Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Development of the Clean & Jerk, Part Seven - David Webster

Rising With The Weight


Undoubtedly the split style is most efficient in recovery from the low clean position. The splitter, if he pulls the weight correctly, can nearly always stand up with it even with maximum loads. This is not so with squatters; they often fail even when the weight is safely pulled in. The smaller anterior-posterior base and the difference of body levers makes a completely different story to the recovery from the split clean.

In the split style the lifter overcomes inertia in the low position by pushing backward and slightly upward with the forward leg, taking care not to knee touch. Having shared the load on both legs he then uses the back leg partly as a pivot until both legs are nearly straight and he retraces his front foot a few inches and, keeping the bar correctly positioned, he then moves the back leg forward into line. In less important competitions and lower standards of lifting we still see some forward recoveries. The only time you see these in world championships is when the bar is out of alignment and the lifter has to "catch up."

Film analysis of the recovery from the squat clean are very revealing. Many lifters have the weight safely held at the shoulders but just cannot get up with it. A common sticking point is very obvious and lifters adopt different methods of getting through this difficult range. The sticking point occurs where the thigh muscles are working in their middle range . . . there is a long horizontal lever between the fulcrum and the vertical downward force. Of course this is not the only lever, the back and shinbones also play an important part. The different lengths and angles of these have a bearing on the sticking point but it is interesting to note that the actual sticking point varies but little in the majority of squatters. The burning question is HOW CAN THIS STICKING POINT BE OVERCOME?

I have seen Kurinov bounce several times and rebound to give enough momentum to keep him moving through the hardest point! A trifle hard on the joints I think.

Many lifters recover on the rebound of various areas of soft flesh coming together as the weight is cleaned. The thighs against the backs of the legs provide the main rebound and this, of course, overcomes inertia.

Other top lifters, having settled in a low position begin the upward movement by tipping the hips backward and upward and making sure at the same time that the elbows are well forward to avoid dropping the weight. Another very common way amongst top lifters is to drive upwards as hard as possible and when the sticking point is reached the back is adjusted to allow the knees to straighten a bit more. When the knees are straightened past the sticking point, the back is moved back to the original position and the movement continued.

The back is adjusted in two different way. Some lifters round the back at this stage to allow the legs to keep moving. Physiotherapists are against this action although there is a school of thought that, providing the back is rounded under control and not to the extreme, there is nothing wrong with this action.

The other back adjustment is made by keeping the back flat but allowing the hips to keep rising and the shoulders tip forward slightly to get the thigh bones past the hardest part of the recovery.

IN BOTH CASE THE READJUSTMENT MUST BE MADE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE AND NEITHER MOVEMENT CARRIED TO THE EXTREME. I advise that the back movement is only done enough to allow the legs to keep straightening when they reach the hardest point. Over-exaggeration of either movement could result in back or sacroiliac injury. Of course, more immediate results are evident if you overdo it - you will lose balance or drop the weight forward.

Veres of Hungary adopts a very distinctive maneuver at this stage of the lift. He tucks his chin over the bar as though he were holding it onto his chest with his chin.

On assuming the upright position, the thumbs are often unhooked and the hands momentarily relaxes and readjusted. If the bar has slipped onto the fingertips and feels insecure, the time to heave the bar into the right position is on the FINAL stage of the recovery.

In both split and squat styles there should be maintained economy of effort and the minimum of delay - remember the Jerk is still to come.


HOLDING THE BAR FOR THE JERK

In discussing the starting position for the clean, the hook grip was advocated, but this grip IS NOT maintained after recovery and in the jerk. Indeed, many lifters will find they loose the hook during the clean itself. This is particularly common where, on recovery the elbows are lifted high and the weight goes on the fingers. Whether or not you disengage the hook grip during the clean itself, you will have to adjust your hands before the jerk. The hook is to help you to CLEAN but I would go so far as to say it's a disadvantage in the jerk.

Here is a tip copied from the great lifters. If you find your little finger has come off the bar or you have lost your grip in any way during the clean you should heave it into a more comfortable position DURING THE VERY LAST STAGE OF THE RECOVERY FROM THE CLEAN.

Even if you have maintained your grip it is essential to relax it at the stage between the clean and the jerk. All unnecessary tensions should be discouraged and eliminated; these tight grips are, at this stage, major mental and physical energy drains. In the jerk a tight grip is just not needed. Lifters have been known to hold the bar at the shoulders, release their grip, give themselves a clap, replace the hands and continue!

Many lifters hold the bar only on the fingertips at the start of the jerk. These facts are quoted merely to show how unnecessary a tight grip is after the clean. RELAX YOUR GRIP AFTER GETTING THE BAR TO THE SHOULDERS AND THEN GRASP AGAIN FAIRLY LOOSELY. The bar need not be in the center of the palm for the jerk. The champions seldom, if ever, hold it here. It can be on the pads of the hands just under the fingers. Again, the hands may be angled slightly to reduce tension. If your hands are fully pronated as you hold the bar at the shoulders there will almost certainly be tension unless you have a wide grip.

Naturally you must tighten your fingers round the bar as you jerk, but it is not as fierce a grip in any way comparable with he hold necessary in the clean.

Considerable tension and even misdirection of the bar is often caused in the jerk by these "death grip" methods - so guard against this fault.

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