- Target Muscle Group
- Exercise TypeOlympic Weightlifting
- Equipment RequiredBarbell
- Force TypePush (Bilateral)
- Experience LevelIntermediate
- Secondary Muscles
Abs, Adductors, Biceps, Calves, Forearms, Glutes, Hamstrings, Lats, Lower Back, Shoulders, Traps, Triceps, Upper Back
Clean & Jerk Overview
The clean & jerk is a full body exercise and is typically performed in Olympic style weightlifting facilities.
It is a combination exercise which pairs the clean with the jerk. The clean movement is a pulling movement pattern and the jerk is a pushing movement pattern. The combination involves nearly every muscle group in the body.
Olympic lifts, such as the clean & jerk, are very technically demanding and require a lot of practice prior to performing with any sort of significant weight.
Clean & Jerk Instructions
- Position the bar over the knot on your shoelaces but not touching your shins.
- Setup with your feet in a shoulder width stance, toes pointed out slightly, and your hands slightly wider than shoulder width.
- Drop your hips and drive the chest up while looking forward.
- Keeping the bar close to your body, begin to push the floor away and shift your knees back.
- As the bar passes your knees, shift your knees forward into a power position with your torso upright.
- Explosively jump straight up and shrug the bar aggressively.
- As the bar passes your shoulders, rotate your elbows around the bar until they are facing forward.
- Drop underneath the bar into a squat and catch the clean on your shoulders in the front rack position with your hands outside of your shoulders.
- Stand up tall by extending the hips and knees.
- Reposition the hands if desired, to prepare for the jerk and drop the elbows to roughly 45 degrees..
- Dip slightly at the knees and then explode straight up as you press the bar overhead.
- As the bar is still moving overhead, drop underneath and split the legs before catching the bar with arms locked out.
- Stand up by taking a small step with front foot and then the back foot before bringing the feet together.
- Drop the bar from overhead in a somewhat controlled fashion.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
Clean & Jerk Tips
- Olympic lifting is about efficiency, not just brute strength.
- With most jerks you will want to just drop them from overhead given it would require quite a bit of work to lower them back to the floor under control. Not to mention, when the weight gets heavy this could present a further injury risk to an already complicated lift.
- Given the difference in hand position, the hips will likely start a little lower in the clean compared to the snatch.
- Use this simple jingle to help groove the necessary positions for the snatch:
- Starting position
- Knees back
- Knees forward
- Jump and shrug
- Think “slow off the floor, fast into the hips”.
- With the jerk, smaller athletes may need to keep the elbows up during the dip prior to the jerk as the bar may have a tendency to slide forward off their shoulders due to the smaller size of the musculature.
- Ideally you want the movement to take place in a vertical fashion. Don’t think about pushing the hips forward, think up.
- Work on front squats and RDLs initially before moving into the clean, this will ensure that you’re already strong in a hinge and front rack position.
- When initially learning the clean, start from the hang (middle of the thigh).
- Toe angle is highly individual - experiment to see what feels best for you.
- Drive through the whole foot - you want 3 points of contact: big toe, little toe, and heel.