T Nation

Clean Questions


I've been using cleans for one of my compound exercises while on CW's TBT program (on my 3X8 day so far on my second week).

First question: Am I supposed to squat down to catch the weight, or is it fine to go from the floor to the catch possition without squatting down much at all?

Second: If I'm starting from the floor, in a deadlift possition, would the exercise be power cleans?

Third: I know what hang cleans are, and if the way I'm doing them is called power cleans, how are 'normal' cleans done? With the squat, from a hang, from the floor???

Fourth: Depending on the answer to question #1, if I'm able to get from the floor to the catch without dropping under the weight, does that mean I'm using too light of a load?

Thanks in advance for anyone who can answer any of the questions. I'm starting to realy like cleans, and I want to add in more Olympic movements as I go, but they're a little difficult to get the hang of.


I do cleans. I think i do them the same as you which is just throwing the weight up and catching it. I am practising now to use proper form though.

I think the normal cleans you are talking about are done without the bar touching your body at all in one "clean" motion and then catching it in a squat position..

I can't be sure though, maybe someone else will know for sure


I don't do cleans as I'm too dumb to master the technique, why not just move a submaximal weight explosively?




This was the way cleans had to be performed with old rules, but now it is okay for the bar to touch the body.


Don't sweat it, it takes time to learn the OL properly. Sure, you can move a submax weight explosively. You wouldn't want to train with maximal weights all the time.


Hang cleans are where you start the movement from either above, at, or below the knees.

Power cleans are where you start from the floor and since the weight is relatively light, you can catch it high without the need to do a full squat.

Full cleans start from the floor and since the weight is heavier, you can't pull it as high, and you have to "jump under" the far in a full squat.

If a weight is light you can get away with a power clean, but as it gets heavier, you will get to weights that are too easy to full clean, but too heavy to power clean. You will get caught in a no man's land, so what you do is ride the bar down into a full squat and then come up in a smooth motion. You wouldn't want to catch a clean at parallel at a dead stop, and then try to grind it up from there.

Check out this clip of Dimas in training. It has been spreading around forums like crazy and probably has a lot to do with people getting interested in OL.


 Fahd has a good point. I useta-was an olympic lifter in my misspent youth, before powerlifting became an organized sport. I still do a lot of olympic-style pulls--the first part of either a powerclean or squat-style clean--and they helped me to build "masters" WR deadlifts. However, when you have pulled the bar as high as you can, the back work is OVER!

 The REST of the clean consists of a catch at the shoulders and--in the case of a squat clean--a front squat. The catch at the delts is a sport-specific skill that benefits ONLY olympic lifters. It's not entirely without risk, and developing that skill takes time and effort that I'd rather devote to real strength training. The front squat is a rep with a relatively light weight: even proficient olympic lifters can't clean nearly as much as they can front squat from a rack. Train your legs separately. 

 Perhaps strength coaches who prescribe powercleans for football players haven't broken the movement into its component parts and questioned the utility of each part. Perhaps they want the athlete to have a "goal" for each rep--pull it as high as your delts--so that he'll pull as hard as possible. (Most strength athletes are self-motivated to do that sort of thing anyway.) Perhaps some of these guys are limited by two-digit I.Q.'s. Whatever the reason, powercleans are MUCH more popular than they should be.


Here is a sick video of a guy from JMU (DI AA) cleaning 405.. he went on to the NFL for a few years...



Good info. Thanks!

And yes, that video helped me to continue to use OL lifts when I was thinking of stopping.

It also makes me feel like a little wimp, but considering the guy has 3 olympic gold medals and one bronze, I don't feel AS bad.


Thanks, I can see your point and with my current workout (Chad Waterbury's TBT) it calls for one hip dominant and one quad dominant compound exercise so I'm using cleans and high-bar back squats respectivley.

I used to do high-pulls instead of cleans when my routine called for cleans (with Chad's SFM), and now that I think about it, I was able to use a little more weight and felt safer to push my limits a little more when I don't include the catch part of the clean.


I agree. I little over a year ago I had to quit training at my OL gym. A few months later I thought I would be better off dropping the OL's & do just the pulls instead. I stuck with this for about a year until I determined that it had been a big mistake. I've worked them back into my program. I train in a commercial gym so I can't attempt anything that I may not be able to make. So I am experimenting using the repetitious OL for fat loss (pretty effective,but very hard), mass building (so far so good), and general conditioning (excellent). I'm becoming convinced of the effectiveness of the 1 hand BB versions.


a lot of misnomer's...

basically you need to find some videos man and watch those in depth.

I was fortunate enough to have a friend who has trained olifts for about 3-4years show me proper form.

Unfortunately he's in England at the moment but your best bet is to find someone that knows what he/she's doing or watch a TON of video.


It sounds like SWR-1222D is a bodybuilder, or at least, hypotrophy is his main goal.

If so, why bother with the Olympic lifts? Why waste weeks to learn a semi-decent form and years to master the technique?

If you improve your cleans, your deadlift, squats and good mornings will not necessarily necimprove.

However, if you imrove your deadlifts, squats and GMs, your clean will improve naturally anyway.


So, are you saying it is a WASTE to practice the lifts? Look at the span of a person's athletic career (competitive or not). A few weeks or even a few months is not a lot of time in comparison. It is time well spent.

True, if you improve your overall strength your power clean would increase, but who said you couldn't practice the technique AND get stronger with the basic exercises? If he would like a bigger clean/power clean, he should learn the movements and continue improving strength in squats, deads, good mornings, etc (like you said).

If he doesn't work on the technique, he will end up muscling the weight up or doing many of the other possible errors that would make him prone to injury. He doesn't need to master the technique to benefit, all he can do is develop sound technique.

I have taught myself pretty well without a traditional coach, although I routinely post my vids on OL forums for critiques and am always reviewing my vids and studying others. It can be done.


Do NOT emulate that guy's form. Sick video is right... he's lucky he didn't tear a bicep while firing a vertebre across the room.



Training Economy.


[quote]Kliplemet wrote:
SWR-1222D wrote:

Power cleans are cleans with a light enough weight, so you pull it so high you don't have to squat down to catch it, you just dip the knees slightly and the bar flies on your chest. (I don't know wat you mean with deadlift position, in the o lifts you pull with shoulders over the bar, feet narrow and you need an s-pull with maximum extension for effivient pulling)

What is an S-pull?


Of course cleans don't have to be a part of a training program. But he asked about cleans, so why sabotage the thread and tell him that he shouldn't bother doing them? He wants to learn them.


Agreed, plus they are lots of "fun" to do and pose a challenge to any lifter.

Who wouldn't want to say you can throw a lot of weight above your head? I'm still very much in the learning phase of the O-lifts and my max snatch lift would be about 60kg, yet it probably looks like an impressive lift to the average gym member, even though I know I am way behind more experienced O-lifters.