Gym Shorts: The Clean and Jerk

New to the clean and jerk or looking for a quick technique tutorial? Learn correct form in one short video.

The Clean and Jerk

Gym Shorts videos provide short video demonstrations of correct form for various exercises.

Follow these steps

  • Set Up
    • Heels hip width apart
    • Bar over midfoot
    • Knees in line with toes
    • Back straight
    • Grip one hand width outside knurling
  • Clean
    • Shoulders over bar as long as possible
    • Jump when bar brushes mid-thigh
    • Keep bar close to body
    • Arms straight
    • Forcefully extend hips and knees
    • Jump!
    • Meet bar with shoulders
    • Slam elbows up
    • Full squat–thighs before parallel
    • Lead up with chest
  • Jerk
    • Adjust bar so all fingers are wrapped around
    • Bar rests on front deltoids
    • Bar locked out over mid-foot with arms and legs fully extended
    • Grip bar in palms of hands with thumbs around
    • Bend knees
    • Push through floor to drive up
    • Drop down to forcefully extend arms
    • Recover front foot first

What Is It?

The clean and jerk is an Olympic lift that requires not just one but two explosive movements to get the bar locked out overhead. It begins with a (full) clean, continues with some quick readjustment, and ends with a jerk.

Because the clean and jerk requires two distinct powerful movements, executing this movement requires proficiency in both a clean (full clean or squat clean) and a jerk (split jerk). It is also recommended to have a competent coach or dedicate time to learning and understanding the movements and videoing and reviewing your own reps.

Programming

The clean and jerk is programmed for lifters pursuing weightlifting, CrossFit, or competing in an Olympic weightlifting competition. If you are performing this movement, other weightlifting movements will be included in your program, including the snatch, clean, jerk, and partial movements, including the power variants.

Competing in weightlifting requires a degree of practice, as proper performance of the lift requires regular performance of the exercises. Because of this, you will have to practice weightlifting lifts and their variations with a high frequency.

You will still need to train strength to build your force production, so the “slow lifts”–squat, deadlift, press, bench press, and upper body pulls–aid your ability to improve your weightlifting numbers.

The clean and jerk is programmed for low reps but often more sets to increase the volume.

This movement is typically improved for intermediate and advanced athletes who want to compete in weightlifting recreationally or competitively.

If you’re an intermediate or advanced lifter looking to pursue weightlifting, consider adding the clean and jerk to your program.

Click HERE to watch an in-depth video on the power clean, which should be mastered prior to performing a clean and prior to performing the clean and jerk and HERE to learn about how to add Olympic lifting to your program.

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