First things first, the technique I am about to describe is by no means THE ‘Chinese’ way. This is the technique taught to me by Coach Pang and what he passes onto his students. Every coach and province has their own style of lifting, heck, even lifters under the same coach have different styles (think Liao Hui and Lu Xiao Jun). For the record, I do not snatch completely like the way I was taught in China as there are INCREDIBLE mobility requirements to be able to. My personal technique is heavily influenced by my time in China, but also under the guidance of my current coach, Ali from Zubin Weightlifting Club.
In this two part article I will break down the snatch from the floor to the extension, followed by the turnover, receiving position and some drills for practice.
The First Pull
In the first pull, Coach Pang asserts that the lifter must be ‘relaxed’ and ‘tight’ in the right places. Upper back, lower back and abs are the areas of particular importance.
The lower back MUST be locked in the arched position in order to let the weight ‘hang’ off the body as the barbell is lifted off the floor. The shoulders must be pulled back to engage the lats (but not retracted), and the chest is extended (open). When this is done properly, you feel an INTENSE tightness down the side of your lats, mid back and your lower back. This is how you will cope with the heavy load of the barbell pulling you down.
There is no set rule as to where the lifter should place their feet, but the feet are generally turned out and knees are out. This allows for a more vertical chest off the floor, and the shoulders to start either in line or slightly in front of the bar.
As the lifter begins pushing off the floor, they must use their quads, lower back, and upper back in UNISON to ‘bring’ the barbell off the floor in a straight path. Contrary to what I thought initially, the lower back is HEAVILY involved all throughout the entire pulling movement. Once the bar is past the knees, this begins our second pull.
The Second Pull
At this point, things start becoming more ‘Chinese.’ Some coaches will teach an aggressive finishing of the hips, shooting the hips through to create an aggressive hip drive. Others may teach a rising of the chest until the torso is almost vertical, at which point the lifter will extend onto their toes quickly to finish the extension. Neither is wrong, they are just different.
Coach Pang however, believes the second pull should still remain ‘relaxed.’ The bar must still ‘hang’ off the lats, lower back and upper back. In fact, the majority of the barbell’s weight SHOULD be felt here. The chest is pushed forward, maintaining position over the bar, while the lats are used to sweep the bar into the power position.
First 4 frames – perfect straight line off the ground keeping chest over. Frames 5 and 6 – sweeping the bar into the power position. Frame 7 – full extension, ankles, knees, hips, back, traps. Beautiful!
The Power Position
The pull off the floor, transition above the knees all amounts to this – the power position. For Coach Pang, the power position is directly inside the hip crease. He taught me that this position is the most POWERFUL position to transfer all your power into the bar. At this point, you are a loaded spring ready to pop. If you did the first and second pull correctly, you should have slightly bent knees, hips still flexed, chest in line or over the bar slightly. Once the bar is CLOSE to this point, you aggressively ‘deng tui’ which is shown as a violent punch of the toes, resulting in a full triple extension and POP the bar should fly up. The emphasis here though is you do NOT bump the bar out. It must go directly up.
The pull from the floor in the snatch is the make or break of the lift. Coach Pang stresses that the pull must be controlled, relaxed up until the power point. Only once you reach this position are you allowed to ‘go.’ Any point before that and it is inefficient. Hence, you quite often see long looking pulls in the Chinese lifters (especially the females).
The key points are:
- Your start position must be set properly – tight upper and lower back, shoulders in line or slightly over the bar. Arms loose.
- Be patient in the second pull. Wait. Maintain your position until it reaches your hip crease.
- When it’s time to extend, extend hard! Use everything!
In part 2 I will talk about the turnover, receiving position and accessory exercises that I was taught to develop the snatch. Stay tuned!