The 2 Non-Negotiables in Olympic Weightlifting
Written by Jared Enderton
When you study the best weightlifters in the world, you see a lot of common patterns. I could go into some of the technique commonalities, but I’ll save that for another article. I want to start even more basic than that. I believe in studying the “best practices” of any field. In Weightlifting, I prefer to study World medalists and Olympic medalists as they are truly the best in the world in Weightlifting. From there, I try to find tendencies and things that they all do similarly to learn and to apply to coaching. Here are two non-negotiables from the best in the world that you can easily apply to your lifting.
#1 – HOOK GRIP
You should hook grip all of your snatches/cleans. Now, if it’s a snatch complex or snatch/clean deadlifts/pulls, I am ok with you wearing straps. Have a stubborn friend or athlete who doesn’t want to hook grip? Here is WHY it’s a stronger grip. When you grip without it, you have 8 fingers on one side of the bar and 2 thumbs on the opposing side. That’s an unfair fight. Your thumb will ALWAYS open up first leaving the bar dangling in your fingers and/or dropping the bar altogether. When gripping regularly (non-hook grip), your 2 thumbs are on top of your fingers. When you hook grip, your 2 thumbs get BACK-UP. Your fingers help to keep your thumbs closed. It makes it a more even grip and a fair fight with the bar because your 1-3 fingers are helping to keep your thumb closed. Think about when you do a HEAVY mixed grip deadlift. Why isn’t grip the issue? Because you have 4 fingers and a thumb on 1 side of the bar, and 4 fingers and a thumb on the opposing side of the bar. It’s using your grip strength 100% equally rather than a 8/2 split when gripping normally. No weightlifter in the past 50+ years at the Olympics has lifted without a hook grip. It is THAT important as it is a stronger grip.
#2 – WEIGHTLIFTING SHOES
I can only name a handful of athletes I’ve ever seen lift at the World/Olympic level without weightlifting shoes. The only one I can recall off the top of my head was a female at the 2015 World Championships where she wore them for the Snatch but not the Clean & Jerk. The other thousands and thousands of the best weightlifters in the world have all used weightlifting shoes. THEY HELP! You become more stable and they allow you to catch in a more upright position. Alright have amazing mobility and don’t feel the need to use them? Use them anyway, haha! Why? Most of the best weightlifters in the world have just as good of mobility as you and they still use them, because they help them lift better! More stable base, and the raised heel always helps the catch be more upright.
NOW, there are a couple of gray areas for these with CrossFitters…If you are an athlete on the brink of qualifying for Sanctionals/The Games, it is definitely worth it to TEST snatching/cleaning in regular shoes every couple of months JUST IN CASE an event comes up where you must run/snatch together, etc. That would be maybe 1 out of every 15 lifting sessions where you test it. However, it is my opinion that, if you’re not looking to compete at a Sanctional/Regional level or higher, there is no benefit to ever snatching/cleaning without weightlifting shoes.
It can be easy for us to overlook some of the basics in weightlifting. These are the two most basic, and for athletes I coach, non-negotiable, aspects in weightlifting. At the end of the day, if 99.9%+ of the best weightlifters to ever live have done these two things, we should do them too!
Hook grip, wear your weightlifting shoes, and slam bars! Ok, the 3rd one is just my own personal non-negotiable haha but have fun and keep training!!
Invictus Weightlifting Program
If you are looking to improve your Olympic Lifts – no matter what your current level is – Coach Jared has an online program for you! The sessions can be added as a supplement to your current training program (3-Day) or used as a stand-alone program (5-Day). You will also have access to the Invictus Weightlifting Facebook group, where our coaches will answer questions about the programming and review videos for technique critique. Check out the details here!