Elbows Away from Knees
If the elbows get close to touching the knees (or actually touch them) in the front squat, it means that some part of their body is out of position. This loss of proper posture puts them in an less than ideal spot. Throughout the whole squat, athletes can try to keep their elbows as far away from their knees as possible. As they start to squat and while they are standing, they will keep a constant upward pressure on the bar and be able to maintain a better position.
One thing that can contribute to elbows dropping is a loss in stability of the upper back. When the upper back rounds forward, the elbows drop and the bar sits lower on the shoulder. Puffing the chest out and pulling the shoulders back keeps the spine in neutral alignment and the bar closer to the middle of the body. The closer the bar is to the center, the lighter it will feel and the better athletes will move.
10 Second Front Rack Hold
3 Pausing Front Squats
2 Front Squats
No matter the weight on the bar, dipping straight down sets the tone for the lift in a similar way to the elbows setting the tone for the front squat. When athletes shoulders get in front of the hips, the bar typically ends up forward of the body. When fatigued or at heavier loads, a forward bar often means more energy expended to get the same amount of work done or a missed lift. Dipping as if the back is against a wall or a PVC pipe leads to better movement.
Head Back, Bar Back
Even if athletes dip straight, there is still sometimes the tendency for the bar to end up out front. If the dip is good, this is most likely a result of elbow position or head position. The head is clearly in the way when athletes go to press the bar back. Having the elbows just in front of the bar is the first priority. From there, making sure to tuck the chin will allow the bar to balance right over the middle of the body.
5 Strict Press
5 Pausing Push Press
Hang Power Cleans
Squat and Stop
On of the biggest problems we sew with the hang power clean is the feet jumping out into a starfish position as the weight gets heavier or as athletes fatigue. A great motto is that a failed power clean is a squat clean. As long as athletes stay above parallel, it is still considered a power clean. Approaching every clean as if it were a squat clean, only to stop it above parallel, will help with speed under the bar rather than feet wide to get under the bar. Building the habits and positioning with light weight makes it easier to maintain as load goes up.
During any olympic lift, we always want to be utilizing the hook grip. This helps athletes hold onto the barbell and get the best triple extension possible. However, we don’t want to confuse “hook grip” with a “death grip”. When athletes have too strong a grip on the barbell, it doesn’t allow for the elbows to come through fast enough and the lift is usually failed out front. This problem is more prevalent when the weight gets heavier. After athletes reach triple extension, every so slightly loosening the grip will allow the elbows to get in front of the bar quickly.
3 Hang Muscle Cleans
3 Hang Squat Cleans
3 Hang Power Cleans
Seat Away From Feet
Very often in the catch position, the feet tend to “bounce” off or make contact with the heels. In this position, the shoulders are most likely dumping back too early resulting in a significant amount of lost tension and power. Leaving a gap between the front of the seat and the back of the heels will place athletes in a better position of power. This seat away from the feet position is established when athletes pick up the handle to begin rowing. When reaching for the handle, shoulders are in front of hips and there is about a one foot gap between the seat and the feet. Looking to get back to this position on every stroke.
Establish Seat Position
:20 Seconds of Rowing
Just like in the push-up, we want the hands far enough down on the body where athletes can maintain a vertical forearm. The front of the shoulder is taxed extra when the hands are high up on the body, adding fatigue for the double unders to follow.
Establish Hand Position
3 Frog Hops
A pogo stick is a fixed structure that is made to bounce straight up and down. We want to think of our bodies as pogo sticks. The bottom half of a pogo stick can’t bend forward or backwards. What happens in the lower body is one of the most important aspects of the double under. While is may be possible to complete some double unders by doing so, keeping the bound straight up and down will lead to better synchronization with the hands and create better habits in the long run.
:15 Seconds Single Unders
:15 Seconds Double Taps*
:15 Seconds Double Under Practice
*Practicing timing of the double under. With a straight jump in the air, athletes will double tap low on the thigh to simulate a double under without the rope.
