The Five Biggest Contradictions in Fitness
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The Five Biggest Contradictions in Fitness

Itís no secret that when people contradict themselves, it has the effect of making the flaws in their actions or statements seem glaringly obvious. But what about when WE ourselves get caught contradicting ourselves by someone else?

By: Nick Tumminello Added: January 6th, 2014
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  1. #1
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    Power clean vs. Hang clean

    I started the Rippetoe program a few weeks ago and I'm loving it. This is the first program I've done thats incorporated an Oly lift and thats the Power Clean. (besides deadlift and squat).

    I've learned the form from the Starting Strength book and from watching videos on here but I know I still dont have it down.

    My problem is that when I do the power clean it just doesnt feel like it flows smoothly. I decided to switch to the Hang clean today and it felt alot better. Felt like I was working out my shoulders/traps a lot better and just felt like the movement had proper form. Since I dont have anyone to help on my form should I just stick to the hang clean and not risk hurting myself?

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  3. #2
    Who is John Galt? CrazyK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by neon View Post
    I started the Rippetoe program a few weeks ago and I'm loving it. This is the first program I've done thats incorporated an Oly lift and thats the Power Clean. (besides deadlift and squat).

    I've learned the form from the Starting Strength book and from watching videos on here but I know I still dont have it down.

    My problem is that when I do the power clean it just doesnt feel like it flows smoothly. I decided to switch to the Hang clean today and it felt alot better. Felt like I was working out my shoulders/traps a lot better and just felt like the movement had proper form. Since I dont have anyone to help on my form should I just stick to the hang clean and not risk hurting myself?
    I'm against using any form of cleans or olympic moves for a multitude of reasons unless you are training to become an olympic lifter. However if you must do these, my advice would be to just do a hang pull and no catch. When the bar clears your nipples you've completed the rep, just shoot your glutes and "jump" with the bar until you've completed the triple extension of the hips, knees, and toes.

  4. #3
    Journalist galileo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrazyK View Post
    I'm against using any form of cleans or olympic moves for a multitude of reasons unless you are training to become an olympic lifter. However if you must do these, my advice would be to just do a hang pull and no catch. When the bar clears your nipples you've completed the rep, just shoot your glutes and "jump" with the bar until you've completed the triple extension of the hips, knees, and toes.
    Present your multitude.

  5. #4
    Who is John Galt? CrazyK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by galileo View Post
    Present your multitude.
    Ok,..here we go lol

    #1. Olympic lifting takes a lot more time and skill to do the moves correctly. I've been to so many gyms and for every gym I've went to, I've seen a thousand different ways to do a Power Clean. Everyone seems to have their own little way of jerking it up, however other lifts don't take nearly the same technical skill yet can yield just as good or better results in producing explosive power.

    #2. Any lift can be explosive! Take 50%-60% of your 1 RM and do it as fast as possible. This can be done with any lift from Box Squats, to Preacher Curls.

    #3. Most of the time when an athlete has trouble doing a correct power clean it is because he is not strong enough in the right places. Getting stronger is more of a priority then learning to do a correct Power Clean with a broom stick for 3 months.

    #4. Training economy. To add to point #3 if you get stronger in whatever your weakness's are then you automatically get better at the power clean. Say you have weak hamstrings, and this is preventing you from doing a full dip when performing the olympic movements because you can't fully squat back in your hips. Simply getting stronger in this area makes you a better olympic lifter, however this does not work the other way around.

  6. #5
    Senior Member Sleepy Guy's Avatar
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    I look at the lift in three parts. One being the ground lift, exact same as a dead lift. Second is the shrug, back movement, and flip of the arms. Third is the front squat to catch it.

    By doing hang clean you are forcing your traps to do the work other wise you would be curling it.

    What you should do is stand in front of a mirror and do you hang cleans. Then your power cleans. When it feels almost effortless then you are doing it right.

  7. #6
    Journalist galileo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrazyK View Post
    Ok,..here we go lol

    #1. Olympic lifting takes a lot more time and skill to do the moves correctly. I've been to so many gyms and for every gym I've went to, I've seen a thousand different ways to do a Power Clean. Everyone seems to have their own little way of jerking it up, however other lifts don't take nearly the same technical skill yet can yield just as good or better results in producing explosive power.
    I learned to do the snatch in one session. Perhaps I'm just lucky, but if I watch someone do it, then do it facing a mirror with a light weight, I have it down. There are also 1000 sites describing correct form.

    Quote Originally Posted by CrazyK View Post
    #2. Any lift can be explosive! Take 50%-60% of your 1 RM and do it as fast as possible. This can be done with any lift from Box Squats, to Preacher Curls.
    Yes, but snatches and cleans work basically your entire system. If you do explosive preacher curls, you will be spitting out teeth.

