Learning Olympic Techniques

In the last few months, I’ve incorporated Power Cleans, Push Presses, and Squat Jumps into my lifting routine and have noticed improvement in my explosiveness and vertical jumping. However, I can’t find anyone to help me with my form on Power Cleans. I feel pretty good about the other two movements, but with cleans, I know my technique is garbage–I just don’t know what to do about it.

Right now I’m performing Power Cleans once per week with 4-5 sets of 3-5 reps. Today my last set was 4 reps at 205 pounds. Essentially, I’m just trying to explode off the ground on all three joint planes (if that’s remotely correct terminology–I mean simultaneous extension at the ankles, knees, and hips); after that, I more or less just pull myself downward against the bar to get under it, rotate my elbows under the bar, and stand up. With heavier weight, I feel like the top of the motion is a mini-reverse curl, which I know must be wrong. There really isn’t any separation of pull phases for me, either–it’s just pull the thing upward and get under it. I do keep my body very tight–I don’t think I look dangerous or sloppy, just inefficient.

I have a pretty extensive powerlifting and athletic background and have squatted 465 x 6 to parallel, deadlifted 415 for doubles, run a 10.7 100m, and vertical jumped 32 inches flat-footed. Currently, I weigh 210 pounds at 11% BF (I’m 5’11). I would really like to train for athletic performance for the first time, but I’m a little clueless. A few questions: About what should I be cleaning and push pressing (weight-wise) for my size and background? How often should I perform Olympic lifts? How can I learn technique for cleans and snatches without a coach or experienced lifter to work with?

Thanks to anyone who offers advice.

first off, a good powerclean progression that i have seen work for many would be front squat, RDL with hook grip, quick clean which is used with a very light weight and you go through the phases slowly and then pause at triple extension. from here you drop under the weight as fast as possilbe. the next phase is the jump shrug and lastly the clean from floor. a lof of people that are new to the pc often start to pull the bar prematurely, which is where the RDL’s will help. also, judging from your squat, you can probably get under and front squat a lot of weight so i am guessing that your weak point would be your pull. if this is the case i highly suggest using the hookgrip (thumb locked in between the bar and your fingers) as this has been proven to increase the pull by up to 10%. another cue for better pull performance is to “scrape the hair off your chest” on the way up, meaning to keep the bar as close to your body as humanly possible (without the hair removel).

as for the snatch progression i suggest RDL with snatch grip (to learn the first two phases), jump shrugs with snatch grip, over head squats, muscle snatch, muscle drop snatch with your ass to the floor, quick snatch and finally snatch from floor.
a great resource for olymipic weightlifting which has three different lifting programs is http://www.qwa.org/. they also have videos on there as well that have proven helpful to me in the past.
how much should you be lifting given your experience?
i think potentially a lot but for right now i would just learn the techniques and perfect them and then move up in weight.
good luck and i hope this helps.


Are you located in QLD?


Here is my progression of Olys I use:

General strength
-Front Squat technique
-OverHead Squat
-OverHead Lunge
-Romanian DeadLifts
-Military Press

The Catch
-Snatch Catch (standing on toes, bar on shoulders, dip to overhead squat)
-Clean Catch (pull the bar to chest on toes, dip to squat and catch)

Jerk & Jump&Shrug
-Jump & Shrug (from power position)

First Pull
-Snatch First Pull
-Clean First Pull

Double Knee Bend
-Shrug & Jump (Emphasis on Shrug motion)
-Shrug & Jump & Throw (3+1)
-Shrug & Jump + RDL to knee level (3+3)
-Pull from knees (knees back, knees forward, jump & shrug -> with pause)
-Pull from knees (knees back, knees forward, jump & shrug -> fluid)
-Pull from knees to power snatch (1+1)
-Reverse to floor (Shrug & Jump, knees forward, knees back, start position -> with pause)
-Reverse to floor (Shrug & Jump, knees forward, knees back, start position -> fluid)
-Knees back, knees forward, Shrug & Jump (coach dirigated)
-Knees back, knees forward, Shrug & Jump (on own rhythm)
-Pyramids (both up & down)
-Full Lifts

First thing you should learn is to Shrug & Jump from power position. Then the double knee bend. Some coaches don’t believe in teaching double knee bend but I am inclined into Mike Stone’s approach in which he says it should be learned. Please search for his articles at http://cis.squirming.net/

His articles are under “Strength and conditioning”… read his last article (Teaching Double Knee Bend), there is a lot of videos inside… GREAT STUFF!!!

no but i think its a hell of a website though!!

