Common Mistakes on the Clean & Jerk

The clean & jerk is one of two Olympic lifts, with the other lift being the snatch. These lifts work on strength, power, speed, flexibility and coordination like no other. The Olympic lifts are also notoriously unforgiving of poor form and this inhibits many athletes from progressing very far in these lifts. The following chart will help outline some common, faults, causes, and the suggested corrections you can take to fix your lifts.

The Clean – Faults, Causes and Corrections


Possible Cause

Suggested Correction

  1. Lifter elevates Buttocks before raising bar

  1. Insufficient leg strength

  2. Insufficient flexibility

  3. Weak posture muscles

  4. Ankle tightness

  5. Standard strength exercises

  6. Lifting standing on blocks

  7. Incorporate flexibility as a core element of training

  8. Introduce core stability exercises as a core element of training

  9. Seek professional advice (shoe implants, screening)

  10. Bar ends up being forward

  11. Early movement onto toes before the bar reaches the knee

  12. Projection of the bar is positioned ahead of the metatarsal-phalangeal joints, with a greater inclination of the shins in the starting position, therefore in lifting the weight the bar has to travel around the knees i.e. the bar turns out to be in front of the lifter.

  13. The lifter does not fully straighten the trunk and legs and failing to utilize explosive hip drive

  14. Arms bend early at the elbows

  15. Elbows are taken back early in the final extension movement

  16. The lifter fails to accomplish an upward pelvic rotation at the top of the pull extension

  17. Position the bar closer to the ankle joints and ensure the shins at the start have a shallow inclination (Ankle angle should not be less 60-70 degrees.

  18. Balance on both feet from start to full extension of the pull

  19. Aim for fully extended legs, hips, trunk and shoulders

  20. Elbows must move strictly upwards parallel with the trunk throughout the pull

  21. Bar is pulled excessively


  1. Early movement onto heels

  2. Arms bend far too soon

  3. Shoulders move back ward

  4. Head is thrown back viciously

  5. Balance on both feet

  6. perform pulls standing on blocks

  7. Elbows must move strictly upwards parallel with the trunk throughout the pull

  8. Pulls and other movements from blocks set at designated heights

  9. Perform Cleans from mid-thigh/waist using light weights

  10. Increase back and abdominal (core) strength utilizing specific exercises

  11. Bar is lifted far away

from shins in opening phase of Clean

  1. Shins are too inclined

  2. Angle of the ankle joint is to acute (less than 60 degrees)

  3. Bar is positioned too far from the lifter

  4. Position bar over metatarsal-phalengeal joint

  5. Bar travels forward

Reacting from the thigh push

  1. Lifter thrusts hips through not upward

  2. Lifter sufficiently straightens legs but not hips

  3. Lifters trunk remains inclined but hips travel forward

  4. Ensure correct starting position

  5. Keep balance

  6. Ensure bar travels in most efficient line

  7. Pulls from knee (concentric/eccentric)

  8. Shrugs

6. Weak Full Extension
  1. Insufficiently strong muscles

  2. Too great a weight

  3. Lifter fails to place knees under the bar to instigate upward bar trajectory

  4. No coordination between extensors of legs, hips and trunk and

flexors of arms and shoulders

  1. Build strength

  2. Perfect practice = perfect skill application

  3. Sub component exercises designed to enhance force application

  4. Pulls from varying heights

  5. Bar Racked but not Secured

  1. Lifter does not have sufficient time to rotate elbows

  2. Collapsed chest

  3. Lifter delays drop and looses momentum

  4. Lifter drops rather than drives under the bar

  5. Lack of flexibility around joint complexes

  6. Emphasize drive under the bar

  7. Clean drops from full extension

  8. Correct breathing technique

  9. Knee Touch

  10. Trunk inclined too far forward

  11. Elbows not fully rotated

  12. Bar not received on clavicles

  13. Lethargic descent under the bar

  14. Perform properly executed pulling movements

  15. Cleans from varying heights

  16. Specialized flexibility

  17. Perform Bench and Incline Press

The Jerk – Faults, Causes and Corrections


Possible Cause

Suggested Correction1. Weak Jerk

  1. Lifter fails to make the preparatory dip on full feet but on toes

  2. Lifter does not balance on two legs

  3. Trunk inclines forward

  4. Chest drops during dip

  5. Hands grip bar too tightly

  6. Bar lifts off clavicle during preparatory dip

  7. A deep slow dip

  8. Slow straightening of the legs

  9. Keep the weight of the bar across the clavicles