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THE POWER POSITION: To Lean or Not to Lean

by: Leo Totten, MS, USAW 5

Lately, there has been some discrepancy as to what is the “Power Position” and at what angle the body should be in for the most advantageous pull. Some say the torso should be tilted slightly forward with the chest and shoulders in front of the bar while others are saying the torso should be more erect or vertical. This “Power Position” is critical when performing snatch and clean pulls as well as snatches and cleans themselves.

First of all, let’s clarify where the bar should be in relation to the thigh. When referring to the clean, we consider it to be basically at “mid-thigh”. This may vary depending on limb length and body proportions, but basically around the “mid-thigh” area. Also, the amount of body lean will vary with torso and limb length. However, for the snatch and snatch pulls, this position will be slightly higher due to a wider grip utilized. Now we are looking at more “upper thigh” but the torso position discussion is the same.

When performing cleans and clean pulls as well as snatches and snatch pulls, one of the primary objectives is to create as much “power” as possible. If done correctly, there will be noticeable acceleration to finish the pull with as much “explosiveness” or “pop” as possible. We also want to keep the bar path as vertical and close to the body as possible with as little horizontal movement as possible.

From a weightlifting perspective, we typically advocate the slight lean of the torso at the power position. This is crucial for sound technique where our goal is to lift as much weight overhead as we can. We want to keep the bar close to the body and utilize the triple extension and stretch reflex through the power position. This type of technique is a pretty good indication of why weightlifters have such great vertical jumps.

Further, from an athletic standpoint, we are trying to duplicate that vertical jump motion which carries over to jumping and running skills on the field or court. We are pulling through the “athletic stance”, if you will. The power position should replicate the “jumping” position and an athlete will start their jump with a slight torso lean, not totally upright.

I would agree that the more upright torso position could possibly produce high results when tested for strength and power. But is that position really an indication of those qualities when going through the whole pulling movement with good technique? Just because the athlete may be very strong in that position, does it actually transfer to the lifts or pulls themselves? Is the athlete in a position to “finish” the pull correctly and vertically without jumping back to catch the weight?

Granted, it is more “comfortable” to start from a more upright position. And, maintaining a good power position with the slight lean of the torso is a bit more “uncomfortable” because it takes a bit more posterior chain strength to maintain. But in order to keep the bar moving vertically and to have the athlete in good position to receive the bar in the clean or snatch, we feel that the greater degree of hip flexion at the power position is most effective.

Special thanks to Sports Ed TV for sharing some of these photos for the article.

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