Alongside the Snatch, the Clean and Jerk is the other most important lift in Olympic Weightlifting. Consisting of two separate movements, it requires a combination of pure strength, acute technique and controlled aggression.
This article is part of the Rehband Carry Yourself series, a complete guide to improving your upper body strength, mobility, posture and health.
The article will teach you everything you need to know about the Clean Technique. It will help you to improve your skills, make you more resistant to injury and ultimately give you a stronger upper body allowing you to become a better athlete and more accomplished lifter.
A strong rack position improves your chances of standing up out of a heavy clean. It is common for beginners to struggle with the position as people often have incredibly tight lats and triceps. Rolling the lats, triceps and wrists and stretching them during your warm up will help get those elbows higher and the bar comfortably resting on the shoulders whilst gripping the bar.
Stretching out using the bar is also a fantastic way to improve the front rack position. Place the barbell into the back squat position, and use the weight of the bar to rotate one elbow up at a time whilst keeping the hands on the bar and the body straight.
maintain that good front rack position
If you have to sacrifice gripping the bar in the rack position to have your elbows up, sacrifice the grip and open your hands.
Having a tight mid-back from all those hours racked up at the desk can be a complete hindrance to a strong clean. Catching a clean with a rounded mid-back will force the elbows down and cause you to grind-up the squat which can zap away your energy and put unnecessary pressure onto the wrists –a one-way ticket to injury. Rehband wrist protection are a useful addition here, especially when you are first learning to clean.
In addition, overhead squats are a great way to improve your mobility, if you can do a clean-grip overhead squat without the bar falling forward and you can front squat more than your best clean without your back rounding, consider your posture fit for purpose!
Due to the heavier weight used in the clean versus the snatch, a bad first pull will cause serious problems. During the first pull the shoulders should stay over the bar AND the back angle should remain the same. Often people mistakenly let those hips rise as soon as the bar moves.
Your knees only have to move fractionally to get out of the way of the bar as it passes the knees. Pushing your knees back switches off the legs and places the pressure on the back. The more pressure you can keep on the front of the foot, the more your legs will be primed to move into the extension.
Rich lifting with elbow sleeves
Ever found yourself pulling the bar so high and diving under the bar so fast that the bar comes crashing down onto your shoulders and crumbles you into a ball? Timing is very important, meeting the bar just below parallel and “catching the bounce” out of the squat is essential to coming out of a heavy clean with ease.
The following can all improve this aspect of your lift
-Semi-Power Cleans (catching halfway and then squatting all the way down)
You have to pull that bar with all your might! Use a strong hip drive and extension followed by a do-or-die rapid movement underneath the bar with the elbows up in full confidence. If you have any doubt, the weight will crush you!
Rehband elbow sleeves and wrist protection can be a great confidence booster here. It is absolutely vital that you commit completely to every clean. Even the tiniest shred of doubt must be swept from your mind as this will affect the way you are able to jump underneath the bar as you catch the weight. Protection, alongside the obvious physical benefits, can help to improve your confidence and consequently your lifts and progression.
The second part of this lift is the jerk. This requires speed, precision and great strength from both the lower and upper body.
The Clean and Jerk, Snatch and Accessory Exercises will all help to develop your mobility, strength and motor patterns. They are all great ways to strengthen your upper body for general life as well.
Josh midway through a heavy lifting session
Make sure that you always place optimal form at the top of your list of priorities when it comes to mastering these lifts. This in turn will improve your posture and proprioceptive abilities as well. Both of these classical Olympic lifts will also test and improve your athleticism and ability to generate power and speed in a technically effective manner. They are different from other more strength orientated exercises such as the overhead press in that you have to enable your full potential across a broader range of domains in order to complete each lift successfully.
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