Q: “Hey Justin, did some video analysis of my catch in the clean today. It seems I have a major major flaw once the weight gets high (100kg+). I have two links below, one shows my clean with 80kg (which is pretty fast and good form all the way through). The other is my clean with 100kg. It looks like once I get to the bottom, my back completely caves and this is why im really struggling to get past the 125kg mark.
Its not a matter of leg power to get the weight up, I lose it because my lower back completely rounds, causing my upper back to lean forward and im fighting to keep the weight on my shoulders the whole way up. I’m trying to wrap my head around what is lacking that causes my back to cave like this. Is it hamstrings being too tight? or lower abdominals are too weak?
A:Several things to consider…lets shotgun it and cover everything.
Jumped forward, takes the combined center of gravity of you and the bar forward. Amplifying the force to the front making the ability to hold the rack position even harder. Although, you may not cave with this weight as you would with heavier weights, the problem is still there with the light ones. So, it is not exactly a weight dependant issue, but a mechanical issue earlier on. Need to pull back, slide/jump back a bit, or at least NOT going forward like this (check time at :31s). Then, as you sit into the whole your first reaction is forward…again, you can overcome it at this weight, but your masking the flaw.
You actually jump forward less (but still a couple inches) on this but the bar is still kicked out forward vs back toward you causing you to still have to chase/reach it forward. So, same issue but the vector of focre is to much for you to maintain the upright/proper position. If you can finish the pull more, and slightly back, or at least have that bar traveling backward a bit at the finish,it would allow you to pull under/swivel under,into a more upright/locked postion to meet the bar (think: stay back in the heals, pull back,finish tall/back, or even just finish!). Watch at about :02 seconds or the top of the bar path, it is traveling back (before even recieves the bar!):
Or a more extreme example:
In your video at: :33s. See where the end of the barbell is in relation to your knees/back. Very far forward. In Steiner’s, look at how much closer the bar sits in relation to his hips vs his knees. This will allow a batter upright posture and prevent caving/rounding. Also, you don’t appear to be wearing that huge belt you have on when you front squat, so your looser in the middle.
Other than the mechanical issues from above…tight hamstrings, perhaps. Lower abs, NO, what are those? Lol. If anything there, erectors and bracing with the belly;). Not sure that this is the issue as I know you can bang out triples with 115kg + in the front squat (with belt). But, getting your front squat up in general with proper positions never hurt anyone, best remedy=front squat. An easy rule of thumb is that whatever you can triple in the front squat you should be strong enough to clean. Many are even better than this, many much worse. But, the weight of a 100kg bar plus the downward force plus the factthat you have to reach forward for it all adds up to be more than100kg, but I am no physicist.Other common tight spots are lats/under the arms, shoulders, chest, glutes/hips, etc. BUT, personally I don’t feel this is as much of an issue as propelry meeting the bars force as described above (yet, in this sport it seems you can never be lose/flexible enough or strong enough). cause the guy in the second video above is awfully damn tight in the wrong spots too…
Also, the better your pull is, to set you up for the best receiving position (not reaching/falling forward with positions or center of gravity) will enable you to maintain a better receive/rack position and nit crumble. If, like most you have any sort of crashing of the bar on you that bars combined force of its actual weight and falling from space can really knock you out of positon. So, think of transition and reception of the bar being as smooth as possible. I like to think of it as this: the pull and receive are the same. The less variance you can let occur from hip/back angles in that transition the tighter this will be…and why going from high hips to under the bar quickly can really throw you off and disorient you.
This is what I mean by “pull and recieve are the same.” Although, I am talking about from the floor and in the bottom, this picture was to great to pass up (taken from Harvey Newton’s great newsletter). Look at the torso positions and their similarities. He was making a different point by highlighting the lower body. But, also check Akkaev above, nice.
Finally, it looks as if at the bottom of the 100kg clean that you simply relax. This is most likely A) you are frustrated because you knew you messed up and caught it wrong, so you relaxed out of frustrating and didn’t finish the job = big mistake/bad habit. B) all issues from above pulled you out of position leading to further part A. C) You didn’t hold your air. Many people will actually hold their valsalva from pull through the receiving of the bar and through the recovery (and earliest sign of air release being through the sticking point out of the whole on the front squat, if at all). Point being,hold your air from pull to recovery and see if it helps keep you locked in better. Also, to stand with 125kg or more, you may need a little bit of everything;)
PS: Akkaev actually does jump a little bit forward in his cleans. This is rare at the top level. His very upright receiving position and fast recovery out of the whole (timing, optimal receiving and rebound from the whole, and likely huge front squat reserve strength must do the trick for him. But, he does hump over/round out a bit on the way up. I am sure that this would be the limiting factor if he had 260+ on the bar, maybe not.