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Thread: Programming Advice for Strong Pull with Weak Commitment

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    Programming Advice for Strong Pull with Weak Commitment

    I have been weightlifting self-taught on and off for a couple of years. I'm 32 years old and 6ft4. My strength is incredibly disproportionate to my classic lifts. Hence I have no business doing 99% of online templates out there.

    Squat 180kg
    Clean 135kg
    Snatch 80kg
    C&J 100kg

    Here's a snatch video:

    For years I have been dealing (in the snatch) with the fact I either don't commit to getting under, or I end up catching it high and doing a power snatch whenever weights get heavy. My lighter weights I always catch and ride down. However, at the same time whenever I start including more hang snatches, I don't really have too much problems with them. (See end of video to see what I mean.)

    I tried a variety of different online coaches in the past. None of them ever individualized exercise selection for my specific weaknesses. They all said it will go away over time. But it never does.

    I can snatch pull 100kg to my face but I can't even imagine getting under it. I have been dealing with it for a long time now. I feel like I have zero reason to worry about squat and pull strength, probably once a week is more than enough.

    How would you program for someone like me? Should I just start doing the majority of my volume in doubles and triples from blocks and from hang?

    Because of this weakness I think I should forget about percentages all together, because I think it's more a motor pattern issue rather than something that can be solved with periodization.

    Any advice appreciated.

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    A key reason for this type of fumbled high pull is too much engagement of the wrong muscles at the wrong time. You can only pull the bar up, or pull yourself under, with the arms, but you are trying to do both. You look like a big man with some strength, so it is probably more natural for you to pull the way you do, but this does not give almost any speed to the bar and there is no opportunity for you to move under correctly. |A lot of people do this, and a lot of 'stronger' less technically trained people have this issue.

    The volume and blocks and hangs and stuff won't help if the pull is still made this way. You are on the right lines of thinking by not worrying about the percentages, as it is a motor control thing. Also, again, like you said, squat and pull strength is irrelevant for you. There will be kids power snatching your 80kg with a back squat of 100-110 or something, so don't worry. Speed training on that to maintain, 1-2x a week, will be fine, don't waste your precious recovery on that.

    Embedding a new motor pattern is exhausting for your CNS, so you will have to respect relatively small weights a lot more than you might want to, so snatching 60-80kg might seem like nothing to you, but actually by concentrating and forcing a new pattern to develop, you will be tired.

    The problem you have of catching and riding down isn't much of an issue at the moment, one thing at a time. Learn to pull up with certain muscles, and pull under with others, and this will fix itself to an extent, and can be further addressed later.

    However, one thing that goes hand in hand with the overuse of the arms is the position of your second pull (extension / triple extension / whatever you would like to call it). Because your shoulders are so far behind from so early in the movement, you can do nothing but swing backwards to give the bar some speed and height, but this means that the arms must engage much earleir and much harder than is optimal, in order to control the bar. This is a reason for the slowness of the movement and your limited ability to pull under. You would need to embed a much straighter extension position, without almost any horizontal displacement.

    I would work from the higher blocks simply to save your lower back in the amount of practise you might need to do to make these changes, not for any other particular reason. You can go from the floor once a week too, but I would avoid doing hangs just because in your video you are doing a bit of a 'high school power clean competition' hang movement, with an upright bouncy movement that won't look much like your full snatch from the floor. I would put on maybe 40-50kg, and do sets of 1 pull 1 snatch 1 pull 1 snatch, to get used to pulling without the use of the arms and then on the next rep completing that same 'free' movement, but adding in the pull under on that second rep. You can do this off the floor too, to get used to it, but you could start on the high blocks, then go to low blocks the next week, then floor the week after, all done a couple times a week for 6-10 sets of 4 reps with something light. The 2nd, 3rd practise sessions of the week would be off the blocks just for recovery purposes. I wouldn't even bother going heavier on pulls to get used to any more weight, because once you get these movements better ingrained, you will do multiple easy reps with your current max and the weights will shuffle upwards by themselves. Also the focus is fluidity, make sure everything is moving very smoothly before even considering adding weight.

    Remember, the actual height of your pull when just doing pulls is largely irrelevant when it comes to snatch results, if the positions are incorrect or the wrong muscles used.

    The key points to look out for are the speed put into the bar at the hip rather than the height at the top, being balanced and upright in the extended position instead of swung back, and having as little engagement in the arms as possible at that top position, instead of them being key movers.

    Good luck!

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    I'm so glad I asked because what you just laid out is incredibly interesting. Thanks for that, it's all very clear and easy to understand.

    I very much like your suggestion of pull+snatch+pull+snatch considering your overall argumentation, it's already starting to click in my head. I'll do those for a couple of weeks and come back with an update!
    Last edited by jirou; 05-03-2019 at 05:36 AM.

