Weight lifting movements are highly technical and only practice and repetition, step by step, can help you improve your form to the point where your posture and technique are almost a second nature. This is why last week we began with something extremely basic but also extremely fundamental –getting the weight off the floor with the best technique possible– so today we can move from there to the technique for a proper clean. Hopefully you have had a long week to learn how to:
1. get into the correct starting position
2. do a first smooth pull to get the weight from the ground to your mid thigh
This week we´re going to transition, do a second pull and catch the weight on your shoulders as you squat with the correct technique for the clean.
A smooth transition to get into vertical position and the weight at the hips
First thing we do is transition: from your first pull keep moving the bar upward, with good posture, as the bar continues to touch your legs, keep straight arms and back, shoulders stay back. Smoothly stand up in a full vertical position but knees slightly bent and under the bar. This is also a smooth movement that places your weight on the heels. Knees stay pointing out and must not come together. Feet must not arch inward. This is a comfortable power position, you rest for a second before you give the movement some power.
Up until now, the movement doesn´t need to be fast and it is always real smooth.
Give it some power as you extend and pull
Control is the key. We´ll break down the movements so you can think of what you´re doing and practice the best technique. Or check your current technique and correct any incorrect habits.
1. You are pulling the weight with power, from your waist (where your arms are fully extended and knees slighty bent and under the bar). Now you will extend completely. This is an explosive movement, as you move the bar from your hip upward as close to the body as your can.
2. In the second pull, you never bounce the bar off your hip. This can hurt your shoulders when you go heavier. The bar must stay as close to the body as possible.
3. Your full body will need to extend, starting at the ankles, knees and up to the hips. As you do this with power your feet will extend in a little jump.
4. It´s a fast movement, but it´s important that you extend legs before your start shrugging your shoulders to try to get under the bar. The pull goes from you hip all the way up to your chest with elbows back. Continue to keep your shoulders back, even as you shrug.
5. To be able to keep the bar close to your body as you lift, elbows must be pointed backward as they go up. You´re not doing a “reverse curl”, throwing the bar forward. Keep the bar close to the body all the way up.
6. When the bar reaches your collar bone, and you can´t go any further back with your elbows, rotate the arms forward and under the bar, and point elbows up into rack position.
7. The bar should never bounce or bang on your shoulders. This happens when you separate the bar from the body coming up and then have to pull it back in. Or when the bar goes above your collar bone going up and it crashes down on you as you pull it into the rack position. Instead, the bar comes up to the collar bone and smoothly you rotate elbows forward under the bar without a bounce.
Squat and catch the bar on your shoulders
To clarify, the pull goes all the way up to the top of your chest, as we said, with elbows backward and then rotates them forward into rack position. But as that movement is happening, when you´re pull is going up past your stomach you start shrugging to get under the bar, to catch the weight in a deep front squat.
This is probably the most tricky and technical part. The movement is important in both direction. It´s important for you to squat down as you continue to pull the bar up, close to your body.
As your body goes into full extension the little jump that accompanies the pull should help your feet spread out an inch or so, from hip width to shoulder width, and your toes point out a bit more for a comfortable front squat position. If your feet go too wide past shoulder width, you won´t be able to go deep in the squat.
The best way to receive the weight in the squat position is with the heels all the way down, knees forward and the torso vertical. As always, keeping the back straight and strong, abs tight and the shoulders back. This will make it easier for you to get your elbows in front of you for the rack position.
Once you have received the weight correctly, recover back into a full extended vertical position, weight resting on rack position. Practice the clean with a lighter weight and with time build up strength. Do not try to start heavy, as you may set yourself up for an injury and won´t be able to focus on the correct technique of basic weight lifting.
Correct Technique of Olympic Lifting for all levels at our Denver box and Stapleton box
Now you need to practice and practice some more. If you get the technique right, we can move on to snatch and jerk. But you first need to get your clean technique right. If you don’t learn the correct way you’re off to the wrong start. Come back for more of the basics and ask our coaches to walk you through these movements. Remember, practice makes perfect!
You may be a high level athlete competing in the Games or a novice, who doesn’t even know what you should wear to one of our group trainings. At Project Rise Fitness Denver and Stapleton, we promise you one thing: we’ll hold you accountable to your fitness goals. If you’re committed to getting stronger, leaner and more disciplined, Project Rise is the right place to be.