Bodybuilding Training Article from

Weight Lifting and Weight Training - Chapter 18

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Chapter Eighteen

How to perform the Two Hands Clean and Jerk

The Clean and Jerk is really two lifts in one, and as such -- coupled with the fact that it is the lift in which the heaviest poundage can be handled -- it is a supreme test of all the qualities of a strength athlete.

It is important, too, in this respect: it is the final and deciding lift of a competition. A competitor who is placed behind first rivals on the Press and Snatch can often win by a last supreme effort on the Clean and Jerk.

As with the Snatch, tow styles are favored -- the split and the squat; although in all cases the split style is used for the jerk part of the lift.

Main advantages of the squat style are that (a) the technical movements are easier on the clean and (b) the barbell does not have to be pulled quite so high before the body is lowered into the squat position. These are great advantages if one has the essential leg strength to use this style.

I will deal with the split style first. The commencing stance is exactly the same as described earlier for the Press.

The grip used for the Press and Snatch is not for most lifters of vital importance -- owing to the comparatively light weight being handled -- but in the Clean and Jerk it is essential that the strongest possible grip be used to fa ciliate the pull of the barbell to the necessary minimum height before moving into the split position.

On the Clean and Jerk, most lifters handle anything between 50 and 100 lb. more than in the Press and Snatch, and any weakness of grip will mean that their potential on the lift will be cut down.

For some lifters the normal handgrip may be adequate, but many find they need to use the hook grip in order to reach their maximum potential.

The width of the handgrip should approximate that of the Press -- about shoulders' width generally.

But I suggest that a few variations of grip be tried, especially in the case of lifters who find it difficult to hold their weights overhead comfortably because of tight shoulder articulations or a bad arm lock.

In such cases, a slightly wider than normal grip will be more effective; but not too wide, as for most lifters excessive width will make it more difficult for cleaning.

With some slight differences the same principles of pulling and leg movements advised for the Snatch apply to this lift.

First, the barbell doesn't need to be pulled to the same height as in the Snatch before the feet move. Second, the arm movement differs after the feet have started to split and the disposition of the legs is not quite the same.

Start the movement by a vigorous straightening of the legs, maintaining a flat back and bringing in the complete combination of leg drive and arm pull as the bell reaches approximately knees height after being pulled upwards in a vertical line.

Although theoretically it is mechanically sound to pull the barbell upwards in a direct vertical line to obtain maximum power it is noticeable that many top-line lifters first pull off the vertical line slightly towards the lower legs, then as the barbell passes the height of the knees it is swung outwards again to follow the normal upward path to the shoulders. When using this method the movement of the legs must be slightly different with the knees being drawn backwards more than in the normal method I have described.Then, following the outwards swing of the barbell, the knees are thrust forwards before finally being straightened as the barbell approaches waist height.

Beginners should take note of this variation of style of cleaning and later, after a period of training and when more familiar with the technique of the lift, give it a trial.

Pull the barbell to about waist height before moving the legs. At this stage, the body should be stretched to full height, head thrust well up - even back a little -- legs straight and rising on the toes to get maximum height of pull.

The barbell should be close to the body and the hips eased forwards as the barbell passes that height. The arms should begin to bend as they continue the strong upwards pull.

Start the splitting of the legs by moving both feet together. As the body begins to lower, the barbell will be nearing chest height and should be turned into the shoulders by a backwards movement of the wrists combined with a forward thrust of the elbows.

Bring the barbell right up to the top of the sternum home so that it settles in the base of the throat and ensure that the elbows are thrust forwards with the forearms almost parallel with the floor -- the safest possible position for holding the barbell.

The feet movement must be directly forwards and backwards as described for the Snatch -- although many lifters will be unable to go into quite the same low and wide position.

As the foot lands on the platform push forward with the knee to bring that over the top of the toes, or even farther forward, depending on one's mobility. This will enable the hips to be brought directly under the weight at the shoulders. Keep the chest well up and the head taken back a little.

In order to reach maximum poundages when using the split style of cleaning, the body should be lowered to the fullest extent that the leg strength allows, bearing in mind the necessity of employing a safety margin to avoid any possibility of the knee of the rear leg touching the platform. The rear leg should be only slightly bent at the knee -- and a useful tip here to help this is to push backwards with the rear heel as you reach the low split position. This will normally keep the knee off the platform unless, of course, the weight is so heavy that you are forced down too far.

