Clean and Jerk EMOM and Midline Madness

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While coaching today the two faults that I saw most commonly were the set-up position and the catch position in the squat clean. Let’s look at the set up position first.

The Setup

Proper alignment and bar setup is crucial to a good lift. Most trainees underestimate the focus and technique required even before the actual lift begins. Improper bar placement, footing, and joint angles can lead to missing reps out front, slow pulls, and injury.

Fault: Shins Hugging the Barbell

Most people set up for the clean like they do with a deadlift. Although similar, the setups are not identical.

Solution: There should be some space between the bar and your shins when you get ready to do a clean. Set your metatarsals (toe joints) directly under the bar. This will allow you to load yourself properly without rolling the bar out front with your shins.

Fault: Knees Falling Forward

Lack of hamstring mobility and awareness of loading the hips often lead to forward collapse over the bar, resulting in the knees shoving into the bar.

Solution: Load the hips and anchor the kneecaps so that the hamstrings increase tension and the shins stay nearly perpendicular to the floor.

Mariah has a good set-up position.

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The Catch/Receiving of the Bar

The final stop in the clean is the catch into the front squat. This rapid descent under the barbell is vital to the completion of the lift. A high rate of hamstring activation and lat engagement will allow the athlete to pull him- or herself to the floor, landing and receiving the barbell in a vertical position with the hips dropped between the thighs, feet flat, and elbows parallel to the ground.

 

Fault: Slow Elbows

As you drop into the front squat, the elbows need to rotate fully under the bar, ending parallel to the floor. The inability to punch the elbows forward as you receive the bar means your lats aren’t engaged. This often leads to collapses in the thoracic region (upper to mid back). Slow elbows result in slow catches.

Solution: Spend some time on thoracic and lat mobility. The higher the elbows are, the closer the barbell will rest on your front deltoids, allowing for an easier and more efficient completion of the lift (i.e. standing up).

“The power position refers to the point at which the body is poised in the athletic position – feet flat, hips loaded, chest high, back straight, and quads activated.

Fault: Leaning Forward

Catching the bar forward is generally a sign of a not enough squat strength, poor pulling technique, and a lack of thoracic and lat stability in the catch. Additionally, poor footwork dropping under the bar can lead to inadequate hamstring and hip tension in the catch, causing an athlete to collapse under the weight.

Solution: Work on recognizing the two different stances during the lift. In all phases up to this point, you will be in a pulling stance, which is closer to a deadlift or vertical jump alignment. Immediately following the second pull, you should open up your feet slightly so you land in the catch position in a front squat stance, a stance that allows a sound squat below parallel.

Here are a few good catch positions.

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