CrossFIt Open Workout 18.5 Recap: Switch Up The Way You Train

How to Improve Clients Olympic Lifting Technique in Program Design

A client’s overall ‘form’ on the barbell matters especially when it comes to Olympic lifting. Improvements in lifting technique are critical to the long-term improvement of clients. Most typical general population clients are hampered by bad technique. Unfortunately, these bad habits only become solidified and reinforced as through increased training volume and the intensity in their sessions.

So what’s the solution?

Due to the complex nature of Olympic lifts, clients need to perform aspects of the movement to help build it from the ground up or top down. Essentially, the key is to focus on ‘slowing down’ their sessions and having them focus on the basics of each specific movement rather than the movement in its entirety. Remember that movements like the snatch and clean are a composite of several events that happen in sequence. For example in the snatch, the client pulls the bar from the ground, then the client pulls the bar into the hip and extends quickly and races under the bar to a full locked out position with the arms. If a client is struggling with the snatch,  a coach’s role is to discover where their technique is lacking through an assessment and build a progression to improve it. However, in order to improve Olympic lifting technique, coaches first need an understanding of what strength speed contractions are and how to improve them. In order to support coaches, OPEX Fitness has created a guide to Strength Speed providing sample programming and in-depth concept explorations.

As mentioned above most general population clients will be hampered by bad technique. It is a coach’s job to recognize this technique and build a progression that will create reinforce good movement patterns over time. Below are two examples of bad technique spotted by a coach and the accompanying progression to reinforce proper movement.

Example 1

Client Sarah has a hard time fully extending in her 2nd pull on the snatch. As a result, heavier weights/loads tend to be missed out front due to lack of full extension and close proximity to the barbell as it travels overhead. Integrating tall and high-hang position work can help force Sarah to finish her pull:

Snatch technique

A. Tall power snatch; 2 reps @ 65-75# per minute x 5 minutes (vertical dip and drive / tight to the body)
B. High-hang squat snatches; 2 reps @ 85-95# per minute x 5 minutes
C. Back squat @ 3211; 5 tough reps x 5 sets, rest 2-3 minutes between sets (Hips underneath torso; driving with chest out of the hole!)
D. EMOM x 20 minutes:
1st – 12 Russian kettlebell swings @ 32kg (drive hips hard)
2nd – 20 seconds L-Sit on parallettes
3rd – 8 glute-hamstring raises @ 30X0
4th – 20 seconds flutter kicks in hollow body position

(Notes: This complex is forcing Sarah to learn how to create force through the ground using her legs. We progress it with some high-hang squat snatches to further the distance the bar has to lower, reinforcing great pulling mechanics and connection to the bar. Pause back squats help re-pattern leg drive out of the hole/bottom versus shifting the load to her back.)

Example 2

Client Marc let’s his hips shoot up too fast as the load increases in his Olympic lifts. We need to reinforce proper positions off the floor where the hips are down with a vertical torso.

Clean technique + pulls

A. Power clean below the knee; 2 reps every 90 seconds x 8 sets; 4 @ 175#, 4 @ 195# (Feel fast and snappy; Extend and reach on each rep)
B. Clean high-pull — mid-hang clean high-pull; 1.1 x 5 sets; 2 minutes between sets; 185-205# (Perfect positions off the floor, keep that bar tight to the body)
C. Trap bar deadlift @ 3131; 4 tough reps x 5 sets, rest 2 minutes between sets; (Hips down, PUSHING with legs!)
D1. Sumo good morning @ 2010; 8 tough reps x 3 sets, rest 30 seconds
D2. Sled push; 50m @ grind pace / constant movement x 3 sets, rest 2 minutes

(Notes: Utilizing the low-hang (below the knee) position forces Marc to reach and extend on his pull. This is followed with some clean high-pulls to help dial in his extension and pull from the floor. Trap bar deadlifts are great tools to help minimic a more vertical torso off the floor, forcing the client to drive with the legs more than a regular deadlift. Ensure the client focuses on not going too heavy or too fast until they train their body to move vertically properly.)

If you are curious to learn more about the intricacies of strength speed contractions and how to program it to download our free guide to Strength Speed.

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