For nearly half a century European weightlifting coaches have been using a form of structural balance to guide the training of their athletes. What they did was look at how much their athletes lifted in the classical lifts, the snatch and the clean and jerk, and compared these results to how much they lifted in assistant exercises such as the power clean and the back squat. For example, if a lifter was able to clean and jerk nearly as much as they could back squat, that suggests this athlete needs to focus more on squats in their training.
One guideline used for assessing the relationship between the power snatch and the power clean is 78 percent; which means that if an athlete could power clean 100 kilos, he or she should be able to power snatch 78 kilos. The power snatch is a faster lift than the power clean, and as such the power snatch is a better measure of speed. Further, an athlete’s back squat, a measure of strength, should be 137 percent of the power clean; which means in this example that an athlete who could power clean 100 kilos should be able to back squat 137 kilos.
Often American weightlifting coaches follow the advice of General George S. Patton, which is, “You can never be too strong!” But if the back squat far exceeds results in the power snatch or power clean, this suggests a strength imbalance in the hamstrings that could affect speed. For example, the USA’s Mark Henry could front squat 325 kilos and clean and jerk 220 kilos; his training needed to focus on speed (and possibly technique). In contrast, Russia’s Olympic Champion Yuri Zakharevich could front squat 250 kilos but could clean and jerk 250.5 kilos and clean 265 kilos; his training needed to focus on strength.
Copyright ©2011 Charles Poliquin