T Nation

Olympic Lifting Frustrations

  1. My clean has stalled for a while. My C&J hasn’t moved up from 105kg max for a while, and the sticking point is the clean. I can hardly power clean 2 reps of 80kg, oftentimes even catching it off my shoulders, and it hasn’t improved in forever, either. My jerk is fine, fresh I can do 2 reps of 110 kg off the rack, so the clean is going to be lagging for at least a little while. Any tips?

  2. Probably related but I can’t seem to do heavy front squats. 5 reps are fine, but as soon as I go to 3 or less, my knees have a tendency to wobble on the way up and I can’t manage to stay upright.

How often are you squatting?

Videos would help for suggestions on technique, but the best bet is to find a coach to work with regularly. There are tons in California depending on where you are.

once a week front squat, once a week back squat. 4-6 sets of 2-5

Don’t have $$ for a coach. there’s a couple lifters at my gym, though, and they haven’t mentioned anything about my clean form that’s off

Just gonna throw this out as a possibility, but maybe you need to spend more time front squatting. Perhaps front squatting 2-3 times per week, and take some time off from back squatting.

I know that Dan John wrote that pause front squats were a panacea for his problems in recovering from the clean, so maybe at least one of your front squat sessions should be spent doing that.

From what it sounds like, your strength and/or stability in the front squat is the limiting factor for your clean right now.

[quote]TheBlade wrote:
once a week front squat, once a week back squat. 4-6 sets of 2-5

Don’t have $$ for a coach. there’s a couple lifters at my gym, though, and they haven’t mentioned anything about my clean form that’s off[/quote]

In my experience, most coaches are free, so if you ask ahead of time you’ll be golden. I would rely on a good coach’s eye before fellow lifters. Where in CA are you located?

for starters you can give a call/email to any of these.

If they are far ask the coach if he/she knows of any other non-registered clubs in/around ur area. 9-10 there are 3 others.

http://assets.teamusa.org/assets/documents/attached_file/filename/9750/Current_clubs_3-19-2009_new.xls

Bottom up front squats. Set the pins at your sticking point, and do those for 1-3 repsx3-5 sets.

And really, focus on squatting quick out of the bottom(using the natural reflex). I would do this entirely with front squats for now(use the back squat occasionally) until your front squat strength comes up. .

More front squats (I’d front squat every session for now, drop the backs), less jerks. Work the weakness. If leg strength is your limiting factor then try squatting first and last. Wouldn’t hurt to get some video either.

http://www.mikesgym.org

If you’re in the San Diego area check out Mike’s Gym (garage). The only catch is that you have to do the WOD and don’t miss a snatch or you have to flip the tire UP the driveway.

TNT

Mike Burgener is a great coach.

Try some clean grip barbell front positioned lunges. These will help with your stability. Its a great exercise which is rarely utilised.

[quote]BIGBOSSTRON wrote:
Try some clean grip barbell front positioned lunges. These will help with your stability. Its a great exercise which is rarely utilised. [/quote]

Interesting…

Thanx.

TNT

I’m a little confused about what you mean by powerclean… when you say you can hardly powerclean 80 for a double, does that mean you can barely catch 80 on your shoulders twice above parallel, or clean it at all twice. (I want to make sure we are running the same definitions of powerclean and clean. Some people use the terms interchangeably.)

If you can barely powerclean 80 for a double, I don’t think its front squats you need; I think its back squats. You sound like you are lacking overall strength, and the back squat would help you put that on faster. What’s your pull strength like? Is your upper back strong enough to stay retracted throughout the lifts?

If its that you cant clean 80kgs twice, how are you missing your clean? Are you failing to stand? Are you not getting the bar high enough? Not getting underneath it? Is it forward?

I’d also be curious to hear what your snatch is.

When you train for cleans, what type of squat do you catch the weight in? quarter squat, half, or full ATG? Also, I wouldn’t mind you putting a simple example of your split on here as well, just to look at it along with your exercise selection. Even upper body. I have been through many frustrations when it comes to oly lifts.

[quote]Dr. Manhattan wrote:
I’m a little confused about what you mean by powerclean… when you say you can hardly powerclean 80 for a double, does that mean you can barely catch 80 on your shoulders twice above parallel, or clean it at all twice. (I want to make sure we are running the same definitions of powerclean and clean. Some people use the terms interchangeably.)

If you can barely powerclean 80 for a double, I don’t think its front squats you need; I think its back squats. You sound like you are lacking overall strength, and the back squat would help you put that on faster. What’s your pull strength like? Is your upper back strong enough to stay retracted throughout the lifts?

If its that you cant clean 80kgs twice, how are you missing your clean? Are you failing to stand? Are you not getting the bar high enough? Not getting underneath it? Is it forward?

