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How fast should the first pull or the snatch or clean be? As fast as possible without compromising position, balance or tension.
The first pull is the segment of the lift in which the knees and hips are at their most mechanically disadvantaged due to the smaller joint angles. This means that no matter how forcefully you try to accelerate, the first pull will never be as fast as the second pull, during which the joints are opened to larger angles.
The bar speed a given lifter can produce in the first pull, and how it compares to the second pull, will vary based on proportions and how the lifter has trained, but all lifters will be faster in the second pull than the first.
Essentially the more bar speed established in the first pull, the more speed you can produce in the second, just like it’s easier to take a car from 60-80 than from 30-80. However, if you create too much speed before the second pull, you’ll be unable to maintain enough tension against the bar to maximally accelerate it.
Additionally, it’s nearly impossible to establish a proper second pull entry position with excessive speed—the bar will tend to blow right past the knees and stay away from the body. However, this is really only an issue with light weights—you won’t get truly heavy weights moving too fast no matter how hard you try.
This simply means that with lighter warm-up weights, and all lifts for newer lifters who aren’t able to move big weights yet because of technical limitations, you’ll need to intentionally control the speed of the first pull to ensure correct positions and continuous tension against the bar. This doesn’t mean we’re trying to move slowly; think of it more as mimicking the speed at which you’d be capable of lifting a maximal weight.
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