I’m a strongwoman who likes to jerk.. wait a second, that sounds a little wrong. Nevertheless it’s true! As a current USS national record holder for the axle clean and press, one could saying jerking and cleaning are specialties of mine. Coming from an olympic background definitely plays a part in my holding of this record, and if you train strongman, it would also be beneficial to incorporate some olympic lifts into your programming if you don’t already.
While the snatch has it’s place for athletic development, the clean and jerk correlate better and are safer to practice for strongman training. Full olympic lifting movements teach the user to incorporate the hips to move a bar as high as possible, then have the speed and flexibility to drop underneath in a stable position. The difference between a “full” movement and a “power” movement is how far one drops underneath the bar. A power movement is maximal effort from the hip transitioning the bar up into a slight cushion from the hips in the rack position (clean) or overhead (snatch). A full movement is a sub-maximal hip explosion followed by a sub-maximal squat to stand the bar up. Combining hip and squat strength is good.. but only when you want a maximum weight on your clean/snatch. As strongmen, we don’t care about that. We care about athletic development and coordination that can be derived from hip power, so forget about the squat to the bottom for fulls. Additionally, practicing power movements is safer and requires less flexibility. Who doesn’t love that?
So, work on your power cleans. Find someone who is familiar with proper form; you’ll never learn how to extend your hips properly by yourself without someone there watching who knows what to look for. Since pressing is so prominent in strongman competitions, it would be majorly beneficial to learn the push jerk. In olympic competitions you see almost everyone split jerk, but when playing with the log and pressing for time, a push jerk is going to be most efficient. Hip drive carries the bar/log halfway up, then driving your body underneath the bar takes care of the top half of the lift. All the shoulders are for is cushioning the catch of the weight overhead. Once you master the jerk, you will have a major advantage over most other strongman competitors struggling to finish their presses out with measly little deltoids.
Overall, instilling the clean and jerk into your programming will do nothing but benefit you as a strongman competitor. Cleans create explosion and athleticism in a unique and functional way. Having good technique for a push jerk will make your pressing numbers go way up. Find some olympic lifters. Hang out with them. Learn the technique. Hit big lifts.
Thank you for reading!