This morning I was working with one of my athletes on the transition out of the first pull at the top of the knee into the second pull at the hips. She was struggling to achieve a good power position with the bar brushing her hips on its way up her body.
Here is a great picture of likely the only time that Jason Hoggan has ever achieved the first pull properly. This is what you should look like at the top of the knee with the knees back and the shoulders in front of the bar. However, what often happens when lifters reach this position well is we immediately shift our knees under the bar and the bar hits our quads bouncing away from us. Also, what can often happen is lifters do not engage their lats and as they progress toward the hips the bar stays out away from them and never makes contact with the hip. This often creates the early arm bend that we so often see in new lifters.
One of the biggest keys to prevent either of these problems from happening is continuing to push the heels in the ground once the bar passes the knees while also engaging the lats. This allows the bar to stay close and maintains the tension in the hamstrings and ultimately allows the lifter to get to the proper power position at the hips.
Here is a great picture of Melanie Roach’s power position when the bar meets her hips. Notice here that her feet are still flat. This is an indication that as the bar passed Melanie’s knees she elongated the first pull by continuing to drive her heels in the ground and maintaining hamstring tension. When we cut the first pull off early and start the second pull early we miss this position and as a result miss the excess power that stems from this position. Remember to drive the knees back off the floor and hold that position well past the knees.
Here are two examples from the blocks of it being done right and being done wrong. Happy Lifting!