T Nation


Another person asked a similar question, but I think my predicament is different.

Basically, my power clean is god awful. All my lifts are bad, but my clean is probably the worst. At a bodyweight of 150, I can clean a whopping 105x5!

I deadlift 275x5, box squat slightly below parallel 210x5… but clean 105! I don’t get it. Is it a lack of explosive power? Do I need to work on technique? My weights on the clean almost never seem to progress, and I’m just pissed…

Oly-lifts are strongly affected by form. And speed.

How are your other lifts performed? Are your deads and squats rather slow and deliberate? By say that all your lifts are “bad” this tells me that you may have a lack of explosive speed/power.

I’m not sure what qualifies as ‘slow’, I suppose I’d need to see a video of another ‘slow’ and another ‘fast’ lifter. But yeah, off the top of my head, I’d say my lifts are rather slow and lack explosiveness.


having never seen you lift i would guess bad technique. with that deadlift and squat you should be able to clean more.

Jdb… I know it is highly personal, but if you were to take a STAB at what my clean would be, what would be your guess? Just a ballpark… out of curiosity…

I’ll take a stab…

I noticed with myself that my power clean is roughly 60% of my DL 1RM.

Now, some caveats: my DL and squat 1RM are basically the same. Training DL improves my squat, and vice versa, but an increase in my DL benefits my squat more than an increase in my squat benefits my DL.

Also, I also work on the power clean. I think this takes the strength built from the DL and “converts” it into speed strength.

My guess is you have technique problems and a lack of speed strength. Work on these and you should see yourself cleaning 150 fairly quickly.

I agree with Cool make jumpsquats and jumpshrugs your best friends!

I agree with Mike! You should be cleaning your body weight. 105lbs. is far below your capability, based upon your DL.

I am wondering if there is some fear associated with bringing the weight up past your waist from the floor. This may sound odd to some of you, but I have seen some trainees frightened by certain exercises. Usually, overhead lifting and sqatting open up the “fear factor” for some.

It is a feeling of loss of control as you sink low in a squat with a heavy weight. Again, that feeling of loss of control can strike some as the weight rises above the head. There are also other exercises that can be intimidating to new trainees.

While I am not at all sure that cleans can give this same feeling of “loss of control”, it could be a factor if his technique is sound.

a stab…hmmmm.
my clean was probably more like 70% of my DL, but that’s because i never dl’d when i was doing cleans.
when you clean make sure you “cover” the bar. that is keep your shoulders in front of the bar when you start. this is very different than a dl. if the goal is to improve your clean i would suggest doing dl’s using a clean motion; just slower obviously. make sure when you first lift the bar off the floor that your back stays at the same angle as when the bar is on the floor. and start slow. do not pull off the floor quick. save the explosion for later. that’s all i’d be willing to say without seeing you lift. and i’m not an expert anyway. good luck.


First off quit doing sets of 5. Sets of 1-3reps are best. Putting up a weight 5 times doesnt really tell us what your form is like on the 4th or 5th rep (or first rep for that matter). Also work on your speed. Do “light” sets with 50-65%(figure out what works best) and just focus on the explode. Speed. Speed. Speed.

Check out the clean/snatch/squat question in the powerlifting forum too. Ill try to find it for you.

I dont know how to post a link but the question is titled “I have a question regarding strength training, improving clean, bench, squat, and deadlift.”
posted by “verticaljump1”. Its only about 10 questions down. check it out for some good pointers on cleans and the like.

Why do you want to do cleans, anyway?

Im only asking because some people get so discouraged over not being able to do them. It seems like you are. Some people just suck at clean technique and practicing in bad form and killing yourself over it , only makes things worse.

Good luck,
ryan b.

I’d say technique with such little info. Do you ever do speed DLs?

there normally isn’t much of a relationship betwen squats/deads and olys, since they operate of different parts of the force/velocity curve.
but you should be able to at least do 135lbs.

Clintpatty - no, I never do speed DLS.

Ryan - I want to clean because it’s badass. I want to be explosive, damnit!

Maybe I’m afraid, but I don’t think so. I mean, I’m weak all over, but I military press 115x5… so cleaning 105 shouldn’t frighten me. I don’t mind weights above my head, and when I clean, the weight isn’t even above my head!

I’ll go check that post for technique, and read CTs black book some more (I own it).

Sometimes when your CNS is battered, you maybe still be able to do slow things like squats and deads OK, but speed strength activities liie sprints, jumping and olys will suffer.

something to think about if your olys are not progressing


I’ll give you that; cleans are bad-ass. Thats a good attitude so dont let all of that “im so weak” crap bring you down. Approach the bar with confidence and dont get caught up in the numbers of your old Pr’s (cause they probably are only a fraction of what you are capable of).
Cleans are really a lift you have to OWN. You dont ever want to fail and you dont want to do them in a fatigued state. Im not saying dont go heavy. Im saying , destroy every rep you do, heavy or light. Quit on 1 rep if you could have done 3. quit with 2 if you could have done 5. Get the picture? You dont need to go for a 1rm every time either. I do believe in giving it your all everytime. Balls to the wall on every rep! Really work your speed/explode! 80% work should feel like 50% work, youre just going to be doing fewer sets/reps with the 80%. Also, dont kill yourself with too much volume. Check out some of the advice on the other thread and in the literature you have on hand. Im sure they all agree that FREQUENCY is a must. So, if you wear yourself out on day 1 , your form/power are going to suffer on subsequent training days.

If youre really into doing cleans, i might suggest you get some video of yourself. just seeing yourself can help alot.

good luck,
ryan b.


I’m far from a clean expert and you’ve heard from some of them here, anyway. Even so, here’s something you might want to consider. Cleans, like all Oly lifts are almost completely dependent on form. There just isn’t a way to use bad form and get a good lift. And one way to develop lousy form is to use too light a weight.

I’ve seen plenty of people doing warm up sets of cleans using so little weight that all they manage to accomplish is a reverse curl from the floor–no toe raise, no shrug, no explosion at all, just a little forearm flip. All that this does is reinforce bad form.

So I’ve had best results doing doubles and triples with relatively heavy weights–that is, approaching my max but not a lot less. My advice: stay away from lighter weights. If you’re lifting 105, do a couple sets at 85, a few more at 95 then try to improve your max. Start heavier in the lighter sets as you progress.

Thank you for all of the good suggestions. I’ll be utilizing a 8x3 template from now on, instead of 5x5 I think, and using heavier weights.

I’m doing cleans from the hang, if that makes a tremendous difference.

I also might try to do a set or two of cleans before ALL my workouts as a warm-up. Say, since my 5RM is 105 or so, with 85lbsish, only 2-3 reps. 1-2 sets. This might even help warm up all my core muscles, and make me better at form.

Would this make me run the risk of overtraining while hypocaloric? Or should I go for it, and hope my form gets better?

Muchas gracias