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How to Avoid Common Barbell Mistakes

CrossFit Cronulla snatch

Maybe you are a newbie at the gym. Or you already know the basics of weightlifting in basic exercises. In any case, you should look closely at your technique. Do you sometimes make serious mistakes? This will definitely never hurt, and may be a good boost to your development. In addition, by performing the exercises correctly, you will avoid all kinds of injuries and stay safe. This is especially important when strength exercises are performed with a heavy barbell. There are no small things here.

Let’s talk about the mistakes that are common in the snatch and clean and jerk. Make a self-check of your technique and correct the mistakes that you make. This article will definitely help you with that.

It is clear that all sorts of mistakes, both little and big, when lifting a barbell can be a huge number. We will focus on the main, or the most common.

The causes of such mistakes can be different. First of all, it is actually incorrect to practice the movement or its part. This could happen if you taught the technique yourself and put the weight to practice it. Or because of the coach’s mistakes. Another reason may be a lag in the strength of some muscle groups, which “provoke” other muscles to engage where it is not needed, or not when it is needed.

So, let’s move on to the most common mistakes in Olympic snatch and clean, because their structure is similar.

1. Wrong grip.

It is best to use the hookgrip. This is when four fingers grip the barbell at the top and one thumb around the bottom. Moreover, two fingers should cover the thumb, pressing against the fingerboard.


2. Incorrect starting position.

Improper positioning of the legs at the start – too wide positioning or too narrow. The legs should be set approximately at the width of the pelvis. The deviation can be plus or minus a few inches, depending on the flexibility in the joints.

The next mistake at the starting position is not the correct position of the barbell near the athlete. The projection of the bar should be approximately in the middle of the foot. If the barbell is far from the athlete, it is unlikely to be lifted by the muscles of the legs and back. Arms will go at once. And if the barbell is too close, then at the beginning of the movement there is a risk of moving the shoulders back. In addition, we can injure the skin on the legs with the bar.


3. Relaxed back.

This is another mistake that will often occur in athletes, both at the start and during the movement. In addition to the fact that this mistake will not allow you to lift the desired weight, it is very traumatic for the spine. The muscles of the back should perform a holding function during movement. There is one small feature – if you keep your head straight, then it will help keep your back straight in the chest muscles. Because a sharp tilt of the head forward automatically relaxes the back muscles. In all parts of the spine, the back should always be straight and tight!

4. Tight hands.

Many mistakes can also occur during the movement itself. In particular, it is bending the arms earlier than necessary. This flexion should occur after the maximum straightening, after the power position and the athlete is preparing to go under it. If you “grab” the barbell with your hands, then know that you exclude from work very strong and large muscle groups of the legs and back.

5. Early extension of the legs.

It looks as if the athlete has lifted the pelvis very quickly, and the barbell remains in place. Here’s one tip to keep in mind. If the knee and hip joints are extended simultaneously or synchronously, then everything will be OK.

6. Loss of balance

This is when the athlete moves the support, or the center of mass, or forward, or backward while moving. When your balance goes back, then the next mistake occurs – your shoulders will move back too much. Make sure that you do not tear off your heels or toes until you jump while accelerating the barbell, but stand on full foot.

In general, there is a principle that one mistake always leads to another. Therefore, it is worth identifying your shortcomings and correcting them as soon as possible.

7. Wrong contact point.

Each athlete has this place at a different level, because the length of the arms and torso are different. It is very easy to define it in snatch. To do this, determine the correct width of the grip, which you hold the bar. At first we do it on a usual PVC pipe, and then we project it on a barbell. So, raise one hand straight above your head, holding one end of the pipe, and straighten the other hand at shoulder level to the side. Hold the other end of the pipe in it. The distance between these ends is the width of the grip we need. This is the width of the grip and will show us the place of power position. In a clean, this width is approximately equal to the width of the shoulders. Therefore, the moment of power position will be slightly lower than in the snatch.


8. Slow rotation of the elbows.

This may be due to lack of flexibility in the shoulders. There are many exercises on how to develop it. But this is a separate topic for discussion. We should warm up the shoulder girdle very well before the main session. This will help you avoid this mistake.

There are also certain mistakes in the jerk, the main of which, we note.

9. Lowering the elbows during the jerk.

They need to be kept slightly forward. Well, when the bar is already above your head, there may be some mistakes in catching the bar. In particular, unequal torso position and leg posture. The torso should be upright with a slight forward tilt. The front leg in the “split position” is stayed on the full foot and slightly bent at the knee. The back foot is set on the toes and also slightly bent at the knee. The arms are straightened at the elbows joints. By the way a lot of training solutions related to weightlifting jerk you can find in this training program:

Of course, you will not have all these mistakes. But only some of them. They are best seen from the side. It is worth it with a little weight to work out the correct performance of the movement. The ideal option would be to have a coach. If not, then with a partner, or at least in front of a mirror. Some mistakes can be fixed at once, and some will take some time. Be patient and you will definitely achieve a great result!

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