Accessory Exercise for Olympic Cleans.
By Julio A. Salado NSCA-CPT., USAW Coach
As a U.S.A.W. Sports Performance Coach (Olympic Lifts) & also a post rehab specialist, I have the background & experience to help members improve their athletic performance while preventing injuries.
Exercise technique is paramount for all modalities of fitness but especially when doing Olympic lifts such as the clean, clean jerk and snatch. These movements are a combination of strength, timing and power. Incorporating accessory exercises for each lift will lead to noticeable gains in strength, conditioning, performance & even body composition.
One accessory exercise for the Olympic lift called the “Clean” is a barbell “balanced” front squat.
Adding this exercise will teach you how to stay upright throughout the squat, reinforce front squatting biomechanics, improve motor skills & most importantly, teaches you that the barbell rests on the front shoulders & clavicle.
Try this exercise with a practice barbell or fixed barbell that ranges from 20lbs and up. The weight should be light enough that you can catch it if it rolls off the front shoulders.
Here are the steps for the “Balanced” barbell front squat using a squat rack. You can also have a friend place the barbell on your shoulders.
- Start with arms extended at shoulder height and palms facing in.
- Barbell needs to be placed on the front deltoids, across the clavicle and it may even touch your neck. Keep chin up and look straight or up.
- Do not allow your arms to fall below shoulder height and it’s important to keep the elbows locked and palms facing in with thumbs up.
- Your feet will be slightly wider than your hips. After you balance the barbell, inhale and begin to squat. It’s important to keep your knees aligned with your feet. We call this tracking.
- If you are unable to squat below parallel or bring your hips below your knees then add a low box to help deepen your squat.
- Your heels should never lift off the floor.
- While on the bottom phase, remain in the squat for 2-3 seconds. Then stand up driving primarily through the mid-foot and heel. Exhale at the top phase of the squat.
You can progress this exercise by changing to the front squat with “normal” grip and adding weight. The second progression will be to practice with a “clean grip”. Never attempt the “balanced” barbell front squat with resistance. It’s for developing a movement pattern, not strength.
Olympic lifting is very effective for metabolic training, strength, and conditioning. Regression of an exercise may be the missing link in improving your technique. So don’t be afraid to regress to progress!
Be well and stay ACTIVE!!!
Julio A. Salado., NSCA-CPT., USAW Coach