After an extra long partner met-con on Tuesday, Thursday reverted back to some explosive work, starting off with some Clean skill-transfer work.
Tall cleans can be crazy fun, but also crazy frustrating because they purposefully take our prime power-generator, the hips, out of the mix. It’s not about strength, but about technique – technique that is reliant upon a healthy dose of flexibility/mobility, coordination and accuracy. The reward, however, is a more aggressive third pull, better turnover, and a boost of confidence, leading to better full cleans (i.e., catching the weight in a squat position), which leads to bigger weights.
We prefer to start the tall cleans from the tip-toes. To set-up, stand tall, take a deep breath in while pulling the shoulders back and down (arms should be relatively loose) before raising up onto your toes. Pause for just a moment on your toes to clear your head, and then violently shrug the shoulders while pulling your body down into a deep front squat position. Make sure to really whip the elbows around as fast as you can, and pull the feet apart slightly into a good squat stance. The goal is to catch the weight in the rack position – on the shoulders – as high and as smoothly as possible without sacrificing tension in the squat position.
Tall cleans are about pulling under the bar, not dropping. It seems pedantic, but there is a significant difference. By pulling under the bar, you prolong the weightlessness of the bar and maintain tension through the movement. By comparison, when you simply drop, you abandon that tension, and then force yourself to try and catch the bar at the bottom of the front squat with bad form (if at all). Tall cleans should make any form of clean with hip extension feel a lot better since you aren’t racing the weight to the bottom of the squat position.
Speaking of racing weight to the bottom of the squat, a similar movement can be found in the ball slam, an exercise we haven’t been able to incorporate for quite some time owing to the fact that, well, all our slam balls had long ago burst at the seams. This new batch seems to be holding together pretty well…so far.
As mentioned, it’s been a while since we’ve done ball slams, but the tall cleans should’ve adequately prepped everyone to execute the repetitive extension-to-squat movement. The extension (arms locked out overhead and shoulders shrugged) to squat (full squat depth with chest up and back arched) is what makes the ball slam a, well, ball slam. This as opposed to a ball-thrown-at-the-floor-and-then-picked-up-again. You should be slamming the ball into the floor so that it hits the ground between your feet. Done right, you should actually be catching the ball in the bottom of a squat after it’s very, very minimal bounce and immediately standing up into the beginning position.
Saw, and heard about, lots of people drinking lots of water. Keep up the good work. We’ll see you all Sunday.