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

  10. Coordinate muscle and joint action to instigate the necessary force

  11. Employ a soft grip to the bar

  12. Keep trunk upright

  13. Dip on both feet quickly

  14. Stop the downward movement sharply

  15. Utilize the elasticity of the bar

  16. Straighten the legs vigorously

  17. Instigate the greatest speed in the upward movement of the bar

  18. Bar turns out to

be forward

  1. The lifters does carry the shoulders and hips under the Center of Gravity

  2. Preparatory dip is performed on the toes

  3. The jerk off proceeds forwards and upwards away from the lifter

  4. Feet do not split equally fore and aft

  5. Chest drops

  6. Weak postural muscles

  7. Elbows are too far back

  8. Perform preparatory dip on whole feet

  9. Hold elbows slightly forward

  10. Jerk off should be strictly upwards

  11. Pelvis should be locked

  12. Only knees displace form the mid-line

  13. Include Jerk Balance as a corrective exercise

  14. Lifter drops too much in the Split

  15. A slow deep preparatory dip

  16. Limited drive from dip

  17. Lifter travels very low in split to catch the bar on straight arms

  18. Insufficient strength and coordination

  19. Increase effort of upward drive

  20. Practice Jerk Heaves

  21. Half Front Squats

  22. Speed

  23. Bar is jerked to straight arms but turns to be far back and holding the weight aloft is impossible

  24. The Jerk of the bar is not vertical

  25. The Jerk has significant horizontal translocation

  26. The lifter moves hips, trunk and shoulders too far forward

  27. Strict movement in pure vertical plane

  28. Ensure hips, trunk and shoulders are placed exactly under the center of gravity

  29. Practice Push Press, Jerk Balance, Jerk Heaves and Jamieson Squat exercises

  30. The bar is correctly jerked upwards to straight arms, but the lifter cannot hold onto the weight on straight arms

  31. Poor movement in elbow joints

  32. Insufficient mobility in shoulder joints

  33. Excessive flexibility in radio-carpal joints >90 degrees

  34. Work on exercises designed to develop flexibility in the elbow and shoulder joints

  35. Bandage wrists or make use of wrist-band

  36. Position bar closer to wrist joint

  37. Turn forearms slightly out wards on the dip and drive

  38. Jerking the bar to arms length the lifter moves around the platform with weight aloft

  39. Inexact work of the legs (asymmetrical)

  40. Center of gravity situated outside of the base

  41. Head thrown back and lifter looks upwards at the bar

  42. Head is forced forward and shoulders extended

  43. Legs cross paths

  44. Head pressed into chin

  45. Execute aggressive jerk off

  46. Essential to split the legs fore and aft evenly and maintain shoulder width distance L-R

  47. Hips, trunk and shoulders should be directly under bar

  48. Head held straight looking forward

The above matrix relating to the Clean and Jerk mistakes is by no means exhaustive. Moreover, there are many different and subtle mistakes not listed above. Prevention is better than cure. Technical mistakes need to be nipped as soon as they appear. The correction of mistakes, especially old ones, which are strengthened in the course of training, are very difficult to eradicate.

On another note: Christina made chocolate chip cookies. Feast mode engage!

Chart taken from “”. To read the original article, please visit this link

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