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Posted: Monday, April 23, 2012 5:36 PM
Welcome to the Weightlifting SIG (WL-SIG) forum. The purpose of the WL-SIG is to bring together NSCA members interested in promoting weightlifting in strength and conditioning. The WL-SIG provides a forum for interested individuals to learn and share their experiences and knowledge in the study and practice of weightlifting in strength and conditioning. Please share research, ideas, training techniques, and ask questions. The Weightlifting forum is moderated by the Weightlifting SIG.
Douglas Berninger, CSCS,*D 9/10/2012 1:36:15 PM
Posted: Friday, September 28, 2012 12:38 PM
Joined: 9/10/2012
Posts: 14

What is everyone's idea on start position for the Snatch or Clean? There are specific body positions that should be reached before lift-off, but I see many differences before coming set, such as the "dive-bomber," or the "rise-up" start. Any thoughts on how these might affect the lift-off? Just trying to get a conversation rolling! happy 




Douglas Berninger, M.Ed., CSCS,*D 

Coaching Performance Coordinator / Assistant Strength Coach 

National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) 

1885 Bob Johnson Drive | Colorado Springs, CO 80906 

P: 719.632.6722, ext. 130 | F: 719.632.6367 

T: 800.815.6826 | 

everyone stronger |   



Mr Josh Hernandez 6/3/2012 5:30:26 PM
Posted: Thursday, October 4, 2012 10:31 PM
Joined: 6/3/2012
Posts: 4

Hello Doug! 

I'll throw my two cents in to see if we can get this thread going. I'm no expert but I've been fortunate to learn from some excellent coaches and lifters and I would love to hear from some other people on this. 

I think a few things to look for as far as positioning would be: 

1. feet pointed slightly out

2. foot completely flat on the floor

3. bar in line with base of the big toe, knees over the bar

4. hookgrip, knuckles facing the floor, and elbows pointed out

5. lower back FLAT (I think the most important piece of this)

6. chest up, neutral head position (eyes forward)

7. shoulders above or slightly behind the bar

I have to admit that I'm not sure why some lifters start in a deep squat and then "rise-up" or why they start high and "dive bomber". Klokov, who if I remember correctly does the "rise-up", seems to do very well with it. Ilya Illyan, who does the "dive-bomber" set a world record this year.  If I had to guess why (and it would only be a guess) it would be a) personal preference and/or b) physical differences in lifters. 

I'm sure there's a reason, I'm hoping someone could answer this! I read an article about Coach Zygmunt and how he would go as far as measure hand size for potential lifters in an effort to anticipate how well they would do. With that type of analysis, surely there has to be a better answer than my guess! 

Garret Taylor, CSCS 8/23/2012 10:04:26 AM
Posted: Saturday, October 6, 2012 10:19 AM
Joined: 8/23/2012
Posts: 1

Happened to be in the room recently with Zigmont , and this topic was discussed.   I may have misinterpreted what was said,  but although people get into the position differently but when the bar leaves the ground most people are in the same position. I am currently watching video to determine if I agree with this.  This is really just my 2 cents worth about a penny and half.   Hope that was helpful.
Douglas Berninger, CSCS,*D 9/10/2012 1:36:15 PM
Posted: Friday, October 26, 2012 12:41 PM
Joined: 9/10/2012
Posts: 14

Josh - I agree with everything except for #7. You really want to have the shoulders directly above, or in front of the bar. This is mainly so the hips have a better mechanical advantage. Essentially, if the shoulders are behind the bar, the hips are lower than they should be and are not forward enough. Although, all joint positions will always depend on the individual athlete.


Garret - Your point is right on. Many athletes form their starts over the years and all the top weightlifters have different starts. However, they all usually end up in the same position off the floor...the bar moves back, toward the lifter; the knees move back and the shoulders shift in front of the bar.

Jason H. Davidson, DC, CSCS 6/12/2012 2:12:56 PM
Posted: Friday, October 26, 2012 3:09 PM
Joined: 6/12/2012
Posts: 1



I'll throw my 2 cents in as well:


I think the ideal position is one where the back is about at a 45 degree angle and locked in rigid extension.  The bar should be out over toes such that it would cut them off if it were a blade. The knuckes should be facing the floor or slightly backwards depending on the amount of wrist flexion the lifter has.  The elbows should be pointing out over the ends of the bar. Chest should be up and eyes forward. Scapulae should be retracted, and there can be a certain amount of lat flare if you like the feel of this.  Shoulders should be packed tight.


I feel that the shoulders should be forward of the bar before lift off.  This includes dynamic starts, to which you are referring.  Even if the lifter sinks their hips low and becomes very upright as their first movement when gripping the bar, (shoulders in line with or behind the bar) it is in my opinion that they should not move the bar from the floor until the hips have returned to a higher position.  Many world class lifters have perfected dynamic starts and there are several accepted versions.  I think most are a means of gaining "momentum" before liftoff.  As long as all connections to the bar remain tight and intact, and movement off the floor is initiated from a legitimate position, there is no problem with it.


