T Nation

My Trouble with Full Cleans


Hey guys, I'm a competitive lifter for my high school, and I'm in need of some assistance my coach is slow to offer.

I have a bench max 325 to take me to state, but my clean and jerk kills me at only a weak 205. Partially because I haven't done the lift enough ( I didn't start learning it as early as I should have)and my technique isn't great either. See I've been taught to power clean, but most people I come across who can really throw up some weight are doing full cleans ( catching the bar as they go into a squat ) I'm in a 183 class and most the kids are throwing up around 225-235

I have a friend who also does full cleans at a stature of only 175 lbs and cleans a straight 285.

Is either lift better for your body or easier than the other?
From my perspective, the full cleans are the most productive and I would love to learn the technique. I just can't seem to trust myself with catching it in a squat. And even with a regular power clean I struggle on the catch and getting my hips under it. It's not that I don't have the leg strength. I Dead Lift a solid 465 and squat 415 parallel.
Right now, my routine consist of shrug/clean pulls, front squats, high pulls, split jerks, hang and power cleans for the most part but I'm obviously doing something wrong when it comes to cleans.

Can any one advise me on on which lift to perfect ; and provide me with some good instructional pointers and workouts? I'm sick of youtube crap and would love some instruction It would be greatly appreciated.

  • Chase


I'm slightly confused, as you say you are a competitive lifter but mention the bench press. Olympic lifting doesn't include the bench press, its just the snatch and clean&jerk.

Either way, I would say from my own experience that the best way to get better at something is to do it a lot. If you are having trouble getting under the bar, then practice getting under the bar until you don't have problems trusting yourself to get under it.

I would work on the squat clean if you want to get better at cleaning max weight. Also, work on squatting past parallel. It will carry over better to the clean recovery.

Also, is the jerk is trouble, try benching less and overhead pressing more, as well as practicing jerks more.

Besides that, your lifts are pretty high for someone in high school, so keep up the good work!


Ah, my apologies let me clear up the confusion. For high school competition, the only two lifts we do is flat bench press, and clean and jerk. what are squat cleans? Is that just when you catch the bar basically in a front squat position? That's what I was referring to in my original post. The technique for it seems difficult but yet the stronger O lifters take to it well.

Can I practice cleans every day of the week if I wanted to? I'm a 4 day split so I'm trying to program in a way that I can make power cleaning my main priority every workout



Yes but you need to make sure the rest of your routine is in order. Where do you live? Have you looked to see if there are any olympic lifting coaches in your area?

You can clean first and do other stuff afterwards but just remember that training for competition and training just to train are different things so you would have to change your exercise selection, sets, reps, etc. based on whats important to you.


Those are pretty good numbers for a young buck man. I had the same problem when I was trying to full clean. Some things I did to help myself was: More front squatting. I would set a weight I couldn't even come close to front squatting or cleaning on the spot bars in the squat rack. Set those spot bars nice and low too.

I got underneath it in the front squat position and pushed like mad for 10 to 20 seconds. When it came time to do the actual clean I visualized pulling myself underneath the bar. This video shows what I mean. Good luck, seemed to work for me. At any rate your numbers are nothing to be ashamed of man...keep it up.


gG on youtube and search power clean 325 and 335 there should be a dude in dark shorts and a gray shirt. That is an example of what I was thinking when doing a full clean....



I assume you live in Florida or California because you do the Bench Press/Clean and Jerk contest. I would suggest you look up a good olympic lifting coach nearby to help you with your clean. Also, check the Pendlay site for teaching videos. And you might check a couple of youtube vids. I just put up. One is called Rock and Roll-Don McCauley and one is Dirty Dancing-Don McCauley. They are drills for the middle of the lift that might be helpful.

And, as many high school athletes are being taught "high pulls" and "parallel back squats", you have to understand that those lifts hurt your chances of easily learning the clean.



I do live in Florida. Unfortunately it's a small town. I'm in citrus county near the Ocala area if you're familiar with it - and there aren't too many people or coaches so to speak who specialize in things like that. A rival high school just recently hired a new strength and conditioning coach by the name of Robert McAdams and man they lucked out. I guess the guy was one of the top 100 O lifters in America at one point and time and his kids are testimony to his experience recently at a meet that I lifted in. The man is absolutely huge also - a frame like a tank. I'd love to contact him and see what he has to offer but I'm not sure about the ethics involved in that unless he's a certified personal trainer or something.

Also, how can the squats and high pulls hurt me in progressing with cleans?
I'm going to take a look at those videos and the site - I appreciate your direction!



Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner.

Hope the videos help. And, Glenn's site has a lot of solid information on it.

If you're doing high bar squat and going properly below parallel, it shouldn't hurt.

High pulls, however, are another story. They are useless in increasing your ability at the olympic lifts. They teach you to stall, pull up with your arms and shrug up at the top, and none of those things happens in an actual olympic lift. These pulls are still pretty imbeded in most football strength programs but they should have been gone a long time ago.