The average height for any male Olympic Weightlifter is ranges from 5’2’’ in the 62 kilo class to just over 6’0’’in the 105 kilo class.
Translation, by most accounts Olympic Weightlifting is not a tall man’s sport. At 6’4’’ myself, I stand out, just a bit. Metaphorically speaking those 4 inches can mean a lifetime and distances that span the globe in this sport.
Unfortunately for me, I love Olympic Weightlifting. The more I’m told that this is not for me, the more and more I accept and look forward to the challenge. It is remarkably beautiful what the body can accomplish, lifting extreme loads in a blink of an eye. Several years back I had the pleasure to speak with the great Travis Mash who bluntly pointed out that there have been great lifters over 6’0’’, but don’t quit your day job just yet. With those words deeply seared into the back of my head, I began to explore how I can turn my “disadvantage” to an opportunity to learn and improve as athlete and coach.
Like many with my height disadvantage, my biggest struggle had always been getting under the bar, getting under it quickly, and all the elements that go along with it, footwork, change of direction, speed, mobility, stability and conﬁdence. I strongly believe the following guidelines can be applied to all lifters and CrossFitters, no matter the gender, age, or height.
We will concentrate on the Snatch, but many if not most of the principles apply to the Clean as well. There may be hope for us just yet 🙂
First and foremost, if you are not able to get into the right positions in either of the lifts due to mobility restrictions, we are going nowhere fast. The Olympic squat for example requires a great deal of mobility, ﬂexibility, and stability. The deeper we can get the more room we create for ourselves to get under and receive the bar in a lower position. This is critical as the loads get heavier. This mostly involves mobilizing everyone favorites; ankles, hips, wrists, and thoracic spine.
What I ﬁnd gets missed quite often in our ability to receive the bar overhead is our ability to fully and freely extend our arms in a stable locked out position (think overhead in Snatch or Jerk). Both the pec minor and the latissimus dorsi will lock you up and pull your arms and chest down preventing proper position.
These are a couple of great tools to employ.
If you have any restrictions, again address these ﬁrst.