Olympic Lifting 101: Practicing the Timing of Receiving Weight
Written by Ricky Moore

Timing is critical in Olympic Weightlifting and something most beginner to intermediate lifters have to focus on and even take time to practice. Developing this timing in different parts of the lifts – including receiving the weight – trains and improves both the central nervous system (CNS) and coordination. It also allows you to lift more weight since you are receiving in the strongest possible position.  

One cue we like to use with beginner lifters is to focus on ‘receiving the bar as the feet land’ whether that be on the shoulders for the Clean or overhead for the Snatch and Jerk. In a perfect world we would love to see athletes be ready to receive the bar – fully braced – a fraction of a second before receiving it. 

This cue leads to some great progress with that timing due to its simplicity. The beauty about it is that most athletes can feel if their feet are landing first well before the hands punch or receive the barbell, especially when exaggerating it in practice with light (or no) weight.  

Timing of Receiving Drills for Olympic Lifting

It’s easy to practice and is especially in a warm-up because not only does it get your body ready for your lifting session by greasing the groove of the movement pattern, you’re priming your CNS for what you are about to ask it to do. 

In your warm-up, after your targeted mobility work, you can practice your timing and get your heartrate up by doing a couple of sets of skill transfer drills for your lift that day. Use an empty barbell or very light weight – you shouldn’t be trying to max out when you’re practicing technique. 

Receiving the Snatch

For the Snatch, this could mean doing reps from the hang or floor, and receiving in a full squat or power position. Snatch Balance would also be a good drill to work on to practice this timing.

Receiving the Clean

For the Clean, this could mean doing reps from the hang or floor, and receiving in a full squat or power position. Tall Cleans would also be a good drill to practice foot speed in addition to this timing. 

Receiving the Jerk

For Jerks, use an empty barbell to practice your timing for Split Jerks and Power Jerks. You can even take the beginning of the movement – the dip and drive – out of the picture and perform Jerk Balances so that you can focus only on the timing of receiving the bar.

Cues for Receiving Olympic Lifts

Exaggerate your efforts so that you can be aggressive and on point with your timing to receive the barbell. Even though you will be practicing with an empty barbell for this drill, pretend you are lifting the most you ever have and you have to make it perfect.

In the Snatch it’s the focus of landing the feet and receiving the bar in overhead position at the same time. The timing is the feet stomp at the same time the hands punch the bar into place. If you are using an empty barbell, you can hear it rattle a little when you punch it up. Time that noise with the noise of your feet hitting the floor.

In the Clean, landing the feet and receiving the bar in the front rack position at the same time. The Front rack position is with the elbows all the way around and pointing forward. When practicing the timing for the clean, focus on whipping your elbows so they hit their pointing position at the same time your feet hit the floor.

In the Jerk, landing the feet, either split or power, and receiving the bar in the overhead position at the same time. The focus for the timing on this lift is the same as it is for the Snatch and you should hear that jingle of the bar at the same time as your feet stomp the floor if you are timing it correctly. 

Train with Invictus

If you’re looking for more focus Olympic Weightlifting work – whether it’s to focus on improving technique and building strength or train for a meet, check out Coach Ricky’s lifting program at our Sorrento Valley location. And if you don’t have the luxury of living in San Diego, then we’ve got you covered with an 3-Day and 5-Day Weightlifting Programs online with Coach Jared Enderton. 


learn more about the Invictus Weightlifting Program

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