- Weaker lifts – your arms are your weakest link in weightlifting. Your legs and back are very large muscles with high strength potential compared to your arms (mainly biceps and forearms), which are much weaker and have a much lower capacity for strength and power. Put simply, you will never maximize your potential if you are using your arms too much
- Increases risk of injury – too much pressure is applied to weaker structures and may result in a popped biceps tendon or strain
- Looks terrible – lifts look choppy and un-athletic and nobody wants to see that!
- Messes with rhythm and timing – weightlifting requires precision, power and speed – and bending your arms early will throw off your timing in a way that could result in more missed attempts
Before any troubleshooting occurs, make sure that you have the correct grip width, and also make sure that you are in a good start position. Many lifts are doomed from the start due to these two issues that are easily corrected. Once you rule these two out as causes, go forward with the arm bend correction process. This plan applies equally to snatches and cleans – excessive arm bend should not be tolerated in either lift!
- Pulls – high hang, mid thigh, knee
- Pulls + snatch – high hang, mid thigh, knee
- Back to full snatch
Do pulls to regain proper timing of the lift and to reinforce leg drive. The bar only floats up because you are driving through the floor. Start with pulls from the high hang position. I wrote about my love for high hang snatches here, and this is my first go to position for fixing early arm bend. Why? Because the high hang position should be the final stop before launching the barbell upwards, while pulling under and correctly bending your arms. Once you master the high hang position, you can progress to the next position.
- High hang
- Mid thigh
2. Pull Complexes
Pulls prime leg drive and proper timing. But at the end of the day, you still need to do snatches to get better at snatching. So now you can pair a pull (or two) with the full lift. Follow a similar progression with the complexes:
- High hang + full lift
- Mid thigh+ full lift
- Knee+ full lift
- Floor+ full lift
Depending on how long your technique has been off, this could be a pesky problem to correct. Once you start seeing progress, you should always incorporate the pulls and complexes into your warm up to emphasize proper technique before every training session. You should avoid power snatches and muscle snatches for a few weeks because those exercises tend to promote more arm involvement and can set your technique back a bit. Those lifts have their place, but not for a recovering arm bender!
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