One of the major elements of the golf swing is timing of the hips and the hands. Great golfers have perfectly time their hip swing to the ball in perfect conjunction with their hands. Good golfers know that if that timing is a little bit off, the ball’s flight will be a little bit off. If my hips come through too fast I will likely leave the club face open and push the ball away from me. If you’re hands come through too fast
then I will close the club face too soon and pull the ball to my inside. I’m not a golf expert I just seen that happen over and over and over again with my swing. There is probably 1000 other things that contribute to that ball flight but I know that timing of the hips and the hands is particularly crucial.
Same is true of weight lifters. The hands (really the arms) and the hips must work in perfect harmony. If I bend my arms too early before my hips have reached full extension then I take away the benefit of the leg drive and suck bar velocity right out of my lifts. As I have written before it is important that lifters wait to engage their arms until they have reached maximum bar velocity at the end of the second pull. Engaging the arms too early will create a situation where the power exhibited by the violent hip extension serves only to unbend the arms rather than to move the barbell. Think of your arms as shock absorbers and if they are bent they will absorb the shock of the hip extension rather than allowing the barbell to absorb that shock and move faster.
The other side of the coin is what happens when you don’t engage the arms at all. When you are extremely violent and precise in the extension of the hip but your timing with your hands lags behind. The arms to serve a purpose in the lifts. Their purpose is two-fold (A) keep the bar close and (B) create a fast third pull in which the lifter pulls violently under the bar. The arms are useless in creating bar velocity upward as the weight is just too heavy and the necessity for a fast third pull takes away any advantage that might create. The arms serve their best purpose when they are utilized to help pull the lifter down into the squat position at the end of the second pull. The bar reaches maximum velocity when the hip is at full extension. From that point on, The bar’s only slowing down. Thus it would seem most beneficial that from the time you have reached full hip extension the best utilization of your arms is to pull you down as the bar moves up. If you don’t utilize the arms this way the bar will be forced to swing around your body rather than moving up your body. This long arc of a barbell track creates all kinds of problems. This “swinging” of the bar is what causes lifters to jump forward, swing the barbell all the way around their head and miss it behind, and simply miss lifts out front because the barbell does not swing far enough to get over there center of pressure. Arms are used at the right time to help the lifter move faster to the bottom of the squat and to keep the bar close to the body. They are useless for any other reason and if they are poorly timed they only serve to slow the bar down.
Just as elite golfers have the timing between their hips and their hands down perfectly so also do elite weightlifters with their hips and arms. Watch some slow-motion video of weight lifters during the third pull. You’ll see a straight arm at the start and the bend of the arm used to keep the bar very very close to their body.
Happy Masters Week! Go Bubba!