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Olympic Lifting Tips: The Brush/ Bang & 2nd Pull

Lydia Valentin - Snatch and C&J: Courtesy of Hook Grip

OK athletes. Here's your Oly lesson for the day. There are three common mistake we regularly witness so I'll break down the slow mo part of the video so you can pause and rewind as many times as you want. Chances are, if you're guilty of one of these, you're guilty of all three! Slow mo starts @ 1:17. Click HERE to load the video in another window.

Pause the video at 1:31. This is what's referred to as "brush" or "bang". The terms are both common and interchangeable. It refers to the portion of the lift at the end of the 1st pull (from the ground to mid thigh) and the beginning of the 2nd pull. Notice the bar is brushing/ banging Lydia's thigh and in fact, you can see the bar pull her shorts up a bit!

The 1st mistake we witness is people never making contact between the thighs and the bar. What do we know about weight? The farther it is away from our midline, the heavier it feels and the harder it is to control! If you're not brushing/ banging, you aren't as close to your midline as you could be. Bypassing this element robs you of tremendous explosive power, whether your attempting a one rep max or trying to finish a WOD after your well into a fatigued state. When you're gassed and want to keep going you can fall back on perfect technique to get that bar moving so you can call TIME!

Mistake 2: Scoop, NOT Swing. Notice as the video continues that she appears to be scooping the bar up with her hips to move it upwards, not outwards away from her midline. Too often we see athletes poke their butt way back and then kettle bell swing the bar in a horizontal motion away from the mid-line. That is counter-intuitive to what we want the bar to do... which is to go UP! The reason most people get into this swinging motion is because they're twerkin', not workin'. What this means is at the initiation of the first pull, the only thing moving up is the butt, instead of the butt AND shoulders rising together. Notice as Lydia begins the 1st pull, her hips and shoulders rise together. The angle of her back doesn't change UNTIL AFTER the bar passes her knees. If you're swing the bar out with your hips, you can't be pulling up with your arms at the same time. Your arms are just along for the ride and to re-initiate a strong, vertical arm pull at this point is impossible. This is one of the reasons athletes fail to turn over the bar. Rewind and watch it a few times!

The last mistake we notice is people not finishing their 2nd pull. Pause the video at 1:32. This is where many athletes quit pulling. You'll notice the torso is completely vertical... but we're not done pulling! Pause the video again at 1:35. Notice how far back her shoulders are from vertical. THIS is the end of the 2nd pull and it's what you'll hear us refer to as "act like you're doing a back flip". Rewind that part and watch how much distance her bar travels vertically between 1:32 & 1:35. It's perhaps 6-8" and there's very little effort on her part to get the bar through this portion because she's so explosive up to this point. That 6-8" you lose on the 2nd pull can translate into a huge PR and is easily the difference between being able to pull underneath the bar and missing miserably!

The Fix: The brush/ bang and not finishing the 2nd pull can almost always be fixed by practicing clean or snatch pulls with heavy weight. We also que our athletes (during technique work) to perform 2 or 3 clean/ snatch pulls prior to executing the lift. This allows the body to ingrain some quick muscle memory. As noted above, the swing is due in large part to the butt rising first at the start of the first pull which is indicative of a weak lower back and/ or poor technique. If this is your problem, you should do strength work on halting dead lifts. This is simply dead lifting the weight from the ground to the top of the knees, concentrating on keeping the back angle unchanged by ensuring the hips and shoulders rise together. Practice this with both a clean grip and a snatch width grip.

The Takeaway: Lifting is fun. Lifting efficiently is funner! There's a lot to learn in CrossFit and just when you think you've got it figured out, along come highly technical Olympic lifts! All our coaches are here to help. If you feel wonky on a lift, you probably are. If so, schedule a PT session with one of our coaches and lets figure out a plan of attack! Stay frosty~

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