The Need for Speed- How to get Under a Heavy Bar Fast

June 24, 2016

A common issue I hear from athletes is: “I’m slow getting under the bar when the weight gets heavier.”

Often, there is one of two key things happening to cause this problem.

  1. Something we’ve done in the movement (We’re the cause)
  2. A Physical Limitation

I break all this down in this video, and give a little more in the words below:

We’re the Cause

Here is a quick list of the most common errors that cause athletes to struggle getting under a heavy bar.

  1. Giving it Something Extra – An example, “Now that the bar is heavy the athlete rips the bar from the floor. They did not do this "rip" with lighter weight. The result is the athlete gets pulled out of position and uses much more energy trying to make this lift.”
  2. Doubt and Moving Uncommitted – If there is a doubt in your mind you will not move with the same commitment, period. Clear the doubt and attack the lift.

We never like to admit that we’re the one causing a problem. Often, we try to justify what we did that caused the problem. Get over it! We all start out doing these things… Lets admit it and start correcting it.

Quick corrections to the above problems

  1. The issue with trying to give the lift extra speed or extra power is, when we’re learning, we don’t know where to add the speed or power. Instead, focus on holding position as your legs do the work. When our back and arms get involved too early everything breaks down.
  2. Clearing your mind is an exercise in itself. Catch negative thoughts and push them out. Olympian Holley Mangold discusses this here

Physical Limitations

The number of athletes who blow off their physical limitations always amazes me. These are often fixable!


The top issue here is mobility! Are you comfortable in the receiving position with no weight? If not, you will not be able to move there with speed under heavy load. This is a good thing. It is a protection mechanism of the nervous system. Increase your mobility and this issue goes away.  

Is mobility is an issue for you, and is weightlifting a goal? Our Free Mobility for Weightlifting Schedule will help you mobilize the right areas at the right time! 

Over Exhausted Muscles:

Another common issue is over exhausted muscles. If our legs are blown up, again, the nervous system will detect danger. If weightlifting is a goal of yours then be mindful of what workouts you do around your weightlifting. Doing “death by squats” the day before you’re planning to max out in the snatch or clean isn’t the best decision.  

The Final Verdict

Everything I listed is a common challenge every athlete will face. Consistent training is truly the key. Consistent training will allow you to practice moving the same way on each lift. Consistent training will allow you to practice clearing your mind of doubt. And, consistent training will force you to give time to reaching good positions.


This is a guest post from Drew Dillon, head coach and co-founder of Project Lift (link: and is a personal coach to 2012 Olympian Holley Mangold. You can follow Drew on Instagram and YouTube.

How to get Under a Heavy Bar Fast #crossfit