Shin angles matter.
Shin angle affects muscle engagement and position. When we, coaches at Victory Kid, watch our lifters, we are looking at positions and why the lifters’ bodies are doing what they do.
In the snatch, clean, and jerk, the shins matter because they dictate where the knees and hips can go as well as what position is quad dominant or hamstring/hip dominant. Surprise, surprise; our body is interconnected.
As far as muscle engagement goes, a high shin angle (forward shin, knee over the toe) will yield more quadriceps engagement.
A low shin angle, or “vertical shin” will engage the opposite muscle group, the hamstrings. (Real quick, a major cue for “vertical shins” is usually said during the split jerk. A vertical shin in the front leg during the split jerk will ensure an even weight distribution in each leg.)
The start of the lift will have a high shin angle and the hang position will have a more vertical shin. The knees are forward, quads engaged and torso upright in the start. This lets the athlete drive up with the legs. At the hang, the knees are back (vertical shin) which engages the hamstring and allows the hips to be loaded to make contact with the bar. Having proper positions at the start and the hang will set athletes up for a good lift.
Athletes should also be aiming for adequate strength and mobility in the quads, hamstrings, and ankles. This seems obvious right? Balance.
Adequate ankle mobility allows the athlete to have a forward shin position and to have proper quad engagement. If the ankles are tight, the athlete just can’t get to where they need to be in the start position and the receiving position, the squat. Ankle mobility matters to ensure proper engagement in the legs.
One of the exercises we do to work on proper muscle engagement is a box step up. For hamstring engagement, the athlete should stand behind the box with the off leg behind them. Push off the front leg on the box with a vertical shin with the weight in the front leg, which will recruit the hamstring. To recruit the quad more, have the athlete stand off the side of the box so that they can position the shin more forward over the toe. This is almost like a pistol squat, weight should still be in the leg on the box.
Start using the box step up if not already. Please give us a like and review on Facebook, don’t hesitate to come in and get started with Victory Kid Barbell.