    Quote Originally Posted by CrazyK View Post
    #3. Most of the time when an athlete has trouble doing a correct power clean it is because he is not strong enough in the right places. Getting stronger is more of a priority then learning to do a correct Power Clean with a broom stick for 3 months.
    You start off low with weight and progress, just like anything else. You will grow stronger as a system.

    Quote Originally Posted by CrazyK View Post
    #4. Training economy. To add to point #3 if you get stronger in whatever your weakness's are then you automatically get better at the power clean. Say you have weak hamstrings, and this is preventing you from doing a full dip when performing the olympic movements because you can't fully squat back in your hips. Simply getting stronger in this area makes you a better olympic lifter, however this does not work the other way around.
    Again, this is not an argument against performing olympic motions, just an argument that working supporting areas will improve your overall performance. If your bench sucks because of your tricpes, work your triceps more outside of the bench (JM Press) and your bench will improve. This is universal.


    There's only one concern I'd seriously consider and that would be fear of injury due to poor form, rapid progression, or failing a lift. All of the other things are symptoms of many exercises.

  8. #7
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    I think the hard part for me is that in the book, Starting Strength, that outlined this routine and tells of proper form for most of the lifts, one of the big things it says for the Power Clean is that you should not throw the weight up unless the barbell is touching you're quads. The bar should be touching your quads and then you are ready to do the shrug and back movement part of the lift. I guess Im having a hard time with the timing of it all. And also catching the bar on my shoulders at the same time my heels hit the floor.

  9. #8
    Senior Member stepto180's Avatar
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    I would say if it feels better then do the one you can keep good form with

    but the power clean has 2 pulls one off the ground and on once the bar gets to you mid quad first pulls is like and explosive dead lift the second pull is the hips coming thru (like you are humping the bar basically)you want keep the bar close to the body and always move the bar in a linear motion

  10. #9
    Who is John Galt? CrazyK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by galileo View Post
    I learned to do the snatch in one session. Perhaps I'm just lucky, but if I watch someone do it, then do it facing a mirror with a light weight, I have it down. There are also 1000 sites describing correct form. If you learned how to do a complete power snatch with perfect form in one session than you are an incredible athlete. I know of olympic lifters who have done over 100,000 reps of the given lifts and still do not have perfect form. It is a sport in and of itself!



    Yes, but snatches and cleans work basically your entire system. If you do explosive preacher curls, you will be spitting out teeth. A speed box squat will work almost your entire nervous system, and takes a fraction of the time to learn. I mentioned preacher curls just to get the point across that you can do any lift explosively.



    You start off low with weight and progress, just like anything else. You will grow stronger as a system. Yes I agree, this is where training efficiency comes in. Would I rather spend my time doing an explosive box squat, which incorporates the same if not more muscle fibers in to the move, or use it learning how to do the olympic movements which can take years to perfect?



    Again, this is not an argument against performing olympic motions, just an argument that working supporting areas will improve your overall performance. If your bench sucks because of your tricpes, work your triceps more outside of the bench (JM Press) and your bench will improve. This is universal. I'll hammer this in again. Training efficiency. Why spend time doing a move that is hard to learn, and most likely because I am too weak in an area to do it, when I can take the time to just get stronger? The easiest way to get more explosive is to increase your absolute strength.

    There's only one concern I'd seriously consider and that would be fear of injury due to poor form, rapid progression, or failing a lift. All of the other things are symptoms of many exercises. These concerns are of the upmost importance when considering that most athletes want results NOW. Results they can see immeadiately. It's going to take a lot of time to teach these moves, so it's either let the athlete do what most do and just do the move with out proper form and end up injuring themselves. Or waste countless hours doing a power clean with a broom stick when they could already be improving their speed and explosion doing plyometrics and low-medium weighted lifts such as the squat/bench press.

  11. #10
    Senior Member Sleepy Guy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stepto180 View Post
    like you are humping the bar basically
    Well put. Keep arms straight until the very last moment. Have your knuckles facing down. Bar as close to the body as you can.

    Extend the legs, calves, back aka hump the bar, shrug, and duck under the weight. Get you elbows up as fast as you can. Like a deadlift the legs extend before the back.

    If you question the value of the lift. Try it for a month and if it feels wrong still then stop or find out what you are doing wrong.

  12. #11
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    " A speed box squat will work almost your entire nervous system, and takes a fraction of the time to learn. I mentioned preacher curls just to get the point across that you can do any lift explosively."

    because a speed box squat places very little emphasis on the upper body, unlike power cleans. PC will help you with any upper body exercise as well as your core. sure it takes time to learn, but so does benching with an arch, or deadlifting or any movement that involves more then 2 muscles.

