Are Your Lifts in Balance?

At every athlete or coach clinic I conduct one topic that invariably causes participants to drag out some form of calculator is the application of a couple of ratios to determine how well balanced a lifter’s performance may be. These figures are well known to most experienced coaches, but are intriguing for newcomers to our sport.

Gene Baker, our national coaching coordinator in the mid-1980s first turned me on to the following ratio. A balanced lifter should have their 1RM snatch at 60-64% and their 1RM C&J at 77-81% of the 1RM squat figure. So if your best squat is 200 (pounds or kilograms) your snatch should be 120 - 128, and the C&J would be 154 - 162.

Frequently, particularly with CrossFit-type audiences, these ratios are often out of whack. When the percentage is below the suggested range the lifter benefits from more technique and/or speed work. If the resulting percentage is above the range the primary focus is on gaining additional strength (technique is adequate).

Further evidence of well-balanced lifting is when a lifter’s snatch is about 80% of their best C&J. C&J 200, you should snatch about 160. At the recent World’s in Houston I used this calculation (since I could not uncover PR squat figures) to see how balanced many of the lifters were. There were numerous examples of lifters, even at the World Championships, whose numbers fell significantly outside this range.

Are these numbers no longer accurate? If not, why? Bud Charniga, in his excellent The De-Masculinization of Strength, mentions that this snatch to C&J ratio for world records from 1952 to 1992 was 79%. “With the change in weight categories twice and the evolution of the sophistication of testing for performance enhancing substances, this ratio drifted to the current 83.1% for senior male, junior male, and Youth world records.”

Interesting. Bud successfully argues that “… the introduction of out of competition testing has created the current (his data tables are through July 31, 2011) stagnation of the female and most male world records of Track & Field power events, all the males records of the clean and jerk, and most of the snatch records.” Men’s C&J world records have again begun to rise, as we saw last month.

Looking only at Houston I determined the following figures that seem to suggest the best lifters have again returned to the balanced performances noted earlier in our sport’s history. Of course, this is not a comparison necessarily of their best lifts, only those registered at the World’s. For example, if a lifter cleaned more, but missed the jerk, the figures might be less than 100% accurate.

Female

World Champ

USA

Male

World Champ

USA

48

80%

79%, 83%

56

77%

-

53

77%

-

62

82%

82

58

80%

81%

69

83%

80%, 80%

63

77%

-

77

80%

80%, 82%

69

84%

79%

85

82%

-

75

82%

77%

94

76%

83%, no total

+75

80%

78%, 75%

105

83%

-

 

 

 

+105

80%

80

Avg.

80.0%

78.8%

 

80.4%

81%

Table 1. Snatch : C&J ratios of 2016 World Weightlifting Champions and Team USA members.

So, it looks like the world’s best and Team USA lifters are, for the most part, in balance relative to their performances in Houston. Check to see how your lifts measure up.

Harvey Newton’s blog appears at OLift Magazine here: www.theoliftmag.com/2016/01/05/are-your-lifts-in-balance-2.