The precise starting position will vary somewhat among lifters, but with rare exceptions, the position will meet a handful of simple criteria.
The starting position is defined as the position of the lifter and barbell the last moment before the bar separates from the floor—it is not the position the lifter initiates any motion from in a dynamic start.
The bar should start approximately over the balls of the foot. This can be adjusted in either direction based on proportions and resulting shin angle—shorter lifters may be able to start it slightly farther back, and taller lifters may need to start it farther forward. In no case should it be in front of the foot or so far back it restricts the shins’ optimal position.
The toes should be turned out approximately 10-30 degrees from the centerline and the weight balanced evenly across them. The bar does not need to be touching the shins, although it should be close.
The knees should be pushed out inside the arms and may be touching them. This allows better posture and improves hip mobility to arch the back better. The knees should be at least slightly over the bar as well—don’t try to keep the knees behind the bar with more vertical shins.
The back should be set tightly in a continuous arch by maintaining or very slightly exaggerating the lumbar curve and flattening the thoracic curve as much as possible. This maximizes the ability to maintain a rigid trunk.
The head should be directed forward and the eyes focused straight ahead or slightly higher. This allows a consistent focal point during the lift for better balance and helps keep the posture upright, and the head-up position also allows more forceful back extension.
The shoulder joint should be directly above the bar or only very slightly in front of it, making the arm approximately vertical when viewed from the side. This will place the leading edge of the shoulder slightly in front of the bar.
The arms should be somewhat internally rotated to direct the bony points of the elbows more out to the sides than backward, and remain long and relaxed.
The shoulder blades should be approximately neutral in terms of protraction and retraction and be depressed as a natural part of the lats’ contribution to extending the upper back.
The height of the hips will depend primarily on the lifter’s proportions. Mechanically, it’s easier to lift from the floor if the hips are at least slightly above the knees, and this will be possible for most lifters. For short-legged, long-torsoed lifters, the hips may be at the same level of the knee or even slightly below, but such lifters also have better mechanics to move from such a position.
The only necessary differences for the clean relative to the snatch will be slightly higher hips and the knees spread out less due to the narrower grip. However, a lifter may make other changes by choice or by necessity due to mobility restrictions, such as using a different pulling stance.
See knees out video
See pulling stance video
See elbows out video
See back arch article
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