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Teaching weigthlifting movements from 'bottom to top' or from 'top to bottom', which is better?

Summary of an article looking at two ways of teaching Olympic weigthlifting lifts (snatch and clean) using forward or backward chaining, and comparing which one is more effective for novice lifters.

Who

4 novice lifters (USA).

Patric
58 years male
<1 month of experience in weightlifting
no training history
Lee
32 years female
<1 month of experience in weightlifting
avid runner
George
48 years male
3 months of experience in weightlifting
played soccer, copeted in powerlifting
Valerie
25 years female
<1 month of experience in weightlifting
competitive dancer

Design

Intervention study with random assignement to treatments (teaching methods). Training 45-60 minutes (10 minutes warm-up, 30 minutes drills, 5 minutes testing), 3 days per week for 2 months

Exercises:

  • deadlift
  • pull
  • power snatch/clean
  • squat

Teaching methods:

  • bottom to top (forward chaining): deadlift -> pull -> power snatch/clean -> squat
  • top to bottm (backward chaining): squat, power snatch/clean, pull, deadlift

Patric and Valerie

  • snatch: bottom to top (forward chaining)
  • clean: top to bottom (backward chaining)

Lee and George

  • snatch: top to bottom (backward chaining)
  • clean: bottom to top (forward chaining)

Outcome measures

  • video recording of sessions and feedback using Ubersense
  • scoring which elements of the lifts (snatch and clean) were performed correctly on developed checklist (27 elements):
    • setup/stance - 7 elements
    • first pull - 8 elements
    • second pull - 6 elements
    • third pull - 4 elements
    • finish - 2 elements

Main results

  • ‘Bottom to top’ way of teaching Olympic weightlifting elicited higher mastery scores that ‘top to bottom’ way in novice lifters.
Patric
Baseline snatch 19% correct
Baseline clean 21% correct
Bottom to top training snatch 76% correct
Top to bottom training clean 38% correct
Lee
Baseline snatch 1% correct
Baseline clean 3% correct
Top to bottom training snatch 23% correct
Bottom to top training clean 64% correct
George
Baseline snatch 16% correct
Baseline clean 22% correct
Top to bottom training snatch 44% correct
Bottom to top training clean 83% correct
Valerie
Baseline snatch 15% correct
Baseline clean 37% correct
Bottom to top training snatch 75% correct
Top to bottom training clean 38% correct

Take home message

For a clinician
'Bottom to top' (forward chaining) approach to teaching snatch and clean led to reaching higher levels of mastery when compared to 'top to bottom' (backward chaining) approach.
For a parent
Learnig Olympic weightlifting (snatch and clean) in a 'bottom to top' way is the key to master them.
For an athlete
If you want to master Olympic weightlifting (snatch and clean), 'bottom to top' approach is the way.

Original article

Moore JW, Quintero LM. Comparing forward and backward chaining in teaching Olympic weightlifting. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. 2019 Feb;52(1):50-9.

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