However, Hookgrip released this ultra slow-mo video of Ilya Ilin's 246kg world record clean and jerk from the 2015 President's Cup in Grozny (this is now a former world record due to Ilya's drug ban, but does not change that it is a well-executed lift). This is a four and a half minute video of one lift, so it seems excessive, but it also highlights the timing of the movement of the shrug in the clean in an important way.
I recomend watching the entirety of the video once through just for the sake of seeing a technically perfect lift at the heaviest weight a 105kg lifter will successfully perform for a very long time. Ilya finishes straight up, receives the bar with an upright torso, uses the whip of the barbell in the dip and drive (he always times his dip with the 3rd flex of the barbell), and keeps his back knee soft in the split. However, what I'd like to focus on is the end of the extension of the pull, and the beginning of the shrug, which starts at about 1:26 in the video.
Ilya reaches full extension at 1:33. Note that his legs are fully extended, and he is standing "tall," that is, his hips are extended to an upright position, but not thrown so far forward that he is leaning back or that his hips are over his toes. He has maintained his center of balance over the mid foot, as you can see that his legs extend straight up, not to his rear which would happen if he were balanced too far back (he would be unable to effectively rise onto his toes as well) and not to his front which would happen if he were too far out onto his toes. This is the final moment in which Ilya exerts upwards force into the bar. Ilya's shoulders have NOT shrugged up yet.
At 1:34, Ilya begins to shrug. The bar and his shoulders rise in unison, but Ilya's body begins to descend under the bar. At the same time he shrugs, he picks his feet up off the floor. If a lifter isn't pushing his feet into the floor at the same time he shrugs, he is not shrugging the bar up, he is using the shrug to pull his body under the bar.
The apex of Ilya's shrug occurs at about 1:42, when he is in about a quarter squat, and the bar has risen above his belly button.
A common miss in weightlifting is one that feels "light," but in which the lifter does not "move fast enough" to stabilize their body under the bar to receive it overhead in the snatch or on the shoulders for the clean. This is more often than not a result of pulling the bar too long at the top, by attempting to shrug the bar up, or "pull it higher." The problem isn't necessarily height or speed, but timing.
Weightlifting, at its core, is getting tall as quickly and as hard as possible using the legs (this develops upward momentum into the bar), and then using the upper body to fix the bar into place overhead or on the shoulders (this pulls the lifter down into a stable position to receive the bar, and is initiated by the shoulders shrugging up at the same time the feet are picked up into the squat position). Disrupting this balance of "legs push the bar up, upper body pulls the body down" leads to losing time getting under the bar. Lifters may still drop under the bar, but without enough time or fluidity during the transition downwards to establish a secure rack position.
Every weightlifter should do pulls and high pulls (and probably a dozen other variants of the lifts or components of the lifts) in which the traps are forcefully shrugged to make the bar go higher. However, pulls and their variants are accessory strength exercises, so their execution will be slightly different than how a lifter should approach a snatch or a clean.
Successful, max-effort heavy snatches or cleans will never be able to "pulled higher." Past a certain point, the "explosive" upwards force on an adequately heavy weight will result in the bar rising barely to chest height in the snatch or barely to navel level in the clean. Shrugging and pulling up on the bar with the arms will add height, but it will also make the overall pull slower, and it will make it impossible for the lifter to then reverse direction and re-orient their body into an adequate rack position.
Long story short - leg drive makes the bar go up. Shrugging makes the body go down.
Brent is the weightlifting coach at Dallas Strength and Conditioning. He has competed at USAW Nationals in 2015 and has been active in competition since 2006.