Improve your Clean technique
Improving your Clean Technique can seem like a particularly daunting task as there are so many intricacies in the movement that are dependent on multiple facets; from back tightness to elbow positioning to the straightness of the lifter’s arms. But one of the most common issues with beginners when weightlifting is the forward jump in the Clean.
If you watch the below video, you can see that I have had problems with the Forward Jump in the Clean. It’s not such an issue with weights at the lower end if your rep range (sub 70%), but it will become a problem that’s tricky to rectify.
Essentially you have two approaches you can take.
- The Agricultural Approach: Basic, but essentially you can just put a mat, line of tape or other available indicator to make sure you don’t jump forward when you Clean. Will this definitely solve the problem, no, but as a shorter-term fix it can work wonders
- Reveal & Rectify: Figure out what’s causing you to shoot forward and fix the problem with corrective exercises. If you’re serious about lifting you have to do this. Film yourself like in the above video and slow it down so you can see where the faults lie. This may be a slower approach, but in the long-term you’ll only be able to lift more weight safely and effectively by fixing your faults.
What’s causing your Forward Jump?
So what’s causing your Forward Jump in the Clean? I’m going to run through the most common reasons your feet and body are being dragged forward and provide some corrective exercises you can add in to correct your Clean
- An Imbalanced Starting Position: Do you begin your lift with a forward imbalance? Are your shoulders too far in front of the bar? This may seem counter-intuitive, but if the lifter starts with the weight too far back, it’s common for them to end too far forward as they try to rectify having the weight too far on their heels.
Corrective Exercise: Partial Pull Variations like the Halting Deadlift and Segment Deadlift that will improve the individual positions in the lift and strengthen each one.
- Early rise of the Hips: If the lifter’s hips rise too quickly, weight begins to shift forwards which causes the lifter to tip forward and finish the lift with a forward jump to catch the incorrect bar path.
Corrective Exercise: Partial Pull Variations like the Halting Deadlift and Segment Deadlift will improve the individual positions in the lift and strengthen each one
- Not shifting the Weight Back as you begin the Pull: Without shifting the weight back as the lifter begins the Clean, the weight of the bar will pull the lifter forward – resulting in the forward jump. Likewise if the bar doesn’t move backwards as it passes the knee (see Scapular Retraction for how to achieve this) then the lifter will be pulled forwards.
Corrective Exercise: Slow Pull variations (or Halting / Segment Deadlifts) of the Snatch and Clean with lower weights (max. 60% of your 1RM) that focus on the backwards shift E.g. Slow Low Hang Clean
- Bar shifting forward in the 2nd Pull phase: If the bar path travels away from the body, then the lifter will be pulled forward. We all know the importance of bar proximity, and if the lifter loses control in the second phase of the lift then there’s every chance it’s because the Hip Drive is too aggressive; there isn’t enough Leg Drive or it could be a combination of the two; all of which result in a lack of control.
Corrective Exercise: Snatch / Clean High Pulls; The bar has to be in close proximity to the body and this move promotes bar proximity with an aggressive, but controlled leg and hip drive*.
*Leg Drive Dip variants of the lifts promote leg drive
- Bar swinging forwards in the Third Pull phase: The third pull still demands aggression and it’s a common issue with newer lifters to have a third pull lacking real power. As we’ve discussed, a forward travelling bar results in a forward travelling lifter. A lack of aggression in the third pull results in an inadequate bar height; an overly aggressive third pull results in the bar shooting forward.
Corrective Exercise: Snatch / Clean High Pulls that demand an aggressive transition in the third pull whilst promoting bar proximity. Muscle Snatch / Clean mitigate the use of the the hip drive and improve controlled power in the final phase.
- Failure to bring the bar back in the Third Pull: This is very similar to the bar swinging forwards in the Third Pull, but without dragging the bar as close to your chest as possible with a powerful shrug, you’ll lose optimal bar path and fall forwards.
Corrective Exercise: Snatch Push- Press | Overhead Squats | Snatch Balance As these all strengthen your receiving position and improve confidence in it, shifting the bar backwards will feel more natural.
These are all issues that can cause the lifter to jump forward, so you can see why it’s such a common issue, especially with beginner – intermediate lifters. When the problem has so many potential root causes it can seem daunting, but I highly encourage you to film your lifts and slow them down, then run through this post and break down your lift according to the above sections. Hopefully things should become easier to understand and you can get to the root cause of your issue.