T Nation

Clean more than Front Squat


Why don't more people do this?

I mean...


  • Drop under
  • Ride the bounce out the hole

Front Squat

  • Controlled descent (negative)
  • Break the bounce (people often eliminate the bounce for a strict squat)

Front squats sound much harder to me...

Some people can Clean more than they Front Squat but I'm surprised it isn't more prevalent...

Am I missing something?


Because it’s harder to do this when you get stronger…pretty much no International lifter can do this but a few are close due to them being tall/ being relatively weak.

You can increase your speed under the bar but it won’t increase anywhere near as your strength can. Everyone will have a limit of how high the bar needs to be before they can get under it. Most people can FS a weight that they can’t pull the bar to the minimum height that is needed for them to rack the Clean.

e.g dubaya can FS 200kg clean for 5reps, but NO 69 can C&J 200kg,

More so when you can train a lot, to get strong is a lot easier then to get very proficient in the pull and to be fast and strong enough under such a weight. I’d stand ZERO chance of attempting to Clean 178kg…I’d give 170 a good crack in competition though. Maybe 172?

Also you haven’t factored the Clean, to do the first and second pulls, thats at least the equivalent of one squat, then once you have received the bar, you have to squat it up so thats another squat. So now thats 2 squats, and to Jerk it thats about another squat, this is where you get the you should be able to C&J your 3RM front squat.

Also all the front squats I see people don’t break the bounce. They’ll get some bounce and then squat up. You’ll rarely see anyone FS 180kg+ with a complete pause. Your FS would be at least 200-210+ to be able to pause a 180 FS strictly!


ah. yes… i’m getting ‘stronger’ at squatting by getting better at using the bounce.

i don’t quite get why stronger = squat more…

the bounce gets you to where (if you ride it properly)?
i mean… to about a quarter squat position without much help from you?

first pull is hard, i grant. it is still the positive portion rather than the negative, though…
you also don’t do negatives to get under the jerk…

controlled descending squats seems to take the most out of me (slow negatives are hardest to recover from) and from an Oly Lifting POV they seem… worthless. in the sense that a slow descent is not utilized in the Olympic Lifts.

I’m still surprised that more people don’t clean more than they front squat.

where you say ‘weak’
i’m tempted to say ‘technically proficient’


I define stronger by being able to do more on the same exercise.

You don’t get why stronger = squat more? When I meant stronger I meant stronger at squating. If your bench gets stronger it won’t add anything to your squat.

The bounce helps a lot but it doesn’t carry the lift recovery completely. If you just did the bounce you’d be able to brake parallel without too much effort but thats still a chunk away from fully completing the front squat.

The Front Squat imo is the single best exercise to improve a lifters Sn and CJ besides Sn and the CJ. It’s the best assistance exercise for a lifter to do. It just pulls the OLifts up. I have never seen a successful lifter that couldn’t squat at the very least decent amount. Some lifter are a sh!t tonne stronger then others. My mate can Sn 132.5kg BUT he can only FS 160 on a very good day…he is very fast on the Snatch. BUT his lack of leg strength limits him mostly on the Cleans. I can gurantee he could pull under a decent amount but I don’t think he could Clean 150 as his legs are just too weak even with him getting under it and using the bounce. He is just too weak to clean much more then 150.

The negative on the FS should be controlled but not too slow. Your probably going too slow then? Speed it up a bit, but remember your knees take enough of a beating from heavy Sn and CJ so you don’t want to drop in fast on your knees more on the squats. It’s not advised to squat down as fast as you can to practice the bounce. I can guarantee that in less then 3-5yrs your knees would have some serious issues.

Control it but don’t just dive bomb in to the whole on a squat. Dive bomb on the OLifts. The squats is a strength exercise to get strong to help the OLifts. Not to just catch the bounce fast and get up mechanically and not get stronger. Your knees won’t last long otherwise.

What do you mean when you say hardest to recover from? Takes you longer in terms of days to recover from? Heavy C&J is the hardest to recover from. Fries the CNS.

I’m not surprised that more people can’t Clean more than they can FS

I edited my above post with this. This is a very important part of the equation imo.

