Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bar Speed

Before we get started here, I had a ghettofabulous question about my previous blog post that I would like to address to everyone:

"Why wouldn't a straight bar path be good? Isn't that the most efficient? Takes a lot of energy to cover horizontal space with a heavy object, right?”


If we were to pull the bar straight off the ground and continue to pull it straight through the whole entire lift, the bar would be about 6 inches away from our body. The bar would then end up out in front of us on the turnover, aka, the receiving position. The goal is to keep the bar as close to us as possible RIGHT off the ground, so that when we turn our hands over at the top, it winds up back behind our ears in our strongest overhead position.

Let's break it down: The bar sweeps back in the beginning of the lift, goes straight up in the middle of the lift, and SLIGHTLY goes back at the end of the lift (just enough to get back behind the ears). I have found this to be the MOST efficient path for the snatch, AND the clean. I Pinky promise...

(If your bar path is different and you're lifting as much weight as the guy below, then you can literally do whatever the eff you want in life. I won't even yell at you a little bit.. and I ALWAYS yell. )

Moving on:
It's so funny the things we learn from the most unassuming people (no, I did not just call someone stupid) ...

Just the other day, I learned something from one of my clients who is fairly new to the olympic lifts. She was asking about the speed of the bar throughout the entire lift. Is it the same through the whole lift? Does it change? Does it get faster? Slower?

So, as I was getting into this whole detailed explanation, with obnoxiously dramatic hand gestures, about how the bar moves from slow to medium to bionic speed fast as you change from position to position , she says (in an EXTREMELY nonchalant-like manner): "Oh, so, like Ready, Set, Go"?

I wanted to punch her and hug her all at the same time. It was PERFECT!

When you're pulling off the ground, you want to think about the different positions:
  • Floor: Starting position (read last post)
  • Mid-thigh (read last post)
  • Pockets (don't worry about it, it comes naturally)
But you also want to think about the speed of the bar. I see so many different kinds of speeds with so many different kinds of lifters, so let me break it down:

Lifters who live in the fast lane: If you move super fast off the ground, you're going to miss all of the positions and the bar can not stay the same speed from the ground to overhead..unless its .5 kgs. No grip and rip (I'm talking to you, Crossfitters. Ya'll like to get after those weights like a bunch of "junk-yard dogs"! I love you for it, I really do, but it just doesn't work with the lifts).

Lifters who like to play it safe: If you move so slow off the ground that I could literally walk away, go to the bathroom, french braid my hair, and come back and you haven't even hit mid-thigh, you're moving too slow. That slowness really starts to become detrimental with heavy weights. You HAVE to get some momentum behind the bar if you want 200kg to feel a little less like you have 7 Toyota Camrys in your hands. When you're practicing technique, GO SLOW! It's a perfect way to force your body into the right positions, just don't continue to go so slow when you increase the weight.

Lifters who get gold stars: Ready, Set, Go. This is PERFECT for us crossfitters because the word "go" turns us into crazy people.
  • 'Ready' means that off the ground, you have control of the weight.
  • As your passing your knees, you're getting 'Set'. (moving a tiny bit faster)
  • When you get to mid-thigh, you are letting go of everything you've been holding onto in your life (except the barbell) and you are 'GO'ing!

Now, when I'm talking about "speed when you get to mid-thigh", I don't just mean speed when you jump and until you're fully extended... I mean speed through the extension, speed through the pull under the bar, and speed through the turn over. The speed does not stop until the bar has stopped moving at the turnover. You can't just think "SPEED, UP!!!!", you have to think "SPEED, UP DOWN!" when you get to that beautiful position we call Mid-thigh. Does that make sense? Here are all of the positions in which you should be moving bionically fast through:

Sage, out.


  1. Great job! Thanks!

  2. Jack, you totally make me feel like the best writer in the history of ever!

  3. Sage:

    As a newbie to o-lift, nobody explans things like you and at the same time, make me laugh my freaking head off!

    Girl, you have more talent than you ever realized. What a voice you have!

    Looking forward to your next article and the ones after that.

    Thank you again,

  4. I LOVE THIS!! So easy to explain the right speeds - perfect!!!!

  5. I need those Asics lifting shoes. RIGHT. NOW!!!

  6. I LOVE your post!!! You're so smart.

  7. Just discovered your OMG!
    do you do online coaching?