Clean & Jerk Video Guide

Exercise Profile

  • Olympic Weightlifting
  • Barbell
  • Compound
  • Push (Bilateral)
  • Intermediate
  • Abs, Adductors, Biceps, Calves, Forearms, Glutes, Hamstrings, Lats, Lower Back, Shoulders, Traps, Triceps, Upper Back
Quads Exercises Diagram Target Muscle Group

Clean & Jerk Overview

The clean & jerk is a full body exercise and is typically performed in Olympic style weightlifting facilities.

It is a combination exercise which pairs the clean with the jerk. The clean movement is a pulling movement pattern and the jerk is a pushing movement pattern. The combination involves nearly every muscle group in the body.

Olympic lifts, such as the clean & jerk, are very technically demanding and require a lot of practice prior to performing with any sort of significant weight.

Clean & Jerk Instructions

  1. Position the bar over the knot on your shoelaces but not touching your shins.
  2. Setup with your feet in a shoulder width stance, toes pointed out slightly, and your hands slightly wider than shoulder width.
  3. Drop your hips and drive the chest up while looking forward.
  4. Keeping the bar close to your body, begin to push the floor away and shift your knees back.
  5. As the bar passes your knees, shift your knees forward into a power position with your torso upright.
  6. Explosively jump straight up and shrug the bar aggressively.
  7. As the bar passes your shoulders, rotate your elbows around the bar until they are facing forward.
  8. Drop underneath the bar into a squat and catch the clean on your shoulders in the front rack position with your hands outside of your shoulders.
  9. Stand up tall by extending the hips and knees.
  10. Reposition the hands if desired, to prepare for the jerk and drop the elbows to roughly 45 degrees..
  11. Dip slightly at the knees and then explode straight up as you press the bar overhead.
  12. As the bar is still moving overhead, drop underneath and split the legs before catching the bar with arms locked out.
  13. Stand up by taking a small step with front foot and then the back foot before bringing the feet together.
  14. Drop the bar from overhead in a somewhat controlled fashion.
  15. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Clean & Jerk Tips

  1. Olympic lifting is about efficiency, not just brute strength.
  2. With most jerks you will want to just drop them from overhead given it would require quite a bit of work to lower them back to the floor under control. Not to mention, when the weight gets heavy this could present a further injury risk to an already complicated lift.
  3. Given the difference in hand position, the hips will likely start a little lower in the clean compared to the snatch.
  4. Use this simple jingle to help groove the necessary positions for the snatch:
    • Starting position
    • Knees back
    • Knees forward
    • Jump and shrug
  5. Think “slow off the floor, fast into the hips”.
  6. With the jerk, smaller athletes may need to keep the elbows up during the dip prior to the jerk as the bar may have a tendency to slide forward off their shoulders due to the smaller size of the musculature.
  7. Ideally you want the movement to take place in a vertical fashion. Don’t think about pushing the hips forward, think up.
  8. Work on front squats and RDLs initially before moving into the clean, this will ensure that you’re already strong in a hinge and front rack position.
  9. When initially learning the clean, start from the hang (middle of the thigh).
  10. Toe angle is highly individual - experiment to see what feels best for you.
  11. Drive through the whole foot - you want 3 points of contact: big toe, little toe, and heel.