I’d also be curious to hear what your snatch is.[/quote]

Agreed… if you have a 80kg power clean and a 105 clean, then your technique sounds fine for now, (for a guy with a 105 clean) but your strength sounds, well, weak…

where is your pull weak, off the floor above the knees, your pull under sounds fine, as your clean is way ahead of your pc. (and before I get a huge internet lecture from people who read lots and Ol little, his PC sounds like it is around 80.9% so that would indicate technique is passable for now…)

clean pulls, clean pulls and more clean pulls, and some snatch grip deads.

A lot of great feedback here! Sweet.

Let me give some background context. I’m 200lbs 5’8. I actually do all three of the iron game of oly lifting, powerlifting, and bodybuilding, and currently change from one to another every 2-3 months.
If it’s relevant my current powerlifting maxes are 485 deadlift, 355 box squat, and 295 bench.

My snatch 1RM is 77.5kg. I did 5 sets of 1 of these today, with two misses.

My split is:
DAY 1:
Snatch
Snatch assistance work (overhead squats, drop snatch, or snatch press, whatever I feel like my weakness is)
TBar Rows
Snatch-grip Deadlift
Incline Bench
Abs

Day 2:
Clean and Jerk
Bench Press. Sometimes superset with box jumps
Front Squat
Weighted Pullups
Dips

Day 3:
Snatch
Snatch assistance work (overhead squats, drop snatch, or snatch press, whatever I feel like my weakness is)
Side-arm Pullup
Romanian Deadlift
Decline CGBP
Barbell Curls

Day 4:
Power Cleans
Rack Jerks
Rows
Back Squat
Military Press
Abs

I generally do 4 sets of 1-3 reps of the oly lifts, and 3-5 sets of 2-5 of everything else. I set up an undulating periodization scheme but won’t bore you with the details.

Some of the lifts may not be related to oly lifts, but I don’t want to lose strength/mass in those areas. Also, if it’s relevant, I’m currently cutting.

Specific things:
Checkmate,
So perhaps replace the back squat with the front squat above? By pause front squats, are those where you pause at the bottom for a few seconds?

dfreezy,
I’m in San Diego. There’s a coach at my gym too who has seen my form, also in general saying the form is fine. (he recommended box jumps for my clean, btw)

I’ll look around for free coaches, though. I’m very skeptical that they’re free…I mean how do they stay as coaches?

gainera,
My sticking point is coming out of the hole. I don’t understand where I’d set the pins?

One thing I used to do was 1 and a half squats, where I do the bottom part (just above parallel to ass to calves) twice in the regular squat. Maybe go back to that?

ninearms,
I’ll take a look

Bigbosstron,
That’s a cool idea. Where would you suggest I throw that in the split. And in lieu of what?

Dr. Manhattan,
By power clean I mean a quarter squat, trying to catch it on my shoulders. Often I catch it just in front of my shoulders, or I have to dip lower to close to a full squat to catch it.

I’d say not getting th ebar high enough, not getting under, and it being too forward are all issues. My snatch is 77.5kg. I can deadlift 485 (1RM), and my upper back is decent (can row 225 for 4 reps)

Your back squat is low. If you can only box squat 355, you won’t be doing that on a true Olympic squat. In theory, with good form you should be able to clean 80% of your back squat. With a 355lb box squat, I imagine you can squat about 135k-140kg for a full squat. Your 105kg clean is actually close to being in place with that.

You need to back squat. A lot. You could be more efficient on your pull, I am sure, but I’d like to see you back squat 160 for a full olympic squat. People are going to come on and say “Your deadlift is way ahead of your squat, you need more quad specific work like fronts” and I’ll say phooey to them. You aren’t going to outclean your mediocre backsquat. I think you should back squat heavy twice a week, and front squat heavy on another day.

[quote]TheBlade wrote:
dfreezy,
I’m in San Diego. There’s a coach at my gym too who has seen my form, also in general saying the form is fine. (he recommended box jumps for my clean, btw)

I’ll look around for free coaches, though. I’m very skeptical that they’re free…I mean how do they stay as coaches?

[/quote]

Coaching is a continual process, not just a one time thing. Since technique won’t be the same for every rep every set or every day, its always good to have a coaches eye watching as much as possible. I know there are USAW coaches at UCSD and Mike Burgener coaches out of his gym a couple hours away form you. You have to check first, but most coaches I’ve seen are strength coaches or have other full time jobs and do olympic coaching for their love of the sport. A lot of coaches don’t mind doing it free since its helping promote the sport. I’m really grateful the amount of hours my coaches have spent helping me with no financial compensation for their time.

Yesterday was planning to do 4 sets of 1 of 105 C&J but could only do 2 sets, on the second, I think I rounded my back or something because my back just said no after that set. I had a similar problem with doing back squats a week ago, too. Not really sure what’s up. I had an issue with my QL that seems to be clearing up, but now I’m having these problems with heavy squats with my lower back.