Stuart McGill: Testing Athletes with Jumps
The Olympic lifts require a state of relaxation and Stuart McGill has an interesting way to screen for its presence: box jumps.
Put a weightlifter in front of me and I will look very carefully at shoulder impingement. I will look at the goblet squat. I’m going to look at back squats and front squats, and sort this out with pencil and paper.
To me a deep squat is all about speed and load for the Olympic weightlifter. The beautiful thing about the snatch is that you have to pull a load and then be crazy enough to completely relax. If you have residual stiffness in your body, you’re not going to be relaxed enough to get under it and catch that bar.
It requires complete relaxation. That’s the gift of the Olympic lift.
How do I screen for that relaxation?
I put a box at nipple height in front of the weightlifter. I want to see them jump on the box.
The first time, I want them to pound it. I want to see how quickly they turn the muscles on and off. The great weightlifters of the world relax their muscles about five times faster than the average person. That rate of relaxation is how they catch the bar. The next time they jump up on the box, I don’t want to hear it. I’m getting an idea of their neurological mechanisms, how they get into deep squat, and the confirmation of the spine. Is it really ready to receive the bar? Or not?
That is a living assessment. Would I do it on a grandmother? No. But with an Olympic lifter, I need to go to that level.
Want to hear Stuart McGill and Gray Cook compare and contrast
movement screening and assessments?
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