This post is going to get a little technical so bear with me, and I will try to keep it as straightforward as possible. From time to time, you probably hear myself or one of the other coaches talking about body to bar contact when explaining or demonstrating cleans and snatches. For our purposes, “body to bar contact” is the brief contact made by the hips (in the snatch) or upper thigh (in the clean) with the barbell as the athlete reaches full hip extension. This contact should be very brief as it occurs at the quickest and most violent moment of the second pull and ends when the athlete quickly pulls themselves under the bar for the catch. This contact should not push the bar away from the athlete but should aid the bar in continuing its vertical acceleration. Now, what does this all mean and why is it important? Proper body to bar contact not only makes these lifts easier and more efficient, but it also is a good barometer for proper or improper positioning in the rest of the lift. To get a little more detailed, let us work from the top down, much in the same way that we do when teaching these lifts in the On Ramp program at CrossFit Ktown.
Violent hip extension is critical to proper body to bar contact. When contact is made correctly, the hips should be close to vertical with the shoulders slightly behind the bar. To quote Greg Everett of Catalyst Athletics, “With this kind of connection, the bar is accelerated with the hips’ extension, it’s able to remain traveling vertical without as much disruption, and it will actually get a bit of an upward push from the hips as they come through because they’ll be moving up under the bar rather than just slamming forward against it.”
Immediately prior to body to bar contact, the athlete’s torso should be nearly vertical with both the upper and lower back engaged and knees slightly bent. If the shoulders are too far out over the bar, extension of the hips will push the bar away from the athlete horizontally, limiting how much weight they can lift.
Active lats allow the athlete to apply pressure to the bar that will keep the bar close to the athlete’s center of mass as the bar rises above the athlete’s knees off the floor. Active lats also help insure that the athletes is keeping their upper back engaged throughout the lift.
In conclusion, proper body to bar contact is both indicative of proper positioning AND will aid in continuing the bar’s acceleration along its vertical path which will make these lifts easier. Just some thoughts to keep in mind for the next cycle as we work on our Olympic lifts.
Always working smarter not harder,