January 20, 2012
January 25, 2012

Another big Sunday class was greeted with another big dose of the cleans – not that that’s a bad thing of course.

 Strength Warm-Up 1: 
1 x 3 x 1 Hang Clean Shrug + 1 Tall Clean 

 After general warm-up on the court, class broke out into groups of 3-4 people to prep for the days strength session, which started by highlighting two of the most important pieces of the clean: full extension and speed pulling oneself under the bar. To do this, everyone did one set with the bar only, alternating between one hang clean shrug (basically the “jump and shrug” portion of the clean) and one tall clean (from the tip-toes, shrugging and pulling into a full squat clean) until they had done 3 of each.

 Strength Warm-Up 2: 
2 x 1 x 1 Tall Clean + 1 HS Clean 

 The second warm-up set had everyone build on the first, by again performing the tall clean, but then following it with a hang squat clean. The first focuses on speed under the bar, while the second piece helps by adding some hip extension (the “jump and shrug” piece) to provide a little more weightlessness to the bar, which of course translates into more time to pull under the weight. Individuals performed the first set of 1 tall clean and 1 HS clean with the bar only, and then added weight for the second set.

10 x Clean & Jerk Combo 
(1 Power Clean + 1 HS Clean + 1 PP/PJ/SJ)

Finally, each group was given 8-10 minutes to find a working weight for the combo (which, for most, should’ve been in the neighborhood of 60 to 65% of your 1RM clean). Working sets were un-timed, but the goal was to rest no longer than 3 minutes in between sets. In this manner, each group rotated through until each individual had completed 10 sets of 1 power clean, 1 hang squat clean, and 1 push press/push jerk/split jerk.

The big emphasis here, by way of practical comparison, is on the proper application of the second and third pulls of the clean. In the power clean, the second pull (from the top of the knees to the hips/stomach area) must necessarily be extremely powerful, since the weight must travel much higher – all the way up to at least the sternum – in order to be properly received in the rack position. There is a bit of a third pull as lifters will often bend the knees slightly to recieve the bar in a power clean, but it’s no where near as clear of a third pull as in the hang squat clean. In the hang squat clean, the second pull, although still powerful, takes a slight back seat to a true third pull, in which the lifter pulls themself under the bar to receive it in the rack position. 

Now, take a look back at the warm-up sets and look at the progression that built up that emphasis by first isolating and then re-combining those integral pieces: the first warm-up set isolated the second pull (the hang clean pull) from the third pull (the tall clean); the second warm-up set started with the isolated third pull (the tall clean), and then reintroduced the second pull, merging it with the third pull (the hang squat clean).

If this all sounds like gibberish to you, take a minute and make the jump to our “CLEANED-OUT!” blog-post discussing the three pulls of the Olympic lifts and the common errors associated with each. At this point, the points made in that post should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind whenever either of the Olympic lifts come up in class. 

3 x 1 min ON + 1 min OFF of Thrusters (95/65), Burpee, & K2E 

 Performed in the roughly the same groups as for the strength portion in a follow-the-leader style: Partner 1 performed 1 min of thrusters while Partners 2 & 3 rested. On the second minute, P1 and P3 rested while P2 performed their thrusters. On the third minute, P2 rested while P1 performed burpees and P2 performed thrusters. The workout continued in this manner until each partner had completed 3 full rounds.

Great work in another big class. There are some great improvements across the board in people’s cleans – the attention to detail is really starting to pay off. Keep up the good work!



  1. edgy reggie says:

    I’m always down with the drill/progression work on the Olympic lifts; I love it…even if I happen to have done some Olympic lifting work on the previous day.

    I teamed with Jonathan and Scott; we used 50 kg for the clean-and-jerk combo. I had a not-so-good start: While performing the split jerk on the first round, the bar hit my jaw; as a result, I bit my bottom lip. It stunned me for an nanosecond; then, I moved on and completed my first round. In the past, I have chipped a tooth, banged my jaw, skinned my shins, bruised my collarbone, etc. while performing Olympic lifts. Stuff happens…one learns from it and moves on. The old adage “If it doesn’t kill you, it will make you stronger” is true.

    Anyway, I felt that I did fine on the rest of my sets.

