T Nation

Confused about

OK, forgive me for my ignorance, but I’ve always thought that a power clean was a clean from the floor. Then I read some article where I’m instructed to do a power clean “from hang.” Well, isn’t that a hang clean? If you’re not starting from the floor, why use the word power? So then what’s the difference? And what is the difference between a power snatch and a regular snatch???

Power movements indicate that you dip into a 1/4 squat instead of a full squat.

From the hang indicates that you are starting the motion from just above the knees.

Therefore a power snatch is a snatch that starts from the floor and requires only a small dip to catch the bar whereas a regular snatch starts from the floor and requires a full overhead squat to catch the bar.

You could make either of these movements a hang movement by starting the bar at the knees instead of the floor.

If my understanding is correct, the difference between a clean and a power clean is the finishing position. In a power clean, you finish in a fairly upright position; in a regular clean, you end in the bottom of a front squat.

well technically a clean isnt over until you’ve stood up

Actually, the clean is over once you stand up with the weight. Then you have to jerk it. That’s why it’s called the Clean & Jerk.

There should be three parts in every olympic lift name:

  1. Type of catch (squat, power, muscle, split)
  2. Type of movement (clean, snatch, jerk)
  3. Starting position (hang, blocks, floor)


    This gives the following variations:

Muscle snatch from the ground


Muscle snatch from the hang


Muscle snatch from the blocks


Power snatch from the ground


Power snatch from the hang


Power snatch from the blocks


Squat snatch from the ground


Squat snatch from the hang


Squat snatch from the blocks


Split snatch from the ground


Split snatch from the hang


Split snatch from the blocks

Clean movements

Muscle clean from the ground


Muscle clean from the hang


Muscle clean from the blocks


Power clean from the ground


Power clean from the hang


Power clean from the blocks


Squat clean from the ground


Squat clean from the hang


Squat clean from the blocks


Split clean from the ground


Split clean from the hang


Split clean from the blocks

Jerk movements

Muscle jerk from the front


Muscle jerk behind the neck


Power jerk from the front


Power jerk behind the neck


Squat jerk from the front


Squat jerk behind the neck


Split jerk from the front


Split jerk behind the neck


Here are some notes:


A. Muscle lift: A muscle lift as it pertains to the olympic lifts refers to a lift where the bar is lifted and received with no squat-under. In other words, the bar is pulled (snatch, clean) or pushed (jerk) right to the receiving position (shoulders for the clean, overhead for the snatch and jerk) and your legs are straight when you receive it.


B. Power lift: Not to be confused with the powerlifts. A “Power lift” in olympic lifting terminology refers to a lift in which the bar is received with minimal squat-under. As a rule of the thumb an olympic lift is considered as a power lift as long as you do not bend your knees more than 90? to receive the bar.


C. Squat lift: A squat lift refers to a lift in which the lifter has to squat down significantly to receive the bar. As a rule of the thumb, any lift in which there’s more than a 90? knee flexion is considered to be a squat lift.


D. Split lift: A split lift is analogous to the squat lift in regard to the height of reception. However instead of receiving the bar in a squat, you receive it in a split (one leg forward, one leg backwards). A split position looks like the bottom position of a lunge.

Christian, very informative post! Soon i plan on adding Oly lifts into my program for the first time ever, so that post was very interesting to me. Would you mind expanding on the differences in the types of lifts (squat, muscle, power, ect), i.e. how each differs in goals and what type of athlete would want to include what type in his program? thanks.

Benefits by general movement

  1. Snatch: The snatch requires a unique blend of power and balance. It is the olympic lift that allows for the lesser load, but the one which necessitate the greater power output and the greater acceleration.

The snatch is also the general movement where the control of a moving object in space is greater.

So we could say that the snatch is best to develop explosion and a very high rate of force development.

  1. Clean: The clean allows one to use more weight than in the snatch. This means that the force output has to be slightly greater. The clean requires a bit less explosion than the snatch though. It also necessitate less spatial control.

The main benefit of the clean is to practice overcomming an heavier load under explosive circumstances.

  1. Jerk: The jerk’s main benefit is the greater involvement of upper body power and the concentration of the lower body effort on the quads and the glutes (where the hamstrings and lower back are heavily involved in the snatch and clean). The fact that the jerk allows one to hold a great load overhead really helps to develop trunk stabilization under loading.

