• Abby Heffern

Clean Cues: Bar Crashing

A heavy bar crashing onto your shoulders in the clean is NOT FUN and will make the lift 10x harder than it would be if you met the bar at the right moment. This is typically an issue of timing and learning to move under the bar with intention- vs. dropping mindlessly under the bar as fast as possible. Here are a few cues I’ve found useful for myself and my athletes:

MEET THE BAR: This cues the athlete to rack the bar where it ends up reaching its max height- which will be higher in lighter lifts when the bar is able to elevate more, and lower in the heavier lifts when the elevation is much less. Either way- the athlete is not passively dropping and then waiting for the bar to come down on top of them- but rather seeking out where the barbell has elevated to in space and actively racking the bar in that perfect, weightless moment.


Similar to “meet the bar,” this focuses on changing the athlete’s mindset from a passive drop to an active pull under the bar. From the first pull off the ground, to when they stand it up- the athlete must stay connected to the bar for the entirety of the lift. A clean is not “pull the bar as high and hard as you can and then drop and wait” - it’s moving WITH the bar and with the intention of being in control of how high the bar goes, at what point you actively rack it on your shoulders, and maximizing on that timing to be able to stand it up as seamlessly as possible.


Though the fault of the bar crashing is usually the result of a passive, rushed drop- it’s also important to make sure the athlete isn’t pulling the bar past its max height- which can make it harder to meet the bar at the right moment. With certain athletes who rely too much on pulling with their arms throughout the lift, I cue “arms relaxed” to preserve the natural elevation of the bar based on their second pull, and prevent them from continuing to pull the bar up when they should be pulling themselves UNDER and into the rack position.

I’ve known lifters who are incredibly strong in their front squats and pulls, and could probably clean more than they are now if they improved their timing and stopped making every lift so damn hard on themselves. If your squats and pulls are significantly more than your olympic lifts, close the gap in your technique in see what happens…

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