View Full Version : Clean and Jerk

Brian Schack
04-04-2008, 05:25 PM
I'm just getting started with CrossFit, and the only experience that I have is with weightlifting machines. I'm trying to learn the correct form so that I don't get hurt. I live in a small town, and I'm still looking for someone with the time and experience to help me.

Today, I practiced the clean and jerk for the first time took a video. Could you please tell me if I am doing it right? To download the videos, click on the links below, and then click where it says, "Save file to your PC: click here".


Thanks in advance.

male / 125 lbs / 19 years old / 5'4"

Elliot Fuller
04-04-2008, 09:27 PM
You're pretty far off (and this is coming from someone who has pretty terrible cleans himself, so I know the feeling).

So first off, great job on starting with just the bar. Might have even benefited from trying with PVC. Some people would have gone straight to 95# or more and ended up in a bit of trouble.

Secondly, what advice you do get from this thread, might not be very helpful, if you don't learn to spot and correct the most major errors on your own. There's always fine-tuning to be done, but without being aware of the major flaws on your own, it will be hard for your mind to really take control when it comes down to correcting the movement.

Now I'm not too great at coaching just yet, but I'll give this a whirl... maybe I can learn something from it too.

1.) Your starting position is off. It might be best to either rest the bar up on some blocks, to simulate the height of some training plates, or instead do Hang Squat Cleans so that you don't have to reach so far down to the floor to grab it. A higher starting position (with the bar) will also help fix the heavy rounding of the back that's going on.

2.) The bar should be much closer to your shins at the starting position, and your arms should be pretty much vertical, from the shoulder down to the bar.

3.) You are opening up the knees rather than exploding with the hips. Your back angle should stay the same up until around mid-thigh, at which point, your hips should explode forward, accelerating the bar up and putting you into that "triple extension" position.

4.) This is a fluid motion. You shouldn't pause once you get the bar to your hips.

5.) See the position you're in when you catch the bar at the end of the clean portion? Hips far back, back straight. This is close to how you should be on the pull from the ground. Then you snap the butt/hips forward in one fluid motion when the bar gets to around mid-thigh.

6.) Your "second pull" of the clean is actually just a jump off the ground generated mostly be your ankles from the looks of it. You never reach anything close to a full extension -- hips forward, legs straight, feet pushing, shoulders shrugged. You just get it to your hips then hop up -- probably bad both on your knees and on your back.

7.) You need to catch the bar on your shoulders with your elbows out in front of you and your forearms angled backwards. There's no way you'd be able to hold the bar that way with any significant amount of weight on it, so don't get into the practice of it now. Look up proper rack position for cleans.

8.) Getting in the rack position involves dropping under the bar. There should be little-to-no pulling from your arms. Your shoulders should shrug to add momentum at the full extension, but otherwise think of your arms as ropes tied to the bar. When it gets high enough, your arms should naturally swing underneath it, and you should drop under it to "catch it" on your shoulders. This is the hardest part for me, and many others.

9.) In my eyes, the split jerk really isn't necessary. You could have just push jerked it, since it's such a light weight. My split jerk is pretty rusty, so maybe that's just my personal preference talking.

10.) On the jerk, you're not pushing with your legs or your hips. You push with your arms upwards (again, not from a correct rack position), and then your legs follow through. A lot of the jerk is going to come from your hips and legs off of the initial dip, where most of the force will be generated.

And, well... there are a lot of other little things wrong with your form. There are a lot of good videos in the demos section, as well as on YouTube if you search around. Watching videos and comparing to your own can be very constructive.

Above all, remember that this is your first time with these. I've been CrossFitting for a year and mine are still pretty damn bad as well. Oly lifts are not easy to learn on your own. The best advice I can give (and this is advice that even I still have yet to follow myself) is to get to a trained coach who knows how to coach you on the spot.

Visiting an affiliate will be really beneficial, because, not to be discouraging or mean, your form is way off :) But if I can get mine half decent (ok, that's a stretch), then I'm sure you can work yours into a much nicer image of perfection!

Hope I've helped a little bit, and by all means, if I've said anything wrong, someone please correct me.

Don Gery
04-05-2008, 07:45 AM
if you post to youtube maybe more people could see

Brian Schack
04-05-2008, 07:21 PM
Thanks a lot for your advice, Mr. Fuller. I will practice this movement some more.

Alex Rosch
04-06-2008, 09:24 PM
Watch some of oly lifts from ... well ... the olympics. Check it out on YouTube and the excercises and demos on the main page. Perhaps getting a feel for cleaning a ball or stone will give you a little more feel with the bar (pvc or whatever).
You need practice the dead lift, then the front squat. Get those elbows up up up. You elbows should be sticking very nearly straight out in front of you.
Leave the jerk out of the training for a bit until you've grooved a better clean.
I second the pull from blocks or something that going to simulate the height of the plates.
Watch the pros do it, then do it yourself in ultra-slow motion. The transitions (like when you 'pull' yourself under the bar) can still be fast as long as you've got the 'bar' (pvc, dowel) racked with elbow sticking straight out forwards. Your top/front of your deltoid will make a little dent/shelf that the bar sits in when the rack is there.
Push from the heels.


Derek Hui
04-07-2008, 06:14 AM
Hi Brian,

Check out the instructional videos with Coach Burgener under olympic lifts on the crossfit website. Make sure u watch every one that is available to get the general lecture of it.


Jake Oleander
04-07-2008, 08:56 AM
YOU ARE NOT READY FOR OLYMPIC LIFTS YET. you need to master basic barbell movements. deadlift and backsquat are a good start. then you can learn front squat, clean high pull, power clean, tall clean, AND THEN a real clean.
heres a helpful website with lists of exercises and videos, they do not recommend any standard set of progressions though, so i would recommend using the one i recommended or talking to someone in person who can see what you are capable of and/or need help with.

http://www.performancemenu.com/resources/exercises/index.php?show=section&sectionID=2 wfs

Brian Schack
04-09-2008, 09:14 PM
I appreciate all your replies. I have been watching the videos that Mr. Hui and Mr. Rosch recommended. I especially agree with Mr. Oleander when he says that I need to practice basic barbell movements. I will be working on that tomorrow.

Peter Caddy
04-10-2008, 03:03 AM
As Jake said, you're not really ready for the Oly lifts yet...

I recommend working on strength and technique for the deadlift and squat (front & back squats) before getting into the Oly lifts.

Front squats are excellent for developing the rack position and balance you'll need later for Oly lifts.

For something closer to Oly lifting, get yourself a broomstick handle or a piece of PVC pipe and have a go at overhead squats - work them into your warmup if possible to help develop flexibility, balance and technique.

Hope that helps, I didn't want to give too much feedback and overload you.