One of the points of technique that we always stress is SPEED! I often ask my lifters after a snatch or clean, “Was that lift fast enough?” Well, they all know the answer will be an emphatic, NO! Never fast enough!!
I’m not talking about from the floor, but the speed at the top of the pull and as they pull themselves under to meet the bar at the catch. The timing and speed finishing the lift is crucial to successful lifting. The lift has to be “Fast Up and Fast Under”!!
It takes a coordinated, practiced effort to finish that strong pull explosively and pull under rapidly to “meet the bar when it weighs zero”. The less the bar “loops” at the top, the better. The less the bar “crashes” on the catch, the better.
To help work on this speed of the top shrug and immediately getting under the bar, I use an old school method that I simply call the “Shrug Snatch” or “Shrug Clean”. It is “old school” in that it was taught way back when we first started the weightlifting courses for the U.S. Weightlifting Federation (for all you young whipper snappers out there, that was before it was called USA Weightlifting!) and just called the “going under the bar exercise”.
Check out the video using the “Shrug Snatch” as the example, but the exercise can be used with the Clean as well.
For this exercise, you don’t need much weight at all – probably 25-40kg max. The idea isn’t how much weight, but how fast you move yourself under the bar. If you count each time you hit the bottom as one rep, I usually recommend 3-4 sets of 5 reps.
The legs aren’t involved in the initial pull, just the shrug to get the bar moving. Keep the bar close and make the descent as quick as possible. This is practicing the timing of catching the bar in the full squat position for either the snatch or the clean so meet the bar in the bottom of the squat.
For those of you who have inconsistent footwork, as an added bonus, this is a great way of fixing that issue at the same time.
Heck, if nothing else, these lifts make great warmups!! I put them in at the beginning of a technique session and they really get the blood flowing as well as getting the nervous system fired up for the workout ahead!