Mike and the “Oh So Fun Squat Clean”:
Today’s topic: “When the arms bend, the power ends”
Technique is everything. In the two pics above, one is of a CrossFitter that was posted recently on crossfit.com that was used to show a slight early arm pull with triple extension on the power snatch and the other is of Ryan doing the same. I wanted to use these pics as a teaching point. Both athletes are in the “second pull” with triple extension in the power snatch. Both are bending the arms slightly early as the bar is still rising. In both photos the ankles/knees/hips of the two athletes have all reached full extension (i.e. open joints) while the arms have begun to bend. This marks the transition to the “third pull” which is the transition point when the barbell has reached its highest point and the arms bend as the lifter begins to explosively pull under the barbell to receive the bar overhead (the “first pull” being the pull off the floor).
My interpretation of both photos is that they have really good form and have reached the top of their “second pull” and are beginning the “third pull” under the bar. I also think Ryan’s form is slightly better (lifting form only of course) since he has a slight lean back showing he is generating more “speed through the middle” which translates to greater momentum on the barbell upwards. However, both could have better form by eliminating their early arm bend. Nit-picky sure but that early arm bend may mean the difference in getting more weight up.
One of the most common mistakes on cleans or snatches is that the lifter bends the arms early in the second pull or worse yet prior to reaching full triple extension. A great rule of thumb I learned from Coach Burgener is “When the arms bend; the power ends”. You want to achieve the most power you can in the lift to be the most efficient. This means letting that bar rise with the straightest arms possible before pulling under. It ideally reaches the highest point when you reach triple extension and then you bend to pull underneath. At it’s worst if you are already bending your arms while your hips/knees are bent and your ankles are flat on the floor you essentially are performing a reverse arm curl. So remember the three pulls, focus on exploding, and let that momentum work to your advantage and you will feel the surprise of the barbell “floating” up while you pull under it. The list of things we all have to work on just never ends!
Read “A Tale Of Three Pulls” by CrossFit Orlando
Photo of Second Pull from Catalyst Athletics:
Note less arm bend, and the barbell is much higher. And heavier.