Receive Cleans as Low as Possible?

If you’re not receiving your cleans in the bottom of a squat… good! Keep not doing that.
If you want to skip all the details and rationale and just be told what do to, it’s simple: With lighter cleans, complete the full motion of the pull but with less force so you’re not elevating the bar too high. Then pull under with normal speed, sitting fluidly into the squat like in any other clean.
Some clarification before I continue—when I say receiving the bar, I’m talking about securing it in the rack position. If you’re doing cleans, it’s implicit that regardless of the height you rack the bar, you’re continuing into a full depth squat before standing.
There is a benefit to being able to get into a very deep squat quickly—that’s what allows us to clean the most possible weight, because our ability to elevate the bar decreases as the weight increases.
But there is no benefit to intentionally receiving in the bottom of a squat when weights don’t demand it—and they virtually never do.
We’re not trying to pull the bar as high as possible—we don’t need to do 75% of a front squat descent to recover from a clean. But we are trying to elevate the bar enough that we have the time and space to establish a rock-solid rack and squat position, and load the eccentric squat motion sufficiently to capitalize on the tension and stretch reflex it generates. This is especially important for lifters without a large leg strength surplus.
Ideally, we’re executing the same pulling motion regardless of weight—the difference is in how much force we’re applying. Graduating the force along with the weights prevents excessive bar height and lets us train a more consistent movement under the bar—in other words, with lighter weights, we’re trying to reasonably simulate heavier weights rather than just power cleaning.
But we’re still racking the bar higher with lighter weights than we do with heavier weights rather than just bombing into a deep squat and waiting for the bar to fall on us.
Think of what would be easier—a front squat starting above parallel, or a front squat started in rock bottom. Don’t make the lift harder than it needs to be.
The difference in receiving height from the lightest to heaviest cleans varies among even the best lifers in the world—but what’s universal is that receiving depth decreases as weight increases, and none are received in true rock bottom, with the exception of errors in which the lifter loses connection to the bar.
The goal is to maximize consistency, security, recovery and confidence in our cleans by keeping lifts reasonably similar across weights, but not unnecessarily increasing difficulty by artificially forcing extreme receiving depth.
Thank you to All Things Gym for the competition video footage so I can demonstrate lifters other than my own doing what I’m talking about and don’t have to then respond to comments about it not being what “the best” lifters do.


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