The Half Heart
Written by Cody Burgener

When it comes to the snatch in Olympic weightlifting, a lot of athletes have the problem of not pulling their bodies underneath the bar.  It can come from an athlete not being confident in the overhead position, swinging the bar out (not keeping it close to their body), or getting pulled forward while lifting the bar off the ground (the 1st pull).

Now, lets say that an athlete doesn’t have any of the problems stated in the last sentence, but is still having trouble receiving the bar in the overhead squat position.  What could he possibly be doing wrong?

The first thing that comes to my mind is that he is not pulling himself down and around the bar.  He is not keeping the bar close to his face as he pulls himself under the bar.  He does a good job of keeping the bar close to his body, but not his face. This is crucial to do if you want to keep a vertical torso when receiving the weight overhead.  Now, how can I describe this movement to my athlete that would make it easy for him to understand what I need him to do? This is where the half heart comes into play.

I want you guys to imagine me, with my amazing man strength, ripping a heart in half.  The outcome of my strength makes the heart look something like this:


Now, let me explain the half heart.  The upper portion is your finish position.  Remember the finish position is extension of your ankles, knees, hips, and with your shoulders behind the bar and ears.  After the finish position is the curve portion, and that is where the athlete is pulling their body down and around the bar.

Keep the bar close to their face and body and receiving the bar with a vertical torso:


That half heart shape is mimicking how the athlete needs to pull their body under the bar.

The people that have trouble pulling their body down and around the bar will have a half heart that looks something like this:


Let me explain this picture.  Remember, the half heart is how you are pulling your “body” under the bar.  The athletes that do this are throwing their chest forward to get down under the bar.  By doing this, the athlete is going to have to swing the bar away from his face, which will cause the athlete to be pulled forward or the weight to be out front.  The athlete will also have trouble trying to keep a vertical torso.  His torso will most likely be down (kinda like my back squat – gross!) and his shoulders interiorly rotated.

Key things to remember: you are always keeping the bar close to your body – no matter the body or face – and you are always pulling yourself under the bar.  If you ever catch yourself missing the bar way out front or with your torso forward, I want you to think of the half heart.

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Quan Yoon
Quan Yoon

When in the curve are you making hip contact with the bar if we should make any?

Karen Arnold
Karen Arnold

Videotaping bar path movements are key in extracting specific cues for individual differences. Thanks for showing variations and adjustments available.


Wow, thank you. this makes me think about the mechanics of the movement a little more.