View Full Version : Clean Form Critique

Ben Kimmerle
02-27-2008, 06:52 PM
Here are 3 videos of my cleans from today. 135# was kinda a heavy warmup, so I thought I'd throw it in. I also gave 2 angles of 165# just so you all can get a better idea of what I'm working with. Each video is regular speed for the first part, then the same clip is slowed down by 1/2 to give an easier assessment.

All comments are welcome.

Some things I thought I noticed:
I'm bent over the bar a lot on the 1st pull, is this bad?
I need to work on my 3rd pull, any suggestions for drills?
Sometimes I land with my knees too far over my feet.

Let me know!

135x5: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FINY117Bk4U
165x5: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOlYgQNJKsw
164x3(4f): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BR2nG8DUqeI

John Bei
02-27-2008, 07:40 PM
A few things I noticed:

Your start position looks good but as you start your first pull you are leaning forward over the bar (like you thought)
But your 2nd and 3rd pulls are really where you need work. On the 2nd pull you're not getting a big enough shrug. You want to try to get the bar as close to navel level as possible so you should be trying to put your shoulders into your ears. On the 3rd pull you need to actively pull yourself underneath the bar at the exact second the bar reaches your navel, because at this time the bar is pretty much weightless and floating in midair. It seems like your focusing too much on getting a jump off the ground and less of pulling yourself underneath the bar. That's all I've got for now, hope it helps.

Eddie Clark
02-27-2008, 11:30 PM

Really not bad at all. You definitely have some things that need to be fixed. You maintain a strong neutral back, you have fast and high elbows when receiving the bar, your back stays fairly upright as you near the bottom of your front squat, which you never really got to however.

These are the things that I noticed. I would really like to see your dead lift form too because I am sure we would see many of the same flaws.

1) Back and shoulders need to rise at the same angle/rate until the bar clears the knees. Your hips are rising first then you are basically doing a Good Morning with the bar at the hang versus across your back. The first pull is simply a dead lift.

2) You need to push the floor away with the heels as you begin your first pull. You can see your heel come off the ground before you start the pull.

3) Get your hips up a bit and think about sitting back on your heels. This will put you in the proper starting position for the first pull. You can see that your shoulders are behind the bar and your knees are way out in front of the bar at the beginning of the first pull. This is causing your weight to shift to your toes at the start.

4) When you are starting your second pull your arms are bending early which is killing your power. This is also why your shrug is not as explosive as it could be.

5) You are also starting with the bar too far away from your shins at the start. Yeah your shins are touching but that is because you have your hips low, your knees forward of the bar and you weight on your toes. This is also why the bar travels so far out from your body during the first and second pulls.

6) Your knees are traveling over your toes when you receive the bar in the rack because your weight shifts to your toes during your front squat. Again think about sitting back on your heels and pushing the floor away.

Good work. You were handling that 165 pretty well. I imagine once you fix some of these and other flaws that more experienced coaches might find you will really be able to realize your true power in the clean. You just might be impressed with yourself.:D

Brandon Oto
02-28-2008, 04:46 AM
Your starting position is off. The bar's over your toes, not our midfoot, and your scapulae are behind the bar.

Pull your shins back, making them more vertical and letting the bar start farther back; push your shoulders forward and pull your butt up. It'll all fit together and your starting position will be more horizontal.

Arden Cogar Jr.
02-28-2008, 06:51 AM
I think everyone has hit the nail on the head.

here's two drills to work on to fix most of your problems.

1. To fix the extension on the second pull and to learn how to recieve correctly:



2. to fix the issue with the hips rising too soon:


Only try to work on one thing at a time during an individual session. Get it down, then move on to the next step. Trying to fix too many things at once will cause more confusion.

I find that working from the top down - ie., start with Tall cleans, the first demo, then eventually work to the floor.

Good luck.

All the best,


Ben Kimmerle
02-28-2008, 07:59 AM
Wow, thanks guys! A lot of great advice here. I really need to get to a coach for some sessions, but being a poor, busy college student I'm not sure that will happen anytime soon. Though the advice I'm getting here is pretty damn good.

I'll try to post some more videos today, maybe of my deadlift and some cleans, taking into consideration what has been suggested.

Another quick question: I tried to do a 5x5 yesterday of cleans, but at the third round (the video where I failed on the fourth rep) I started losing it and had to drop weight from there. The first few felt good, but I started to get mentally and physically beat up; I don't know, it was weird. I was wondering if 5 reps/set is a lot for Olympic lifts. In a lot of the Performance Menu WOD's they only work up to 3, maybe 4 reps, and anything with 5 reps is like 50% 1RM. So should I stick to 5 rep sets and drop the weight, or should I do less reps with the 165# (aka higher weight)? I realize this may not be an issue yet because I obviously still have a lot of work to do on my cleans.

Eddie Clark
02-28-2008, 09:23 AM
In Practical Programming for Strength Training Rippetoe/Kilgore explain that high reps of the "quick lifts" (clean and jerk, snatch) become less effective, because of their technical dependency, during high rep fatigue. Just like you stated, your brain and your body become smoked. The rep ranges for those lifts, especially once the weight becomes challenging, is best kept around 1-3 reps.

Now you can brake those lifts up into their component elements and increase the rep ranges for those assistance exercises. For example, clean pulls would be a great exercise to use a 5x5 (rep x set) range.

This kind of puts it into perspective on how athletic some CrossFitters are when you see them posting awesome times for an "Isabel" workout (30 135# snatches for time).

Hope this helps.

Brandon Oto
02-28-2008, 09:44 AM
Equally important, training explosive lifts past fatigue has a decreasing benefit in terms of speed development, and eventually a negative one. You're training your muscle fibers to act the way they're moving: when you're explosive, you develop fast-twitch power, but when you're fatigued and moving slowly, well, you're doing the opposite.

Eddie Clark
02-28-2008, 09:56 AM
Well said Brandon! As usual.