3 Fundamental Actions to Lift More by Changing Direction

November 18, 2018

Photocredit: ElleryPhotos

“I have trouble getting under a snatch…” or “I seem to always be stuck powering the weight…” are two very common statements I hear from athletes looking for help.

So what can we do to improve getting under the bar?

Three keys that affect changing direction 

#1 Trying to Get the Bar Higher

The benefit of good weightlifting technique is the ability to change direction quickly and explosively. It is one of the biggest benefits of using the movements in training. The best weightlifters in the world lift the most weight by changing direction in the middle of the lift, which results in the bar continuing to go up as their bodies go down.

However, if we haven’t learned this from the start often we default into trying to pull the bar high without changing direction. This is where things get “muscly or slow.”

First, we must understand that we need to change direction and then develop an intentional plan to drill that in training. 

#2 Poor Receiving Positions

We MUST be able to get into the finish positions comfortably! If you strain to do an overhead squat or a front squat then moving into those positions quickly isn’t going to happen well. Moving there quickly without thought is exactly what happens in the Olympic lifts!

This is one of the biggest struggles of ALL new athletes, and we created our free mobility schedule for weightlifting for this specific reason.

Take the time to open up your body and lengthen your muscles. Earn the positions and your lifts will go up. Ignore it and you’ll be frustrated and at a higher risk of injury.

#3 Never Working on Rhythm and Timing

Rhythm and timing are all about helping the body understand what muscles to fire and when to fire them. If you’ve not worked on this than you’re at a big disadvantage. There are many drills designed to help you feel when to drive your legs and when to pull. In traditional weightlifting, athletes are taught this at a very young age, but now with so many athletes starting when they’re older most never get that advantage.

Take the time to explore these drills and give yourself the permission to lower the weight and practice them. Here is a video of me teaching my friend Pawel from Uncharted Performance a rhythm and timing drill:


If you're having an issue with getting under the bar then go through these key points. Take your time and plan intentional training around these areas. Your lifts with thank you and the results will come. Good luck!

This is a guest post from Drew Dillon, head coach and co-founder of Project Lift during his lifting career as
 an athlete Drew placed as high as 4th at a USA Weightlifting Nationals and is a personal coach to 2012 Olympian Holley Mangold. He is also known as a Weber grill snob and will routinely ask you "what is for dinner" during training. You can follow Drew on Instagram and YouTube.