Feel The Steel!
Written by Cody Burgener
Have you ever missed a weight in front of you that felt so light that you can’t figure out why you missed it? Or have you picked up a weight that felt so heavy off the ground that as soon as you jump, you think there is no way I’m getting under this? If you said yes to any of those questions, then I have a pretty good idea on what your doing wrong mechanically.
Before I tell you what the problem is, I want you to do a little tester for me. I want you to go grab a barbell and put some medium weight on it. Pick up the barbell and perform a Romanian Deadlift to right above your knee. Now, I want you to push the weight 3 inches away from your body. Does the weight feel heavier? Does it pull you forward? This improper position is the position a lot of you are hitting when you are picking the bar up off the ground. The proper launch position you need to hit is the Romanian Deadlift position that I made you perform before pushing the bar 3 inches away from your body.
Now, you probably thinking to yourself, “How do I get to the proper launch position?” The first thing you need to get through your head, which is also the reason why I wrote this article, is to engage your lats. That bar cannot be away from your body. You need to feel the steel. A good thing to think about when lifting the bar off the ground to above you knee is to “pull the bar to your hips, don’t bring the hips to the bar.” A good way to look at it is if I took a vertical line from where the bar starts from the ground; your bar path from the ground to the launch position should gradually move away from the vertical line – pulling the bar back into your hips. The bar should never stay in that straight line because as soon as you start to get your knees out of the way the bar is going to be away from the body. Which brings me to my next point….
When standing from the ground to the launch position, you must push the knees out of the way, straighten your shins, or stand with your legs. The common mistake you see people make is the bar getting lifted around their knees or athletes raising there butt up too fast. Both of these ways will use your back way too much. Both ways also force the bar to be away from your body instead of close to your body. You want to use your legs to lift the weight. Your back angle should not change from the ground to the launch position. Doing this correctly will also carry over into an explosive second pull.
A good thing to imagine is pretending there is a box around your feet, and the barbell is never allowed to get outside that box. See how far back you can get that barbell in the box (sweeping the bar back/feeling the steel). Make that weight feel light off the ground, not heavy.
An Ideal Bar Path Sequence