Fight the Rotation
Most athletes do a phenomenal job at finding external rotation at the top of the overhead position. The difficult part in maintaining this throughout the full motion of the squat. Once athletes get about a quarter way down is when we usually start to see the shoulders internally rotate. Working on fighting this rotation will be crucial in maintaining a solid overhead position. In movement prep, we will start light and slow down the squat in order to really feel out what a good position is. We’ll also run through a practice round at workout weight after the moderate set of 2. The goal on both of these is not speed, rather to maintain a stable shoulder and good body positioning under load.
Establish Overhead Position
:30 Seconds PVC Quarter Overhead Squats
:20 Seconds Barbell Quarter Overhead Squats
5 Pausing PVC Overhead Squats
5 Pausing Barbell Overhead Squats
Row & Sandbag Cleans
Flex & Elbows
On both the rower and the cleans, athletes are holding onto handles. There is always the temptation of an early arm bend, especially when the weight is relatively light. The handle has some tension, but not a lot, and the bag is about the same weight as an empty barbell. When the elbows bend, the power ends. Rather than pulling with the arms early on, we want athletes pressing hard with the legs and opening the hips first before the elbows bed. On both these movements, we can think about flexing the triceps to keep the elbows locked during the leg drive. Once the leg drive is complete, athletes can finish with the elbows back on the rower and elbows forward on the clean.
Row Movement Prep
:30 Seconds Easy Row
Sandbag Clean Movement
3 Sandbag Deadlifts
3 Sandbag Jump Shrugs
3 Sandbag Cleans
Perform with lighter weight, then workout weight.
AbMat Sit-ups & Sandbag Reverse Lunges
In the finish position of the sit-up and with a sandbag in the back rack, it is common to see the shoulders and upper back rounded forward. As athletes sit-up off the ground and step back into a lunge, reaching their head up towards the ceiling will bring their shoulders down and place their back into a more neutral position.
AbMat Sit-up Movement Prep
Establish Finish Position
5 AbMat Sit-ups
Sandbag Reverse Lunge Movement Prep
4 Alternating Bodyweight Reverse Lunges
4 Alternating Sandbag Reverse Lunges
How far athletes are positioned away from the wall often affects both their squat pattern and the throw to the target. An athlete set up to close to the wall could likely overextend through the midline or bring the heels up in order to keep the chest more upright. Setting up too close also could cause the ball to skim the wall on the way up. Similarly, an athlete too far away from the wall is likely to catch the ball slightly in front as it descends, pulling them forward into a bad position. Each athlete is different, but finding a position about an arms length away with medicine ball in hand will help them find a rhythm and stay in a good position.
5 Front Squats
5 Push Press
Load and Land
The jumping position and the landing position should look almost identical in the box jump. To start, athletes will send their hips and arms backwards before extending upward. When they land softly on top of the box, the hips should also be back with the whole foot in contact with the wood surface.
3 Lower Height Box Jumps
3 Box Jumps
In the box jump, we are looking for the whole foot to remain in contact with the wood upon landing. Same idea coming out of the burpee. Rather than coming up on the toes, aim to have the whole foot planted on the ground before jumping and clapping overhead.
3 Establish Landing Position
3 Frog Hops
Stand with the Legs
What happens from the floor plays a huge role in the efficiency of a lift. When athletes lead too much with the chest, it causes the knees to shoot forward and puts the load primarily in the back. Once the bar finally passes the knees, they amount of extension that can be exerted is greatly limited due to the angle of the torso and lack of load in the hamstrings. When athletes stand with the hips first, they are de-loading the legs, again putting most of the load in the back. In the hips first movement, the bar will also stay lower to the ground, making a much longer distance for it to travel.
From the start, the hips will be slightly above the knees with shoulders slightly forward of the bar. As athletes stand with the bar, the knees and shins will track backwards. The torso angle will remain static throughout. Emphasizing the start will help athletes set themselves up for greater success later in the lift. This start can almost be considered as “squatting the bar up”. When athletes return to this position on the way back down, they again want to think about “squatting the bar down” to the floor before getting the knees out of the way again.
3 High Hang Power Snatches
3 Hang Power Snatches
Establish Bottom Position
Establish Above the Knee Position
5 Snatch Deadlifts
3 Power Snatches
Build to workout weight