Way Down in the Hole

By Donny Shankle

In Olympic Lifts

December 13, 2013

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Donny Shankle takes you on a guided tour of the darkest place in weightlifting and explains how to get out.

Coming out of a clean quickly is a trained action. You can squat all you want to get stronger, but if you are not refining your skill at the clean, then your strong legs are not being put to use.

When viewing a weightlifter in the bottom of a clean, you should be able to draw a line that puts the bar directly over the shoulders, hips and heels. The back must be held vertical in order for this to happen, and keeping a straight back is the weightlifter’s golden rule. Once you receive the bar with a vertical back, you must stand up immediately and not waste any time.

There are two trained skills behind the clean that you will find useful. The first is learning to feel oscillation or bar whip, and the second is timing the stretch reflex in your legs in conjunction with the bar whip. These two actions together will actually pull you out of your cleans, and combined with strong legs, they will set you up with plenty enough energy for the jerk. The moment you approach the bar, think to yourself, “Easy clean, easy jerk.”

Finally, great weightlifters begin to match the skills they have learned perfectly with the strength they have, and this can be combined with a champion’s mind to push their progress even further.

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