Speed is very important, too. The movement of the legs into the split position should be made with all possible speed. any undue slowness in this movement with heavy weights will mean failure to complete the movement.

Make the recovery to the erect position without any undue pause -- first by almost straightening both legs, then completing the moment by bringing either foot into line with the other.

As in the Snatch I advise that the lifter inhales as he makes the effort of pulling. Adopt the starting position, concentrate for a second or two, then start the leg drive simultaneously with the taking of a rapid breath. Your lungs should be full as you reach the clean position. Then, as you rise to the erect position you can exhale, ready to take one or two breaths as you prepare to jerk the barbell overhead.

Squat Method
Placing of the feet should be wider than in the split method -- about 16-18 in. is a suitable distance.

The first stages of the clean movement are the same as for the split style. This is, the initial leg drive should start the barbell moving off the platform and the power of the arms' pull comes in as the legs are approaching the straight position.

Since the mechanics of this movement are simpler, basically all that is required is a strong pull to bring the barbell about as high as the line of the hips followed by a quick squat to catch the barbell at the chest combined with a turning of the wrists and a thrusting forwards of the elbows.

It is even more essential to thrust the elbows forwards in this style so that they are kept clear of the thighs -- any touching of the elbows on the thighs being cause for disqualification.

The depth of the squat will depend on one's leg strength. The deeper and quicker the squat is made the higher becomes the poundage potential. But one needs stronger legs to rise form the full squat position ( by full I mean as deep as your mobility will allow). With some lifters this means going so low that the hips are much lower than the knees. Others, particularly the heavier and more solidly-built lifters, find that their lowest position is when, the tops of their thighs are parallel with the floor.

The constant practice of squats -- both with the barbell held at the front of the chest and behind the neck -- will build up the necessary leg strength to justify this method of cleaning.

Unless one can do a full front squat with a poundage above one's best clean in the split style there is no point in adopting the squat style.

The Jerk
The commencing position for the jerk should be adopted with minimum of delay, bringing the feet on to a level place as required by the rules. I recommend that the barbell is held with the elbows and deltoids thrust well forward to enable it to rest on a solid base across the front of the shoulders.

The body should be held as tall as possible and fairly tensed. Hold this position just sufficiently long enough to prepare yourself mentally for the jerk, taking one or two breaths first.

Power for the jerk must come from a strong and vigorous legs' drive. First, lower the body just a few inches (from 4 to 6) by a bending of the knees so that the barbell is lowered absolutely vertically, while keeping the heels on the floor.

It is essential to lower the barbell vertically so that when the rebound movement is made and the barbell is thrust upwards, it moves vertically. If the body is leaned and forward in the initial dip, then the barbell will almost certainly be thrust forward when jerking as a natural, compensating movement, thus making it necessary to "chase" the barbell by hastily stepping forward farther.

As soon as the maximum depth of the dip is reached, without any pause vigorously re straighten the legs to thrust the barbell of the shoulders, rising on the toes to get maximum height before splitting the legs in a fore-and-aft movement similar to the clean part of the lift.

The initial drive from the legs will send the barbell moving upwards off the shoulders and it should reach approximately the height of the top of the head before the legs are moved.

From this point the arms should be brought into play with a vigorous thrust to facilitate the drive of the barbell to arms' length. As soon as the arms are locked concentrate to keep them so by pressing upwards as hard as possible.

Many lifters look upwards to watch the barbell while making the jerk. But I advise the practice of looking almost directly ahead. Looking up at the barbell can often lead to a leaning back of the trunk a position to be avoided.

The barbell should be fixed overhead so that a vertical line falls thorough the head, shoulders and hips, with the legs placed equally fore and aft. Use a moderately wide and low split, not to the same extent as in the Snatch and Clean.

Recover to the finishing position as described in the clean, first straightening both legs before moving them in together. Bring both feet on to a level plane, still concentrating to keep your arms locked under the weight. Hold steady for the referee's signal.

More chapters from this book below...
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