The Biggest Key to Being Great in Weightlifting

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The Biggest Key to Being Great in Weightlifting

There are a lot of factors that make up a weightlifter. They need to be fast, mobile, strong, athletic, and masters of movement. However, there is one big key that separates the good from the great, and that is “timing”. A lifter can hide a lot of faults if they are good at timing. Let’s look a little deeper.

There are a couple of points during the lift that timing is crucial. The biggest point is the transition from the second pull to the third pull. Simply put, I am talking about the moment that your hips open up at the top to the moment you begin pulling under the bar.

A huge mistake in weightlifting is spending too much time at the top of the lift. This could easily fit within my series of biggest mistakes in weightlifting, but I wanted to focus on the positive in this article. Here is the truth of the matter. The moment that your hips are completely opened, the pull upwards is over, and now it’s time to get under the bar. You can shrug all you want, and you are not going to get one more inch higher with the bar.

James Tatum

The big difference in catapult and triple extension is the use of shrugging. Since I have the King of Catapult, Don McCauley in my gym, I guess we are a catapult gym. I really don’t call myself catapult or triple extension, but I pretty much agree with 99% of what Don teaches. The funny thing is that our other coach is the great Chris Wilkes, and he is a Triple Extension coach. So I am going to call us a “Wilkes Catapult Extension McCauley Gym with a Twist of Mash”. How about that men?

Anyways back to the blog. You can teach shrug up all that you want, but really the traps are used to shrug down. Wes Barnett taught me that back in the 90’s, so maybe he is the original Catapult Coach. The big mistake is using any extra time at the top because you aren’t going to get the bar any higher.

Two athletes come to mind when I think about timing. James Tatum is the master of timing when it comes to the snatch. Watch any of his snatch videos, and you will see that the minute he opens up he’s under the bar. He doesn’t waste a second, and he knows exactly where the bar is.

Jon North is known for his snatch abilities, but I think that he is actually better at the clean. His ability to get under a clean and stand it up is cat-like. At the top of the pull, he barely comes onto his toes because he is more focused about getting under the bar. He’s also a master of meeting the bar (which is also a timing thing), and catching the bounce out of the hole. He doesn’t have the strongest legs in weightlifting, but he does have the best timing. His timing makes his legs look strong.

Another mistake an athlete makes during the pull that messes up their timing is “trying to come up on the toes”. Noticed I said trying. Almost all lifters extend onto the toes at the top of the pull, but this should be an involuntary thing. If you are consciously thinking about pushing through the toes at the top, you are going to be slow in your transition under the bar. The transition under the bar is everything. It’s the least talked about pull, but it’s the most important.

Ladies and gentlemen the hips peak the bar not the traps and not the toes. I agree that getting height on the bar is important, but that comes from keeping the bar close, making contact in that solid power positing that will propel the bar upwards, and then completely opening the hips. After that, it’s time to get under the bar.

How does one get better at timing? You have to practice with intent. Weightlifting is a thinking man’s sport. If you are getting mad and throwing tantrums, you will not have the ability to think. Instead of getting mad, I want you to think about the movement with perfect visualization. You need to see the perfect lift in your brain before walking up to the bar.

When things don’t go perfect, I want you to analyze what happened and correct. Save the emotions the for competition platform! The training room is for practice not emotions.

There are three sections of the lift that require great timing:

1. The transition from the second pull to the third pull. We have already covered this one in detail.

2. Meeting the bar- A lot of new lifters will just fall under the weight and pray that they catch it. A great lifter will stay in contact with the bar pulling themselves under and around the bar. This too takes a lot of practice and bar awareness. This is where weightlifting is like barbell gymnastics.

3. The Jerk- the transition from the vertical drive upwards to driving the body down and under the bar is crucial like the transition from the second pull to the third. I watch lifters either forget the vertical drive trying to sneak under the bar, or they drive vertical too long and are slow getting under the bar. When this timing is perfected, the jerk should really be the easiest part of the lift.

I hope that this article gives you something to think about. Most of us think about having strong pulls upwards, and I agree we do. However, the real magic is getting under that bar at the perfect moment. That’s what I want all of you to think about for the next few weeks.

Team Mash Elite is off and running. Our goal to improve the sport of Olympic weightlifting is having progress already. However we still need your help in making our dream a reality. We are also very excited to watch our ‘youth at risk’ program scatter throughout America and the world. Here is a full report of the progress: “Team Mash Elite Update”

Here are the ways that you can help with this dream:

1. Become an affiliate– Our first affiliate ever was Undisputed Strength and Conditioning in Minneapolis, MN. Vinh, Jason, and the team up there is an extension of our team in North Carolina. They coach with us at National meets, and their athletes are a part of our National Teams. We are one big family. For more details about becoming an affiliate email

2. Become a Partner– for more information about that email me personally

3. Donate to the Team– thousands of you guys and gals read these article every day. If all of you donated $1-2 we would be in a much better situation. Click on the link below to donate:

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4. Come to the 3-day Mash Camp July 8th thru the 10th click the link below to find out more:

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5. Volunteer with fundraising, administration, or simply prayers. If you want to help, email us at:

We have big goals. We get it. We will definitely need all the help that we can get. This thing is bigger than three coaches. We need a team. A massive team! We are going to either do this once and for all, or stop talking about why America is terrible on the international scene. This is a chance for all of us to have a part in this.

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