Cleans/power cleans -- lacking flexibility for proper grip

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IceDane
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Cleans/power cleans -- lacking flexibility for proper grip

Post by IceDane » Fri Nov 25, 2011 10:23 am

Hey guys.

So I've been adding some cleans into my workout on my squat days, and even though I've only done them a few times I can clearly see and feel why people do them.

The proper form seems to be to catch the bar on your shoulders by lifting your elbows as high as possible, but I simply can't seem to be able to do this. Right now, my right wrist is hindering me as well(beer-related accident) from being able to do it, but it is still obvious that I am simply not flexible enough to be able to actually 'hold' the bar in a way that would allow me to actually get it back down while resting it on my shoulders.

What do I need to be working on to be able to do this, in terms of flexibility? Is it the triceps? I don't have huge arms or anything(maybe 17 inches), so I doubt that my overwhelming arm size is hindering me here.

I'd really appreciate any and all input on this.

P.S. Doesn't it hurt like hell to be catching some weight on your shoulders like this for reps?

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Re: Cleans/power cleans -- lacking flexibility for proper gr

Post by Dub » Fri Nov 25, 2011 12:45 pm

I just wrote half an article, but then I read your message again and I got the point that you have problems with the final stance holding the bar on your shoulders. Am I right?
If it's a flexibility issue you're probably doing the clean wrong. That's my point of view.
Can you do front squats? If not, then you may have a problem. The pressure shouldn't be on your wrist however. When I do cleans, I rotate/bring my shoulders onward for the bar to rest on, and just keep it stable with my wrists. It shouldn't matter that much how high your elbows actually are, as it is enough to just lift you arms somewhere between 45 and 90 degrees or so.

Anyway, the clean movement starts like a deadlift, you lift the bar to knee-level, and gain momentum for the rest of the lift. After knees the movement of the bar should be very fast, and the point is to lift the bar using your whole body and upper body strength and get under the bar. I'd say the most important part of the clean is to get under the bar. That's why it shouldn't be about flexibility of arms. You just lock the bar to your shoulders/sternum/claviculae level, and squat the weight up.

The weight doesn't really drop that bad if you get under the bar smoothly and fast, you don't let the bar drop on your shoulders, nor you don't toss it with your arms there either. But yeah, maybe with heavier weights it could feel a bit more on your shoulders the next day.
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Re: Cleans/power cleans -- lacking flexibility for proper gr

Post by IceDane » Fri Nov 25, 2011 3:00 pm

Dub wrote:I just wrote half an article, but then I read your message again and I got the point that you have problems with the final stance holding the bar on your shoulders. Am I right?
If it's a flexibility issue you're probably doing the clean wrong. That's my point of view.
Can you do front squats? If not, then you may have a problem. The pressure shouldn't be on your wrist however. When I do cleans, I rotate/bring my shoulders onward for the bar to rest on, and just keep it stable with my wrists. It shouldn't matter that much how high your elbows actually are, as it is enough to just lift you arms somewhere between 45 and 90 degrees or so.

Anyway, the clean movement starts like a deadlift, you lift the bar to knee-level, and gain momentum for the rest of the lift. After knees the movement of the bar should be very fast, and the point is to lift the bar using your whole body and upper body strength and get under the bar. I'd say the most important part of the clean is to get under the bar. That's why it shouldn't be about flexibility of arms. You just lock the bar to your shoulders/sternum/claviculae level, and squat the weight up.

The weight doesn't really drop that bad if you get under the bar smoothly and fast, you don't let the bar drop on your shoulders, nor you don't toss it with your arms there either. But yeah, maybe with heavier weights it could feel a bit more on your shoulders the next day.
Thanks for the reply. Really appreciate it.

From scrutinizing my own form in the mirror, I'm as sure as I can be without having someone more experienced look at it that I got the form down up until the part where you 'fling' the bar and grab it with your shoulders.

You were correct. What I am specifically referring to is that when you bend your arms so that 'your fingers touch your shoulders', I can't really 'go far enough' to actually hold the bar when it rests on my shoulders. I can touch my shoulders with my fingers that way, slightly, but I can feel the tension in my wrists as I hold the position.

As for front squats; I have hardly ever tried them. When I do them, I cross my hands(AFAIK that is acceptable alternate form).

Maybe I should just wait with the cleans until my right wrist is fully healed and then find out whether or not I can do it. And then try it with an unloaded bar.

