I was pondering about a more structured way to select variations of the Olympic lifts for the next 2-3 months of my strength preparation. I decided to ask a weightlifting coach about how they approach this issue, and he said the following:
Choosing the starting height parameter (from the floor, from blocks, hang) not only depends on the rest of the setup for a given period, but also is strongly correlated with an individual’s strength and technical condition during a given training session. For example, if the coach does not like the execution of the snatch during a session, he might modify the exercises for that day and the athlete could end up going through the whole continuum – snatch with the bar above the knees, below the knees and from the floor. However, there is one regularity – with the approaching of the competition period, they gradually shift the emphasis from OL variations to the classic competition movements (pretty much transition from GPP to SPP for OL lifters). My take from this part is to do the opposite – progress from floor to above-the knee variations.
The choice for the height of the catch is also as variable as the previous point. The regularity here again is that the closer the competitions, the less “power”, the more full movements. However, there’s a “catch”: while they move towards a lower catch, their goal to put more and more weight on the bar remains. This means that, no matter how fast the athlete manages to get under the bar from the triple extension, there still is a significant strength component to the movement – there still is this heavy ass bar that needs to be pulled high enough before the body moves down around it. Whenever I reach the period when most of the OL are performed with a lower catch, I think a more appropriate emphasis would be not to strive to lift more weight, but to keep the weight I reached during the predominantly “power” clean/snatch phase, focus on pulling it to a lower point than before, and moving faster to get under it.
As a summary, what I plan on doing is progressing from a power clean to a full clean with the bar starting above the knees.