How To Avoid Getting Dizzy In Clean & Squats - And Why It Happens

Dizziness during a clean or squat can have a few causes, but what is NOT causing it is having the bar compressing your trachea—all of you can hold you breath for a few seconds without getting dizzy, so quit saying that.
The first cause of dizziness is the bar in a clean rack position compressing the carotid arteries, which run down the front of your neck right under where the bar sits. This reduces the flow of oxygenated blood to the brain—enough of a reduction, and it’s lights out for you.
To avoid this, ensure a proper rack position with the shoulders pushed forward and very slightly elevated, and pull your head straight back a little to reduce the pressure.
Even with a normally good rack position, you can suffer from this problem if you let your cleans crash onto you. This often results in the bar sitting farther back into the throat and the shoulders sagging, meaning more artery compression.
The next big cause, and why dizziness can still occur in lifts in which the bar isn’t even near the carotid arteries, is vagal nerve stimulation. Holding your breath and straining, as you do in any tough lift, stimulates the vagus nerves, which abruptly reduces blood pressure and heart rate. This was enough to kill Elvis while taking a growler; it’s more than enough to make you dizzy or put you to sleep.
Combine a bad rack position causing carotid artery compression, and a tough squat causing vagal stimulation—such as you would get with a crashing heavy clean—and you have a perfect recipe for dizziness and unconsciousness.
The pressure inside the trunk from bracing will also reduce how much blood the heart can pump to some degree. This won’t affect a quick lift like a clean, but it can contribute to dizziness in longer duration lifts or sets. All you have to do to avoid this reduced cardiac output is breathe well with less bracing between reps.
To avoid vagal stimulation, release a small amount of air during the toughest part of the lift—as little as possible to reduce the risk without compromising the stability of your trunk, meaning it’ll make some kind of noise that will sound very tough and cool.
Finally, if you’re getting dizzy frequently and with very light weights and easy lifts, it’s more likely an issue of hydration and/or nutrition… or something you need to have a chat with a doctor about.

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