At any rate, thanks for your advice. I'll try to keep it in mind the next time I do it, whether it is before or after my wrist is fully functional.

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Re: Cleans/power cleans -- lacking flexibility for proper gr

Post by Jungledoc » Fri Nov 25, 2011 4:51 pm

You don't have to be holding the bar with a full grip when it is in the rack position. Taking your pinky (and maybe even the ring finger) off the bar, and just keeping the tips of your other fingers under the bar helps.

If you haven't done much front squatting, that is a place to start. Again, you don't have to have all of your fingers wrapped around the bar when you front squat.

There are lots of YouTube videos about this.
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Re: Cleans/power cleans -- lacking flexibility for proper gr

Post by Oscar_Actuary » Sat Nov 26, 2011 1:35 am

I too have trouble with the wrists, and getting the elbows up.
On front Sqauts, I can get into positon but on descend, have trouble maintaining upright elbows
Maybe jsut need to make sure to keep head up, never look down (I can get away with this on back squats)

Anyway, I too have trouble with wrist and shoulder? rotation to set elbow up properly.
I really like Front Squats too.

No highjack, just enhancing.

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Re: Cleans/power cleans -- lacking flexibility for proper gr

Post by Matt Z » Tue Nov 29, 2011 4:51 pm

I've had this problem to with cleans and clean-grip front squats (cross-arm front squats aren't a problem). However, in my case I don't think it's a flexibility problem. My arms are short and thick with long muscle bellies, and this limits how far I can bend my elbows. ... Anyway, I've found that high pulls are a pretty good substitute for cleans.

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Re: Cleans/power cleans -- lacking flexibility for proper gr

Post by IceDane » Fri Dec 02, 2011 3:32 pm

Matt Z wrote:I've had this problem to with cleans and clean-grip front squats (cross-arm front squats aren't a problem). However, in my case I don't think it's a flexibility problem. My arms are short and thick with long muscle bellies, and this limits how far I can bend my elbows. ... Anyway, I've found that high pulls are a pretty good substitute for cleans.
Thanks for that suggestion. I might just do those for a while, since my right wrist is still fubar'd(or so).

I also did front squats today and it seriously hurt my shoulders. Probably going to have to work on the form a bit, and I assume the shoulder soreness will go away like being tender after squatting for the first few times goes away.

Can I do high pulls properly even if I don't have bumper plates? Is it fine just to 'release' like shown in the movement but still hold the bar, or could that result in injury? I'm not really doing any insane weights. Maybe.. 70-80 kg.

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Re: Cleans/power cleans -- lacking flexibility for proper gr

Post by Matt Z » Fri Dec 02, 2011 7:29 pm

I don't have access to bumper plates and it's never been a problem. I just throw the bar up, and then use my traps and glutes/hamstrings to deceletate on the way back down.

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Re: Cleans/power cleans -- lacking flexibility for proper gr

Post by Oscar_Actuary » Sat Dec 03, 2011 1:25 am

Matt Z wrote:I don't have access to bumper plates and it's never been a problem. I just throw the bar up, and then use my traps and glutes/hamstrings to deceletate on the way back down.
no straps?

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Re: Cleans/power cleans -- lacking flexibility for proper gr

Post by Matt Z » Sat Dec 03, 2011 7:56 am

Yes, I do use straps for High Pulls and Pendlay Rows. If you're worried about your grip slipping they're a good option.

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Re: Cleans/power cleans -- lacking flexibility for proper gr

Post by Oscar_Actuary » Sat Dec 03, 2011 3:03 pm

Matt Z wrote:Yes, I do use straps for High Pulls and Pendlay Rows. If you're worried about your grip slipping they're a good option.
cool.
I have heard it's a "must" for significant weight, given the rapid accell/decelleration
The mention of "bumper" plates thru me off though.

cheers

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Re: Cleans/power cleans -- lacking flexibility for proper gr

Post by Jebus » Sat Dec 03, 2011 9:07 pm

You could just load the bar up with A LOT of weight, put your arms in position and push your elbows up and stretch for as long as you can. Or just put the bar under something, preventing it from going up and do the same thing.

A lot of people have this same problem, it takes time to get flexible.

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Re: Cleans/power cleans -- lacking flexibility for proper gr

Post by Oscar_Actuary » Sun Dec 04, 2011 2:27 pm

alright Jebus, I shall keep that in mind. thank you

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