Hang Cleans (with “rocking” etc): The effects of anterior bar path and using the back and legs on lumbo-pelvic rhythm is clear (more below) and has been well discussed. The catch portion of Olympic lifts can also be problematic for athletes who combine poor thoracic mobility and scapulo-humeral rhythm with a lack of hip extension.
Pistol squats: Not good for loading as the free leg flexion causes lumbopelvic disturbance, the thoracic and lumbar spine is flexed (especially with dumbbells held in front).
i) Keep ROM individualized to a point where postural integrity and fluidity is maintained, do not force to set external depths, individualise ROM based on mobility level.
ii) Slow down the eccentric- individualizing ROM is nigh on impossible when the “drop-bounce-grind” technique is employed
iii) Be careful which exercises you load very heavily and how you load them (both weight and placement e.g. Bulgarian squats with weight in hands vs on back). Let manual testing and flexibility testing (with pelvic stabilization) guide you as to what are realistic exercises and depths where alignment (especially see frontal/transverse plane deviation on Thomas test, and Ober’s test for abduction with hip extension as lateral myofascial system around TFL, ITB, VL, lateral RF is often a mess) and postural integrity are maintained.
iv) Watch for lumbopelvic disturbance in split stance lifts as the combination of tilt plus rotation is very strong and not apparent in bilateral work with a symmetry focus.
v) A “hip-hinge” emphasis often results in lumbar extension (see box squats and hip thrust). The co-ordination of the hip, knee and ankle movement is an essential component of sport tasks and intramuscular + intermuscular co-ordination adaptations in the weight room can affect transfer.
Best bets for Heavy Loading:
I favour bilateral squatting and Olympic lifts (eccentric concerns above less relevant for O-lifts) with an emphasis on fluidity and integration/co-ordination of the hip, knee and ankle, as well as the postural integrity concerns noted above.
1. Modify the load to reflect technical proficiency and ensure posture is adequate, the relationship between load and torque on lumbo-pelvic rhythm is not linear as more weight at the shoulders relative to bodyweight induces a change in the centre of mass of the system. Even highly experienced lifters in strength sports need to arch hard and brace to achieve stability at heavy loads.
2. Slow down the eccentric and look closely, take responsibility for posture and respect the limits of postural integrity.
3. Respect integration/co-ordination of the hip, knee and ankle in athletic movements.