The line between weak and technical proficiency is very slim. I meant the lifters getting under a big weight but not being able to squat up with it. Thats technical proficiency but they are also weak. If they were stronger on the FS I can guarantee that they could stand up with it. But it’s tough as nails when your already C&J 2.5x+ of your bw :stuck_out_tongue:



don’t get me wrong i’m not trying to get out of doing my front squats! i’m doing the russian squat routine at the moment… 6 weeks to a new max… we will see… (I plugged in my true 1RM because otherwise it would be 6 weeks to an old max which seemed kinda pointless).

but i did used to think i needed to be able to squat it in order to be able to clean it…

and now i’m not so sure. because squats are harder (with the negative portion).

i mean… a 35kg front squat is work for me. a 35kg snatch… timed just right… riding the bounce from the hole… feels so much easier to stand up! timed wrong so i’m pinned in the hole. is hard work to stand up - but still feels easier than a squat with 1 second pause in the hole. because at least i didn’t need to slowly lower it.

so then i got to thinking about cleans vs front squats…

of course i also get the bouncy bouncy womens bar to play with…

maybe this is bad of me… but i’ve pretty much stopped doing cleans. just snatching and front squatting at the moment. have been prepared for my snatches to take a bit of a dive while i do the RSR, too.

i found that the only thing limiting my cleans was my inability to stand them up. the technique part of it seemed easy enough compared to snatching. so… work to bring up my squat until that part isn’t limiting anymore and then worry about cleans again.

but maybe that isn’t so good? in particular… maybe if i got better at catching the bounce on cleans i could actually outclean my squat. hrm.


I think what Koing said is true that for weaker lifters (like me), the squat and the classical lifts numbers can be very close.


What does your coach prescribe or you don’t really have a coach and you just train there?

An OHS is much harder then the Front Squat equivalent weight :stuck_out_tongue:

I wouldn’t stop doing Cleans! Thats not a good idea. Just do them at least 1-2x a week, spend more of your time FS and Sn, but still do the Cleans.



you guys are my coaches :slight_smile:

(i got some help last year which was good to get me on my way, but i’ve been relying on you guys this year)

An OHS is much harder then the Front Squat equivalent weight :stuck_out_tongue:

well tell it to my snatch lol.

don’t get me wrong, i’m sure i couldn’t overhead squat it. pretty sure the descent would crush me.

yeah… i’ve been feeling a bit bad about neglecting cleans…

i tried maxing them out last month (after not having done them for a few months prior) and managed to hit both a clean PR and a powerclean PR, though.

so… Russian Squat Routine 3x per week and cleans… on the lighter squat days?



The place you train at doesn’t have any Oly coaches? Seriously a coach on hand will help your technique on it’s way uber uber fast. I coach him and he’s probably only had about 50 coached sessions over the past year and his technique is pretty razor sharp and he’s well on his way.

Did you get any stronger on your FS in the time when you weren’t cleaning? This would indicate your technique to be pretty consistent and your probably over trained/ not recovered in your training sessions. How about training less? But just stretching everyday?

Remember we aren’t pro athletes and we can’t sleep as much as they can and have to work etc that wears us down.

The RSR is tough. When I do it I barely lift. You can try it on your recovery days. Just do it once a week.

I think after the RSR just hit a heavy single at the start of your session then do a heavy single at the end and drop down to do 2reps x 2sets. The volume in the RSR will be a good spring board for you.



Have you ever seen someone trying to do cleans with 40kgs to learn the clean. He doesn’t even have the proper flexibility to do a proper front squat. then when he wants to rack the bar, he just picks it up and whips it around with their arms.

One reason that its easier to reach your max front squat when you are new is cause you use your arms too much since the weight is pretty light so its not all legs. Plus, it takes a while for your body to squat properly. When I started lifting again the squats felt all weird and my back felt mushy and weak. You need to have the flexibility to get down in the bottom position with a strong tight back and get some sessions in before you can really squat your 1 RM.


[quote]Koing wrote:
… but NO 69 can C&J 200kg …

Careful here, Petrov c&j’ed 200.5 at 67.5 in 1987…


i hear what you are saying about a coach. if there was a person who was 1) competent in lifting / teaching who 2) had a genuine interest in / passion for the sport who 3) was genuinely interested in coaching me to become proficient… i’d snap that up. nobody seems to meet that criteria, though. so i’m better off training on my own and taking what help I can from here. i know i’m progressing a lot slower for not having in person coaching, but there isn’t anything i can do about that

i did get stronger on FS in the time i wasn’t cleaning. thats why my clean went up when i tested my max. i could stand up a heavier clean. my powerclean got stronger, too, guess that is because snatching is training hip drive. my technique didn’t seem any the worse for not having done them for months. but i’ll admit there isn’t much to the pull since i can powerclean significantly more than i can full clean.

