Vertical Barbell Displacement Explained

Peak Barbell Height & The Lowest Point Of Fixation make up the vertical barbell displacement. Lets take a look at this is finer detail and see how this can help shape our training.

This can sound very confusing, so before we even begin lets get a better understanding of what vertical barbell displacement is what areas make up the vertical displacement.


This refers to the highest position at which the barbell will travel in the Olympic Lifts (maximum height the bar is pulled to before it starts to descend). All Athletes completing an Olympic Lift will manage to pull the bar to varying % of the athletes stature, but what we need to look into is, what is an optimal % the bar should be pulled to.


This refers to the lowest position at which the barbell will be received, after it has travelled from maximal height (from the point between maximum height and to the lowest point the barbell is fixated at). The distance between the maximal barbell height and the lowest point of fixation is what we call the drop displacement.

Lifting the barbell effectively, requires minimising the height of the barbell at the end of the turnover (maximal height) to the position of receiving the barbell for both the Snatch and the Clean (lowest point of fixation). Research has shown that the larger the drop displacement between the max height and the lowest point of fixation, will increase the chances of missed lifts. This is due to the fact that when the barbell has reached maximal height, as its drops to the point of being received (lowest point of fixation), the barbell increases in acceleration causing excess resistant force on the barbell, which will feel as though the bar is weighing more, thus decreasing the chances of successfully stabilising the barbell in the receive position.


Over the years research has contradicted previous findings on the optimal displacement between maximum height and the point the barbell is fixated. However, newer research has reached a consensus, suggesting that Snatch barbell height should be no greater than 69-72% of the athletes stature, whereas, maximum barbell height for the Clean is recommended to be roughly 59-62% of an athletes body height for both male and female athletes. In terms of the lowest point of fixation, research has acknowledged that this shouldn’t surpass 20cm. this is measured from the highest point the barbell reaches, to the lowest point the barbell is received at. A study from the International Journal of sports biomechanics found that an optimal displacement for both the Snatch and Clean should be 13-18cm.


To show how this can be implemented please see image 1 and image 2 for the analysis of the Snatch. As you can see from image 1 (peak barbell height), the athlete pulled the barbell to a height of 1.52cm, which is calculated to be 83% of the athlete’s stature. In relation to the research highlighted above, we can assume that this isn’t optimal due to this being over the recommended peak values; 69-72%. Furthermore, the lowest point of fixation was identified at 128cm indicating a drop displacement of 24cm. Again, we can confirm that this is not ideal due to research recommending a drop displacement of no more than 20cm.



From the information identified from the drop displacement analysis, you can now create a recommendation, and an action plan to improve the efficiency of the lift. Some examples of movements which could be utilised to improve speed under the barbell would be movements such as, Snatch from varying hang positions (3 Position Snatch), block snatches from above the knee as well as paused Snatches.

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