In Olympic weightlifting there is but one objective: get the most weight possible over your head.  The person that gets the most overhead wins.  Simple.

However, as you may guess as simple as that sounds there is a very complex set of movements that enable this to happen.

The movements for accomplishing such a feat are the "Snatch" (you get the weight there in one movement) and the "Clean and Jerk" (where you use two movements to get the weight there).

Today I want to focus on the "Clean" part of the movements as this is a tremendous exercise for training athletes to develop power from their lower bodies as well as it can be adapted and used to train ALL individuals for power (including my grandma!).

Think you don't need power???
What do you think stops you from face-planting on the floor when you stub your toe???

Below is a quick run-down of your basic clean with the addition of a front squat.

Why add the front squat?

Well among other things, it helps develop better technique and flexibility so that one can learn to go even heavier in this movement.

Here's USA Track & Field decathlete, Chris Randolph, performing a 200 lb. squat-clean at Athlon (trust me, it's harder than he makes it look):


The Break-Down:

The Clean can be broken down to four parts:

  1. The First-Pull,
  2. Scoop,
  3. Second-Pull,
  4. The Rack.

Here's a break down of these individual movements that make up a successful squat-clean:


Start of the 1st Pull – starting from the floor in a "jumping stance," back flat (in a neutral spine position), knees behind the toes, shoulders over the bar:


End of the 1st Pull – lifter has raised bar off of ground to just below the knees, back angle is the same as the beginning of the 1st Pull (essentially a deadlift):


The scoop – lifter transitions from the deadlift position (shoulders so far out over the bar) to more of a jumping stance (note, the hips slightly lower between this photo and the next signifying a preparation for an explosive jump):



Start of the 2nd Pull – essentially jumping the bar upwards, extending hips, knees and ankles while keeping the arms straight:


End of the 2nd Pull – full extension of hip, knees and ankles, shrugged shoulders, maximal speed and elevation of the bar upwards:


The Rack (or catch) – catching the bar on the shoulders before it starts to move downward, posture upright, thoracic spine extended, elbows up, feet flat and slightly out-toed (note they are now in a "landing stance"), bar in the "foot-path" (neither behind the heel or forward of the toes):


The Front Squat – smoothly transition from "firmly" catching the bar to slowly lowering into a full front squat, posture upright, thoracic spine extended, elbows up, hamstrings touching the calves:



Success! – return to a full standing position and prepare to jerk the weight overhead
(or in this case drop the weight and walk off the platform like you own it!  Great job Chris!!)


If your interested in learning how to Olympic lift or just want to improve your athletic abilities from SLO County's leading experts on sports performance, weightlifting and fitness call today at (805) 546-6070 or click the link below.  Consultations are free.