I had the day off from the gym yesterday to attend a friend’s wedding. It often feels like crap to skip out on a day at the gym, but it was an amazing day to be part of. I can lift any day, but it’s not every day my friends get married. After preventing the world’s worst hangover by drinking in the realm of 3 liters of water over night, I was actually surprisingly well rested by the time I had to train with Sam today. Today we’d be pulling and focusing on cleans.
We didn’t really waste any time getting into it. I had stretched out my ankles, hamstrings, and hips pretty well before I started with Sam and even snuck in a couple of really light deadlifts. I just wanted to use them to test for any tightness in my legs/hips/glutes, which did happen to prompt more stretching for my hips. The first small chunk of the workout was focused around pulling from slightly below the knee into a full extension and a bit of a shrug at the top. The goal was for me to be able to identify where in the range of motion I’d need to go up on my toes to really nail that extension and where on my legs the bar needs to make contact as I go into full extension. Even with just the bar I could feel my lower back starting to tire out. Once this pattern had been practiced for a bit, it was time to clean.
I only stuck around 95 lbs for my cleans, but the goal of course was not to hit any large weights here. This was my first time actually doing cleans under supervision. I was having a lot of difficulty trying to do a clean without just pulling the bar vertically and making zero contact with my body. To re-phrase that, I could pull the weight up to get it on my shoulders, but my body was avoiding the bar entirely as I ripped the bar up. I was never leveraging my full extension to rocket the bar up. It turns out I was still winding up to do these pulls like I do for deadlifts, despite the fact that the bar is right below knee level. This resulted in me sitting back when I should have actually been over top of the bar. It made cleans incredibly difficult because when I needed to get hip drive into my full extension, my legs had already been brought forward to the bar.
It took quite a few attempts until I was finally doing multiple cleans in a row. I’d still say that most of the sets had some pretty gruesome reps involved, but I can say with confidence that I’m getting the idea. I can grasp (for the most part) when certain things need to happen, but it’s difficult for me to time it all together properly without getting paralyzed by over-thinking. I left the session having completely numb thumbs (they’re still tender and half numb as I type this) from doing hook grip the entire time. That’s right! I kept it the ENTIRE time.