Instructional - Olympic Weightlifting


Elbows Out In The Snatch & Clean

In the starting position and pull of the snatch and clean, we want the arms somewhat internally rotated to direct the bony points of the elbows toward the outside.

This position is unnecessary for the first and second pulls—its purpose is to improve the mechanics of the third pull. Internal rotation allows the lifter to more easily pull the elbows up and out to the sides—this motion helps accelerate the change of direction and movement under the bar while maintaining proximity of the bar and body.

If the elbows are turned back, it’s more likely the bar will move forward away from the body, and equally important, it makes a strong pull down with the arms and upper back more difficult.

The arms do not need to be maximally internally rotated, and many lifters will be prevented by shoulder immobility from achieving extreme rotation anyway.

When establishing this elbow position, bear in mind that rotation of the arm is independent of the shoulder blades. Do not roll the shoulders forward attempting to create more rotation of the arm.

Keep the shoulders approximately neutral in terms of protraction and retraction in the starting position and first pull. Retraction should occur only during the pull under the bar and when fixing the bar in position overhead.

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