The Proper Starting Position for Olympic Weightlifting
Written by Cody Burgener
In my past two blog posts regarding the proper positions in Olympic weightlifting (The Proper High Hang Position and The Proper Mid-Thigh Launch Position), we talked about the proper high hang and launch/mid thigh position. In my article today, I want to talk about the proper starting position for the Olympic lifts. One of the most important things to understand is that we need to have a correct starting position to help give us the best advantage to get to the proper launch position. Remember, when we pick it up off the ground, we have to pass through the launch position and high hang position, so we have to make sure we set up to give us the best opportunity to get to those positions. Read my other two posts if you don’t know the proper mid-thigh/launch or high hang positions.
A good way to remember how to set up properly in the Olympic lifts is the phrase, “Hips slightly higher than knees and shoulders higher than hips.” So now that you have that pictured in your mind, let me break it down for you so it can make a little more sense.
Beginning with the Knees: The reason the knees need to be slightly lower than the hips is so we can reduce the distance from lifting the bar with our legs off the ground to our launch position. If we had our hips lower than our knees, then you are just increasing the distance for you to push your knees back and out of the way. The majority outcomes of this fault is going around the knees, which causes you to be pulled forward off the ground.
The second positioning of the knees that I want to talk about also includes where the weight on your feet should be. When setting up for the lift, your knees should be out over your toes more – not stacked over your ankle. This will help shift the weight a little more towards mid foot to the front portion of the foot. The reason why we want to do this is to give us room to shift back to our heels as we are pushing the knees back out of the way while maintaing lifting the bar with our legs. If we started more back on our heels, we have no room to shift back, so we end up shooting the hips up to get our knees out of the way. This will cause us to use our backs more to lift the bar up instead of our legs.
Lets talk about the Hips. We want the hips slightly higher than the knees and lower than the shoulders. Starting with your hips too high causes a couple problems in the liftoff. First, the higher the hips, the less legs you are going to use. We need to use our legs to lift that bar off the ground – not our backs. Second, the higher the hips, the more your chest and shoulders are going to be over the bar, causing you to lift with your back more, and it will be tough to get to the proper launch position. On the other side of the coin, if we start with our hips lower than our knees, then we increase the distance knees need to go back while lifting the bar off the ground. The outcome of this is the bar will be traveling around the knees which, like in most cases, will pull you forward.
The last thing is your Shoulders. Very simple here – just make sure that the shoulders are high than the hips. When setting up for the lifts, the shoulders need to be in line or slightly in front of the bar. This will help you make sure that you start more on the mid-footish/ball of the foot when setting up. If the shoulders are slightly in front of the bar, the weight will most likely be back on your heels or you hips will be lower than your knees.
In conclusion, just always remember hips higher than knees and shoulders higher than hips. Start with your weight more forward on your food, and last little tid bit that i forgot to mention, look straight ahead. One last thing to remember; everyone comes in different shape and sizes, so some people might have different starting positions. As long as they still have hips higher than knees and lower than shoulders, then they will be good to go.