Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Hang Training for the Clean - Charles Coster (1960)

Note: The Split Clean, although not as popular as it once was, can still be a worthwhile addition to your training. It requires flexibility, speed, and strength to master. Hang training is of course applicable to both split and squat style cleaning. Well, yeah. Coster was certainly a proponent of "power-based" training for the lifts, and his articles center most often on the power assistance versions, along with overall body strength and speed being developed. 

The most specialized training must be given the Clean and Jerk because it is the heaviest, most complicated lift of all. It is comprised of two distinct parts and takes place last in competition, when the lifter's strength and energy have nearly passed their peak. Therefore, all the little details of style, speed and timing become very important when the Clean and Jerk is attempted. It is these oft-forgotten details of training that we shall try to help you with in this article, for if you slip up on just one of them when handling a very heavy weight, the result is failure. 

There are four factors that must be noted and corrected in the performance of the Clean and Jerk, and all four are concerned with the initial phase of the lift -- The Clean. They are: 

1) Inability of the legs to go into the split with sufficient speed because of the lack of style-and-position training.

2) Hips and knees that haven't a free range of movement so that when you try to go into a low leg split with a very heavy weight your torso doesn't lower fast enough. This can cause the "lock-in" action of arms and elbows to be too low as the bar reaches the shoulders. Consequently it bounces off and falls to the floor because the faulty action of legs and hips makes a fast arm correction impossible.

3) When a heavy weight is being cleaned the bar must land either just in front or behind the sternum bone. But in either case --to successfully hold a heavy weight at the chest -- your elbows must flash underneath the bar (and to the front) so that the weight becomes tightly locked to your shoulders as you make the leg-recovery movement, and prepare for the overhead jerk.

4) Complete coordination of your knees, thighs, hips, torso, arms and shoulder muscles can be brought about only as a result of patient, determined training, and when you've finished all normal routine training cleans the "hang" style technique which we shall describe will put the finishing touch to all the work you've previously done.

Here's how you go about training out such difficulties. 

After making your heaviest regular cleans, lower the weight by about 30 pounds. Then lift it up until you are in the upright position. Now lower the bar to knee height and try cleaning it from there. Make 2 reps if you can without placing the weight on the floor. 

When you do this you'll find that you have to concentrate on the arm pull and the elbow whip and that your cleans will become much faster and more coordinated out of necessity, and the bar will "settle in" at the shoulders more solidly and perfectly than before.

Now, decrease the weight on the bar by another 20-30 pounds for another variation of "hang" style cleaning. This time you'll lower the bar to about 8 or 9 inches above your knees and make your hang cleans from there. Here you haven't got so much pull velocity this time, and that means that you knee, hip, shoulder and elbow action must be more perfect than ever before as you try to make 3 or 4 reps from this position.

Another thing you will notice in the performance of this variation of the hang clean is the great amount of mental concentration that you must use to make each repetition successful when doing 3's and 4's. 

Possibly when you lifted from the floor the bar used to often bang against your chest several inches below the sternum; now it almost touches your throat as you give every rep all the speed, timing and energy you've got to get the get the bar up from the hang position.

The ultimate in hang training methods is the Dead Hang style of Cleaning. This means that you lessen the weight on the bar to a poundage you can start within reasonable comfort. Then you lift the bar from the platform until you are standing completely upright with the bar hanging lightly against your upper thighs.

Because your body is already upright, all pulling action must come from your arms and back coupled with lightning speed leg action as you try every means in your power to rip the weight upward and get it firmly locked against the upper chest. Sound like fun? If not, move on.

DON'T GIVE IN TO THE TEMPTATION TO DIP WHEN YOU MAKE REP CLEANS THIS WAY. The term Dead Hang in this instance means just that . . . DEAD HANG. You train yourself to pull up from an absolute dead hang start, and no cheating. 

 El Sayed Nosseir, Khadr El Touni, Ibrahim Shams, El Fayad, El Mahgoub.
Clean like an Egyptian, eh. 

There's something new about this system of training. It's something we borrowed from the Egyptian lifters long ago. Their training methods are quite remarkable, although not mysterious in any way. They merely concentrated on terrific speed plus the mastery of these small but important details just discussed . . . details that other lifting nations neglected. 

American and Russian lifters know that the Power-Pull is tremendously important -- they lead the world in this aspect of the lift. But the Egyptians realized that no matter how powerful the upward pull, the whole effort would be useless unless the lifter could guarantee to hold the weight securely at the shoulders while in the difficult deep leg position. 

Very few Egyptian lifters ever lost control of a Clean after the bar had arrived at the shoulders because the lifter's arms would flash under the bar and fix it there with the speed of light. Close to it, anyhow. 

They used the same techniques just described here to accomplish this. To them the great danger point in a clean was in the changing over from a PULL-UP MOVEMENT to a SUPPORTING POSITION with the lifter's legs in the low position. They have as amusing but quite logical philosophy which helped them in overcoming this difficulty in the lift. 

Since most make the common error of going all out at every workout, the Egyptians tried another plan. They reasoned, the clean is the heaviest lift and our Egyptian climate is the hottest in the world (average summer high temperatures exceed 40/104), so let's work on the Clean first, while we are strong and energetic. The Snatch will feel relatively light after handling the much heavier Clean weights, and this is another advantage. By the time we have finished making all the Clean work, the muscles of the arms and shoulders will already have had a considerable amount of exercise and this will be sufficient to stop the pressing muscles from deteriorating until we get ready to work on that lift. 

With this thought in mind Egyptian lifters would warm up with light Cleans, and gradually go up heavier and heavier until they were near limit. After making one or two heavy cleans, however, their training schedule for the Clean is not finished by any means!

They stop to examine any little fault details that may have occurred and immediately start to correct them, lowering the weight on the bar by 15-20 pounds. Never finish your training session with a heavy weight! This is a maxim they follow faithfully.

Heavy cleans often force the lifter into a faulty position, and faulty technical positions can be made perfect by using lighter poundages in the various hang positions.

A heavy Clean may force you into a lop-sided position (split). It may cause you to lean backward (split and squat). It may force you to lean forward (both styles). It may cause the bar to hit the chest too low (split, squat, camel, frog, who makes up these names!). Your elbows may not whip up underneath the bar with sufficient speed and accuracy. Any number of technical errors can occur when cleaning very heavy weights.

The important thing to do is to arrange your training sessions so that you cure these weaknesses, and various Hang Cleans are one of the many excellent methods used to do just that.      


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