Lift like a BOSS: 3 Tips to clean up your cleans
Olympic lifting is a style of lifting that involves bringing a barbell from the floor to overhead. The two main lifts are the Snatch, and the Clean and Jerk. Oly lifting also consists of many other components that assist with the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk including; front and back squats, strict press, push press, push jerk and split jerk, clean and snatch pulls, as well as power and squat variations of each movement.
Cleans are a great movement to implement into your training. They are a compound movement that requires full body strength and coordination. This is where we bring the barbell from the floor up to our shoulders in a front-rack position.
When first learning cleans you may find that they boggle your mind and seem mega complicated. Really, they are not, they are quite simple, just as long as you know a couple of key points.
These 3 tips will transform how your Cleans look and feel, and will connect the movement much more easily!
The hook grip is a crucial part to a clean, especially when it comes to moving heavier weights or linking reps together. The best time to learn hook grip is when you have the empty barbell, drill it into the muscle memory so that it follows along with you as you progress your cleans. It is going to feel weird when you start, but trust me, it becomes second nature the more you do it.
Hook grip consists of wrapping the thumbs around the bar first and holding your index and middle fingers over top. This creates a super tight hold, making it less likely for the bar to slip out of your fingers as you pull.
You may find it hard to hold your hook grip has you catch the bar on your shoulders, especially if you have a limited front rack position. This is normal, so it is okay to release the hook grip as you transition the bar from the pull into the catch.
Give the hook grip a go and see if it makes you feel stronger as you pull that bar from the floor!
Keep the bar close:
When we bring the bar from the floor to your shoulders, we want the bar to travel in a straight line, up and down your body. This will keep the movement efficient and not have you using extra energy.
In order to keep the bar close we want to keep the barbell in contact with our legs until the bar reaches our hips and pull our elbows back as it passes your torso. A good way to think about keeping the bar close without over complicating it is to try and brush your t-shirt up as you complete the clean.
Once the bar passes the hips and belly button, it’s time to prioritise our fast elbows. A solid front rack is a big part of an efficient clean. We want to finish with the bar resting on our shoulders with our elbows nice and high. Having fast elbows will help your shoulders to meet the bar, rather than the bar dumping down on you. Think about being speedy as you turn the bar over and drive those elbows up high as you catch the bar in your front rack position.
Having tight wrists and shoulders can make the front rack position really uncomfortable and the fast elbows component challenging, so if this is the case for you then reverting to a dumbbell clean may be beneficial to build your load, technique and mobility.
The last key point is to not overthink your cleans too much! There are many little things that add into the clean and nailing each one will take time. Focus on one of these tips each time you practice your cleans and slowly they will make their way into your muscle memory, making each clean consistent and efficient!
And remember to have fun because Oly lifts are challenging and fun to complete.
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Ange Drake is an personal trainer, women’s empowerment coach and fitness blogger in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. She is the director of one of the few womens’ only strength training gyms in Melbourne, 23W. Ange helps women to learn how to use strength based training, nutritional strategies and a positive mindset to transform their bodies, relationship with food and mind.
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