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I would like a form check for my power clean please.

I just started doing these and I want to get better at the Olympic lifts down the line (Clean & Jerk and Snatch).


Videos:

Set 4 and Set 5 - 115 lbs

Set 2 and Set 3 - 95 lbs


Question about form: Why is my rack position so upright and awful? Should I be catching the bar at a lower squat position?

Oleksiy's rack position of the power clean at 0:20 sec looks super balanced.


Question about technique: I was following the Starting Strength power clean tutorial where Mark teaches to come off the floor slow when learning the movement to get used to touching the bar at the mid thigh position (which they call the "jumping position"). They teach that every time the bar touches the mid thigh, we should jump up. This does feel a bit weird for me now. I don't know if that is because I am new at this or if I am creating the contact incorrectly.

Do you actually "hit" the bar on your upper thigh or does the bar just "brush" against your thigh? I mean when the bar passes you knee, are you thinking "I need to hit the bar hard on my mid thigh"? That is what I am thinking and I seem to be messing it up.


Question about training approach:

I know I am doing a lot of things incorrectly. And maybe the correct way to learn these exercises is in steps? Some lifters suggest breaking down the movement and working on each step for a while before making the full lift. I have seen two approaches:

A: Starting at the middle approach:

(1) Learn to create contact between the bar and the mid-thigh and then pull (throw?) the bar straight up (Starting Strength starts here and calls it the "jumping position", others call it the "power position"); (2) Repeat by starting with the bar just below the knees, and then continue by starting with the bar starting lower each time.

B: Starting at the top approach:

(1) Learn to do muscle cleans; (2) Learn the rack position, improve shoulder flexibility, and do lots of front squats; (3) Learn to create contact between the bar and the mid-thigh and then pull (throw?) the bar straight up ...

Which is a better approach?

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I'm going to preface this by saying, I'm not a weightlifting coach. I've trained the power clean a bit, but not a whole hell of a lot, so take what I say with a pinch of salt.

Why is my rack position so upright and awful? Should I be catching the bar at a lower squat position?

I believe the issue here is one of bar path. If you watch the Oleksiy video you posted, you'll notice that at the top of the movement, just before the front rack, the bar seems to almost float onto his shoulders. The reason is, he isn't pulling the bar onto his shoulders, he's pulling himself under the bar.

If you watch your video, at the top of the lift, you're pulling the bar backwards into the rack position, a bit like an inverted J, which means you're having to fight the horizontal momentum of the bar to stay upright.

The squatting lower thing tends to come naturally with heavier weights. You'll hit a point where you can't get the height to actually stay that upright in the catch, at that point, you'll have to learn to pull yourself under the bar into a partial squat position, or you won't make the lift.

Question about technique

The technique I learned for the power clean was actually a little different to that but ended up as the same movement.

That is what I am thinking and I seem to be messing it up.

I think this is another issue, worrying too much about a particular aspect of the lift.

Think of the movement of jumping, the drive comes from the hips / glutes, and as such, forces you to explosively stand up (try doing a couple of vertical jumps now and hopefully you'll see what I mean). The bar hitting the thighs is part of that explosive drive from the glutes, it happens because the thighs move forward to hit the bar while the bar is travelling straight up. Instead of thinking about the bar impacting the thighs, try and think "Jump!". That particular part of the movement, you can practice with an empty bar (or even a broomstick), just to see what I mean.

Question about training approach

I like approach 1, but with lots of front squats and shoulder mobility thrown in as well :)

The way I learned back when I was being coached was to start with a jump shrug from the knees and not to worry about catching the bar. Then start from the floor and still concentrate on the jump shrug. This was combined with a lot of front squats to get me used to the front rack / front squat position.

The key is basically practice. You'll get the technique down with reps, so just practice a lot. I remember reading a while back that weightlifters used to train with a broomstick for a year to get the movements down (that included the snatch) before using a proper bar. If you can't get it after a few attempts, don't sweat it, practice practice practice and you'll get there.

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  • Thanks for the great answer Dark Hippo. What are the things you noticed in my form that I should mainly focus on to improve my technique?
    – RoundHouse
    Jan 13 at 16:44
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    @RoundHouse The short answer, I could concentrate on bar path (pulling yourself under the bar as opposed to pulling the bar onto your shoulders) and just keep practicing to get in some reps
    – Dark Hippo
    Jan 14 at 8:15

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