T Nation

Cleans and Arm Size

How large can your biceps gets before they really start to impede your racking of cleans on your shoulders? Assuming equal focus between tri’s and bi’s 15 inches cold, 16 inches cold, 17 inches cold etc?

If so would it make sense for someone who focuses on Olympic lifting and bodybuilding to do mainly triceps isolation exercises to body build and few bicep isolation exercises to body build the upper arms? Just rely on pull-ups and rows and gripping the bar for Olympic lifts to stimulate the biceps?

i wouldn’t worry about arm size impeding cleans unless you’re greg valentino or whatever the hell his name is that shoots the thousands of vials of synthol in his arms and looks like a total jackass. i’ve seen some dudes with real big arms doing cleans with real good form so unless your arms get to thirty inches or so i wouldn’t sweat it. the true impedement will be your wrist and elbow flexibility. work on that and you’ll be fine. look at shane hammond and all the other heavyweights at the olympics. those were some massive guys and form doesn’t get any better than that.

[quote]bluey wrote:
How large can your biceps gets before they really start to impede your racking of cleans on your shoulders? Assuming equal focus between tri’s and bi’s 15 inches cold, 16 inches cold, 17 inches cold etc?

If so would it make sense for someone who focuses on Olympic lifting and bodybuilding to do mainly triceps isolation exercises to body build and few bicep isolation exercises to body build the upper arms? Just rely on pull-ups and rows and gripping the bar for Olympic lifts to stimulate the biceps?
[/quote]

Bluey

I’m not really sure I can give you a good answer on the first part of your question concerning cleans. I would tend to think that someone would have to have extremely large biceps to prevent them from racking cleans on their shoulders. I’m not sure of an exact measurement. I would probably say that elbow and wrist flexibility would have more to do with that than bicep size. Maybe someone could chime in an offer a better answer.

As for the second part of your question, if you’re relying on compound exercises for the bulk of your training such as deadlifts, rows, snatches, cleans, etc. then you probably wouldn’t need much, if any, addional arm work. Ultimately though, its your decision. If your arms are a weak point for you, then by all means prioritize them in your training. If not, then don’t train them for a while and see what happens. You might be surprised.

Thanks for the replies.

I agree for me it is not a big problem at the moment. Just wondering about the future and how other big guys (re arms) cope.

I would imagine that at some point no matter how good your wrists are it would become a problem? Might be wrong.

Bulk of my time I do:
Power snatch
Power clean + military press
Power clean + power jerk
Pull-ups
Leg rises

I find that with these focus lifts I need a little more specific work for certain body parts (e.g. arms, forearms, rear delts and even neck).

I have seen lots of guys who have big arms and do cleans but how flexible you are has a great deal to do with this.