Thursday, June 8, 2006

Clean Your Plate

In "Fear and Control", I wrote about my reluctance to pull myself under the bar during the clean and jerk.

Neal Thompson came up with a great solution to my problem. Actually, he came up with two. I haven't tried the second one as of yet, mostly because it looks like it would put me out of commission for a few days.

The first solution: Clean a 35 pound bumper plate.

"What? How the hell do you clean a bumper plate?"

"You have to let go of it, drop under it, and catch it."


The genius of this solution lies in the fact that you have to give up total control of the object you're cleaning.

There is simply no way to cheat. You can't muscle the weight to your chest using a reverse curl--you'll smack yourself in the head with the plate. The exercise demands proper form.

Here's how it works:

Grab the top of the plate, and lower yourself into the standard clean starting position. Head up, chest up, maintaining lordosis of the spine. You know the drill.

Make sure your arms are engaged, but not bent. As Coach Burgener says, "When the arms bend, the power ends."

Now push through the heels and extend the hips violently. Note that this is a vertical motion, not a hip thrust. You're putting momentum and elevation on the plate, in the same manner you would impart momentum and elevation on a barbell.

Now, the fun part. Let go.

The plate should "hover" in front of you, momentarily weightless. This is the same thing the bar should do during your barbell cleans.

Pull yourself down under the plate, activating the posterior chain. Get down into a squat as fast as you can. Grab the plate, meeting it while it is still weightless. Then stand up.

Like the barbell clean, the faster you get under the plate, the better. Go faster!

These are a ton of fun. Once you get over the initial fear of letting go of the plate, you'll have a blast. I even tried to see how high I could "throw" the plate using the clean technique. If you do this, do it with your own equipment, and get out of the way quick. The potential for mayhem is staggering.

Psychologically, this exercise will help you overcome your fear of dropping under the bar during the clean and jerk.

Last time I addressed dropping under the bar, I talked about fear during the push jerk. Neal gave me a prescription to kill the feeling. It's brutal and simple.

While working on the landing and getting under the bar quickly, do:
100 push jerks (barbell only)
100 push jerks (75 pound bar)
100 push jerks (95 pound bar)

300 reps should be enough to burn anything into muscle memory. I'm going to tackle this b*tch tomorrow. If I'm still concious on Saturday, you'll be the first to hear about it.


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