Clean Segment Deadlift
AKA Pause clean deadlift
The clean segment deadlift is a clean deadlift with one or more pauses on the way up.
Set the clean starting position and brace the trunk tightly. Push with the legs through the whole foot against the floor similarly to a squat. Maintain even balance over the whole foot and actively keep the bar as close to the legs as possible.
Stop and hold in the first pause position for 1-3 seconds, ensuring proper position and whole foot balance. Move to the next pause position and repeat. After the final pause, continue to a standing position as you would in a regular clean deadlift, then return the bar to the floor.
Common pause positions are right off the floor, below the knee, at the knee and mid-thigh.
The clean segment deadlift is used to build strength for the pull of the clean, and to emphasize strength in the pause positions. This may be to strengthen the typical weak points in the pull, such as being able to stay over the bar past the knee or not tip forward in the first pull, or to address specific weakness for a given lifter. The pauses make it easier for the athlete to feel and correct for improper position and balance, which means more training in the right ones. It can also be used as part of a clean teaching progression or for technical remediation.
Generally the clean segment deadlift should be done for 1-4 reps per set anywhere from 70%-110% of the lifter’s best clean depending on the lifter and the number of pauses. Newer lifters whose cleans are significantly limited by technique will likely need to pull much heavier percentages to adequately train strength in the pull, and the more pauses, the fewer reps per set are appropriate.
In any case, the weight should not exceed what the lifter can do with proper positioning and balance—not only will improper balance and positioning fail to improve the lifter’s performance, it will exacerbate the existing problem.
As a heavy strength exercise, it should be placed toward the end of a workout. Typically pulling exercises are performed before squats, but this order can be reversed for lifters who need to emphasize squat strength over pulling strength.
The clean segment deadlift can be performed on a riser, with slow eccentrics (3-6 seconds typically), from various hang or block heights, with slow concentrics to emphasize control over posture and balance, with a static or dynamic start, with or without straps, and many other possibilities.