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Old 02-15-2010, 02:51 AM   #1
Tom Vale
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Join Date: Aug 2009
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Default Pain in the Power Clean/Difficulty holding the "Rack" position?

(I'll be honest, this is a direct copy of a post I made on another forum. It's rather lengthy so I didn't want to type it out again however I did want to access the experience and knowledge of the Cathletics board ;-))

G'day Guys, I'm Tom, 20yo in Australia trying to learn the Olympic Lifts. I unfortunately don't have regular access to a coach so do most of my lifting unsupervised.
I've been having a few issues, primarily with cleans and the assosciated movements, my snatches so far have given me little issue (I'm sure this will change :P).

Here is the video of todays session for your reference:

I was until recently, doing full C&J however I found myself having a bit of trouble "racking" the bar at the bottom position (refer to this video to see what happened when I tried to catch 90kg).

I was advised to practice front squatting in order to get more comfortable with the rack position throughout the range of motion and cease doing Cleans. I decided to have a crack at doing Power Cleans today however as I have generally felt fairly comfortable with the rack position at the top.

As I was doing the Power Cleans today, I began getting quite a strange pain/sensation in my left arm. I've included a few photos with little red dots to illustrate exactly where the pain was. It wasn't a sharp pain that I felt as I was doing the movement immediately, more like someone had given me a dead arm after the sets were done. This pain dissipated after doing a few sets of Low Bar Back Squats. I'm thinking perhaps a rotator cuff issue? What I'm thinking is irrelevant I guess, as I'm seeking your advice ;-).

When racking the power cleans it seems that my upper and lower arms don't run in parallel, with my upper arms seeming to point quite forward. However when I front squat, they do seem to be parallel. Would you think this is a technique or flexibility issue?

In Summary (Apologies, I waffle a bit):
1) Could you recommend any good stretches/exercises for getting more comfortable with bottom of the front squat/clean position? I figure I am just going to try and do lots of front squats and static holds in the front squat position for now. Should I leave out the Cleans for now?

2) My rack looks different when comparing the power clean to the front squat, why do you think this is?

3) Have you any idea what the pain described above may be?

4) I realise my jerks are ugly as sin at heavier weights, I was messing around today to see where my maxes were and I think I found them. For now, no heavier than 75kg for P/Clean or Jerk ;-).
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Old 02-15-2010, 06:29 PM   #2
Steven Low
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In general, pain at the elbows/shoulder means you're either (1) early arm bending or (2) pulling too much with the arms moving under the bar.

I didn't really see much early arm bend so it's probably the latter, especially given the neurological symptoms. Probably pinched a nerve either in brachial/cervical plexus.

Gotta improve arm mobility and loosen up anterior shoulder/pecs/etc. likely.
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Old 02-15-2010, 06:39 PM   #3
Keith Miller
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Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 145

Okay, the biggest thing I see is that you are trying to sit back when catching the clean, same thing when you front squat, you are sitting too far back. I'll let a few others who are more qualified than me, but that is the biggest thing. Your pull looks fairly decent, but you are missing out front due to sitting "back" instead of "down". I hope this helps???!!!
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Old 02-16-2010, 11:01 AM   #4
Arden Cogar Jr.
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 694

I had a very similar problem as you when learning the lifts. My coach gave me a lesson in humility and I actually did a little video on youtube demonstrating what he did to me. I'm not a little fellow and I carry a lot of pillows, as my father calls them, in my extremities. But it doesn't keep me from getting into the rack and my palms onto the bar when I jerk.

Here's the link. I hope it helps.


for some reason, I can't get your vid to play. I'll check back later with hope that I can help.

All the best,
Lifting heavy stuff is fun and relative......
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Old 02-16-2010, 11:17 AM   #5
Arden Cogar Jr.
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Finally got the vid to play. Good work and you are doing very well. Stay the course, work on technique and you'll be well served.

I don't have a problem with the sitting back in the front squat and receiving the power cleans. The biggest issue I see is that your driving the bar into the jerk without your hands in control of the bar. You're not regaining control of the bar until it's above head height and that's causing a lot of instability and the likely pain your suffering.

I can only speak for myself. I'm not a little guy I go 112 to 115 kilos at 5'10" and I'm "dense" in more ways than one. And, like you, I have a short, if nonexistent, neck. As such, the area we recieve the clean, or our "rack", is a bit different than longer necked folks. We will catch more on the adam's apple than longer neck folk and we have to accept it. But, with that said, I have to respontion the bar from my rack to get ready for the jerk.

In doing that, I do the following:
1. I jump the weight up off my shoulders;
2. I reposition my hands outward on the bar while the bar is off the rack;
3. My palms touch the bar and my elbows go to a lower position than when I received the bar in the clean - the rack is still present as I have my front delts forward; From an elbow position standpoint, the recieving position has my arms pretty close to parallel to the floor. When I reposition my elbows here, my elbows are a 45 degree angle to the floor.
4. I then inhale deeply.
5. Hold breah.
6. I dip
7. As I drive upwards, I further rotate under the bar. My elbows are underneath the bar as I jump it off the rack.

I hope this makes sense and I hope it helps. Good luck and keep up the great work.

All the best,
Lifting heavy stuff is fun and relative......
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Old 03-25-2010, 06:22 AM   #6
Justin Lascek
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Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 10

[QUOTE=Steven Low;71009]In general, pain at the elbows/shoulder means you're either (1) early arm bending or (2) pulling too much with the arms moving under the bar.


Not necessarily. There are two other things that can help produce some joyous pain. One of them is catching cleans (power or otherwise) with elbows lower than a proper receiving position -- in other words where the weight is not supported on the shoulders and the arms are supporting some percentage of the weight, which is going on in the videos. The other could be attempting to jerk with the elbows high, as Tom is in the video. This is because the shoulders have already gone through half the ROM for shoulder flexion, and they are not driving the bar up in the first half of the jerk. Instead, the elbows are merely extending as the lifter drops under the bar. If they hardcore extend their elbows in this way, then potential distal straining of some muscles could occur at the elbow (although I have less experience with this because I don't coach the elbows to be in this position).

The areas of pain that Tom indicates would commonly be associated with catching the bar low, and this may not be his fault. His anthropometry is probably to blame (from seeing the pics and vids). His ulna looks pretty long in relation to his humerus, and this makes racking the bar a pain in the ass. Typically people in this position just need a wider grip and to think about their elbows being "in and up" as they rack the bar. I'd try this, and if flexibility is a limiting factor then continue to address it.

I'm glad I don't have long forearms, but t-rex arms do have their drawbacks.
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