    For the met-con, I used a 95-pound barbell for the thrusters. Since I did medium-heavy squats on the previous day, I concentrated more on my form (i.e., getting good depth and driving the head through) with the thrusters. Burpees are…well, burpees. 🙂 Knees-to-elbows (K2E) were fine; I still concentrated more on my form than the numbers.

    I did Winnie’s Iyengar yoga class later in the evening. Ever since Winnie returned from India in December, I have noticed by taking her classes that I have not been as sore and that my range-of-motion has steadily improved (especially in my hips). I still have a lot of work to do with my flexibility and my mobility, but I am encouraged at the same time.

    Congratulations to Josh Courage (first place!), Tom “Hammer” A., SBV (“Lil’ Swoll”), and Steve O. for their participation in the Charlottesville SuperFit Games. Nice work fellas! I’m looking forward to hearing all about it.

  2. Julia says:

    Lots of information to take in. Thanks Chris for the detailed writeup and for giving up your workout time on Sunday to work with us.

    Awesome big-class energy. Cleans felt solid; started off pretty conservative in terms of weight, then went up in the second half of the set. Metcon was simple but effective; toughest part for me was K2Es/T2Bs – getting back on the bar and trying to string more together once I broke.

    And congrats Superfitters! Looking forward to hearing about the weekend.

  3. Katie says:

    For some reason I woke up Sunday morning totally exhausted…at least I made it to class.

    I worked with a big group…Liz, Danielle, Jen, Mary, Kathy, and Christine! Started out with 45# for the clean combo…instead of the squat clean, we just did two cleans. For the last 3 sets I went down to 35#. I was having trouble, as usual, shrugging/pulling the weight up too early, so Chris had me do a few where I just did the hip explosion/shrug piece a few times. I still need to work a lot on cleans, I’m not going to be able to go up in weight much until I stop pulling early.

    I worked with Kathy and Christine for the metcon…thanks for pushing me to do 30# thrusters, ladies! (I initially was thinking 15# because my muscles were not working well, especially my quads.) I only got maybe 10 each round, and they were SLOW. We subbed sit-ups for K2E, and that was a godsend.

    Long, tiring, but great class! I went home and took a long nap. Looking forward to Tuesday.

  4. Steph says:

    Awesome class! I hadn’t been able to work out all week cuz of work so I was raring to go yesterday.

    I worked with Erica, Ann and Christian for the strength section of the class. I used 85lbs and it felt good. It was a good weight, challenging but not too heavy. I wasn’t aware that it was supposed to be 60-65% of my 1RM clean, and after calculating I doubt that my 1RM clean can be 142lbs. Something to work toward definitely!

    Grouped up with Erica and Ann for the metcon and I have to say I was pretty beat by then. The grip was gone and I just couldn’t hold on for the k2es. I think I ended up stopping early for all 3 rounds of the k2es. I know, shame on me.

    Despite my weak showing in the metcon, I had a great workout. Thanks coaches!! Of course, I then completely undid the work last night and again tonight by stuffing myself silly with awesome Chinese food.

    Very much looking forward to tomorrow’s class! See you there!

  5. Tom Brose says:

    This was one of those days when all the seemingly chaotic components came together really smoothly. I saw great improvement in form, including focused adjustments mid workout.

    The skill sessions Sara and Chris are running have a lot to do with improved technique. Do yourself a favor and get in at 9 on Sundays if you need (which you do) technique work.

    Rest up, tomorrow will be a double dose of fun.

  6. Ben says:

    Came in for the 9:00 AM foundations class on Sunday. It was a good opportunity to really focus on good form and linking the different pieces of the clean progression together.

    Class was great, even though it was packed (thanks coaches for keeping it organized in a challenging environment). I worked with Adam on the clean combination. The met-con was tough. I followed Reggie’s lead and hit myself in the jaw doing my second round of thrusters. So, that was fun, but I got back on track and finished the workout.

  7. Erica says:

    I still hate cleans but really appreciate the support and encouragement from everyone. Probably not coincidence that Ben got me up for 9 am that day. I hit a new PR on the cleans, with Anne, at 75 pounds, and was inspired by Steph and Christian’s 85. Metcon got progressively harder for me. As my arms and wrists were dead by the K2E and I couldn’t get the rhythm down. Great class management coaches. I cannot WAIT for today’s class