How to Do the Clean and Jerk Exercise
Olympic lifting is used by powerlifters, athletes and recreational exercisers to develop total-body fitness, including strength, power, speed, flexibility and coordination. One of the most common Olympic lifts is the clean and jerk -- a complex movement that combines the clean and the jerk into one exercise. As a result of the complex movement, it takes expert coaching and proper technique to maximize your clean-and-jerk potential. However, when executed properly, the clean and jerk is an effective component in any workout program.
Preparing for the Clean and Jerk
Tape your wrists and apply gymnastics chalk to your hands. The tape helps to stabilize your wrists while holding the barbell in the racked position and the chalk improves grip and comfort on the barbell.
Slide the appropriate amount of weights on the barbell. Some training facilities feature bumper plates that are specifically designed for Olympic lifts. You can also use a PVC pipe or broomstick if you are just learning the basic movement of the clean and jerk.
Grip the barbell by pushing your hands down onto the barbell. Your thumb should be tucked under your index, middle and ring fingers for a hook grip. This grip increases your clean and jerk capacity and may feel uncomfortable at first. The grip should be wide enough to clear your legs during the initial movement.
Place your feet directly under your hips. This stance is similar to the deadlift starting position and allows for an efficient transfer of power throughout the entire range of motion. The barbell should be positioned over your feet with your shoulders slightly in front of the barbell.
Performing the Clean
Pull the barbell off the ground by keeping your chest up, arms straight and feet flat on the ground. The first movement of the bar resembles the deadlift with a slight backward motion. The arms remain straight and act as straps during the first part of the clean.
Cross the barbell over your knees. The shins should be vertical at this point with the majority of the weight shifting form the mid-foot to the heels. At this point, the torso and hips start extending to continue pulling the barbell in a vertical motion.
Extend the hips when the barbell reaches two-thirds up the thigh from the knee. The hip extension should be a forceful, powerful movement to accelerate the bar. The barbell will touch your thigh as you extend the hips.
Drive the barbell upward as you throw your chest up and shrug your shoulders. This movement causes a short, quick jump to continue the vertical movement of the barbell.
Drop your hips into a squat position. The arms will act to pull you under the barbell and will bend slightly.
Catch the barbell in the rack position where the bar sets on the top of your chest and shoulders. The rack position is essential for continuing the clean and jerk with an efficient jerk movement.
Stand up out of the squat and keep the barbell in the racked position.
How to Do the Jerk
Reset the feet and grip as you prepare for the jerk. Your grip should be slightly wider than shoulder width with your feet placed shoulder-width apart.
Drop your hips slightly with a short, quick downward movement. This downward movement is about a quarter-squat and builds kinetic energy for the jerk.
Drive your legs upward with no pause at the bottom. Any pause or hesitation at the bottom of the quarter-squat will reduce the amount of energy and force for the jerk.
Press the barbell above your head and drop your hips again into a quarter-squat. The two movements of moving the barbell vertically while dropping your hips happen simultaneously. The end result will be you standing with your arms fully extended and legs in a quarter-squat.
Stand up out of the quarter-squat while keeping your arms extended to finish the clean and-jerk exercise. You may drop the barbell or release the weight when both feet have come together with your hips fully extended.
Based in Nebraska, Jeremy Hoefs began writing fitness, nutrition, outdoor and hunting articles in 2006. His articles have been published in "Star City Sports," "Hunting Fitness Magazine" and RutWear field journals, as well as on the Western Whitetail website. Hoefs graduated with a Bachelor of Science in exercise science from Nebraska Wesleyan University.