Finishing The Pull
Coaches love to yell about finishing the pull, and lifters love to have no idea what that means or how to do it, so we’re going to build a bridge right now to bring everyone together into a utopia of weightlifting bliss.
Finishing the pull simply means driving with the legs and extending the hips to the maximal productive extent. This is not quite a perfectly straight knee in most cases, but close, and the hips at least slightly hyperextended to bring the shoulders behind the hips on top of vertical legs.
The most common mistake lifters make is reacting to the contact of the bar at the hips or upper thigh by lifting the feet or relaxing the leg drive, which is far too early.
This means the bar losing potential elevation, and usually the hips driving forward through the bar, the feet sweeping backward and creating instability overhead, and the bar swinging away.
Remember that the bar will contact the body in the power position—the trunk approximately vertical and the knees bent and in front of the bar. We still have more leg and hip extension to complete from this point. Even though it may seem like a brief motion, it contributes enormously to the lift, not just in terms of speed and height of the bar, but in ensuring our balance and the correct bar path.
It can help to imagine sliding the bar up the body after it contacts the hips by continuing to push straight up with the legs and then shrugging up and back as you stretch into the final extended position. That is, rather than just a quick pop at the hips with an immediate reaction to stop pulling and move under the bar, we’re stretching that contact out longer and higher. Note that ideally we’re not actually dragging the bar, but getting as close as possible.
You can get a feel for this motion with pulls from power position. Set and hold the position with flat feet, a vertical trunk, and the bar against the hip. Drive vertically with the legs and guide the bar up against the body like you’re trying to peel your shirt up.
Progress to pulls to hold from the floor with a controlled speed to help ensure the same vertical drive and guidance of the bar, and focus on this motion in all pulling exercises.
You can also do snatches and cleans from power position to focus on the final upward drive of the legs and the slide of the bar up the body.