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Olympic Lifting Glossary

Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 8.34.47 AMYou’ve been CrossFitting for nearly a year, but when your coach asks you to demonstrate a hang squat clean, beads of sweat begin to form over your brow.

Is that the one that goes over my head?

Sound familiar? If so, it’s time for you to study up a bit on names and terminology. Part of becoming a better athlete is knowing and speaking the language of the sport so you can better communicate with your coaches and fellow athletes.

Below is a glossary of basic lifting terms every CrossFitter should know.

Olympic Lifting

Olympic-style weightlifting isn’t just pushing a barbell around. It’s a specific athletic discipline in the Olympics in which an athlete attempts maximum-weight single lifts of the snatch and the clean and jerk. Deadlifts, for example, are part of barbell training, but are not one of the Olympic lifts.

The Movements:


A movement where an object (usually a barbell) is pulled from the floor and received in a front squat position with the object resting on one’s shoulders.


A movement where an object (usually a barbell) is heaved from the shoulders and caught overhead, with arms locked out. The movement is finished when hips and legs fully extend. A push jerk refers to jumping and landing in a shoulder width stance. A split jerk refers to jumping and landing in a lunge.


A movement where an object (usually a barbell) is pulled from the floor and caught in an overhead squat position.

Other Terms:


A complex is the combination of two or more different lifts combined into a single set. Complexes are typically employed for technical reasons or for training elements to improve speed, explosiveness or strength.


The concentric phase of a lift is that during which the acting muscles are contracting. For example, the concentric phase of the squat is the phase of returning to a standing position from the bottom position. For a pull-up, the concentric phase is pulling one’s body upward to get the chin over the bar.


The eccentric phase of a lift is that during which the acting muscles are extending. It is sometimes referred to as the “negative” phase of the lift. As an example, the eccentric phase of the squat is the movement from standing down into the bottom position. Or for a pull-up, it would be lowering yourself back down.

HangScreen Shot 2015-06-02 at 8.14.10 AM

The beginning position of a clean or snatch where the barbell starts above the knees (instead of the floor). If only the word “hang” is used, one can assume the barbell should start just above the knees. However, there are three distinct beginning points for the hang position: low hang, which is just above the knees; mid hang or “pockets,” where the bar is mid-thigh; and high hang, where the lifter is nearly upright, with the bar resting in the hip crease.

Hook Grip

A special grip used in the pull of the snatch and clean to ensure a secure grip during the aggressive acceleration of the bar. First, wrap your the thumbs around the bar, then grip the thumb with usually the first and second fingers and pull it tightly around the bar.


PowerScreen Shot 2015-06-02 at 8.14.25 AM

Denotes the way in which a barbell is received during a clean or snatch: in a partial squat, as opposed to a full-depth squat. For example, a power snatch would be pulled from the floor, the barbell would be received over head and the person would be in a partial squat with hips above parallel. The term power refers to the receiving position—most commonly the cut-off point is a parallel squat. “Power” in this sense has nothing to do with the acceleration of the bar or the strength used to lift it.


The clean and the snatch are broken down into three parts, or three “pulls.” Here’s what each part means:

First Pull

The first pull is the movement of the bar from its starting point on the floor until it reaches approximately mid-thigh, the point at which the final upward explosive effort is initiated. This is the slow, controlled beginning of the lift.

Second Pull

The second pull of the snatch or clean is final upward explosive effort of the lift, beginning when the bar reaches approximately mid-thigh and ending with the complete extension of the hips and knees. This is the part where we scream, “Explode!”

Third Pull

The third pull of the snatch or clean is the movement of the lifter under the bar after the final upward extension. Essentially, this is where we “catch” the bar.

Pulling Position

Pulling position refers to the position of the feet during the pull of the snatch or clean. Typically this is with feet stacked underneath our hips.

Receiving PositionScreen Shot 2015-06-02 at 8.13.51 AM

Receiving position refers to the position of the feet when receiving the snatch, clean or power jerk. It is most often the same as the lifter’s squat stance, or just a few inches wider than the pulling position.

Study up on these terms, so that next time your coach asks you to do a hang power snatch, you won’t sweat it!


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