Q: In your book Ask Coach Poliquin you talked about the value of performing Olympic lifts and their variations for bodybuilding. I did power cleans in high school, and my form is not bad, but my training partner says that sometimes I jump forward and sometimes I jump backward. Other than seeking the help of a coach experienced in these lifts, is there a simple method I can use to correct the problem?
A: For some weightlifters, jumping backward may be a more efficient method of pulling. Naim Suleymanoglu, pound-for-pound the greatest weightlifter of all time, would jump back nearly a foot during his snatches—and in one interview he said that it’s not a problem because he jumps to the same position every time. If you’re jumping forward and backward, though, there is obviously a problem.
Matthias Steiner is the ’08 Olympic champion in the superheavyweight division. I recently saw a photo of him performing snatches, and on the platform there was a piece of tape that provided him feedback about his foot position. That trick may work for you in helping you develop a consistent technique. Try making a change to your technique, and when you have completed the lift, look at your feet (after you lower the barbell). That way you can determine if the new technique worked. By the way, if athletes are jumping forward during a clean, it’s often because they are starting with the barbell too close to their shins. If they are jumping backward, they may be standing too far away from the barbell. If correcting that doesn’t work, the other advice still holds: Seek out the help of a coach experienced in teaching these lifts.
Editor’s note: Charles Poliquin is recognized as one of the world’s most successful strength coaches, having coached Olympic medalists in 12 different sports, including the U.S. women’s track-and-field team for the 2000 Olympics. He’s spent years researching European journals (he’s fluent in English, French and German) and speaking with other coaches and scientists in his quest to optimize training methods. For more on his books, seminars and methods, visit www.CharlesPoliquin.com. IM