However the jerk doesn’t lead to has much lumbar and hamstring development than the clean or snatch (granted though that the lumbar muscles are developed statically).

Benefits by starting position

  1. From the ground:

a. Greater lower back strengthening than with lifts from the hang or from blocks.
b. Capacity to accelerate from a dynamic start (once the bar reach the height of the second pull the bar is already moving).


c. Requires greater coordination and timing.


d. Requires a better “feeling for the bar” which might help develop the capacity to interact with objects in space.


e. It’s a more complete movement (great ROM) which leads to a greater general stimulation.

  1. From the hang:


    High hang (tight and hips):

a. Easiest movement to learn because it requires less coordination. Much easier to master, thus it is not as long before you can reap full benefits.


b. The acceleration path is very short compared to movements from the ground which means that you must reach maximum velocity much faster thus you develop the capacity to showcase more power.


c. Do not develop as much coordination.

Low hang (knees and shins):

a. Very taxing on the lower back, it really has to work hard to maintain a proper arch during the whole movement.


b. Really develops the capacity to fight inertia because the resistance is pulling you down at the start (vs. no resistance at the start from the ground), and you are at the weakest biomechanical position at the start.


c. The starting position is analogous to many “athletic positions”. Thus you develop the capacity to exert strength and power from this position.


d. Maintain a proper back position can be hard, especially for peoples with a lack of flexibility.


e. Hard to get into the proper starting position.

  1. From blocks:


    The movements from the blocks pretty much have the same characteristics as lifts from the hang, mainly they are easy to learn and they really emphasize a quick acceleration.

In addition, lifts from blocks have characteristics or their own:

They do not have a “postural” component as important as lifts from the hang (as there is no resistance at the starting position).
You cannot use the stretch reflex as much as with lifts from the hang so maximum muscle power is all the more developed.


There is less stress on the back, thus it is a safer movement.

Benefits by receiving position

Muscle: A muscle lift requires the greater pulling/pushing distance as you cannot squat under the bar at all to receive it. This means that you will have to impart more momentum and acceleration to the bar to complete the lift. It also means that you will not be able to use as heavy a load as with other receiving positions.

Power: The power lifts are the most widely used variations of the olympic lifts. Like the muscle lifts they require a great acceleration because the pulling height must also be high. However you have some leeway because you can squat down a bit to receive the bar, which will allow you to use a bit more weight than with the muscle lifts.

Squat: The squat variations require a lot of active flexibility, body control, proprioception and timing. When properly learned they will allow you to use much more weight and get a very powerful training effect. However they are hard to learn and very technique-dependants, meaning that a slight technical mistake can lead to a missed lift.

Split: The split lifts are unfortunately rarely seen nowadays (except for the split jerk). However they do carry a much greater potential for athletic gains than the other types of lift. They require much more coordination and body motion than the other types of lifts. They also allow one more leeway to complete the lift. However, proper timing is hard to learn, many trainees have the tendency to split before they finish the pull.

BTW, sorry about the typos. It’s late and my typing skills are rapidly becoming close to nil :slight_smile:

i’d like to thank Christian Thibaudeau for all the time, effort and work he puts in. I’ve learned so much from his writtings. This post is just an example of the quality of knowledge and dedication this man has. laters pk

I agree; great post! Thanks, Christian.

WOW Christian,
Thanks for the great information!
I had never even heard the term muscle lift until today. The funny thing is I have been doing them for some time now. Thanks again!

I’m printing this thread out…very kewl. T’anks CT!

Thanks a lot for your time, Christian! Very helpful and informative!

I’m printing it too. Christian, thanks so much for taking time out to help me out w/ this info, it’ll go a very long way in helping me design my “oly lift newbie” program. I deeply appreciate it!

bump, thanks to Chris T. for a cogent explanation.

Well, the term muscle lift is rarely used. Most coaches will lump muscle lifts in with power lifts. This, in my opinion is a mistake because they are different types of movements.

Thanks everybody for your good words. In all fairness, I wrote some of the info I posted a while ago and simply cut & pasted it from my word processor :wink:

Hey Christian, you do realize you have put more useful info out for novice lifters in one post than the whole damn go heavy forum has all year don’t you? Good job.

Nothing against the Go Heavy forum (specific olympic lifting forum)… but these days they seem to be more interested in petty disputes and applauding themselves rather than helping peoples out.