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  • Writer's pictureCoach AP

Unleashing Power: The Importance of Leg Drive in Olympic Weightlifting

In the realm of Olympic weightlifting, mastering the snatch and the clean involves a symphony of coordination, strength, and technique. Among the key elements that contribute to a successful lift, the utilization of leg drive stands as a paramount factor.

Understanding Leg Drive

Leg drive refers to the explosive extension of the hips, knees, and ankles during the lifting phase. This dynamic movement generates significant force and upward momentum, essential for elevating the barbell in both the snatch and the clean.

The Snatch:

In the snatch, leg drive initiates the upward acceleration of the barbell. The lifter begins in a low position, gripping the bar wider than shoulder-width apart. As the lift commences, the legs act as powerful pistons, driving forcefully against the ground. This force transfer creates a rapid extension, propelling the barbell upwards. The timing and synchronization of this leg drive are critical for achieving maximum height and control in the snatch.

The Clean:

Similarly, in the clean, optimal leg drive is fundamental for success. Starting from a squat position with a narrower grip compared to the snatch, the lifter explosively extends their legs while maintaining a strong back position. This explosive extension facilitates the barbell's elevation, enabling the lifter to quickly get underneath the weight to catch it at the shoulders.

Technique and Timing:

Mastering leg drive requires impeccable technique and precise timing. Coordinating the extension of the legs with the upward movement of the barbell is essential. It's not merely about brute strength but rather a finesse in synchronizing the kinetic chain from the legs to the arms, efficiently transferring power to the barbell.

Benefits of Efficient Leg Drive:

  1. Increased Power Output: Engaging your leg drive maximizes the force exerted on the barbell, resulting in more power and height during the lift.

  2. Enhanced Efficiency: Proper leg drive optimizes energy utilization, making the lift more efficient and reducing unnecessary strain on other muscle groups.

  3. Improved Control: A well-executed leg drive allows for better control and stability throughout the lift, aiding in the catch phase.

Developing Leg Drive:

Developing effective leg drive requires focused practice and attention to detail. Incorporating specific exercises like squats, clean pulls, and snatch pulls into your training regimen helps reinforce the explosive extension of the lower body.


In essence, leg drive serves as the engine that propels successful snatch and clean lifts. Mastering this aspect is pivotal for any weightlifter aiming to enhance their performance. By refining technique, perfecting timing, and dedicating focused training, one can harness the full potential of their leg drive, ultimately leading to greater proficiency and success in Olympic weightlifting.

So, the next time you approach the barbell for a snatch or clean, remember, your legs aren't just supporting you; they're the powerhouse that drives your success.

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