Olympic weightlifting is a paradox. This is one of the reasons it is so difficult to become good at, or at least confident at. You must be fast and slow at the same time. You must be aggressive but simultaneously patient.
Often time we feel like we need to think about twelve things all at the same time while performing a lift. This can lead to paralysis by analysis… you’re thinking too much!
This week we want to focus on one thing in particular, the feet. More specifically how the feet are moving during the Olympic lifts, and yes, the feet need to be moving during the lifts. Don’t go to your coach and say, “well Lu Xiaojun doesn’t move his feet, and I feel like I lift a lot like him.” That won’t go over well.
We must move the feet for many reasons but two in particular. For one, we must move our feet to transition from our jumping stance to our squatting stance. During our set up for the lifts we need to have our feet under our hips in order to create as much possible force upwards.
Think of this as if I asked you to dunk a basketball, your feet will naturally step under your hips because your body inherently knows that is how we will jump the highest.
However, weightlifting isn’t a matter of how high we can pull the bar up, rather how quickly we can pull ourselves under the bar after it reaches apex height. Because we need to squat under the bar to optimize the lift, it is imperative we transition our feet from our jumping stance to our squatting stance. This allows up to receive the bar as low as possible.
Secondly, it is crucial to move the feet in order to create speed under the bar. As we are transitioning from the jump stance to the squat stance, we are pulling our knees to our chest allowing ourselves to fall. As our upper body is finishing pulling the bar as high as it will go, picking our knees up will dramatically speed up our ability to get low and under the bar. It is the two, the upper body and lower body, working together that creates true speed, all being initiated by the feet leaving the ground.
As you are practicing the Olympic lift, we encourage you to focus on one or two cues at a time. One of which should always be the feet in my opinion. This will stop you from having the paralysis by analysis, and let you see quicker progress.