Article Courtesy of Liam Tweed
- The Egyptian lifters have conquered the world in the Two Hands Clean because they mastered the art of Dead Hang lifting. In this article the author explains just how they achieved such spectacular results and how you can apply such methods to your own training.
The most specialized training must be given the Clean and Jerk because it is the heaviest and most difficult lift of all. It is comprised of two distinct parts and takes place last, 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!
Click to ENLARGE
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 to go into the split (or squat) 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 (or squat) with a very heavy weight your torso doesn't lower fast enough. This can cause the "lock in" action of the 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 action 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 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.
Now, here's how you go about ironing out such difficulties:
After making your heaviest REGULAR cleans, LESSEN 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 over time your cleans will become much faster and more coordinated, and the bar "settles in" at the shoulders more perfectly than before.
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 upper back, plus a lightning fast leg split or squat as you try by every means in your power to rip the weight upward and get it firmly locked against the upper chest.
DON'T give in to the temptation to "dip" when you make Cleans this way. The term "Dead Hang" means just that . . . DEAD HANG. You train yourself to pull up from an absolute dead hang start . . . and NO CHEATING!
Now, there's nothing very new about this system of training. It's something we borrowed from the Egyptians 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 often 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 split or squat 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.
They used the same techniques just described here to accomplish this. To them the great danger point was in the changing over from a PULL-UP MOVEMENT to a SUPPORTING POSITION with the lifter's legs spread fore-and-aft or in a deep squat position. They have an amusing but quite logical philosophy which helped them in overcoming this difficulty in the lift.
Since most lifters 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, so let's work on the Clean FIRST while we are strong and energetic.
The Snatch will feel lighter than usual after handling much heavier weights and this is another advantage. By the time you have finished making all cleaning exercises, the muscles of the arms and shoulders will have already had a considerable amount of exercise and this will be sufficient to stop the "pressing muscles" from deteriorating until you get ready to work on that lift.
With this thought in mind Egyptian lifters would warm up with light Cleans, go on to something heavier and heavier, until they were getting near their limit. After making one or two heavy Cleans, however, their training for the Clean was not finished by any means.
They stop to examine and special little fault details that may have occurred, and they immediately start to cure them by LOWERING the weight on the bar by 15-20 pounds at a time. NEVER FINISH YOUR TRAINING ROUTINE 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 must be made perfect by using lighter poundages in the various hang positions.