How about training less? But just stretching everyday?


i don’t think i can do that…

i’m happy to have light days. perfecting technique with the bar or whatever. but must lift. must. lift. must.

The RSR is tough. When I do it I barely lift.

hmm. thus far the RSR is a walk in the park compared to what i was trying to do previously. for the most part it is significantly easier. just the odd session where i think ‘i’m not sure i can do that’. not looking forward to the 6x6 next week… then the weight goes up and we will see. not sure i’ll be able to get my max for doubles…

it taught me something, though. i think i was overtraining squats before. squatting 3x per week. getting between 1-3 failures in my squat session just in trying to match my last training weights. never mind my squat going up. need to have lighter days… push things more strategically.

okay, i’ll clean once a week on one of my off days. need to get back into seriously training push-jerks or something, too. been staying away from them because i’ve been feeling pretty demoralized about not being able to jerk properly (feet issues). but i should train something…

I think after the RSR just hit a heavy single at the start of your session then do a heavy single at the end and drop down to do 2reps x 2sets. The volume in the RSR will be a good spring board for you.

you mean after i’ve finished the cycle?


taking vids has been really helpful to me. and all the feedback i’ve got from various people on this site.

i feel like i have a decent conception of what i’m trying to do and i’m starting to be able to feel when i deviate from it (the vids largely confirm where i think i’m going wrong).

i’m sure that will change in time… once i feel like things are going fine i’m sure new problems will arise etc…

but i feel like the process is going okay and i am making progress. i am sure it would be faster with a competent coach…

but for me the thing i’m having the most trouble with is zoning out everybody else (what they are up to, what they think i should be doing, what they think of what i’m doing, fighting feelings of self consciousness etc) and just listening to my body and getting on with what my body tells me needs to be done.

i wish i had a home gym.


[quote]TheApprentice wrote:

[quote]Koing wrote:
… but NO 69 can C&J 200kg …

Careful here, Petrov c&j’ed 200.5 at 67.5 in 1987…[/quote]

and angel guenchiev c+j’d 202.5 at 67.5 in 1988 (although he was caught and DQed)

  1. i’m realizing the articles from this site are very controversial… but they seem to make sense to me…
  2. i will keep doing the RSR for front squat because my front squat is sub-par no matter how you look at it…

but still:



[quote]alexus wrote:

  1. i’m realizing the articles from this site are very controversial… but they seem to make sense to me…
  2. i will keep doing the RSR for front squat because my front squat is sub-par no matter how you look at it…

but still:


Glenn Pendlay also has said the same thing that you can be pinned down cleaning below your FS. I asked him what the reason is and he said that it has to do with technique, i.e. when cleaning your (bottom) position can be off compared when you FS.


[quote]TheApprentice wrote:

[quote]Koing wrote:
… but NO 69 can C&J 200kg …

Careful here, Petrov c&j’ed 200.5 at 67.5 in 1987…[/quote]

Meant current…not the ANIMAL lifters from the past man :smiley:

Alexus your like a girl that use to train at my club. She was a good National level athlete. Been PC for years, but relatively weeks legs when it came down to front squating. She would squat but not really make gains. I wasn’t coaching her, but she had a few surgeries on her knees over the past 10yrs or so. But anyway at limit she would PC and that would not end well, you get forced down and she didn’t have the legs to ge tup. She was fast and powerful. She would have been a rock solid lifter had she been able to front squat a reasonable amount…

Alexus your aim to to chunk on 20kg to your FS this year. You have 6months and YOU WILL FRONT SQUAT 65KG. And don’t tell me it’s impossible to add 20kg to your 45kg!

I think your not recovering well enough in your sessions.

It’s definitely hard to FS, Sn and CJ. When you drop the Cleans you could recover better so thats why your FS increased and you could hit a PB on the Clean with relatively little training on it. This means your technique is good. But the trick to being a good lifter is being able to increase your FS AND keep Sn and CJ to PULL THEM UP.

