If there’s one thing that I can’t stand, it’s arguing minutiae. (For those less educated, that means the precise details of a bigger idea.) As much as I hate it, here I am arguing, erm, maybe, discussing (?) it on Twitter with a fellow aspiring strength and conditioning coach. We both know exactly what a clean and press is. I’m assuming (not always a safe bet with O-lifts, but I will give him the benefit of the doubt) we both know how to perform them properly. However, we are not agreeing on verbiage, and it’s something that annoys the hell out of me. Especially when people that “know” how to do them start talking about them incorrectly.

This all started because someone tweeted (yup, you’re getting a free lesson in tweet-speak; God, I’m lame) “Power clean to front squat. Try it!” I hate to drop this knowledge bomb on you, but a “Power Clean to Front Squat” is exactly what a full “Clean” is. Let’s break down “Power Clean to Front Squat”….

Power Clean: A power clean is pulling a barbell off the floor, catching it at your chest with your thighs above parallel, and then standing up. I won’t get into the intricacies of the lift itself, but that’s the general idea. The main thing to take away from it is that your thighs are above parallel. That is what makes it a “power” movement. Because you have to accelerate the bar more explosively and higher in order to catch it that high. Which is why I love Power Cleans for athletic development.

Power Clean Catch Position

Front Squat: A front squat is started with the barbell racked on your chest…just like in the catch position of any Clean. Then, a regular squat is performed: break at the hips first, squat down to parallel (or below if you’re true badass), and then return to the top.

Front Squat Bottom Position

Ok, so what exactly is the big f*ckin deal? The big f*ckin deal is those two movements combined are exactly what a true, full Clean is. A full Clean can be performed as a stand alone lift or as part of the whole Olympic lift, the Clean and Jerk. Regardless if it is done alone or as part of the Clean and Jerk, the Clean portion is the same. Here’s how it compares to a Power Clean…

A Clean and a Power Clean are both started from the floor. They both require you to explosively accelerate the bar upward with your hips. They both require you to catch the bar at your chest (damn near your esophogus actually). However, your leg position is what makes the two different. A full Clean is caught, at your chest, with your thighs below parallel (front squat anyone?). Once it is caught, you stand up to an erect, front squat starting position. Here’s a video of the Clean and Jerk. We’re not going to worry about the Jerk portion so just watch the clean. Can some please explain to me what the hell the difference is between a full Clean and a “Power Clean to Front Squat”??? I’m not seeing it.

You can say, “Well, I don’t have enough mobility to catch the bar below parallel so that’s why I break it up into two movements.” Really? So you don’t have the mobility to catch it in the bottom position, but somehow you DO have the mobility to get below parallel when performing a frong squat? Interesting. Sounds like you’re doing one of the movements incorrectly. Just sayin….

Now, the last little bit that we were discussing was how the squat portion of the full Clean was used as momentum for the Jerk when performing the whole Clean and Jerk movement. Bullshit.

Go back and re-watch the video again. This time, pay attention to the whole thing. He cleans, catches in the front squat bottom position, stands up, and pauses. There is absolutely no momentum from his squat when he goes into the Jerk at all. At the beginning of the Jerk, he dips his hips in order to explode the bar off his chest, but you can hardly call that a squat. Well, maybe some people can, but not when you’re actually talking to real athletes.

I think I’ve said my peace. I just get frustrated when people in the industry, or even self-proclaimed knowledgeable gym rats, can’t speak with the correct vocabulary. Maybe I’m anal, but I don’t think so.

To the two individuals that inspired this post: If you are reading this, please don’t take it as a personal attack pointed directly at you. I have had this conversation many times in the past, and I know I’ll have it again in the future. I just wanted to get it down and address it to the entire industry…..as if any more than 5 people will read this anyways. Hahaha! I still think you’re good peoples and hope we remain e-buddies. (winking smiley face)

Don’t Miss Your Chance

I was stuck in Corporate America for 9 years. I was miserable.

Then I took control.

You can too, and it starts right here.