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Exercises Movements, technique & proper execution

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Old 01-17-2007, 06:08 PM   #1
Sean Manseau
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when doing cleans, i've noticed that my form starts to fall apart as the weights increase towards my 1RM max (specifically, instead of pulling myself under the bar, i get "spaghetti arms" as i try to add extra pulling force). my question: am i better off staying at the weight at which i can execute the movement perfectly, doing multiple sets of multiple reps, or accept that a certain amount of sloppiness is the price one pays for really going for it, and hope my technique will improve as i get stronger?
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Old 01-17-2007, 06:18 PM   #2
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sloppiness should NOT accompany heavier weights, at least not much. granted, any maximal effort is likely to be less than perfect, but if your intent is to train a clean, as opposed to using cleans as a tool for metabolic conditioning, the technique is critical. solid technique will allow you to progress much further--your technique will not improve by hoping and adding weight. instead, you'll continue learning poor motor habits and make it increasingly more difficult to learn the technique properly.

not sure what you mean by spaghetti arms. if you can describe the problem in a way that makes it through my thick skull, maybe i can offer some specific solutions.
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Old 01-17-2007, 06:30 PM   #3
Sean Manseau
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oh heh. when things get heavy, instead of keeping my arms straight and using them like tow lines during the jump, i use them to pull, almost as if i was doing an upright row. it seems more like a psychological difficulty than anything else, like i'm intimidated by the weight and abandoning technique in favor of an by-any-means-necessary approach.

thanks in advance for any advice you can offer.
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Old 01-17-2007, 06:50 PM   #4
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1) Stop doing it.

2) A drill that helps this sometimes is doing a complex of 1-2 clean pulls + 1 clean, i.e. perform a clean right up to the point at which you would pull yourself under the bar, but focus on letting your arms hang (they'll bend a little simply from the momentum of the bar), then follow it immediately by a clean attempt.

3) high hang cleans - start standing with the bar at mid thigh or higher. Extend, shrug, focus on pulling yourself down under the bar instead of pulling the bar up to you.

4) when all else fails, see #1.

Keep training at a weight that allows you to maintain solid technique. Repetition is your friend (not necessarily consecutive, but getting in as much practice as possible with the perfect movement). As your front squat improves and your confidence with the weight and technique improve, you're clean will improve.
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Old 01-18-2007, 02:08 AM   #5
Sean Manseau
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awesome, thank you!
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Old 01-18-2007, 05:13 PM   #6
Greg Hamilton
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this may be from our website but i found it on the brand x website and i think excellent illustrations:

http://media.crossfit.com/cf-video/CleanCatchHeight.wmv

greg, and any of you other guys with knowledge and experience...i know the 3rd example is a correct clean (hang clean in this example) but i've seen other instructional vids that appear to be like the 3rd example BUT with a bit of the 2nd example. in other words the demonstrator is getting under the bar much more quickly, but dropping a bit at the end to complete a full squat rather than catching it in a complete squat. i think this is what i'm doing as well, although not nearly as exaggerated as in the 2nd example. with proper technique should we be catching the bar at the absolute lowest position, or do even olympic lifters catch the bar at parallel or slightly above, then drop further?
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Old 01-18-2007, 05:28 PM   #7
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First, catching in a rock-bottom squat is not ideal. A little higher will give you a chance to guide the load down, and time the bounce out of the bottom. If you catch totally bottomed out, it's going to be a big impact on the back as well as reduce your ability to take advantage of the bounce. That said, you don't need a whole lot of room--just not bottomed out.

Second, you have to catch the bar wherever it is - with a sub-maximal load, it's difficult to catch in a full squat because you're able to pull the bar higher than that. Watch Aimee here:

http://www.performancemenu.com/resources/exercises/index.php?show=exercise&secti onID=2&exerciseID=59

That's only 45 kg--she can clean about 110 +, so of course it would be difficult for her to really catch that bar in a deep squat. So to catch low with a light load requires really tempering the pull to limit the bar's height.
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Old 01-18-2007, 07:02 PM   #8
James Falkner
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I was in a traditional gym the other night and decided to do some lightweight cleans. The squat rack was one of those where the rails were not adjustable, so I decided to start the clean with the barbell sitting on the rails (putting it just below my.. ahem.. crotch). Anyway it forced me to cut the "second pull" part really short, and I had to essentially dive under the bar. It felt good, like it was forcing me be quick about my pull under since I couldn't get much momentum under the bar. Might be a valuable drill.
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Old 01-21-2007, 09:15 AM   #9
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:bowdown: thanks, greg. that makes a lot of sense, particularly 'guide the load down'. i'll assume the same goes for the snatch, so correct me if i'm wrong.
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