I have not known or heard of any lifter dropping the squats and being able to improve the SN and the CJ.

Got to work hard on that FS and keep on lifting.

Yes I meant after the RSR see how you do to doing session max on the FS at the start and at the end with 2 drop down sets of 2doubles. You should be able to aim to increase your 1RM by 1kg every 2-3 weeks if not faster imo.

I’m having relatively decent success on it so far. I know for me when I jack my FS up it’ll really pull my lifts up. My bro who has stacked on 11kg on to his FS is lifting strong also.



I’m kinda lazy to reread it all but at alexus’ level(and mine) I’ve heard lots of good coach advising that 3 times per week is all you should do. Maybe 4. If you want to do 6-7 times going heavy you better have a very very good diet that’s also consistent.

Eating half the days the right foods and the other half pizza and soda won’t cut it. You’ll also need to supplement properly. You already foam roll so thats good. You should also add contrast showers. 8+hours of sleep. No alcohol, drugs, smoking or any of that shit.

After looking around and hearing other more experienced people, I believe thats the only way you can get by with 6-7 times per week at this level. It would be best to train 3 times per week for a couple months, then 4 times for another couple and so on.

I do hope that by october I’ll be able to do the above. You also have to be very careful of injuries. I wasn’t the 2-3 months I was training 5 times a week.live and learn.


I think lifting 3x a week hard is all that is needed to total over 300 on the sinclair. I think if a lifter can’t do that they don’t need to be doing 4x+ a week imo…if your not hitting 90-95% consistently in training something is wrong imo.

I think nutrition is over rated as well. Just get the calories in, just make sure it’s not from BS food. Sleep and recovery is better then eating better food but with less sleep and recovery imo. But in an ideal world we’d all get 9hrs sleep…

But I think going in to stretch out on your off days is a good thing to do but that doesn’t count as lifting imo. Lifting would at least be 80%.

I think a lot of people train too much and don’t get the most out of their training due to lack of recovery or just going to train because they enjoy it! But what you enjoy isn’t necessarily optimal for your training imo. It’s hard to train less, you just want to train but that isn’t the way forwards in jacking up your 1RM. And imo most people do far too much stuff that isn’t need to help them put up a big Sn and CJ.


That is all that is need after a lifter has consistent technique imo. No pulls, no back squats, no DL, no stuff from the hang, no paused stuff etc. But of course this is just my opinion…



Alexus your aim to to chunk on 20kg to your FS this year. You have 6months and YOU WILL FRONT SQUAT 65KG. And don’t tell me it’s impossible to add 20kg to your 45kg!

yeah, that’s fair. i really am doing everything i can to get a bodyweight front squat! i suppose i’ll need to be able to squat it in order to be able to snatch it.

I think your not recovering well enough in your sessions.

yeah, probably.

part of why i dropped the cleans is that it felt like too much work with serious squat sessions 3x per week.

my snatches have got worse (feel heavier) since starting the RSR. i figured they would, though. i’m prepared to suck that up for the moment knowing that when the squat volume / intensity / whatever goes down then standing up snatches becomes limiting :frowning: my squat needs to be my priority for the moment. at least until it won’t be the limiting factor anytime soon.

I know I don’t NEED to lift more than 3 times a week… But I WANT to.

I’m trying to eat more (especially protein) to help me recover from squats.
I need to roll / mobilize daily or the positions get really stiff.

Lifting would at least be 80%

So that is 30kg for snatching. I can do good technique work with 20kg (bar + training plates) or 25kg.
I think I need to put the hours into the technique work.
Everything feels ‘kinda sorta okayish’ but everything also feels not quite perfect. Both the positions and the transitions between the positions.
I want to log the hours doing that.
I enjoy it.
I think I profit from it (it is putting the hours into that that results in my actually hitting a good lift at higher weights)
I think it helps my recovery (it is kinda sorta cardio / mobility / stretching).

I’ve been going lighter with snatching on my squatting days (light snatching, squat, abs). Then aiming to test my snatch max on non-squatting days (snatch, then a couple assistance e.g., chins, pushups, GHR (natural, stick assisted, inverted row). And that is all, really.

(I should be able to move my own bodyweight around comfortably, I think, and it still feels a bit too ‘strength training’ for my liking).