T Nation

How to O-Lift Correctly?


I am an athlete, have been lifting for a few years, and consider my self to be in good shape. However, I am new to Olympic lifting (which I want to learn because of its benefits for athletics) and have a few questions for any O-Lifters out there.

I am familiar with the power clean and power snatch and have been practicing that for a month or so now but the full clean & jerk is a whole new animal to me. I know jumping off the ground and performing a "power stomp" is OK for the power clean and power snatch, but I am concerned that leaving the ground and landing in a full clean position might be detremental for my knees, and I am afraid to attempt the exercise without knowing this info.

I have a few questions for any O-Lifters:
1) Is it standard practice for an olympic lifter to leave the ground and land in a full squat for the clean or snatch, or will it destroy the knees?

2) Is it better to power clean and power snatch from the floor or in the hang position?

3) If I am doing these exercises for athletic ability (speed, vertical jump, overall power) not for competition, do I even need to practice the full variations of the lifts, or will the power versions (just 1/4 to 1/2 squat, not full squat) do the trick?

4) And finally does anybody have a good O-Lifting program/training template to follow including supplemental lifts, recovery periods, warm ups, and diet?

I know I am asking a lot of questions, but is only because I am very curious and want to start practicing these great lifts as soon as possible. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thank You.


I've been waiting for the T-authors here to release an article for ages on this subject. Alot of people include Oly lifts into their weight training, but very few people actually have an effective "Olympic weightlifting Routine". I've seen a few but none that tickle my fancy. Let's ask CT for a basic template the next time he's in the locker room.


CT's "Black Book of Training Secrets" has a very detailed oly weightlifting section (something like... 70 pages if I recall correctly). I wold be glad to post a sample template off the top of my head though if you don't want to purchase that.


If you could I would really appreciate it. Also, where would I be able to find this book?


check out the Olympic-style W/L Beg./Int. Manual & DVD Set at Ironmind.


I have the book. It has an introduction into O lifting, not an actual "Once you already know how to O lift" program.


Any suggestions to add then?


It is standard practice for the feet to leave the ground ever so slightly, we're talkin' a hair's width.

Depends on your goals - both are very powerful movements though.

Power versions will often work better in a well-designed athletic training program.

That's a big animal. You won't want a strictly Oly program for athletics though, but rather mixed in with a myriad of other things. The other suggestions are good, as is Artie Dreschler's Weightlifting Encyclopedia.

Hey, you learn by asking questions :slight_smile:

What sport do you play?



Remember OLers don't just follow a routine, they practice. Before doing full cleans, I would do power cleans and hang cleans that aren't too heavy and after catching them, practice riding them down into a full squat clean. As you get better at this you will feel more comfortable catching the weight at lower and lower positions. Do you front squat Ass to grass?


I?m not totaly sure about this but I read somewhere that if you dont do the full motion of a squat then it causes more demage to the knee then a full squat. Can anyone confirm this ?


You can buy it on this site.


I have also heard this and through experience have noticed the same thing. I used to use a moderately wide stance and squat to parallel and get knee aches later on...but after working up to ATG squats with the same stance, I don't have any problems.

However, catching the bar from a power clean in a 1/4 stance isn't the same as doing a squat to the same depth. For one thing, after you catch a power clean, you don't have to grind it out to stand up straight. The bar will kind of pop up.


agreed =)


So if I'm performing power cleans and I'm coming off the ground (what feels like)more than a couple of inches, is that bad?


Nope. I'm completely in the dark about hardcore Oly lifting programs/templates. I'd love to try one though. I've posted questions on CW and CT's locker rooms, still waiting on a response. I would ask the other coaches but I don't want to sound impatiant.

For now though, having a full day devoted to each competition lift is what comes to mind, kinda like westside... kinda. You could throw in assistance and supplemental exercises that help out the oly lift of that day, and so on. I'd much rather here CT or CW's response though.


not really. After more practice, you won't jump as high because you transit more force to the bar, rather than getting yourself to jump.

Imagine if you were holding a medicine ball in two hands in front of your body and you wanted to throw it over your back. You probably wouldn't actually jump very high off the floor, but you would transit that force to getting the medicine ball to get thrown behind you right? Same with lifting, you won't actually get off the floor very much.
And also, as the weight gets heavier, you will come off the floor less.


In order to utilize full hip extension power, you should be jumping as hard as possible. But once the weights get higher, you won't jump as high.


Thank You for all the advice, it is paying dividends. I can now powerclean and jerk my own body weight of 185 lbs for multiple reps. Although I am having a problem with the lowering phase (letting the bar down after I have completed the jerk) . My problem isn't the movement of the clean and jerk, it is lowering the weight back down safely so I can do the next rep (I don't have bumper plates, or an area where I can drop the weight).

The problem is most people don't focus on that part of the lift, only the bar on the way up, I feel I'm more prone to injury letting the bar back down. I have a tendency to drop the weight down in stages, but it is not very controlled when I do it and I fear I might end up hurting myself.

So when lowering, are you supposed to completely lower the weight to the ground, stop and then start again, or are you supposed to keep the motion fluid like squats (tap the ground and go again)? Does anybody have any tips on how to correctly prepare for the next rep. Thanks.


After a jerk, if the weights aren't too heavy, I just control the lowering of the bar to about half way down and then let it fall onto my clavicles while at the same time letting my knees give a bit to absorb the landing. What I have realized this week is that if I do jerks from the rack first, the weights will be too much for me to lower with control. So, I am gonna have to drop the weights, take plates off, power clean the weight up, and replace the weights. If you don't have bumper plates, I wouldn't max out on the jerks, just do a set where you power clean (or clean) a weight and then do 3 jerks.

When lowering the weight to the ground (if you have no bumpers) I do it in stages too. First like above to get it to the shoulders, then let it fall off my shoulders and at the same time quickly 'unrack' the shoulders. As the weight is falling, bent your knees a bit so the bar bumps on your upper thighs. This slows it down a bit. then you can either drop it from there or do the negative of a deadlift.


If you are doing a set of C&J followed by another C&J, I wouldn't rush it. Take a breath and carefully set yourself up for the next rep. Don't rush your foot positioning, grip, etc.