Saturday, February 04, 2012

Thoughts on the Power Variations.

I've been thinking about power lately. Specifically, the power variations of the lifts, i.e. the power snatch and power clean. This post is going to be a bit stream of consciousness, but I want to get these thoughts down, so forgive me. Or just, you know...don't read it.

First, to define the power variations: a lift is considered a power variation when at the point where the bar is caught – more specifically, the lowest part of the receipt of the bar - the crease of the hip joint is at or above the level of the top of the knee. In other words, if it would get red lighted for depth in a powerlifting meet, it's a power snatch/power clean.

There's a fairly widespread misconception about the Olympic lifts, at least in the U.S., that the primary goal is to get the bar as high as possible, rather than putting the focus on extending the hips and immediately retreating under the bar. "Hips and under, nothing in between," as Coach Pendlay puts it. But I feel like even lifters who understand that the idea is to get under the bar, not to get the bar up, often have trouble carrying this over to the power variations.

Because the lifter is limited in how deep he can receive the bar in the power snatch or power clean, it is ostensibly beneficial to pull the bar as hard and as high as possible. However, I think this is based on the assumption that the limiting factor is the lifters ability to pull the bar up. That's not the case. The limiting factor is the depth at which the lifter can receive the bar, and thus lifters tend to try to pull the bar higher. Seems obvious, I suppose, but thinking about it this way created a shift in thinking about the power variations, at least for me.

The case may be that when executing the power variations, a lifter may be able to use greater loads if they put more emphasis on getting the bar up. But will there be as great a carryover to the Olympic lifts? If so, why? I feel like pulling the bar higher means more time at the top of the pull, and worse timing, and my initial thought is that most lifters would be better off using lighter weights with better timing.

How about in the context of athletic performance?

These are not questions I know the answers to. Would like to hear some thoughts on the subject.

1 comment:

Brian said...

For me, the hardest part of the "power" lifts is keeping good pull technique, vs as you said "trying to pull it as high as possible".

When performing heavier or maximal power lifts, its almost as if your mind overrides what you know to be right, trying to pull the bar higher than you should in order to catch it "power", rather than pulling correctly which will attain the height necessary. When utilizing the Medvedyev programming, this was something that I struggled with (as days have "warmup" power-variation sets of as much as 3-4reps with 70-80% of 1rm full lift!)

On the other hand, being a relative noob could suggest I haven't yet developed a hard-wired technique to be able to master the heavier power-variations, something that could take 5-10yrs or longer for some lifters.

In conclusion, I guess my opinion would be that if the power-variations can be done with correct pulling technique then they are a useful exercise, if not they seem to only ingrain poor technique, which carries over to the full lifts in a negative manner (trying to pull too much instead of getting under)