3 Reasons Why Most Beginner Weightlifters Should Use a Static Start Position

There are two main ways to begin a snatch and/or clean & jerk. The first is a dynamic start, one that has the lifter assume a strong starting position and dynamically move from the pulling stance into the pull, allowing the lifter to break the barbell from the floor easier and with less fatigue than a static start. The static start simply has the lifter get set in the correct starting position (much like the dynamic), however briefly pause, and reset before initializing the pull.

Many coaches and athletes have strong feelings regarding which method is best for the individual lifter and the appropriate lift (snatch or clean and jerk), however many would agree that beginner lifters need to learn to start from a static position first before experimenting with a dynamic start for three main reasons. Failure to do so could result in technical inefficiencies, limited coaching opportunities, and poor positional strength and balance in the set up, all of which can have a negative impact on long-term performance.

How to Perform a Static Start

In the video below, the lifter assumes a strong, non-moving starting position, briefly pausing before initiating the pull. From this static position, the lifter has the opportunity to adjust balance, find tension, and gain valuable coaching feedback prior to starting the lift.

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The dynamic start differs in that the lifter would move into the final position and seamlessly go directly into the pull (not stop and pause before initiating), allowing for more force to overcome the barbell (stretch reflex) and minimize fatigue at the onset of the pull.

Technical Consistency

The static start position should be trained and developed in all beginner and intermediate lifters so that they can learn the fundamental set up positioning, balance, and bar path needed throughout the first pull. Often, lifters will skip this phase, looking to harness the increased output capacity of the dynamic start with little technical prowess in the start, often resulting in inconsistent pulling technique and lifts. To best teach consistency, lifters should master the static start first, then move on to experiment with the dynamic start to determine what is the best fit for them. It is important to note that many high level lifters have set and broke records using static and/or dynamic starts, showing that the emphasis should be placed on a strong, balance setup and first pull, regardless of the starting position chosen.

Allows for Coaching

When teaching beginner lifters I often find they lack the body control, awareness, and strength to hold a starting poisoning comfortably, indicating a series of red flags to me as the coach. If a lifter cannot remain tense in the set up during a static start, the lifter is losing out on fundamental coaching feedback and cues, all of which can help to address poor balance, lack of back tension, and general technical faults in the set up and pulls. By forcing beginner lifters to assume a static starting position initially in their training, you allow the coach and athlete to develop a deeper connection during coaching and queuing exchanges.

Positional Awareness and Balance

As briefly discussed above, many lifters lack the neuromuscular control and/or isometric strength to harness tension in the static position, indicating a positional weakness that must be developed. By having lifters start with dynamic set ups, you may not fully develop their positional proprioception and technique during the initial phases of the lift. I have found that by forcing lifters to use static starts (at least at the onset of their training career) they become more in tune with the balance, positioning, and find the optimal levels of aggression and calmness needed to fluidly attack most snatches and clean and jerks.

Final Words

In no way or fashion am I advocating one style of starting (dynamic or static) to be used throughout the entirety of a lifter’s training career. Rather, I am highlighting three very distinct and significant factors that can play a role in the overall development and technical prowess of beginner and intermediate lifters when performing the static start position. Coaches and more advanced athletes should understand that while dynamic starts are inherent to their own lifts, many beginner and intermediate lifters need to master the static start prior to exploring dynamic set ups to best maximize long-term performance.

Featured Image: @mikejdewar on Instagram

Mike Dewar

Mike Dewar

Mike holds a Master's in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Mike has been with BarBend since 2016, where he covers Olympic weightlifting, sports performance training, and functional fitness. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and is the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at New York University, in which he works primarily with baseball, softball, track and field, cross country. Mike is also the Founder of J2FIT, a strength and conditioning brand in New York City that offers personal training, online programs for sports performance, and has an established USAW Olympic Weightlifting club.

In his first two years writing with BarBend, Mike has published over 500+ articles related to strength and conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, strength development, and fitness. Mike’s passion for fitness, strength training, and athletics was inspired by his athletic career in both football and baseball, in which he developed a deep respect for the barbell, speed training, and the acquisition on muscle.

Mike has extensive education and real-world experience in the realms of strength development, advanced sports conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, and human movement. He has a deep passion for Olympic weightlifting as well as functional fitness, old-school bodybuilding, and strength sports.

Outside of the gym, Mike is an avid outdoorsman and traveller, who takes annual hunting and fishing trips to Canada and other parts of the Midwest, and has made it a personal goal of his to travel to one new country, every year (he has made it to 10 in the past 3 years). Lastly, Mike runs Rugged Self, which is dedicated to enjoying the finer things in life; like a nice glass of whiskey (and a medium to full-bodied cigar) after a hard day of squatting with great conversations with his close friends and family.

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