Learn How To Do A Clean And Jerk
Want to take your lifting to the next level and give Olympic Weightlifting a try? We’ve got your back with our ‘How To Start Olympic Weightlifting’ series.
We’ve teamed up with Andrew Tully, Olympic Weightlifting Coach and Personal Trainer, to help you master the technique in the two main lifts, the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk. In this blog, we look at how to do the Clean and Jerk, and we’ve covered how to do the Snatch lift here.
Learn how to Clean and Jerk
In this blog, we cover:
The different movement phases in the Clean and Jerk
Accessory lifts that will help you master the Clean and Jerk
In the video below, Andrew breaks down the Clean and Jerk to highlight the key movement phases involved in the lift, and gives practical tips and guidance on mastering the form and technique.
If you’ve never tried Olympic Weightlifting before we recommend starting with a lighter barbell or a broom handle to nail down your form and technique first before adding weight. It’s always important to prioritise safety, especially when getting to grips with more complex exercises.
How to do the Clean and Jerk lift:
We’ve broken down the Clean and Jerk into separate stages to make it easier to understand the lift. Looking at it as two separate, respective lifts (the Clean, and the Jerk) can help to improve your overall lift.
First, let’s look at the clean. Approach the bar as if you were doing a deadlift. Grab the bar in a narrow grip position and try to keep your shoulders parallel (in line) or just over the bar.
Keep your back flat at a 90-degree angle and sit into the squat as low as you can, then deadlift the bar up to your knees into the ‘second pull’ keeping the bar nice and close to the body. The second pull is when the bar comes above the knees, to the final extension just below the hips before the explosive pull underneath the bar.
Explode with your legs, drive the hips forward and catch the bar in a front squat position. This is the third pull. The bar should be sitting on your shoulders with nice high elbows.
Moving onto the jerk portion of the lift, from your front racked position, dip with your legs and drive the bar above your head – keeping your core tight and braced for stability. One leg goes forward at a bend with a flat foot while your other leg goes backwards with a slight bend and only the ball of your foot on the floor.
Finish up by returning your feet to the recovery position by stepping your front leg back and your back leg forward. Then bring the bar safely down to the shoulders, rotate the arms and place the bar down to the floor in a controlled manner.
Accessory lifts are exercises which help to build up to the Clean and Jerk by building strength and power in the muscles and movements involved in the lift.
When learning movement patterns, it’s more important to prioritise form over weight, so stick with a weight that you can safely lift and allows you to have good form. Once you've nailed the technique, you can increase the weight.
Front squat builds leg strength and helps you to get a feel for the position you will be in for the clean part of the lift. It also allows you to get used to the hand positioning of the bar for the third pull of the clean lift.
Here are some handy teaching points to help nail your front squat:
- The positioning of the bar is a key part of the front squat. You want to make sure the bar is on your shoulders, with your elbows nice and high and the bar sat just in your fingers.
- Keep your chest up and shoulders back to avoid the weight becoming front heavy.
The power clean helps you to practice the lift without having to drop into the squat position. This allows you to check your technique on the different pulls in the lift. In addition to this, it also targets key muscle groups used in the main lift, such as your legs, glutes, and core muscles.
Here are some handy teaching points to help nail your power clean:
- Opt for a narrow grip position and try to keep your shoulders parallel (in line) or just over the bar when starting the lift.
- Deadlift the bar up to your knees into the ‘second pull’ and keep the bar nice and close to your body throughout.
- Explode with your legs, drive the hips forward and catch the bar in a front squat position. Make sure the bar sits on your shoulders with nice high elbows.
If you’re trying to master the clean and jerk, the power jerk is a great lift to start with. It focuses on the jerk portion of the lift and helps to build strength and stamina while removing some of the balance and coordination elements of the jerk.
Here are some handy teaching points to help nail your power jerk:
- In your clean position, you want to make sure the bar is on your shoulders, with your elbows nice and high and the bar sat just in your fingers.
- From here, instead of splitting your feet like in the jerk portion of the lift you’re going to keep your feet slightly wider than hip-width and dip and drive the bar up above your head.
- Make sure your arms are fully locked out before going into the recovery phase, moving your feet into the original position, and lowering the bar down to the shoulders.
Serious about Olympic Weightlifting? Make sure to check out Andrew’s coaching tips for the Snatch lift here.
Don’t forget to check out our YouTube channel for even more form tips and workout videos to help support you on your fitness journey. We also regularly share workouts and exercises here if you need more inspiration!