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Matt Mackay
01-10-2012, 08:22 AM
I have a question regarding how the shoulders should be during cleans and snatches. I bought the Weightlifting book by Tommy Kono and watched some of his videos. I noticed that he recommends to keep the shoulders forward(lats spread apart and shoulders pushed forward). This is how I have been training and now my shoulder bothers me. My chiropractor said it was bad for your shoulders to lift this way. He said to keep shoulders retracted. I have also heard a few weightlifters say to keep them retracted as well. So now I am confused. Is Tommy wrong or right?

Greg Everett
01-10-2012, 09:47 AM
I wouldn't say he's right or wrong - he does things his way like every other lifter and coach.

I instruct people in the start of the snatch/clean and the pulls to maintain an approximately neutral shoulder blade position fore/aft. They should be depressed somewhat along with the effort to extend the entire back. Few people will be able to fully retract their shoulder blades in the start position - there just isn't space. In fact, there are many people who end up protracted to some degree just to be able to reach the bar. The more important points are a fully extended back that includes forceful activation of the lats, which will help extend the upper back as well as push the bar back into the body.

Matt Mackay
01-10-2012, 09:55 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhxqEmLYuCA

Greg Everett
01-10-2012, 10:00 AM
Yes.... I guess the only thing I would disagree with is that I don't think you should be actively protracting the shoulder blades. Allowing it to happen is different from making it happen. But I do agree, if it wasn't clear in my first post, that the shoulder blades should not be retracted during the pull.

Gareth Rees
01-10-2012, 12:31 PM
Yes.... I guess the only thing I would disagree with is that I don't think you should be actively protracting the shoulder blades. Allowing it to happen is different from making it happen. But I do agree, if it wasn't clear in my first post, that the shoulder blades should not be retracted during the pull.

Greg, correct me if I'm wrong, or oversimplifying this, but is the only reason you should not retract the shoulder blades because then you don't have as much room in the upper back region to shrug yourself down at the start of the 3rd pull? Or is there any other reason in particular?
p.s. this won't mean much in terms of relevance, but I learned the lifts from your book, and in a lift I previously posted on here for critique, you advised I was protracting my shoulders too far forward. I've rectified this since, and make sure to keep them neutral, and it feels much better (though I am still a complete beginner)...

Greg Everett
01-10-2012, 12:46 PM
Well... that's true, although I don't know that it's totally necessary - the arms should be doing the majority of the work anyway, so you should be able to get under the bar with very little shrug - basically as much as comes naturally from pulling your elbows up and out as you should.

W regard to the start/pull, attempting to keep the shoulder blades retracted is akin to keeping the elbows bent - the position will not be rigid so some of the leg and hip power will get absorbed in their movement as the lifter explodes at the top.

Kono teaches a start position and pull with the shoulders farther over the bar than I and many others do. The more upright pulling posture and maximal arch of the back places the shoulders in a much different position than he illustrates in that video, i.e. the top of the trunk is more upright, so keeping the shoulder blades more neutral than protracted is more natural than it would be with a more forward inclination over the bar.

The lats are hugely important during the pull to keep the bar back toward the body as well as help arch the back. I don't think spreading them achieves this as much as engaging them in the effort to arch the upper back and push the arms toward the body, which will result in different posture/position.

Greg Everett
01-10-2012, 12:54 PM
I just watched a bit more of that video. You can see Carrissa (2008 Olympian, American record holder) demonstrating the start position. This is higher hipped than I would usually start someone, but the back/shoulders are in line with what I teach. You can see as she really engages to arch the whole back that her shoulders naturally move back somewhat - she's not actively retracting, she's engaging the lats, erectors etc, and the lats will pull the shoulders down and back a bit when arching. This is what I want to see.