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Exercises Movements, technique & proper execution

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Old 11-13-2006, 12:35 PM   #1
Greg Hamilton
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i've found plenty of weaknesses all over the crossfit map but nothing is more problematic for me than cleans. whether in a metcon or me workout, or anything in between, they absolutely kick my butt. after 30 years of off and on (overall, mostly off) weightlifting and thinking a power clean was a clean, i had never done a real clean until crossfit and i'm convinced only a very tiny % of the fitness community knows what a real clean is.

if muscle memory is a real thing rather than urban legend, this might explain a lot because my body simply does not want to drop under the weight at that split second when the bar us up in the air and weightless, particularly when i'm using heavier weight. the heavier the weight, the more my body seems to instinctively power clean at the last second despite my desire to drop down. it even happens a bit (actually, doesn't happen) with lighter weight on metcon days, and the more tired i get the more i seem to be doing a power clean followed by a deep front squat. this seems to cause the workout to be more intense than i can handle, at least relative to other metcon workouts.

there isn't much time left in my day to grease yet another groove and work and coach and raise kids and such BUT this ranks right at the top of the problem list for me along with pullups. unlike pullups, this is definitely more of a technical problem than strength vs bodyweight. if i continue to concentrate on proper technique, as i truly try to do on every single rep whether light or heavy, is this timing problem likely going to correct itself eventually with repetition or do i need to break the movement down with other exercises i've seen here and fix this now?
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Old 11-13-2006, 01:11 PM   #2
Veronica Carpenter
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is this timing problem likely going to correct itself eventually with repetition or do i need to break the movement down with other exercises i've seen here and fix this now?

It could be mental - are you afraid of dropping into a full squat?

Or fatigue - full cleans require a lot more energy than power

Or lack of leg strength - front squat, front squat, front squat

You could try full cleans from the hang or block cleans for a while to get comfortable pulling yourself under the bar and into the squat.
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Old 11-13-2006, 02:05 PM   #3
Bobby A. Smith
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What's the difference?
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Old 11-13-2006, 02:17 PM   #4
Steven Stackpole
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Greg
I have some of the same problems as you with cleans. That is, dropping under the bar. I know nothing about Oly lifting, but from my own experience, believe Veronica is dead on with her advice.
Fear-not having bumper plates makes a difference. I don't need to leave craters in my basement floor.
Front squats-am currently working on them

I've also come to love Hang squat cleans. For whatever reason, I'm not sure why, I find it much easier to drop under the bar doing hangs. Practice these I think.
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Old 11-13-2006, 04:43 PM   #5
Greg Hamilton
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it may be mental with heavier weight. it's truly an uncomfortable feeling i have for a split second that causes me to instinctively cut the drop short so that i'm catching the weight in a 1/4 to 1/2 squat. the heavier i go, the shallower the squat seems to be at the catch and this seems to be involuntary. it may be fatigue in the metcon workouts because i seem to begin doing it as i get tired with lighter weights, which i suppose ends up being the same thing as with heavier weights. i'm approaching my body weight on front squats and can do reps with my body weight on back squats, so i don't think it's an issue of overall leg strength despite much room for improvement there. i've found that hang cleans make the movement a bit easier to perform correctly, as well, but only with lighter weight. i may sub hang cleans on the metcon workouts for now. i also found a 'quick drop' example while searching the forums that i'm going to try and add to my warmup in lieu of ohs after the first few reps or first set of ohs unless one of you experienced people tell me i shouldn't. i'm hoping that repetition and continued concentration will correct this over time.

bobby, it's my understanding that you catch a power clean with your knees bent and degree may vary greatly between lifters, and you catch a clean in a full, deep squat. it's also my understanding that when you learn to execute a clean properly, you can use substantially more weight than you can in a power clean because you do not have to drive the bar as high before dropping under it since you're dropping further. i definitely believe it's more difficult to learn how to perform a clean after you've performed nothing but power cleans over time, whereas it would be easy to learn them in reverse order, so pay special attention to the drop into a full squat if you're not already doing it on your cleans.
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Old 11-13-2006, 08:26 PM   #6
Yoon Sohn
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Greg,
The 'quick drops' you refer to above, where you start the clean from the high hang position, along with drills like what Veronica mentioned, cured me of my inability to squat clean (I know EXACTLY what you're going through, btw).

Your plan sounds good. I did these drills as part of my warmup approx. 2-3 times a week for a month...frequency and repetition with manageable weight was the key, if anything, to build confidence. Slowly but surely I was able to increase the weight over time...don't worry, it will come. If a clutz like me can do it, so can you!

btw, are you racking your front squats with the elbows high? Correcting my slumping elbows and getting really comfortable with the racking position was another factor for me.
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Old 11-14-2006, 08:05 AM   #7
Greg Hamilton
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yes on front squats, but my elbows are not that high when i catch the bar on cleans. are the elbows supposed to be just as high on the catch with cleans or a little lower? that's not difficult with front squats because the bar is already high and secured on the rack when i take it, and my hands are open with the bar on my fingers and resting against the top of my chest. i'm having a hard time visualizing hitting that position with heavier cleans...
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Old 11-14-2006, 08:30 AM   #8
Geoff Pitluck
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Greg, I am no expert on Oly lifts, and am looking forward to the day when I can work with a coach, but I'll chime in since I have the exact problem with cleans and this week I found something that helps me. Instead of thinking of jumping down to get "under" the bar, which I suspect scares me, I concentrate on jumping to a wider stance, which of course brings my butt a lot closer to the floor. I need a pretty wide stance to get to a deep squat, but for some reason, I always seem to forget that when I try to jump "under" the bar. Try jumping to a wide stance as fast as safely possible. Just a thought. Hope that helps, Geoff
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Old 11-14-2006, 08:44 AM   #9
Lincoln Brigham
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Geoff, be careful with that advice. A common fault among beginners is to substitute a wide squat for a deep squat. We want a deep squat.
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Old 11-14-2006, 09:44 AM   #10
Veronica Carpenter
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Greg, yes, try to rack the clean with elbows high - just as high as your front squat.
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