In this three-part series on Olympic lifting, we explain the correct technique for these complicated lifts. The first two posts focused on Hang Cleans and Power Cleans. Here, in Part 3, we cover how to perform these lifts better than ever.
Olympic lifts are among the most complex movements you can do in the weight room. You may feel fantastic and ready to lift, but if your form is off, you just can't lift as much weight as you'd like. Use my top three coaching points to improve your Clean and lift more weight.
1. Turn Your Elbows Out
When holding the bar at the start position, turn the points of your elbows to face straight outside. The natural way to hold your elbows will be facing backward, but this becomes a problem during the fast pull above your knees. By turning your elbows out, you will be able to keep the bar close to your body during the pull. The goal of the pull portion is to be efficient and powerful. Keeping your elbows out satisfies the efficiency aspect.
2. Go Slow Off the Floor
To get the most out of your Cleans, you have to go slow off the floor. When pulling from the floor (or platform) in a Power Clean, you might be tempted to pull the bar quickly and be aggressive from the start. However, instead of helping you lift more weight, this actually makes it more difficult to pull the bar fast above the knees. When something is moving at a fast rate, it's harder to put more force into it. If the bar is traveling quickly from the start, it will be difficult to make it go faster above your knees. So be patient and go slow from the floor. When the bar gets above your knees, then try to move it quickly.
3. Do Lift Combinations
Consider doing lift combinations—basically, adding in an extra lift. When your workout schedule says Clean Pull, add a Hang Clean. If you're doing Hang Cleans, also execute Romanian Deadlifts. Lift combinations make sure you get in the right position and reinforce good technique. Just keep the repetitions low on lift combinations, because you're actually doing twice the amount of lifting that your workout schedule calls for.
Doing these three simple things can make Cleaning more weight a breeze. Implement them in your workout to become the most explosive athlete you have ever been!
Wil Fleming is the owner of Force Fitness in Bloomington, Ind. During the past two years, he has helped more than 15 athletes go on to play Division I athletics. He is the author of the speed and agility portion of the soon-to-be released Essentials of High School Strength and Conditioning. Prior to his career as an athletic performance coach, Fleming was an All-American athlete at Indiana University and a competitor in the 2008 Olympic Trials for track and field.
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