Day 5- Muscle Memory



The power clean. With the bar at waist level, arms fully extended, unlock the hips , dip and drive violently upwards. As the bar floats up with hip extension, roll the elbows forward and release the bar leaving only the fingertips in contact as the bar comes to rest in the pocket formed between the deltoids and the collarbone and stand up straight. Like so many things it sounds very simple but because this is a movement and it is done under load and relies on gravity to time it perfectly there is no way to deconstruct the motion and practice it in smaller parts. Instead you must start at the beginning and attempt the whole movement and refine each element one piece at a time.

Using my own experience, the first error I had to correct was with the ‘jump’. From the start position I had to learn to keep my arms fully extended and not to try and lift the bar with my arms. As the hips begin the drive upwards the bar is getting all of it’s momentum from the legs and hips, to use a phrase coined by coaches much wiser than I, ‘when the arm bends, the power ends.’

Now that you have the bar rising upwards as fast as you can, and believe me this takes a lot of practice, you need to unlock your elbows and roll them under the bar as fast as you can. This was my biggest problem area, like most everyone, I had very limited mobility as it was an unnatural movement for me. Daily stretching with a piece of PVC pipe behind the neck did wonders, moving the hands closer together each time. As your elbows rotate forward the pocket between your deltoid muscles and your collarbone grows, if your elbows aren’t pointing forward enough, there is no pocket and when you try to hold even the smallest bar in position against your chest the weight will pull you forward and you will fight to stand up.

The last little bit is letting go. This is essentially a blind movement, you are going to catch the bar in a position that you cannot see, you have to practice over and over until your body knows instinctively where it is in relation to the bar. My last little tweak to this movement was to open my hands as the elbows came around. If you learn to let go of the bar and let it roll out onto your fingertips as you get ready to catch it, you will notice that you have the bar naturally deep in the pocket and you don’t have to adjust at all to maintain position. With a light weight you might not notice that your grip on the bar causes you to catch a little farther forward than you should, it is very easy to adjust for this error and only later as the weights get heavier will you have to fix it. Here is the problem, it takes 200-300 repetitions to learn a movement the right way, it takes 3000-5000 repetitions to unlearn the wrong way. Better to get it right the first time.

FS 5×5@65#
BP 10×10@65#

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