No Tricks Needed To Avoid The Knees

One of the oddities of weightlifting instruction to me is the focus on actively moving the knees back out of the way of the bar during the pull of the snatch and clean.
The premise of it assumes that the knees are these independent entities not attached to the rest of the body whose sole quest is disruption of the bar path, and therefore must be actively forced to submit to your will. This usually means pushing them too far back and leaning too far over the bar in the first pull, which then creates problems for the rest of the lift.
But here’s a closely-guarded technique secret: If you stand up, your knees go backward… they’re attached to your feet and hips.
In other words, as you stand from the starting position, your knees move backward as the bar rises and clear the path.
But! you spit tearily into your screen, my knees are special and stay in the way!
No, you’re just doing something wrong. Let’s take a look at the possibilities so you can fix the actual problem:
Don’t try to start with the bar way back—position it over the balls of the foot.
Don’t start with your shoulders behind the bar—position the shoulder joint above or very slightly in front of the bar.
Don’t start with your feet and knees forward—turn the toes out and push the knees out as far as the arms will allow, and keep them out that wide until the bar is past them.
Don’t bring your shoulders back too early—stay over the bar by keeping approximately the same back angle until the bar is past the knees.
Don’t push the bar back too much too soon and grind your shins and kneecaps off—just keep it as close to the legs as possible.
Finally, make sure you’re not shifting forward—stay balanced evenly over the whole foot as you pull.
If you have freakishly long legs, you’ll probably have to allow your back angle to shift more than a more evenly-proportioned lifter, but it won’t have to be dramatic unless you’re making some of the previous mistakes—don’t exaggerate the knee extension for no reason. Here are two 6’ 4” guys pulling from the floor with solid posture and zero knee obstruction.
And as a final note: if you’re pushing your knees back to try to create more hamstring tension, all you need to do is stay over the bar long enough—the tension will be there unless you start opening the hips too early.

Related Videos