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    Someone on reddit mentioned tall snatches. I was gonna say high hang snatches but unlike how you do them where you cover the bar a bit by sliding the bar a bit down the upper thighs. Vertical torso. I think Greg Everett calls this a dip snatch on his website.

    Having had the issue of moving under the bar, doing hang work from the knee or blocks didn't really help it nearly as much as the high hang did. It just was a bit easier since it was from the blocks compared to going from the floor.

    I did like working slow pull to focus on moving through positions and then exploding when it got to hip which basically becomes a tempo snatch/clean DL and snatch/clean from the dip/power position.

    Like CNL, I personally dislike the high hang snatches that oscillate from a technical coaching POV. I know Kendrick and Rob Blackwell and some other do them/did a lot, but I'm definitely not a fan of them for pretty much anyone else. It's something that works for them and that they use

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    Jared Fleming (RIP) had done a 200kg hang clean in that same style at roughly 12 years of age, I don't think they help rather than being something that gives you some confidence.

    I have seen that snatch variation also called a Tim snatch, Blairbob - believe it or not

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    Yeah, as I said, it works for those lifters themselves.

    Also, if you didnt know, Jared is back as an 89 and not dead.

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    Oh man i could totally fix this if you were local. I cant do online coaching anymore, just too much damn typing. But i had the exact same problem, except my strength levels were far higher. I had the same problem ov every single coach, even the good ones, trying to use the same methods to fix it too... instead ov specifically addressing the issue and rectifying that. I had to deconstruct it myself and learn it all myself. One thing CNL says that is spot-on, is with the expectations. One thing i had in mind, was that if you cant even snatch 40kg properly, then there's no way in hell you'll snatch 80+ properly. So fix your shit at a weight you can figure out quickly, and then simply move your 'technical maxes' up. Quit going heavy if your body takes over and does shit you dont want. You're just training it to continue doing that.

    I'm training a VERY strong powerlifter right now, and she does not have these issues (despite even her 205kg back squat/60/75kg lifts ratio), and thats because i never let her move past a weight she couldn't do well. When strength is far superior to technique and lifts, you simply cant coach cookie-cutter, or 'traditional'. Its all about problem-solving, endless problem-solving, which... in essence, is what good coaching is.

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    I understand what you guys mean with the bouncy/oscillating movement. At the time it was because I was being unconfident and I felt like staying "in touch" with the momentum of the barbell made it less scary. Which I understand makes zero sense for the purpose of the exercise. But at least I quit doing that after.

    It's only since starting this thread I realize that I use my arms completely different from the floor than I do from the high hang. I think CNL was spot on when he said I'm pulling the barbell up instead of pulling myself under on my full snatch. As simple as it may be this was an eye-opener for me.


    @Judas: I carefully read your post 5 times now and I'm not sure if it contains any suggested solution for my problem - haha. What was it specifically that you did that helped you fix this issue for yourself? For what it's worth, I almost never go "heavy". I was snatching and hang snatching and pause snatching 40-60kg primarily for several months before attempting the 80kg in that video, only to find out there was almost zero carryover or improvement into my third pull. Which I suppose is a sign that I did not manage to actually tackle the underlying issue correctly, despite trying with lighter weights.
    Last edited by jirou; 05-04-2019 at 10:42 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jirou View Post
    I understand what you guys mean with the bouncy/oscillating movement. At the time it was because I was being unconfident and I felt like staying "in touch" with the momentum of the barbell made it less scary. Which I understand makes zero sense for the purpose of the exercise. But at least I quit doing that after.

    It's only since starting this thread I realize that I use my arms completely different from the floor than I do from the high hang. I think CNL was spot on when he said I'm pulling the barbell up instead of pulling myself under on my full snatch. As simple as it may be this was an eye-opener for me.


    @Judas: I carefully read your post 5 times now and I'm not sure if it contains any suggested solution for my problem - haha. What was it specifically that you did that helped you fix this issue for yourself? For what it's worth, I almost never go "heavy". I was snatching and hang snatching and pause snatching 40-60kg primarily for several months before attempting the 80kg in that video, only to find out there was almost zero carryover or improvement into my third pull. Which I suppose is a sign that I did not manage to actually tackle the underlying issue correctly, despite trying with lighter weights.
    No, i didn't really. I cant really help without typing out a goddamn article. Its just so much easier in person. Is there a decent coach nearby? club? I mean a GOOD coach, not one thats just going to keep helping you bang your head against the same wall. They can be hard to find. I have to drive 50 miles minimum. Even thats no guarantee, like i said, no one was able to help me with that one.

