Olympic Lifting “The First Pull

Coach Stu | SF Gym | West Coast CrossFit | Perth, Australia | www.sfgym.com.auCoach Stu Wyper

In olympic weightlifting the 1st pull is when the barbell is taken from the floor to the knee. In many novice lifters this is commonly the cause of the majority of failed lifts in either the snatch or clean when performing the full movement from the floor.

If done incorrectly the lifter will end up raising their hips 1st, leaving the shoulders behind which will result in the lifter getting pulled onto their toes early on in the lift which will more times than not end with a failed lift lost forward of the athlete.

The correct sequencing to perform the 1st pull correctly requires coordination of both the knees and chest moving together to achieve no change in the angle from the shoulder to the hips.

If you find that you are consistently losing your lifts forward when completing either a clean or a snatch chances are that you are lifting your hips before your shoulders in the 1st pull.

To correct this deficiency you have probably seen the accessory exercise called a liftoff incorporated into our current programming. This exercise isolates the 1st pull to just that and allows the athlete to master the sequencing of body parts to achieve a correct 1st pull.

The lifter initiates the movement by drawing their knees back to allow the bar to travel up the shin in a straight line, at the same time the shoulders must raise at the same angle as the hips. If you were to draw a line from hip to shoulder there should be no change in angle from shoulder to hip at the top of the knee.

Getting the 1st pull as close to perfect as you possibly can is the difference between getting the lift or losing it forward like in the following video. As shown in the video above the 1st and 3rd lift are close to perfect in regards to the 1st pull but still require a lot more fine tuning. The second lift the hips come up a fraction too early and cause the bar to travel forward just enough to cause the error.

Breaking the more complex movements into its smaller less complicated components we can train muscle memory into our lifts which allows the lifter to have a clear mind when performing the snatch or clean instead of trying to think about all of the steps required to achieve a good lift.

Specific weightlifting classes are held at SF twice a week, Wednesday evenings at 7pm and Saturday mornings at 7.30am, they’re a great way to improve your technique. Members on Weightlifting membership or Full have access to these classes. Want to upgrade your membership drop us an email. top

Originally published in our monthly newsletter December 2015. Like what you are reading? Sign up for our newsletter at the top right of this page.