  Patience isn’t about being super slow, it’s about knowing when it’s time to be super fast.  When you film yourself make sure you watch the video in full speed as well as breaking it down.

Power Position Pause Clean

The goals and faults are typically very similar in the clean as they are in the snatch.  The lifts are almost identical from the floor to the hip, we just get to either use levers or lats a bit more in one or the other.

One thing that wasn’t mentioned that I shouldn’t assume goes without saying: move your feetEvery single lift, clean or snatch.

Low Hang Pause Clean

The lat sweep is much harder in the clean because it’s heavier, and we don’t gain as much leverage with our hands closer.  It is still very important.  Use your bat wings to keep the bar close and enhance the amount of leverage you can create.

Feel free to post questions, thoughts, etc to comments and we can chat more about this as a group.  You will be finding a 1RM at the low hang in both lifts this week.  Keep all of this in mind when doing so.

– Drew