The Art of Missed Lifts

How often do you hear the question "... Is that safe?" after you explain the inclusion of olympic and power lifting in your fitness routine?  Sometimes that question refers to your body's resilience under load, but often the question refers to the instinctual fear of a badly missed weight crashing down on you, crushing your unprotected body.  What they don't realize is that you have worked on your technique at length under scrutiny, and if you miss a weight, you know how to drop it safely... right?   If you can't say yes to that question, we've got a problem.  Missing weight is something you should feel comfortable doing.  Not only is it necessary for your safety, but it will allow you to go after the big weights with more confidence.  In case you need a refresher, here are the things to remember when gravity wins.


If the weight is going to drop, let it go.  Bars and equipment are all replaceable... you are not!  If you hold onto a bar, you can either pull it down on top of you (cue instinctual fear), or become injured by the bar puling your body into bad positions as the bar falls.  If you are losing an overhead movement in front of you, keep your arms straight, let go and take a step back.  Likewise, if you are losing a weight behind you, let got and quickly step forward out of the bar path. These might seem like logical instructions, but you should still practice appropriate missing a couple times before throwing big weights overhead for the first time.

Back Squats and Good Mornings

If the bar is on your back, it should always be dropped behind you.  This again might sound logical, but many people feel pinned while their hips continuing to rise, so they decide to let the bar roll over their head and neck to drop it in front of them.  This can severely hurt your neck or head or even give you a concussion.  If you are unable to get up, drop your hips and hop forward while popping the weight back behind you.  Think bunny hop.  Don't arch your back and let the weight roll off of you -- your spine was not meant as a slide for 100+ bars.

Front Squats and Cleans

If the weight is falling forward from the front rack position, let go of the bar and pull your elbows down and back while throwing your arms forward and hopping backward.  However, if at the bottom of the clean or front squat you and the weight are both traveling backward and you can't let it go, do not pull your arms back (this can lead to a serious elbow injury or a broken wrist... like what happened to this guy).  Instead, keep your elbows high, or pull them down by your body, but no further back.

Before You Miss 

With any lifting, you should be aware of your surroundings.  Is there an object on the floor or a person behind you?  That plate in front of you might not seem like a big deal, but if your dropped bumper plate catches it on a corner, that bar could bounce and head in the direction of your shins, or someone else.