Different Positions for the Olympic Lifts

Have you ever wondered why we warm up a clean or a snatch by going through the different positions?

We don’t do this to take up time in class or to make experienced athletes feel as though they are performing redundant exercises. We do this for a reason. We frequently refer to position 1, position 2, and position 3. For the purpose of this article, I will refer to these as the high hang, the hang, and the floor, There are two main reasons why we train all positions, which I will get into throughout this article.

The first reason we train (and warm up) from each position is because no matter what position you are working from, you must bring the bar up and down the same path.

For example, if I am working from the floor on a clean, I must hit the hang AND the high hang on the way up. This is imperative in order to get the “weightless” feeling you hear weightlifters talk about. Have you ever performed a clean or a snatch that felt like it flew up, almost as if it were weightless? This most likely means you did something right!

The other reason why we train from different positions is to work on our explosiveness out of each respective position. Theoretically, I should be able to lift more if lifting from the ground than if I am lifting from the high hang. However, I can only do so if I continue to train all positions. This is similar to why we frequently practice strict press, push press, and jerks. When a WOD is programmed with a snatch or clean from the hang, this doesn’t mean we don’t think that our athletes have the mobility to get to the ground, it’s because we want you to work on your explosiveness!

It is also worth noting that when an athlete starts with us, we always have them work from the hang for a while. This is because we want to perfect the hang positions before we add on another technicality to the movement. If you are finding that you are not progressing, you may want to go back to basics and practice from the high hang position.

Next time we warm up one of these movements, think about the purpose of each position and why we do what we do. We always have a purpose! 

The pictures below breakdown the power clean and where the bar should be throughout the movement.

Michelle Gunsenhauser
Nutrition Coach,  CrossFit Level 1 Trainer

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