It’s that time of the year again where everyone is getting their training planned out to get ready fro their next big goal (at least I hope that’s what you are doing). Volume and percentages are being determined and planned appropriately to reach that optimal peak and achieve the glory and riches you so rightfully deserve after your competition. With all this planning comes lots of variations of movements as you move closer to your end goal. But which variations of the movement should we select to include in the program? The answer is simple: What are you not so good at?
If one of your weaknesses is your speed under the bar into the catch, staying properly balanced in the feet through the pull, or simply you need some grip work, a solid variation choice for you is No Hook No Feet Cleans/Snatches. This variation was introduced to me in 2012 by Glenn Pendlay, who in turn learned of the movement from a recent training camp at the Olympic Training Center run by Zygmunt Smalcerz that Donny Shankle had attended. The movement was considered a speed movement teaching the athlete how to move under the bar in the receiving position and receive the bar in a better catch position.
How Do I Perform This?
This could be an article in and of itself so without boring you to death here are the basics on setting up and executing the movement.
-Start with your feet in your catch position
The reason for this is the “No Feet” aspect of the movement. When you are finishing the lift the lifter is taught to move the feet out in the catch and sit into the catch position. If you are performing the lifts correctly your foot placement in the catch should be at least slightly wider than your start position. With your feet in the catch position from the start this prevents the athlete from over-extending on the finish, and instead, have to move quickly from the finish to pulling themselves under the bar in order to catch the weight.
-Grip Placement Without The Hook
Whether you are snatching or cleaning the weight the grip stays the same, but you are need to unhook your grip (normal grip for other barbell work). The purpose behind this is to prevent the athlete from early arm pulling. The athlete will get to a certain weight where as soon as contact is made with the bar the weight will start to come out of the athlete’s hand. This is your cue to get your butt moving and quickly pull yourself under the bar. See a trend here?
Nothing changes here. You should not have to alter your start position with the feet and grip adjustments. After all this is a variation of the snatch and clean so if you have to change your start position you are changing the movement all together
Execution and Catch:
See notes from “Start Position”, nothing should change with this part of the movement.
There is none. The goal is to keep as much of the foot as grounded as possible during the pull, finish, and catch. An athlete may come up on the toes during their extension but if the foot completely leaves the ground for any reason it’s a “No Lift”. The purpose behind the lack of foot movement is to teach the athlete how to accelerate the body to receive the bar in the proper catch position. The heavier the weight the faster the athlete has to be moving.
What’s The Point?
In case you haven’t figured it out by now the goal of this movement is SPEED. If you have athletes who are slow moving under the bar getting into the catch position, this is a great movement to have them perform. Speed is king in the sport of weightlifting but knowing when the right time to apply more of it during a lift and when to control that speed during a lift will separate you from the rest of the pack.
Disclaimer: Make sure you and your athletes have a sound understanding of the lifts and the fundamentals of the the movement down before trying these. This is an advanced variation and athletes with less than a year of experience should not be using this variation in their training. Master the basics of the movement pattern before adding complex variations to their training program.
What To Watch For?
Either watch the athletes as they perform the movement or have the athletes record themselves performing this variation. The athlete’s positions during the pull, finish, and catch should not change at all during this variation. If an athlete is sacrificing positions to make a weight or perform the movement they need to lower the weight or there is a flaw in their lift that is not allowing them to perform the exercise properly.
This is usually visible in two forms. A little arm bend happens with some lifters, but if an athlete has a weaker grip they might start bending the arms very early on in the pull (around the knees) and this can also alter their position in the pull from this point on. This is also a sign of their grip starting to go as well. If the athlete is starting to pull the bar early with the arms or bending the arms early in the movement, drop the weight or stop any further advancement. Drop the weight to something that allows for an efficient pattern and allow for the athlete to ingrain more that proper movement pattern.
While the athletes foot is still technically not leaving the ground, sliding the feet out to accommodate a better catch position defeats the purpose of the movement. If you see your athlete doing this during the exercise, evaluate their catch position and put them in a position that allows them to receive the bar without moving the feet.
-Torso In The Catch
This position should not change at all in this (or any other) variation. Make sure the athlete is catching the bar with a balanced, upright torso in the catch position. If the athlete is not maintaining a proper catch position, evaluate where their feet are and if that needs to be adjusted. If it’s a matter of the weight being too heavy to execute proper movement, lower the weight so the athlete can reinforce the proper motor patterns.
So There You Have It
If you or an athlete is having issues with generating speed in pulling themselves under the bar and have some the fundamentals of the snatch and clean down then incorporating No Hook No Feet movements into your training can be a great variation for athletes. During the Cal Strength and MDUSA days we performed these variations on our lighter days as speed or technique refinement to keep us sharp for our heavier training days.