Hey, Be Aggressive!
B-E aggressive! The best part of an Olympic lift is the feeling of moving heavy weight from the floor and squatting it, whether overhead in a snatch or a front squat in a clean. But a lot goes on in the seconds it takes to complete the lift. By the time you initiate the 2nd pull in a clean (approximately mid-thigh), your torso should be vertical, the barbell moving closely along your body while extending the hips and knees. Ahh, this is where the magic happens and you realize just how strong you are!
With Practice Comes Confidence
So how does one become confident enough to commit to the lift and go for it? Simple. Practice. Clean pulls are a great movement to help build confidence in the lift. Learning what your body should feel like as the barbell moves from the floor to the power position is key. For example, is there hamstring tension? Are your shoulder blades back and down to create a “flat back”? Can you wiggle your heels to ensure the weight in your feet is distributed properly when setting up? Where are you looking?
Clean pulls are an excellent accessory for your training, so long as it is completed with intention. In other words, don’t be lazy. Let me save you a lot of time as someone who used to rush through my pulls in order to finish a session. The accessory work matters and is incredibly important if you want to generate the most power in your lift.
It’s important to note that the explosiveness of the clean takes place during the 2nd pull and not from the floor. A common misperception is that we have to grip it and rip it from the floor in order to muscle our way into a clean. Focusing on technique while practicing pulls will maximize our effort during a clean.
With enough mindful practice, all of the thoughts that swirl through your noggin as you approach the bar will take a backseat and you will be able to commit to the clean.