Clean and jerk is one of the Olympic weightlifting exercises that is performed after the snatch at competitions.
What muscles are working in C&J?
The Olympic clean & jerk is a complex weightlifting movement that engages many different muscle groups in the body. Here is a detailed breakdown of the muscles that are primarily involved in each phase of the Clean and Jerk:
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Quads: The quadriceps muscles on the front of the thigh are highly engaged in the Clean phase as the athlete lifts the barbell off the ground and drives upward into a standing position.
Hamstrings: The hamstrings muscles on the back of the thigh also play a crucial role in the Clean, as they help to extend the hips and generate power to lift the barbell.
Glutes: The gluteal muscles in the buttocks are activated during the Clean as the athlete drives the hips forward to propel the barbell upward.
Calves: The calf muscles are involved in the explosive extension of the ankle during the Clean phase.
Core: The core muscles, including the rectus abdominis, obliques, and erector spinae, are highly engaged during the Clean to maintain proper posture and stabilize the spine throughout the lift.
Upper Back: The muscles of the upper back, including the trapezius and rhomboids, play a key role in the Clean by helping to maintain a straight and rigid torso.
Shoulders: The deltoid muscles in the shoulders are highly involved in the Jerk phase as the athlete drives the barbell overhead.
Triceps: The triceps muscles on the back of the arm are also engaged in the Jerk to help extend the elbow and lock out the arms overhead.
Chest: The chest muscles, including the pectoralis major and minor, play a supporting role in the Jerk to help stabilize the shoulder joint.
Legs: The legs, including the quads, hamstrings, and glutes, are also involved in the Jerk to provide stability and power during the lift.
Core: The core muscles are highly engaged in the Jerk to maintain proper posture and stability throughout the lift.
Overall, the barbell Clean and Jerk is a highly demanding movement that requires a combination of strength, power, and mobility from multiple muscle groups in the body.
Olympic clean and jerk is a complicated movement in terms of technique. It consists of two separate exercises. First, athletes clean the bar and then jerk it. There are three different jerk techniques:
1. Split jerk - an athlete jerks the bar off their chest driving one leg forward and the other backward. After fixation and stabilization, they put the feet in line with each other again;
2. Push jerk - an athlete jerks the bar off the chest driving the legs approximately to the shoulder width apart and slightly squatting. After that, they recover with the bar fixed in the overhead position;
3. Squat jerk - an athlete jerks the barbell off the chest and goes down to the full squat balancing the bar. Then they recover to the standing position and fix the bar overhead.
To get a ‘good lift’, an athlete must fix the bar overhead, lock out the knees and parallel their feel.
The weight for barbell clean and jerk is almost always higher by 15-28% than the snatch result.
Due to technical difficulty, mainly experienced athletes include clean and jerk workout into their plans. However, a lot of beginners also try to do this exercise.
The methodology of clean & jerk learning is especially critical to minimize future injury risk.
Olympic weightlifters perform the clean & jerk at competitions and try to lift the highest possible weight.
Olympic clean and jerk exercise is also very popular in crossfit training. It often has different goals there. The most important is to increase workout tonnage and intensity. Clean and jerk crossfit sets are nearly the hardest due to high weight loads and technique requirements. If you read the general workout tonnage, you will see a huge number there.
Clean and jerk weightlifting involves quads, glutes, spine extensors and trunk muscles, triceps, and delts. Therefore, it is crucial to distribute the load properly within a week. There should be a balance between intensive clean & jerk workouts and pulls and squats. If you fail this, your muscles won't recover and you will face overtraining. It will cease the progress and cause muscle pain and soreness, constant tiredness, sleep disorders, and central nervous system fatigue.
Clean & jerk technique
The clean and jerk progression is complicated in terms of technique so it’s better to reach out for an adequate and experienced coach. I will try to describe everything in detail but remember that only a look from the side can reasonably judge the technique, point out the mistakes and help to reach a desirable result. If you have no one to give you a hand, at least record your workouts and analyze them afterward. The best angle is 45°.
Clean and jerk workout is difficult in terms of technique so even professional athletes hone it year after year. It has a huge range of motion and consists of several stages:
- starting position;
- power position;
- standing up;
- dip and drive;
- split fixation or the power jerk.
Power Clean and Jerk
Hang Clean and Jerk
Clean and Jerk Complexes
Clean and Jerk from Blocks or Rack
Mobility Importance For C&J
Typical Novice Mistakes:
- Jerking the bar is more about leg effort, but not arm power. Still, the delts and triceps are responsible for stabilization.
- Don’t wear regular sneakers for performing the clean & jerk. Spend some money to buy high-quality weightlifting shoes which will help you to keep the trunk in the proper position while dipping.
- Reach out for an adequate coach. It is difficult to learn the proper technique on your own. However, a look from the side will help you correct the movement taking into account all body peculiarities.
- Pay special attention to the wrist and elbow warm-up. When the bar rests on the chest and the elbows are pointed forward, our joints and tendons are under great tension. Use statdynamic exercises to strengthen them additionally.