The Olympic clean and jerk is an explosive movement, usually done with considerable weight. It trains power, strength, speed, timing, coordination. It’s also insanely complex and entirely unfit for beginners. But there are alternatives to the clean and jerk that will get you ready for this tough move. The following movements will get you set up on the right foot to start training for clean and jerks.
This movement is just as explosive and involves many of the same mechanics. Since it’s done in one shot and not two, it’s also easier to learn. Hold onto a heavy dumbbell, and use the force from a strong hip drive to propel the weight upwards. Simultaneously pull with the arm and finish with the weight directly overhead. Remember to pull in a straight line – imagine someone’s standing right in front of you, and you don’t want to hit them. Consider this video for a visual.
We all know how to do a traditional barbell overhead press. A push press is similar in the start and finish position, but you get to use your legs to help it out. This can allow you to lift more weight, and also incorporate more muscle to burn more calories. With the bar in the start position, keep your heels on the ground and bend at the knee by a few degrees. In one strong motion, extend the knees and hips and let the momentum travel into the bar. Stomp your heels down and finish tall, with the weight overhead (see this video for guidance.)
Using a proper “clean” grip when front squatting will allow you to get used to the “catch” position of a true barbell clean. Remember to keep the elbows up, with the back tall, like in this video.
For all three exercises, keep the reps low – six or less per movement. This will enable you to focus on technique and keep each lift nice and powerful. Perform them on their own, with 2 minutes of rest between sets – and enjoy the benefits at a lower risk!
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