Quick Guide to Olympic Lifting Terms

So your box has just started an Olympic lifting program and the coach is using a lot of terms that you are not familiar with, such as ‘hang’, ‘high pull’, and ‘muscle’. You’re trying your best to pay attention, but all the movements look the same and you can’t seem to remember which one is which. Have no fear! You are not alone. Here is a quick guide to some of the most common Olympic lifting terms:

“Hang” – this term refers to the starting position of the barbell in the clean or the snatch. If the metcon or strength wod does not specify what type of clean or snatch is to be performed then you can assume that you will be taking the barbell directly from the floor for every rep. However, if it is written as “hang” snatch or “hang” clean, then the barbell will be taken from anywhere above the knees. Therefore, before you start the first rep, you will have to deadlift the barbell from the floor and then you can begin your reps, keeping the barbell somewhere between your knees and hips at the start of each rep.

“Power” – this term refers to the depth that an athlete has to squat when performing a clean or snatch. Oftentimes, the daily wod will not specify ‘squat’ before the type of lift. When performing lifts for a strength portion, if it is written simply as ‘clean’ or ‘snatch’, it can be assumed that you are supposed to squat when performing these movements. However, when written the same for a metcon, you can then assume that no squat is required. The term ‘power’ is used in strength programming to describe squatting at or above parallel. Therefore, when ‘power’ precedes the terms ‘snatch’ or ‘clean’, the athlete knows that they are not supposed to squat below parallel.

“Muscle” – when performing a ‘muscle’ clean or snatch, the idea is that the athlete only uses the shoulder shrug and arm pull to get the bar to its finishing position. Once the bar is taken from the ground and the hips and legs fully extend, then the shoulders shrug with a big pull from the arms. The bar is pulled into the front rack position (for the clean) or overhead (for the snatch) with the legs staying straight. The most important thing to note on these movements is that the legs do not re-dip in the catch position.

“Pull” v. “High Pull” – practicing the pulling portion of the Olympic lifts is an excellent way to build strength and refine technique. However, it can often be confusing to know whether you are supposed to bend the arms, only shrug, actually pull the bar up higher with your arms, etc. There are two types of ‘pulls’ that are used when practicing the Olympic lifts – the high pull and the pull. When performing a ‘pull’, an athlete’s finishing position should simply be that they end with a shrug. When performing a ‘high pull’, the athlete finishes with their arms bent and their elbows high and to the outside (often referred to as the ‘scarecrow’ position). As both of these movements are being performed, the athlete should think about keeping the bar close to their body, keeping their chest up and shoulders over the bar until they reach full extension, and bringing their hips forward to meet the bar at full extension. These portions of the movement are the same for both types of pull.