Dmitry Klokov has forever immortalised the term “stripper pull” during his many weightlifting workshops across at the world. Unfortunately, we are not talking about your late night profession here, instead we are referring to the movement of the barbell from the floor up to knee height, otherwise known as the first pull. Unfortunately the stripper pull is the king of ruining the rest of your snatch.
The methods in this article will also help those who are struggling to lift as much from the floor as they can from the hang position and help you to regain the feeling of driving through the floor with your legs rather than putting stress upon your back.
What is wrong with it?
There are several ways to commence the pull in weightlifting, some opt for the hips to start at the height they will remain, this is most common and requires less movement but a strong back. Some lifters start with their hips down and start the pull with their shoulder in line or slightly behind the bar and then move over with the shoulders as the bar reaches knee height.
Even the lifters (Lu Xiaojun, Taner Sagir) who use the second method lock their hips at a certain height to ensure posture and efficiency moving into the extension.
When we talk of the “stripper pull” we refer to the hips rising too much during the first pull, often becoming the same height as the shoulders and often paired with the knees locking out. During the snatch the shoulders should always be higher than the hips, this ‘proud chest’ posture is very important, and letting those shoulders drop and/or locking your knees out when the bar passes the knees will switch off your legs. Consequently there is a less than optimal bar path and the ability to triple extend efficiently is near impossible.
What are the causes?
The perfect coaching cue to cause this problem in athletes is to over emphasise the “knees back” during the snatch.
Whilst we want the knees to move out of the way, we do not want that to be the main focus of the first pull. Driving with your legs and keeping your chest proud will put the emphasis on actually standing up with the bar. If your knees are locked out when the bar is at knee height then it is likely you are a stripper (this joke never gets old!). Other clues can be a rounded upper back/ shoulders along with the front of their shoes flapping up which often means the weight is too far back, causing the lifter to be off balance.
The over-use of touch-and-go lifting can also cause this. Whilst touch and go lifting is a necessary skill to train, over dominance of this can cause problems lifting heavy off of the floor.
What are the cures?
Flexibility, often people with tight hips and thoracic areas struggle to get themselves into the position that a good snatch start position requires, such as a shoulders over the bar, chest proud, back flat and weight through the mid-foot. Stretching and working on the t-spine will really help.
Building strength in your legs and back will go a long way. I recommend building up your back squat through squatting 2-3 times per week.
However my golden exercise for stripper pullers is to work on snatch deficit pulls and snatch from a deficit (standing on a block or 20-25kg plates). Start with your bum on your calves with your back straight and chest up. Commence the pull with the most upright position you can manage with the bar over the base of your big toe. Once you start to push you will feel your quads engage and as the bar reaches mid-shin height you should be migrating to having your shoulders over the bar. At this point keep your chest proud, and make sure you lock your hips at the height and do not let them come any higher. Twice a week doing this exercise for five sets of five with as heavy as your form allows will really help reprogram your first pull in the snatch.
I have gone through many phases in my snatch, for a short time i felt the ease of a slight stripper movement in the first pull but this has had a really negative effect on the extension. Just think of the long term gains and reduced injuries!