The Last Thing You Will Ever Need To Hear
By Donny Shankle CPT
Whatever the weight feels like off the floor does not matter! A great weightlifter knows the value of a strong finish and focuses all of his might into this nearly indescribable feat of strength. The “finish” is the quintessential hallmark of a champion weightlifter and it is here man stretches high to reach for lofty divinity. A perfect “finish” is sublime when done at the right moment and can sometimes leave the weightlifter in disbelief as the bar is easily racked against the throat in a clean or snatched overhead. The silhouette of a weightlifter during the “finish” command is enough to turn heads. The exertion in the muscles from the jaw down when viewed closely are an amazing sight to behold, and if there was one word to describe the power behind it, that word would easily be VIOLENT.
The first difference we see in the “finish” from the “break” command is that the hips have come through and the body is in complete alignment or slightly bowed from the head down to the toes as the shoulders move behind the bar. The weightlifter is actually on the toes in the finished position and eventually the feet will leave the floor as they prepare to receive the bar in either a clean or snatch. The “finish” is NOT so much about how high you can get the bar but how hard you can pull against it. The traps, shoulders, and arms DO NOT raise the bar any higher than what the powerful muscles of the butt, hips, and legs have done already. The exertion at the top by the upper body is the weightlifter beginning to pull him or herself down. The action of the “finish” requires the weightlifter to be as strong as an ox and faster than gravity which wants the bar back on the floor. There is absolutely no room for error here and the “finish,” as I stated before, must be timed perfectly. Whenever a weightlifter misses a lift more than 99.9% of the time it is tied to a mistake in either timing or lack of power during the “finish.” It's all a race from here on out. A race to get under, a race to get up, a race to get that fucking weight off you and get three white lights.
The head does not have to be pulled back for this command. This is just a byproduct by some weightlifters as they finish hard. Instead, think of the shoulders and top of the head exploding through the ceiling, or if you are outside then bursting through the sky. The arms will naturally bend from the violent action of shrugging hard with the powerful upper back. Do not force your arms to stay straight here or else you will not be able to pull yourself under quick enough. Some experienced weightlifters know how to time the bending of the arms so as not to let it interfere with the rest of the lift. If you do happen to pull too much with the arms during either the “break” or “finish” you risk slowing the pull down dramatically. Rely on your hook grip here during the “finish” and learn to keep the arms out of the pull from the start.
The eyes are looking forward during the finish or slightly up and for some reason perception at the top of the “finish” wanes while reason waxes strong. This is rarely ever recognized by weightlifters and is nothing to be frightened of if you do happen to notice it. All senses during the finish seem to fade slightly while the weightlifter is under an immense amount of concentrated focus. The brain does this because it senses the body is under an incomprehensible amount of strain and centralizes everything towards survival. The time it takes these senses to come back is so fast the entire process is hardly noticeable. The “finish” can be quite addictive when the weightlifter is in great shape and something else becomes quite revelatory. What this solemn feeling is can be different for everyone but is best described as a rational high. Eventually, the more advanced weightlifter will rarely get the chance to feel this moment unless he or she is going after a personal best. The greats, however, spend a lifetime pursuing it.
Sometimes during the “finish” command the weightlifter will let out an audible cry to help exert the most amount of force possible against the bar. This action does help the weightlifter lift more weight but it has to be timed perfectly. I would not recommend doing this for anyone. If it is done at the wrong time this possible advantage can leave the weightlifter in disaster.
Many coaches may have wondered why I have not mentioned the set-up position for the “finish” or commonly called the second pull position. The time between the “break” and “finish” is so fast it should not be broken down. The weightlifter need only to concentrate on moving with greater speed between the “break” and “finish.” Any attempt to go into extra positions between the “break” and “finish” will only cause hesitation as the weightlifter begins to think too much. Once on the platform the weightlifter must become thoughtless and reactive. The set-up for the “finish,” like the “dip & drive” for the jerk, is a natural occurrence. The action is NOT something to be taught but instead must be learned through repetition. The “finish” requires the weightlifter to transcend his or hers existential place on this earth with an object that prefers to stay at rest. Do not add to the list by breaking this aesthetically beautiful action down with references to double knee bends or any other silliness. Keep this simple. Keep this fast. For the purpose of instruction, however, I will briefly go over what happens during the set up for the “finish.”
After the “break” the weightlifter pushes the knees back in putting the body into a position to jump. The weight has shifted again from the heel to the center of the feet. The arms are relaxed still as the weightlifter is positioning him or herself for the final command during the pull. This setup to the “finish” while important is something the weightlifter must learn to find on their own over time in their training. Do not be frustrated if this takes a while. You will eventually get it, I promise.
Lastly, you must keep the bar close to the body. Like the “break,” “set,” and “make ready,” the bar must be kept within millimeters of the body during the “finish.” There CAN NOT be any separation of the weightlifter from the bar. Any light of day to be seen during the “finish” must be closed right away. There is so much violent power that goes into hitting the bar with the hips as they come through but you can not let that power push the bar away from you. So much power is put into the bar during the “finish” that some weightlifters will be left with a painful bruise across the pelvis. As you “finish” hard with the hips you must use the powerful muscles of the back to keep the bar into you. Visualize in your mind where the bar is at all times and see yourself with your coach's eyes making sure the bar is as close to your body as possible every inch on the way up. Keeping the bar close will make things less painful, ensure maximum speed is on the bar, increase the chances of a faster turnover with the elbows, and allow you to rack the bar securely either in your throat or overhead. KEEP IT CLOSE!
Idealism is the virtue behind the “finish” command. The weightlifter should strive to meet the “finish” perfectly, just as man should strive to meet the ideal in him or herself perfectly. To capture the image alone should be enough to tell you what is psychologically happening here. It is the thinking man who inspires the unthinking primitives. It is the man or woman who has stretched his mind and body so thin and in the process has risked bold endeavors which shape the world we live in today. During the “finish” command we can see man's ability to breathe life into an unwilling bar. It is here man fights to change a complicated reality into a romantic ideal. This is where life and the lift are decided. Many weightlifters simply quit here because it is too damn hard. Many weightlifters seek out easier forms of training because to confront the “finish” daily with maximum weight is just too damn hard. Many people choose the easy life because the path to greatness is sometimes just too damn hard.
It is the great weightlifter who must confront this idealism with every repetition taken. Sometimes he or she can confront the concept a hundred times a day painfully but does not quit or become lazy. This constant battle leaves the great weightlifter as the epitome of power and as a shepherd to many. Of all commands to be discussed the “finish” command could probably fill a chapter alone. I will leave it here though, so you may feel the perfect “finish” yourself one day and the joy it brings knowing you are strong in so many ways.
Stand tall on your “finish” my friend or don't stand at all.