August 13, 2010
August 15, 2010

Points of Review for the Clean

A few points of review on the Clean from Coach Mike Choi before tomorrow’s class:


1) Start with shoulders in front of the bar, body weight over your ankles, butt low(er than a deadlift), and chest up. Your gaze will be neutral to slightly downward.

2) Pull off the floor and imagine pushing your feet through it. This keeps your shoulders in front of the bar for a longer period of time. Quads and hamstrings will engage at approximately equal force.

3) As the bar passes your knees, with STRAIGHT arms, imagine driving your shoulders through the ceiling. Get a full extension. The rise of the bar and a straight bar path comes from the smooth transfer of force from the legs through the shoulders.

4) Pull yourself under the bar at a faster rate than the bar is falling. Make sure your elbows are quick and finish pointing by at the wall you’re facing. This will put the bar over your body’s center of gravity.


5) Donkey kicking or stomping your feet. This kills the upward-driving power in your first and second pulls. The sound your feet make should come from the speed from which they transition to the squat position, not the force from which you pick them up and slam them down.

6) Watch for the hip hitch. This bumps the weight out causing you to over-compensate to get under the bar. Instead, focus on an upward shoulder drive with full extension.

7) Both 5 and 6 can be corrected, to some degree, by focusing on 2 — getting a full extension through the second pull.

8) Lastly, take YouTube videos of top level athletes for what they are: amazing and entertaining feats by strong athletes. It’s not always a good idea copy or mimic your favorite lifter’s specialized lifting techniques. Like a Major Leaguer’s baseball swing, no two are alike. Similarly, an elite level weightlifter’s mechanics may have been honed over years and tailor-made for his or her body. Examples include extreme laybacks and bumping the weight with your hips. There are a host of reasons why it works for an elite athlete but not for the novice. It’s best to stick to the fundamentals with an emphasis on a straight bar path and making the lift as simple as possible.

Sunday’s class will begin with a review of the Clean before moving on to the Jerk, so be ready!

Be sure to check out the post reviewing the Jerk as well.



  1. Maiko D. says:

    thanks for the write-up!!! I have a silly question – is a hip hitch when you bump the weight with your hips?

  2. SaltyHat says:

    Hey Maiko – Mike just had me re-post some of the points to account for typos/unclear thoughts, so point 3 is clearer: hip hitch = bumping the bar out in front of you with your thighs/hips.