    "Yes I agree, this is where training efficiency comes in. Would I rather spend my time doing an explosive box squat, which incorporates the same if not more muscle fibers in to the move, or use it learning how to do the olympic movements which can take years to perfect?"

    the amount of muscle fiber and the location of those muscle fibers are two different things. sure box squats are great for everything from the sternum and down, but it doesnt do much for the upper board, which a hang clean/power clean will. and any sort of standing clean can be learned with good efficiency in a single workout, its not nearly as complex as a full oly movement.


    "I'll hammer this in again. Training efficiency. Why spend time doing a move that is hard to learn, and most likely because I am too weak in an area to do it, when I can take the time to just get stronger? The easiest way to get more explosive is to increase your absolute strength. "

    the complexity of the move aside, the efficiency of the move is nearly unmatchable as far as upper body muscle recruitment, especially if you throw in a jerk here and there! if you are weak in doing hang cleans, you wont make them go up by doing bench press . you WILL get stronger doing hang cleans, arguably faster and more explosive then any other upper body exercise will do for you as well.


    anyone who cant learn form good enough in cleans to at the very least not injure themselves has serious motor development problems.

  13. #12
    Senior Member beatlesfreak's Avatar
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    Alright...I see where CrazyK is coming from and he has a very good point. I am of the opinion however, that in the great scale of athletic strength training with weights [as opposed to "Bodybuilding", "Powerlifting" or "Abs for World Peace" type goals] Rippetoe far outweighs CrazyK.

    Just keep at it, ask around, check for training vids, and learn to do the movement efficiently and safely. It's like learning any skill. It will come to you in time with dedication and practice.

    Thousands of athletes have grown very strong [very safely] using Rippetoe's program and learning the Power Clean. What's more, an authority as legendary as Bill Starr himself once said that if an athletic training routine could only have one exercise it should be the Power Clean.

    Just keep trying. It will come to you.

    I added another few pounds to my Power Cleans yesterday. I've had a pretty good run up lately. Possibly from lots of time off work and lots of good food during the holidays. I find that these things really work my whole body, not just my traps. I think [but of course cannot prove] that learning to do the Power Clean has helped to improve my performance on numerous other lifts, most notably the deadlift. In a few more weeks when softball season begins we'll see if it has also improved my overall athleticism as well.

    Good luck, neon. These things are fun. Keep at it.

  14. #13
    Who is John Galt? CrazyK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by beatlesfreak View Post
    Alright...I see where CrazyK is coming from and he has a very good point. I am of the opinion however, that in the great scale of athletic strength training with weights [as opposed to "Bodybuilding", "Powerlifting" or "Abs for World Peace" type goals] Rippetoe far outweighs CrazyK.

    Just keep at it, ask around, check for training vids, and learn to do the movement efficiently and safely. It's like learning any skill. It will come to you in time with dedication and practice.

    Thousands of athletes have grown very strong [very safely] using Rippetoe's program and learning the Power Clean. What's more, an authority as legendary as Bill Starr himself once said that if an athletic training routine could only have one exercise it should be the Power Clean.

    Just keep trying. It will come to you.

    I added another few pounds to my Power Cleans yesterday. I've had a pretty good run up lately. Possibly from lots of time off work and lots of good food during the holidays. I find that these things really work my whole body, not just my traps. I think [but of course cannot prove] that learning to do the Power Clean has helped to improve my performance on numerous other lifts, most notably the deadlift. In a few more weeks when softball season begins we'll see if it has also improved my overall athleticism as well.
    Good luck, neon. These things are fun. Keep at it.
    My findings are backed up by Louie Simmons, Dave Tate, and Joe DeFranco. Which do have a lot of weight in the powerlifting, athletic world

  15. #14
    NITOR PROJECT Guinea Pig Joshua Davis's Avatar
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    I may be in a different boat because I am not a powerlifter, but a strongman and highland games thrower - but I can tell you that learning, and improving your proficiency in the classic lifts, will always make you stronger, faster, and more athletic. Not to mention, it builds your upperback into a brick ****house.

    Form is not everything, it is dependent upon leverages, personal strengths, and physical efficiency. Kostanaov (sp) pulls 400kg+ with a severely rounded upper back and stiff legs. Grenada's Mark Felix is considered one of the best deadlifters in strongman, and he takes a very wide, almost snatch-grip on the bar, with a sumo footstance... I don't think these guys should give up deadlifting because "they don't have the form right" - they are using the form that their minds and bodies have made the most efficient.

    I have been working on the classic lifts for less than a year. In that time, I have had coaches and lifters compliment me for my form... even though my coach has been, for the most part, Youtube. I now have collected a few books on the subject and lift at a gym with a platform and bumpers. Now, I just need to shorten my 2nd pull and add more weight to the bar...
    Last edited by Joshua Davis; 01-18-2007 at 08:58 AM.

  16. #15
    Senior Member Anthony's Avatar
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    Points to consider:

    1) Learning the most efficient way to pick something up and put it over your head is NOT a bad thing.

