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Jessica is our 2016 Olympic Hopeful and Sarah is our 2012 Olympian in Weightlifting. We're setting out to be "Pretty Strong" and we encourage you to do the same.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Squatting to improve your clean

I was asked recently to do a post about how to use the squat to improve your clean.
There are two different squats weightlifters use: front and back. We all have out own reasons for doing either or both exercises.  Some lifters only do front and some just back squat.

For me, we believe in doing both squats. Front squats however, bother my shoulders for some reason so we mostly just do them when we start getting into more of doing full lifts in preparation for a competition. Most of the time I am back squatting.

I'm not going to give you some repetition scheme to follow but I will explain why each version is important and it'll be up to you and your coach to figure out what you'd like to do.

Front Squats:
Front Squats I believe are most important for position strength. If you can develop strength, power, and flexibility in this position your cleans will be better. If you can clean close to what you front squat, it demonstrates how efficient of a lifter you are. I am a terrible example of efficiency, so you all know. When I am not front squatting, I view my cleans as a way of front squatting. I am still moving through that position albeit not quite the same results. 

Back Squats:
I feel this generates overall strength. I focus a lot on back squats since I am pained occasionally from front squats. That way I am strong enough to handle the clean even if I haven't done front squats in a while. Some people are limited my their wrist/triceps flexibility so their only option is to back squat. However, if you can't front squat, your likelihood of performing a clean properly is slim.

Some people believe in only front squatting to develop strength, power, and efficiency in that position. Most usually combine the two. Typically a weightlifter can be doing at least 6 squat sessions a week with front squat in the mornings and back squat in the evenings.

One of my favorite ways to squat is to use the front squat as a warm up. First you squat up to a heavy triple, double or single as a front squat and after that, you get started on your back squats and work all the way up to your work sets. I think this is a great way to add variety to your squat regimen.

Whatever your needs are, work with your coach and discuss them with him/her and get squatting!

Happy Day!
Sarah Robles


Michael Milton said...

Sarah, when you're doing six squat sessions a week, what % of your 1RM do you lift? Do you do doubles or triples?

Sarah and Jessica said...

It really varies. When I get closer to a competition my squat percentages get into the 90s and up to 100+ In the mean time I don't do anything less than 80. It's pretty much the standard belief that work isn't being done until you're lifting at 80-85 percent.