Power snatches and power cleans are a staple of weightlifting training. They allow us to develop several qualities desired for the training of a weightlifter. They teach us speed, they can improve technique, and they satisfy the pillar of specificity, all the while giving us a break from heavier lifts. We are able to exert maximum force into a max power whilst not developing too much fatigue.
The standard for a power seems pretty clear, right? You must catch the bar and decelerate it before your thighs reach parallel with the ground. Whilst this seems pretty clear cut, the standard is easily manipulated, especially in favour of certain lifters.
There are 2 types of power snatchers and power cleaners in this world. Those who catch the bar with vertical shins, hips pushed way back, and torso forward. These lifters tend to lack a certain amount of mobility in their ankles. They manage to claim lifts as ‘power’ by closing the angle of the hips as much as possible. They lean forward more with their torso to lower the height that the bar needs to be for them to maintain parallel thighs. If you can imagine this position, as I’m sure many of you can, you can see how if they maintained a vertical torso as one ought to in weightlifting, that they would simply fall backwards. If these sorts of lifters had to drop their hips below parallel they would invariably lose the bar forward. THESE ARE THE HIP CLOSERS!
Next we have those who achieve a parallel thigh through other means. These people push their knees so far forward that they almost never hit parallel. You might be surprised when watching top lifters that many big lifts are almost powers themselves because of the massive amount of ankle mobility (dorsiflexion). I myself am one of these lifters. I am long femured with good dorsiflexion. I manage to call lifts power that I really believe shouldn’t be considered a power. But to the standard of the parallel femur they are. I close the knee angle and keep the hip angle open. THESE ARE THE KNEE CLOSERS!
Of course there is another team of power snatchers and power cleaners. They catch the lifts with their hips back, AND their feet split as wide as they can. These people need to just learn how to power. In my eyes powers are too similar to the true lifts to be done so differently, if that makes sense. They must be exactly the same as a full lift, just caught high. A bench press for example is so different from a snatch that it isn’t going to change you technique on how to snatch. A poorly executed snatch variation however might change your true snatch technique for the worse. I digress…
So I put forward a new standard for the power, a standard that does not lend itself towards manipulating our limbs to cheat the parallel thigh. The torso remains vertical in the name of specificity, and instead of trying to maintain a parallel thigh, we try to not catch the bar below a 90 degree knee bend. This will prevent the hip closers from getting into a low-bar back squat position, and it will prevent the knee closers from jamming their knees so far forward that they can claim 95% of their full lifts as powers.
I am going to try to hold myself to this standard from now on.