Let’s Meet at the Bar

by coachdanbell

No, not this bar . . .


This one:


I was reading a recent post on the Pendlay Forum about whether to meet power cleans high or low, which led to a back-and-forth on whether to teach beginners powers first or begin with full lifts. There was discussion of whether beginners should even do power versions of the lifts. I think the original premise is flawed. I don’t teach new lifters to do full lifts or powers; I teach them to pull to the bar. The weight on the bar will determine if it’s a power or full lift.

I teach lifters to meet the bar where it is, not where they want it to be or where they prefer to go or the position they hit out of habit. I’ve talked before about the arms being active throughout the lift, sweeping the bar straight-armed all the way to the top of the pull and then actively pulling against the bar as the feet leave the platform. In this moment–feet off the platform and arms pulling hard against the bar–the lifter must pull their body to the bar. In the snatch, the lifter pulls the fists all the way to the lockout position, in the clean, the lifter pulls the bar right to the collar bone. Properly timed off of the first pull, the combined actions of the arms and feet will have the lifter meeting the bar at or near the apex of its upward trajectory.


If the bar is light, say 70% or 80%, the lifter will meet the bar and tighten against it for a power. If it is heavy–90% or more–they will meet it lower, in a full version of the lift.

I think this is the essence of the band drill that Glenn Pendlay talked me into trying with my lifters. Yes, it does teach lifters to pull into the hole, but I like the way it forces them to pull quickly to the bar and tighten against it. In the snatch version, the only way to do that against the downward “suck” of the bands is to pull and punch against the bar in one fluid and continuous motion. The drill makes you pull to the bar. If you just jump to the bottom to “catch” the bar, it crashes on you.

So don’t think of intentionally powering the weight or doing a full lift, think of pulling to the bar. If you want to do powers, put less weight on the bar. If you want to do full lifts, put more weight on the bar. If you want to grab a beer after the workout, yeah, we can go to that other bar.