Is the bar winning the lift ? – more often than not, when learning to lift, athletes move more than the bar during the initial part of the lift! Observationally you tend to see the hips rise up more quickly than the loaded bar, causing the spine to drop towards a horizontal position. Remember that the body bar system moves as one with the angle of the spine staying the same throughout the first part of the pull. Failure to achieve this destroys the rest of the lift and leaves your athlete pulling out a move strippers would be proud of (see pic)!
The super hero complex!……Enthusiastic athletes ripping the weight off the floor as fast as possible at the onset of the first pull. Athletes can be in a hurry to get the weight moving. Unfortunately, too often this is coupled with a loss of first pull position which results in less effective second pull mechanics and for most athletes the training related adaptations that we are using the clean for! Use the first part of the pull to get the weight moving coupled with optimal body loading. This is not to say it has to be slow, controlled is perhaps a better word… If you haven’t got a cape, don’t rip the weight!
Failing to keep the body over the bar and or moving into transition too early?….. “Chest over bar, chest over bar, chest over bar”… just incase you didn’t get that…. “chest over bar”!
Second part of the pull
Bouncing the bar off the thighs in a horizontal direction – Looking from the side, the clean starts to resemble a kettle bell swing! Remember the goal is vertical force production not horizontal, we want the bar moving north, anything else is wasted force, less bar height and potentially lower loads. This bouncing effect usually results from poor timed hip and knee extension. Back track into first part of the pull and ensure the athlete is staying over the bar (“chest over bar”)right up to transition. From an observational perspective, the bar should stay close to the body throughout. Try to keep the bar within the foot length of the body. To encourage vertical force production, try working your athlete from blocks or hang position, with a focus on jumping upward. Observe full hip extension!
Observing your athletes jumping too early? – In the picture you will see that the calf has already gone into plantar flexion whilst the hip is still very much in flexion. From an adaptation perspective we are losing the high force, high speed effects on the hips which would be the main training related reason for doing the clean in the first place. Look at set up and first pull mechanics. Work from blocks to encourage hip strength speed applications.
Stay tuned for part 3!