Methods of Teaching the Weightlifting Exercises

Methods of Teaching the Weightlifting Exercises

G.G. He

Olymp 1:45 – 46:1992

Translated by Andrew Charniga, Jr.

Sportivny Press©

An analysis of the world’s top weightlifters revealed that their technical preparedness has insufficiencies. This is reflected in the instability of their results in the snatch and the clean and jerk. L.N. Sokolov said, as far back as 1982, “we are lacking a scientifically substantiated system of technique training.

In this article, Sokolov suggested a new approach to teaching the technique of the weightlifting exercises; the essence of this plan is to employ sequential, specially devised assistance means and methods to develop the fundamental mechanisms for the rational performance of the weightlifting exercises.

The biomechanical structure of the weightlifting exercises was divided into three periods and six phases by A.A. Lukashev (1972) from his analysis of the snatch. An analogous structure was formulated for the clean and for the jerk from the chest by B.A. Podlivayev, V.I. Frolov and N.P. Levshunov, E. A. Krasov from their analysis of these exercises. Apparently, all of this research was done without taking into account the performance of the squat under the barbell. However, the foundation for the successful performance of the exercise depends on the fixation of the barbell in the squat position.

The representation of weightlifting technique by division of the exercises into periods and phases reflects basically the mechanics of the movements and not the biological and psychological aspects of the performance of the snatch and the clean and jerk.

It is appropriate to conceptualize weightlifting technique as a composite of working mechanisms flowing from one to the next.

The movement mechanism is a relatively independent structure of elements comprising the competition exercise as a whole with, inherent to it, its own peculiarities such as the disposition of the kinematic links of the system (the bordering positions) at the beginning of the working mechanism, the increasing or decreasing support reaction and other parameters which reflect the mechanics of the motor actions, and the output, sequential inclusion and exclusion of specific muscle groups which participate in the work and reflect the biological aspect of how the movement is organized. This also involves the motor task (aim) accomplished in executing a specific movement mechanism required from the standpoint of the psychological organization of the required action.

In our opinion the structure of all weightlifting exercises consist of five, relatively independent structural elements of technique which  flow from one to the next.

1.        The Starting Movement is the athlete’s interaction with the apparatus and the support. It is designed to prepare the system to effectively perform the structural elements which follow  jumping (leaping upward, thrusting).

2.        The Jump is the interaction which occurs within the system during the thrusting of the feet from the platform designed to “throw” the barbell upward and to create the appropriate conditions for the next working mechanism, the “catch up.”

3.        The “Catch Up” is the interaction of the system to shift the sportsman’s mass under the apparatus up to the point the barbell begins falling and the creation of the advantageous conditions for the mechanism which follows the receiving of  the apparatus in the squat position.

4.        The “Reception” is the interaction of the system to reduce the shock of the falling barbell to the kinematic links of the shoulder girdle, arms, and trunk as well as to maintain a stable dynamic equilibrium in the squat position; this is necessary to perform the subsequent movement mechanism which is the recovery.

5.        The Recovery is the interaction designed to recover from the squat position using a “bounce” (in the clean). The weightlifter’s training should be designed to develop all the mechanisms which make  up the competition movements.

The following sequence of exercises should be applied in the beginning to learn the competition exercises; they are

1.     Overhead squat for the snatch, front squat for the clean, split position with the barbell at arms length overhead for the jerk;

2.     Squatting under with the barbell at arms length overhead (snatch grip), with the barbell on the chest for the clean, to the split position with the barbell at arms length for the jerk;

3.     Snatch and clean from the hang beginning with the bar at the lower third of the thigh (slightly above the knees), jerk from the chest from a jerk split position;

4.     Snatch and clean from the hang beginning with the bar at the upper third of the shin (a little below the knees), jerk from the chest from a shallow split position for the jerk;

5.     Snatch or clean from the floor after first lowering the barbell from the hang position, jerk from the chest from the normal starting position but after first performing several springy half squats.

This method of learning is designed for one to master movement mechanisms in the reverse order from which they are performed in the whole exercise. Each ensuing special preparatory exercise is composed of a mechanism, or mechanisms, established in the preceding. Exercises 1 and 2 are structured to employ acquired earlier motor habits (squatting, jumping).

A limited number of exercises are recommended at the beginning stage of learning because the repetitive performance of this narrow range creates a more stable motor stereotype in more condensed lessons (8 to 12 training sessions). N.I. Luchkin (1956, 1969) recommended this approach.

The fundamentals of the principles developed in our method of learning the snatch and the clean and jerk can be employed to improve the weightlifter’s technical mastery and results.

Practical experience has shown that the weak link in the technique of the snatch and the clean and jerk is the uncoordinated switching from the jumping mechanism to grasping the apparatus and fixation of it in the squat position mechanisms. The exercises are designed to develop the corresponding habits and qualities which the weightlifter’s traditional training system does not address. The fact that the majority of weightlifters’ results in the jerk from the chest lag in relation to the clean results points to deficiencies of these mechanisms. Even though, from a biomechanical standpoint, the jerk from the chest is made up of all of the required prerequisites for a successful organization of the resultant motor actions.    

Improving the weightlifter’s technique is not a lost cause; on the contrary, it is an ongoing problem requiring additional research from scientists and coaches.