Thanks very much, guys. As I indicated, I have no real background with Olympic movements, so I’ve got to ask: what is the difference between the first pull and second pull?

I will begin incorporating front squats and RDLs into my routine (I usually do back squat and SLDL), learning the shrug & jump, and working on my pull. I think ACBarch is right–the big weakness is my pull and I probably start it too soon. I’m looking through the websites you guys posted and finding a lot of helpful information. Thanks again!

“Exploding off the ground” is not the way to do a clean…In fact, I believe you may be risking potential injury by doing this, as your back is probably not in the proper position…
Please, find a coach/teacher who is certified/proficient in the lifts. Just a little bit of qualified instruction can go a very long way.
It’s also important to learn this properly from the beginning, because the motor paterns you’re learning now will be difficult to “un-learn” later on.

Good luck!

Also, if you like, there are plenty of free videos of athletes doing cleans properly on the web - you could always watch, film yourself, and compare…

One reccomendation is to not do full or power version of olympic lifts for greater than three reps(sets of 3 and below, i.e. singles, doubles, triples). Pulls can be done for higher reps-up to 10 reps or so. Too much technical breakdown occurs during higher reps(4 reps+) of even moderate intensity during cleans/snatches.

i trained the PC sporadically and went from 115 to 185lbs in a few months. I did this when i stopped squatting im assuming i can do more if i knew a basic progression system. All i do is sets of 3 then as it gets heavier doubles and singles, then go down to 135lbs and do few sets of 4 or 5 reps. My legs are screwed cause it is always adapting since i am making changes with orthotics and such for my short right leg and the pelvic tilts and all this. I dont know where my PC should be though my dead max is 350lbs raw and squat best which was like a year ago was at 300lbs alittle past parallel. ANy suggestions Barch?

as far as progression is concerned i would really check out the website that i suggested earlier in the thread as they have programs for beginers, intermediates, and advanced oly lifters and the programs are 12 weeks. i have tried a west side for oly lifters that i kinda of made up on the fly one time and its worked well. i have gone in three week cycles and i rotate some of the pulls instead of the full lift and have received great results.

three weeks hard, and one week easy? I never knewo what to do for 1 week easy, everytime i did one week easy and go to 3 weeks hard i feel pain, and the transition is horrible. If i go hard all of the weeks i seem to progress. I am more likely to injure myself everytime i do 3 hard 1 easy, i feel very sore and like something is gonna pull.

i would suggest not going TOO easy on the easy week. maybe dial it down just 5 percent, and then start up the hard again for three weeks and then dial it down. i have also done it where i may be going easy on say, powercleans, but i am going heavy on highpulls. obviously going hard for a longer period of time works for you, and thats awesome so i say stick with what works!
p.s. how easy do you go on the easy weeks?

I have found that a big key to the clean & snatch are proper pull mechanics. I have a PVC routine that I have adapted from pieces of info from several different Olympic WL coaches I have spoken & worked with over the years (Mike Burgener-USAW International Coach, Oleg Kechko-former Soviet Olympic Team Member, James Snyder, Lon Kilgore, PhD, etc.). It is not rocket science, but it has helped many of the athletes I have trained over the years. I’m not sure how to attach the clip, but will share it if someone will tell me how.

i dont know how to do the attachments either but i would love to see it if somebody could help you out.

12 steps to the perfect clean.

And a video (click on power clean):

Clean video

nice article, i have my own way of doing the power clean (well in how i rack) reason being my arm is longer then my bodytype, i put emphasis of this in the post several times about my body proportions, so i ahve to do it differently. I never however tried this hook grip technique before not even for deads this is first for me.

I’m not sure if this will work, but here goes. This is a clip of pull sequencing drill I have used for several years and found to be good for developing “good” pull mechanics in beginning lifters. It is made up of ideas, cues, & concepts I have borrowed from several Olympic Weightlifting coaches over the years. As I said earlier it simple in concept, but has worked for the athletes I have coached over the years.