A “static” start position is where you get into your start position, completely engage your body, and hold this position briefly before then initiating the lift.
A “dynamic” start position is the action of moving into the start position (usually quickly) and immediately starting the lift.
The most extreme form and example of a dynamic start would be what is known as a “Dive Start.” With this approach the athlete will lean over and squat down to grab the bar while maintaining a flat back and grounded feet. Once the hands reach the bar the hookgrip is immediately applied and the lift initiated all without stopping. There is a change of direction at the depth of the start position just like that of a “bounce” out of the bottom of a squat. This is all without ever looking at the bar, just keeping the head and eyes forward (interesting to watch and I’m still amazed how anyone could do this with their heaviest weights!). Other forms of dynamic include pumping the hips down into the start position and immediately lifting, or coming up into the start position from a bottomed out squat and immediately lifting (both with hands already on the bar).
The appeal and potential benefit of a dynamic start is stimulation and a feeling of greater ease in initiating the bar from the floor for some athletes. But, let’s think about which is more basic and which will allow you to have more control over what your body is doing in the start position, as well as through the rest of the lift? Of course the static start is far more basic in nature and therefore is what we are going to recommend at least in the beginning. If one tries to implement a dynamic start as they are just learning the Olympic lifts, there will be a far greater chance of overall inconsistency with engagement and/or exact positioning of the start and within the movement that follows. In fact, I’ve come across many “advanced” lifters that could certainly stand to go back and revisit a static start for a while to clean up their lifts as a whole (for some of them this would be applying a static start for the first time).
With the static start you’ll also give yourself a better opportunity to truly “take the slack out” as much as you optimally need to. This will allow you to be more present and aware through the rest of the lift (we’ll be digging deep into this later), and therefore be more consistent and effective through the rest of the lift. If you want to experiment with a dynamic start at some point to see if it is a good fit for you by all means give it a try, but keep in mind it is not necessary to lift your heaviest weights. On the contrary, it can be very limiting if you do not first spend time finding consistency and developing strength in all the necessary positions and areas of the body by getting a lot of static reps in. I’d say AT LEAST a year’s worth of lifting from the correct static start position, NOT necessarily a year after you first begin lifting. Then and only then might you have success with dynamic and be able to utilizatize the benefit of the potential stimulation, now with a better chance of maintaining tension and position while being “dynamic” through the strength and awareness created from being “static.”
“Static” or not in the start position, it is time for us to move into the actual movement. Whether you want to look at that movement as a pull, a push, or yet another squat, let’s dig into the details of what we ideally want to see the body and the bar doing as they ascend from your start position and move through the rest of the lift.
Until next time,
2-Time Olympian, USAW
Dr. Aaron Horschig, PT,
DPT, CSCS, USAW