OCF Movement Academy: Clean Prep

The clean is one part of the clean and jerk. 

The movement from the ground to the shoulder with a barbell. 

The clean takes power, strength, mobility, and balance to pull off.

Like other complex movements in weightlifting, you can break this movement up into pieces for proper technique development and warmup. 

So how do you prep yourself to clean? 

We have a five movement sequence that will prepare you for the best clean session of your LIFE! 

Perform 3-5 reps per movement, ensure you are hitting each point of performance for the movement. 

Movement #1 – Behind Neck Front Rack Mobility

This is the only non rep-able movement in our series, so start off with 20-30 seconds for 1-2 sets.

Stand with the barbell behind your neck, full grip on the bar, core and legs tight.  

Take a big breath of air in.  As you exhale rotate your helps up and in as much as possible.  Hold there and try to get the elbows up as high as possible without the fingers slipping off. 

Why do this?

The stronger and more mobile your front rack is the easier it will be to catch the bar.  Also, it will be an easier transition to the jerk if you do not have pop the bar off your chest.

This is huge for crossfitterrs due to sport as well as carry over into thrusters and wall balls. 

Movement #2 – Front Squat

The front Squat is the preferred catch position of the full clean.  

After your behind the neck front rack mobility is complete, bring the bar over your head and lift the elbows up. From there begin to squat down to your best depth and posture available. There are no rules for depth in the snatch so don’t worry about getting no repped :).  

Posture and position is king. 

Why do this? 

The more stable, stronger, and comfortable you are in the front you will be dropping under to catch the bar.  If I know that I can front squat 300 pounds, I’ll have the confidence that I can catch anything there or below. 

Movement #3 – Hip Clean 

The hip clean, or also known as the power position, is the most vital of all positions to do properly. 

What is the Position? 

Bar at your hips, arms straight, knees slightly bent (only low enough for you to jump), proud chest, lats engaged, and shoulders slightly behind the bar. 

We want the shoulders behind the bar here to avoid any sort of banging or pushing the bar forward.  Everything about this position is there to get you to go straight “up”.

From there you jump extend and pull yourself into your catch position. 

Why do this?

Helps develop speed under the bar.

Helps develop the ability to keep the bar close. 

Movement #4 – Clean from above the knee 

The clean from above the knee is one of the most pivotal parts of the clean due to peak loading of the hamstrings as well as increasing bar speed up and through the hip. 

Start at the hip position and push your butt back until your barbell is at your knees. The goal here is to have the shoulders above or slightly over the bar.  Knee bend should be minimal. 

Your hamstrings should feel like they are working here.  Squeeze your middle and upper back. 

From there push through the floor, keep your shoulders over the bar until the last second and then you should arrive right in the hip position, time to jump into your squat.  

Why do this?

Helps develop the ability to not only load into hamstrings, but keep tension as long as possible. 

Above the knee is a great position to teach increasing speed as you get up into hips. 

Movement #5 – Clean from Ground 

The original lift we were working on.  

Yep you finally made it here.

By now you should have gotten any fault from above worked out. 

All that’s left is to pull the bar off the ground. 

Our goal is to get to the exact positions we did above.  Not as easy when you’re moving upwards into them.

Focus on keeping your back tight, drive with legs off the floor, and shift knees back in order to get to a proper above knee position. 

Why do this? 

It is the full version of the lift so, practicing it when ready is always a plus. 

Develop strength pulling off the floor. 

You may be thinking, hey the snatch positions and the clean positions have the same points of performance.  That is correct. The only difference is in the clean you catch on the shoulder (front rack) versus the snatch catches overhead in a locked out position. 

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