Pause to learn, not to lift

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The Olympic lifts are technical beasts.  They take a while to learn, and while most athletes can achieve decent competence in a few months of focused practice; years can be spent chasing mastery.

When we teach the lifts to a beginner, breaking the entire movement down into parts is of great help.  For instance, we'll teach a hang muscle clean (basically one third of the whole piece) first, then advance to the hang power clean,  add on the first pull from the floor, before combining it with the front squat to complete the full movement.

Even before all that however, the athlete needs to know where to put themselves to start.  The angle of the hips and knees, plus the neutrality and stability of the spine at the floor and above the knee are important for the best execution of the lifts.

screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-6-05-12-pmSo we put the athlete in the right position, then we pause.....

And pause......

And repeat.....

Until it's second nature.

And then we speed things up.

Occasionally the pause can become a safe place for beginners though, and they'll find themselves defaulting back to the pause, even when trying to lift a relatively heavy load.  But when there is load on the bar, the pause works against them, removing momentum, countermovement and elastic energy from the lift, decreasing power and increasing the chances of missing the lift.

So remember, the pause is JUST for technique practice.

Unless, we WANT to remove momentum???

Why would we do that?

Increasing the time-under-tension in a particular position can develop more strength, mobility, and even confidence in that position, eventually leading to a better performance of the complete lift.

It might also allow the coach to make a technical adjustment or deliver a cue that they wouldn't otherwise have time to do.

This tends to be a more advanced prescription.  Which means it is often be overdone by intermediate lifters, wanting to be #eleet.....

But for a bit of variety, a new challenge, or to fix a sticking point in your lifts, they may be helpful!

Just remember, pause to learn, not to lift.  When the requirement is to get the weight onto your shoulders or overhead, once you start moving, do not stop until there is a new personal record to write up on the board.... :)

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