A month ago, I had this idea that rather than squatting and deadlifting super heavy, I should learn “olympic lifts” (snatch, clean and jerk). I’d even made up my mind that I’ll ask one of the coaches at my gym to offer personal training during the summer so I can learn it.
And then, randomly, 2-3 weeks back, I decided to do some new exercises, and decided to do snatch grip overhead squat (something you need to do while you’re doing an olympic snatch). And that’s when I realised I would struggle.
I’ve mentioned here a couple of times that I have incredibly long arms. What I had not realised is that I have long enough, and a torso short enough, that it is physically impossible for me to snatch with a barbell.
So in the snatch, you need to use a wide grip and bring up the barbell, and at the same time thrust your hips forward to make sure the hips hit the barbell. The momentum of you having sharply pulled the barbell off the floor, and the hips hitting it, means that the barbell will go upwards, and you squat down and catch it overhead.
The key is that your waist needs to precisely hit the barbell when you thrust your hips forward. If the bar makes contact higher, your stomach can’t convey the same momentum that the waist can. And if the bar makes contact lower, well, let’s not get into below-the-belt stuff here.
And so your snatch grip on the barbell is determined by the width you hold it at so that the bar is exactly at your waist. You see professional weightlifters, and they usually hold the barbell well inside the ends (apparently short arms are a huge advantage in professional weight lifting). Most people in my gym also hold their snatch grip well inside the ends of the bar. Just that I can’t.
I got this photo taken at the gym today to demonstrate this:
I tucked in my shirt to show where my waist is. Notice that I’m holding the bar in the widest possible position. Yet I’m unable to get the bar to my waist. So with my body proportions, if I were to try and snatch, I would be putting myself in grave danger.
The reason I’ve told such a long story here is to illustrate that your choice of profession or game or sport highly depends on who you are. If, for whatever reason, I’d decided when I was young that weightlifting is cool and I want to specialise in that, I would have NEVER made it.
A lot of times, we make the mistake of going for “cool stuff” (or worse, forcing our kids to do something that we think is cool), without realising if we are cut out to do the cool stuff -whether we will like it, enjoy it and be good at it. And sometimes, driven by “inspirational stories”, we push ourselves too hard to get the cool job or college admission or whatever, without realising we may not have the aptitude for it at all.
Now that I tried to find my snatch grip, I know better than to take personal training for snatching. Yes, I should still be able to clean – though every time I’ve tried to learn, I’ve found it to involve too much coordination between my limbs (just like swimming, something else I’ve never managed to learn though my long arms should make me good at it).
I guess I should just stick to my strengths, and just deadlift and chill.