The clean high-pull is a variation of the clean pull involving a more active upper body.
The clean high-pull is identical to the clean pull with the exception of a continued upward pull of the bar with the arms following the extension of the body. Set your clean starting position tightly and initiate the lift by pushing with the legs against the floor. Shift your weight back slightly more toward the heels as the bar separates from the floor, and maintain approximately the same back angle until the bar is at mid-thigh. At mid- to upper-thigh, your shoulders should be at least slightly in front of the bar. Accelerate the bar aggressively with violent leg and hip extension, keeping the bar close to the body and allowing it to contact at the hips. The movement should be directly vertically with a focus on extending the body upward, although to maintain balance, it will be leaned back slightly. As the legs and hips reach full extension, pull the elbows up and to the sides, keeping the bar in immediate proximity to the body. The aggressiveness of the push against the ground should result in the lifter’s heels rising off the floor as the extension is completed, and this fully extended position should be maintained by maintaining pressure against the floor until the bar stops moving upward. The goal is to elevate the elbows as much as possible—focus on lifting the elbows rather than the bar in order to ensure proper movement and final position. Depending on the weight, the elbows may not actually reach maximal height, but that is always the goal. Technically, if the arms are engaged and pulling following the extension of the body in the pull, the exercise is considered a high-pull.
The clean high-pull is an exercise for training strength, speed, power, posture and balance in the extension of the clean in the same way the clean pulldoes, but with the added training of the mechanics and strength of the arms that will be used in the third pull. Because of the continued upward pull to maximal height, the clean high-pull also helps reinforce more aggressive, complete and vertically-oriented extension. In addition to a training exercise for the pull of the clean, the clean high-pull can be used to teach and train the proper initial movement of the arms for the third pull.
Generally the clean high-pull should be done for 2-5 reps per set anywhere from 70%-90% of the lifter’s best clean. This weight range will allow most athletes to get the elbows to maximal height. High-pulls can still be prescribed with heavier weights as long as maximal elbow height is not desired. As a strength exercise, it should be placed toward the end of a workout, but because it also involves some speed and technique, it’s generally best place before more basic strength work like squats. With lighter weights, it can be used before cleans as a technique primer.
The clean high-pull can be performed standing on a riser, from blocks, with either a static start or dynamic start, with or without straps, with pauses on the way up, maintaining flat feet, and with prescribed concentric and/or eccentric speeds. Slower eccentric speeds in particular will increase the strengthening of pulling posture and back arch strength.