I would encourage novice lifters to perfect a static start with good body position and speed before playing with the dynamic idea.  I hope this helps. 


-Jason Davidson DC, CSCS USAW Senior Coach*

Douglas Berninger, CSCS,*D 9/10/2012 1:36:15 PM
Posted: Monday, October 29, 2012 11:03 AM
Joined: 9/10/2012
Posts: 14

Jason -


You are right on with your suggestion of youth lifters. I, too, believe that they should learn the movements from a static position before trying any dynamic starting positions. The static position removes many errors that can come from dynamic starts. Also, starting from a static position ensures that the lifter starts in the same position, relative to the bar, every time.


As for your description of the starting position itself, I would agree with everything except one point. I would not name an exact angle. The back angle, relative to the floor, will vary on an individual basis due to lever lengths. We all know that the back angle of the Snatch and Clean vary as well, due to hand position and hip mobility.


While there are "ideal" joint angles for the sport, we need to take each individual and find their individual, "ideal" joint angles.



Good thoughts, everyone! Does anyone want to start a new topic? happy 

Mr Josh Hernandez 6/3/2012 5:30:26 PM
Posted: Sunday, November 4, 2012 5:45 PM
Joined: 6/3/2012
Posts: 4


It's interesting that I just read your response today. Yesterday, I saw 2 lifters at a small meet in Atlanta that set up like you suggested with their shoulders above or even a little ahead of the bar. Both of them made very impressive lifts and it turns out one of them was Osman Manzanares who competed in the 1992 Olympics for Honduras (he's 47 now and still a very impressive lifter). Bottom line: I think you are correct. 


I would like to echo what Doug said about starting a novice with a static start first. It's amazing how something that is so obvious gets overlooked (I'm talking from a personal perspective here).  Also, thanks for the information about the scapulae being retracted. That, literally, was going to be my next question for anyone reading this. 

If I can pose a question for the group: Do you teach the snatch or clean first and, if you don't mind, what is your progression (i.e. front squat, hang power clean, etc.)?



Julian Lee Pedrosa, NSCA-CPT 6/13/2012 5:06:31 PM
Posted: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 11:19 PM
Joined: 6/13/2012
Posts: 1

Hello everyone, I've recently started training a few athletes from a variety of sports and I was wondering what role you think hand position on the bar for the jerk portion of the Clean and Jerk. I've seen a lot of competitions where Chinese lifters seem to have a wider grip on the bar than most other countries. 

Is there a time when this would be beneficial to a lifter? Perhaps a detriment?

Thanks for any input you may have.

Julian - NCCP level-1 weightlifting coach

Douglas Berninger, CSCS,*D, RSCC 9/10/2012 1:36:15
Posted: Monday, December 3, 2012 5:23 PM
Joined: 9/10/2012
Posts: 14

Josh - I apologize for the late response. I generally will teach the clean first. This is only because field/court athletes will generally use the clean (and it's variations) more often than the snatch when moving through their training career. If I'm training a weightlifter, I will teach portions of both movements simultaneously. I use the top-down method for both lifts.


Clean = Front squat -> Pull (from power position) -> Pull (from mid-thigh) -> Pull (from top of knee) -> Pull (from below knee) -> Pull (from floor) -> Power Clean -> Squat clean


Snatch = Overhead squat -> Snatch Press -> Snatch Push Press -> Heaving Snatch Balance -> Snatch Balance -> Pull (from power position) -> Pull (from mid-thigh) -> Pull (from top of knee) -> Pull (from below knee) -> Pull (from floor) -> Power Snatch -> Squat Snatch


Remember, these are just the progressions that I use. Other coaches might have a completely different system based on their beliefs and the set-up they have in their gym (available equipment, number of athletes, etc.). You have to find what works for your specific situation.



Julian - I would say that the jerk position is one of preference in a lot of ways. more so than the Snatch or Clean. However, there are a few positions that must remain similar from lifter to lifter. This is position of the bar relative to center of gravity; weight distribution between front and back leg in the split; and head position.


Generally, if all of these positions are met, it will not matter about hand position. Although, having relaxed hands tends to be better for meeting those positions when the lift is completed. Namely this is because there is no extra tension in the forearms and through the shoulders caused by irradiation (basically waves of muscle tension). If the hands are relaxed, the arms are relaxed and the lift is completed in a smoother manner. This is also a more effective way to allow the force generated from the legs to be transferred through the body to the bar.


Should the hands be wide or narrow? This will depend on comfort of the lifter and, ultimately, shoulder/thoracic mobility (limiting factor) and lat tightness (can they effectively rack the bar?). An example would be looking at some lifters who perform the squat jerk (i.e., Kendrick Farris). They have the thoracic spine and shoulder mobility to be able to do this. Someone with an immobile spine/shouders will not be able to reach this position overhead, while in a squat.  


The efficacy of having the hands wider is that the bar travels less distance overhead. This would seem like an obvious advantage, however, as the hands become wider, the lifter sacrifices stability for the distance less-traveled. I can elaborate further if needed.


I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any more questions!