    What did i do? Personally, i needed to quit using my strength and start using speed and power. There are even different kinds ov power, and thats one area where i got confused. Many good coaches miss that one, and in my case, we all did. Myself, i was cranking on that bar (at the beginning) pretty much all the way to lockout. Why not? I could, so i did. Ov course, this only gets you so far. I blasted past everyone in noob numbers so fast i thought i was the next coming ov Aramnau, but i hit that wall so fucking hard and fast my retinas detached. So i started working on my pull, basically, finishing it at the extension, before the arms bend (this will probably be misconstrued). I became obsessed... like stalker in the bushes obsessed with positions. I started watching ONLY the true technical masters (and be very verrry careful here...). I held myself to 'good' form and thus my maxes dropped massively. One thing i did i'm not sure if others (who come at this from other sports), was to 'reset' all my maxes. There were now my old 'thug' maxes, and now my 'good form' or 'technical' maxes. I worked on moving those numbers up, within my set parameters (what is and isn't acceptable as good form). See, the way I lift, in weightlifting, powerlifting or anything, is that i need targets, I need numbers to beat. So going from say, a thuglife 140kg C&J to a 'good' 80kg C&J... heh... well that was hard. But i just kept picturing Aukhadov or Ivanov in my head, and slowly pushed up those 'good' maxes. For me, goals have to be realistic, so dropping to an 80kg C&J and aiming towards 140 (with good form), was utterly pointless. I had to pretend that 80 was my true max, and that i'd never done 140. Next goal? 85. And so on...

    Expectation is the mother ov all heartache.

    Go to one ov your wife/girlfriend's wine night sign-making nights and paint that onto some distressed pallet plank or something, then nail it to the gym wall facing your platform. This is especially important for strong noobs/powerlifters.

    I dont know exactly why my case was so bad. I'm powerful (in a good way), i'm as flexible as anyone whos not a freak or elite, definitely flexible enough anyways (enough that it wasn't causing my issues), got plenty ov speed, nerve, stamina, recovery, etc. Everything you need. But i think i just really fucked myself powerlifting, and the unique way i do that. That involved extremely heavy bodybuilding volume, ridiculous pull movements like rows and machines, and i think i just got far too strong in those screwy motor patterns. I mean, when you can rep a 500lb Pendlay row and strict curl world record numbers (at the time) at 231, i'm pretty sure thats going to screw with the way you clean... (and here's the kicker: ) whether you think it does or not. Hahahahahagrooaaannnn...

    If i could go back and coach myself i'd have cleaned ALL that shit up in a year, tops. But without any coaching, well, it took far longer. Insert some bad coaching (or at least bad, or misused ideas), and that adds even more time. So, thats pretty much fucked any lifting career i'd have in this, but... on the other hand it makes me a good coach.


    Anyways, probably still doesn't help you. But yeah...
    Last edited by Judas; 05-05-2019 at 09:13 AM.

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    I basically have this same problem, obviously weaker, but still at one point I could muscle snatch more than my full squat snatch for a triple. (only 60kg, which sucks, but still.) And with said numbers I could pull 80-90kg to chin height no problem as well.

    For me I think one thing that helped was sort of going backwards. By this, working on getting your overhead squat and snatch balance up. Now my specific issue is basically my pull sucks (can hang more than I can from the floor on both the snatch and clean) and I tend to not make hip contact/keep the bar close from the floor. But if you work on the snatch balance and get it high, then getting under does get a lot easier, as you're not afraid to go under the weight. Your pull can be perfect, but the bar still needs to actually get locked out overhead. I think in your case for a clean crisp 80kg snatch, you might need a 120-130kg or so snatch balance, then for 100kg you'd need 140-150. Maybe it just works that way for longer limbed/slower people, needing that much reserve strength. (For me to cleanly hang snatch 62 without powering it under, I needed a very easy feeling 80x2 snatch balance.) A lot of lifters snatch balance a lot more than they actually snatch, so it's not exactly a problem if you get overly strong at snatch balances (Koklyaev did I think 235 or 240 with a 200ish kg snatch, and Kirksman's Coach Wu could do 180+ with a snatch of only 140-150 or so.) It's just the way the cookie crumbles, and also it carries over a bit to the jerk as well. I think both types of snatch balances, light and heavy might be best. By this, the sort of snatch grip power jerk + overhead squat, and one with no "drive" with lighter weights where you really feel yourself pulling yourself under the bar, even if you're doing this with 40-50kg, sometimes maybe with no foot movement as well.

    I think as well, don't be afraid of sets of 4-5+ reps done somewhat rapidly (as in, hands on the bar the whole time, not having a coffee between reps kind of thing.) For myself personally, I notice even if I'm powering my first reps, by rep 5 in a set like that I'm getting under very cleanly, because you're basically out of strength in the set and need to use technique.

    Again, shitty lifter for sure, just some thoughts.
    Last edited by celicaxx; 05-06-2019 at 07:47 PM.

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