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  • Writer's pictureCoach AP

Maximizing Performance off the Floor: The Crucial Role of Taking Slack in Barbell Lifts

When it comes to barbell lifts like cleans, snatches, and deadlifts, every detail matters. From form to technique, athletes continuously refine their movements to enhance efficiency and minimize the risk of injury. One often overlooked aspect is the importance of taking the slack out of the bar. In this article, we delve into why removing slack is crucial for optimizing performance in these lifts and how it can elevate your training to the next level.

Understanding Slack:

Before we delve into its significance, let's understand what "slack" in the bar means. Slack refers to the slight give or play in the barbell and the plates before they become fully engaged. When you're setting up for a lift, especially in dynamic movements like cleans and snatches, the barbell may have some initial movement or bounce. This slack can diminish the force transfer between you and the weight, impacting your ability to generate power efficiently.

Importance of Removing Slack:

1. Enhanced Power Transfer: The primary goal in weightlifting movements is to transfer force from your body to the barbell effectively. Any slack in the bar hinders this transfer, resulting in a loss of power. By removing slack before initiating the lift, you ensure that every ounce of force you generate contributes to the movement of the weight.

2. Improved Stability and Control: Slack in the bar introduces instability, making it harder to control the weight throughout the lift. This instability can lead to compromised form and increased risk of injury. Taking the slack out of the bar creates a solid connection between you and the weight, enhancing stability and allowing for better control of the movement.

3. Optimized Timing and Coordination: Dynamic lifts like cleans and snatches require precise timing and coordination. Any delay caused by slack in the bar disrupts this timing, affecting the fluidity of the lift. By removing slack, you synchronize your movement with the weight, ensuring seamless execution and maximizing performance.

4. Prevention of Injury: Slack in the bar not only impacts performance but also increases the risk of injury. Instability during heavy lifts can strain muscles and joints, leading to overuse injuries or accidents. By tightening up the bar before lifting, you create a safer environment for your body to perform at its best.

Strategies for Removing Slack:

1. Pre-lift Setup: Before initiating the lift, focus on creating tension throughout your body and pulling the barbell tight to eliminate any slack. Engage your core, grip the bar firmly, and set your body in the optimal position to maximize power transfer.

2. Use of Lifting Straps or Hook Grip: Lifting straps or a hook grip can help minimize slack by securing your grip on the barbell. This ensures a tighter connection between your hands and the weight, reducing the risk of the bar bouncing or shifting during the lift.

3. Practice and Consistency: Removing slack from the bar is a skill that requires practice and consistency. Incorporate drills and warm-up sets focused on tightening the bar into your training routine to reinforce this technique and make it second nature.


Taking the slack out of the bar is not just a technical detail; it's a fundamental aspect of maximizing performance and ensuring safety in barbell lifts like cleans, snatches, and deadlifts. By eliminating slack, athletes can optimize power transfer, enhance stability and control, improve timing and coordination, and reduce the risk of injury. Make it a priority in your training regimen, and experience the difference it makes in your lifts.

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