    2) No other lifts demonstrate power more than the fast lifts. If they existed, they'd be featured in the Olympics.

    3) No other lifts teach you how to receive force.

    4) And most importantly - Olympic lifts are not as technical as most people think. That argument is completely based on laziness of the coach and/or the athlete. Most people can grasp the basics within one session - I've seen a room of 50 people (men, women, old, young, big, small) learn how to clean and jerk in under 30 minutes and there were only 2 instructors. Mastering the lift may be another story, but you could say the same about ANY lift or sport.
    Facebook - BW166 SQ585 BP405 DL660 CL310

  17. #16
    Journalist galileo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrazyK View Post
    Every single point you made was fluff and all I heard was "wah wah wah, it's too hard." Man up.

  18. #17
    Journalist galileo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
    Points to consider:

    1) Learning the most efficient way to pick something up and put it over your head is NOT a bad thing.

    2) No other lifts demonstrate power more than the fast lifts. If they existed, they'd be featured in the Olympics.

    3) No other lifts teach you how to receive force.

    4) And most importantly - Olympic lifts are not as technical as most people think. That argument is completely based on laziness of the coach and/or the athlete. Most people can grasp the basics within one session - I've seen a room of 50 people (men, women, old, young, big, small) learn how to clean and jerk in under 30 minutes and there were only 2 instructors. Mastering the lift may be another story, but you could say the same about ANY lift or sport.
    Yes.

  19. #18
    NITOR PROJECT Guinea Pig Joshua Davis's Avatar
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    Excellent post Anthony. I nominate you for Super Moderator! Oh... wait...

    The last point was dead on.

  20. #19
    NITOR PROJECT Guinea Pig Joshua Davis's Avatar
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    By the way... the biggest point in learning for me, was to split my pull into two pulls - otherwise I was doing an upright row from the floor with a rack at the end.

    Low-tech solution? I used a pair of milk crates as pulling blocks to start my pull from "the hang" without going to the hang myself (I tend to cheat and drop the bar low, not fixing the problem).
    Example:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=st3YCkuWC9M

  21. #20
    King Nothing ericg's Avatar
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    Good idea Joshua. I know there are a few vids out there that break down the lifts pretty well. I think the burgener warmup is a great way to learn the lift and focus on a few things at a time.

    Here is an example of the warmup I found on youtube.

    The seventh link down on THIS page is the one from the CF page, better explination here.

    Joshua - looking at your vid that you posted, you have some great flexibility going into that front squat. nice work.
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    Deadlift - 415lbs - 2/4/06 ---- 435
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  22. #21
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    The whole power clean is supposed to be done in one continuous movement right? Or is it ok to take a split second to slow down once you get the bar to your quads?

  23. #22
    King Nothing ericg's Avatar
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    If you are doing a power clean you should be pulling fast through the whole lift. The idea is to snap the bar up so it is weightless and then pull yourself under the bar to catch it. You wouldn't want to stop the momentum half way through. If you want to start from mid thigh then do hang power cleans, like Joshuas vid.
    Current Stats --------------- Training Goals: Improve athletic conditioning.
    Squat - 305lbs - 1/23/06 ----- 335
    Deadlift - 415lbs - 2/4/06 ---- 435
    Bench - 90s*7 ----------------- 100s*5
    Weight - 208 ------------------ 190
    Height - 5'10"

    My Journal|My Routine|My FitDay
    WBBB|"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up" - Thomas Edison

  24. #23
    NITOR PROJECT Guinea Pig Joshua Davis's Avatar
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    Depends on your goals really. A clean, by all "classic" definitions, is a three step process... 1st pull, 2nd pull, rack

    Coming from the floor up on a "clean", is more or less what Dr. Squat defined in "Power: A Scientific Approach" as an "upright-row to a clean", meaning you were doing a long row from the floor and simply racking it like you would in a clean.

    I think doing the upright row approach would actually benefit the deadlift a good deal, but it would reinforce bad habits that are hard to break when cleaning.

  25. #24
    Who is John Galt? CrazyK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by galileo View Post
    Every single point you made was fluff and all I heard was "wah wah wah, it's too hard." Man up.
    Wow I didn't think a mod would ever tell someone to "man up" lol. Alas, I would be willing to bet I could out power clean you and I don't even do the lift. Just to show that inspite of doing the lifts you can get explosive and strong. I wish Louie Simmons and Joe Defranco would join this forum to back me up on this topic, it's incredibly annoying to argue with an individual who doesn't use logic and tells one to "man up" because they disagree.

  26. #25
    Senior Member Sleepy Guy's Avatar
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    Crazy, it sounds like you are jaded. I would give the same advise as Galileo.

    The lift is older then time as I know it. Cave men use to clean their new wives before shouldering them off to the old cave.

    The clubbing technique aka bonk on the head was invented later on and has evolved into the modern day clubs we see down town.

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