Leverage in Weightlifting Part 1: How to improve your pull

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In basic weightlifting biomechanics, levers have a role in ensuring efficient and effective technique. Why? They form the segments that produce movement within the body which in turn creates movement on the barbell.

So, understanding how to optimize leverage of these segments will give you that ability to utilize your body effectively to produce force.

Biomechanical concepts and application of these concepts all coming together. . “Seriously though, the FuBarbell + The Training Geek seminar was mind-blowing.” . “I learnt a ton of awesome concepts to apply to my coaching and lifting. Thanks Lester and Diane.” . “Awesome seminar with some of the best!! Thanks for all the dedication and coaching today! These two are pretty amazing wealth of knowledge when it comes to weightlifting…made some great improvements today! Thank you Diane Fu and Lester Ho!” . Two more weekends to go! Hope to see you at one of them. :) http://www.fubarbell.com/events #thetraininggeek #FuBarbell #Weightlifting #olympicweightlifting #crossfit ##CrossFitDefined #SundownCrossfit #BeardsandBarbells #Biomechanics #Education #alwayslearning #neverstoplearning

A photo posted by Lester Ho (@lesterhokw) on


During my discussions with Diane Fu from FuBarbell we often began with different body types and a common error we see all the time while coaching (despite being from opposite sides of the globe). Basically, novice lifters are trying to follow certain styles and techniques they find on the internet, or from weightlifting celebrity training seminars featuring advanced, individualized systems and methods.  Don’t get me wrong. I think the information attained from online and seminar resources is really valuable and useful. However, it is more important to be able to decipher this information and make it relevant to yourself.  So, this is exactly where the biomechanical concept of leverage in weightlifting comes in. Understanding the various lengths of the segments of your body will allow you to understand why a certain method may make you more or less efficient, or why, because of your physical characteristics, you are more effective moving a certain way. 

Demands of An Upright Torso. In the receiving position of the snatch or the clean, the ability to maintain an upright torso is key to increasing the effectiveness in receiving the bar. The upright torso is also critical to shift the load when receiving the weight into the legs, rather than the back and shoulders. Performing your squats with this upright torso can help gain the awareness of using the legs to achieve the stability required in the bottom position. As you can see, the weight of the system (barbell-weightlifter) can remain within the centre of the legs and reduce loading of the back to support the position and movement. Just be wary of sitting the hips through too early as that can also cause excessive posterior tilting of the pelvis at the bottom if hip mobility is not present. P.S. The only time I’ll use something close to a monolift with the @roguefitness monolift attachment. It wasn’t as intimidating as the actual monolift. #thetraininggeek #southeaststrength #FuBarbell #SanFranciscoCrossfit #weightlifting #olympicweightlifting #crossfit #squat #backsquat #uprighttorso #morelegs #pendlay #virusintl @virusaustralia @fashionrxd A video posted by Lester Ho (@lesterhokw) on


Give the 2-Box method a try. 

Lie down on the ground with your feet hip-width apart up against a wall. Your hips, knees and ankles should form a 90-degree angle.  Next, determine where your joint centers for your hips, knees, ankles and shoulders are so you can connect them to form two boxes.

In the typical weightlifting ideal, one needs to have a relatively long torso, a mid-length femur (thigh bone) and a lower leg of similar length to the femur. This will allow a good distribution of workload from the legs and the torso to effectively produce force and have that force transfer well to the bar.

More importantly, the two main proponents of movements with the legs (hips and knees) can be effectively utilized to create vertical movement of the body and subsequently the barbell within the lifts.

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Know your type.

Being able to identify what categories your levers fall under will give you a clearer picture of how your body needs to move in order to achieve vertical alignment in the pull. It will also allow you to identify which muscle groups and segments you must strengthen and utilize for force production in the pull.

Lastly, knowing your lever type will allow you to identify the supporting muscles groups that you will now need to train so that you can maintain positional stability during in the pull. Basically, leverage determines how most effectively and efficiently your body is made to move and gives you a clearer picture on what you MUST do to get there.

I’ll see you soon for part 2, where I’ll share some thoughts on training for specific body types.

Make the most of every pull,


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12 Responses to “Leverage in Weightlifting Part 1: How to improve your pull”

  1. andrea

    Do you have a resource for the last section- knowing your levers- so you can determine what muscles to strengthen?

  2. Ian

    Hey thanks guys, this is really cool!

    I love geeking out on biomechanics and the science behind weightlifting so great article =)

    Kind of like Andrea mentioned; could you be a little more specific about what different levers actually translate to in practice? Also, which strengthening should be done for which types of levers?

    Ian M

  3. Jessica

    Ditto to the above comments! I would love to have some more info about how different levers translate to training differences. LOVE all the info you guys share, THANKS!!!

  4. Ashton

    Please do part 2! I have a really short torso, so i always end up getting pulled downward in my first pull.

  5. Mera

    Yes, a part 2 would be great! I’d love to learn more about this!


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