I was explaining tonight to our beginner weightlifting group that one of the most important things they can do in their lifting is keep their torso over the bar through the first pull. This is no surprise to yall who read this regularly. However, what I have noticed is that often we make the bar-track our indicator for the first pull and sometimes don’t watch what our shoulders are doing. Often we can be moving the bar back off the floor all the while be moving our shoulders back as well. When this happens we actually are not creating any leverage at all, as we simply are moving our body with the barbell instead of staying out in front of it with our shoulders.
Here is a good exercise that we have Natalie do that helps keep the shoulders out where they can create the most leverage. Basically she sets up in her starting position with her shoulders touching a vertical rod of some sort. You can do this with with a pullup rig like Natalie does OR have a partner hold a PVC pipe in contact with your shoulder. All you do from the start position is complete a first pull making sure that your shoulders stay in contact with the vertical rod and your back angle remains consistent.. This forces your torso to stay over the bar completely AND engrains a movement pattern for the best mechanical advantage.
Notice in the picture at the top that Natalie has created a ton of leverage over the bar with this exercise. To say she struggles with this concept would be like saying a penguin struggles to fly. Ok maybe not that bad but she definitely considers the first pull a weakness. This exercise helps her to counteract her desire to get behind the bar too soon AND forces her to get stronger in a position of weakness.
Grab a partner and give it a shot. Your snatch and clean will thank you. (And so will your hamstrings)
Here’s video repeat explaining the first pull.