One very common flaw in a lot of athletes’ Olympic lifting (myself included) is shorting extension of the hips in the last pull. Not fully extending the hips can lead to both less power imparted to the bar and a poor bar path (too far forward – more evident in the snatch, but causes problems in the clean as well).
In quite a few athletes, this issue is compounded by limited ROM in the front of the hip, so it’s best to address full hip extension mobility for those individuals. For others who are able to adopt a fully extended position in a static test but short hip extension in the actual lifts, the barbell hip thrust may be the answer.
This exercise has gained a lot of popularity both in bodybuilding and athletic circles for its ability to develop the glutes… which we know are very important in terms of hip extension. When performed correctly, the hip thrust not only strengthens the glutes but it also encourages simultaneous relaxation at the front of the hip and patterns in the full hip extension that we want to see in the Olympic lifts.
The video below from Iron Samurai blogger Nick Horton details the ideal way to perform and integrate the barbell hip thrust into your Olympic lifting training. I agree with Nick’s suggestion to perform the exercise in a progressive loading manner and before training – adding in some prior mobility work before the hip thrust.
If your lifts have stalled for a while or you have the habit of a short extension, give the barbell hip thrust a go for a 4 week period. You may find some crossovers into sprinting speed, jumping, deadlifts, or any other movement in which the glutes are primary movers… and hey, if it doesn’t work, you’ll probably end up with a more well rounded posterior J