3 Tips for a Clean and Jerk PR

The Clean and Jerk is one of the most effective exercises the weightroom can offer.   If you master proper form and program for it correctly, the Clean and Jerk can help you build strength, speed, power, kinesthetic awareness, and body coordination/control. However, Olympic movements like the Clean and Jerk are complex and intense. Many people are using them incorrectly; resulting in sub-par results or injury. Here are 3 tips to make your Clean and Jerk count:


  • Remember that your arms DO NOT pull the bar upwards at any point during a clean and jerk. The power created during an explosive pull with your legs and hips propel the bar upwards as far as possible. The lifter then bends his arms to A- allow the bar to “float” as high as that initial explosion will allow, and B- to help pull him/herself down under the bar quickly into a full squat position.


  • Perfect your pull before advancing to the full Clean and Jerk movement. I teach the pull in three parts.
  • A) First, practice explosive pulls from the power position (bar across the top of your thighs, knees still slightly bent, torso in a mostly upright position. The bar is directly above mid-foot in this position). Drive your hips and shoulders straight up as you extend your hips, knees, and ankles simultaneously.
  • B) Next, practice pulls from above your knee. Starting from the power position described above, lower the bar the remaining distance to the top of your knee. Do this by rocking your knees backward as you hinge your torso forward from your hips. That is the bottom of this pull. Then, reverse those movements together to complete a pull from your knees; hips come forward and torso straightens to return to the power position, before the hips/knees/ankles are extended again to complete your final explosion.
  • C) Finally, complete a pull from the ground. Start with the bar on the floor, lined up above your mid-foot. Stand with your shins close to, or touching the bar. Your shoulders should be directly above, or slightly in front of the bar. To pull the bar to your knees, use only your legs. Straighten your legs, while keeping your torso in a fixed position (hips and shoulders rise at the same rate). Once the bar reaches your knees, complete the pull in the same fashion in A and B.


  • Work on wrist and triceps flexibility to achieve the correct receiving position for your clean. Catching the bar correctly will allow you the proper posture and stability to stand up and complete your lift. You’ll need flexible wrists and triceps. Your aim is to comfortably rack the bar in a front squat position, with high elbows that will comfortably clear the knees at the deepest part of any squat.