Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The CrossFit Clean - what are the standards?

A question was raised by some trainer friends of mine about what CrossFit considers "the standard" for the Clean. Away from the CrossFit world, I think most people agree a solid rack, with the arms parallel to the deck are generally required for a strong, complete Clean position.

In fact (as Ryan Kittrell, Level 1 CF Trainer was kind enough to Google up): "The power clean is best thought of as a jump with the bar in the hands, followed immediately by an upward forward slam of the elbows to rack it on the shoulders." ---Rippetoe

The 2012 Games recently displayed the standard as basically having the elbow in front of the bar. In this video, I explain my thoughts on the CrossFit Clean and a few differences between the actual "Rippetoe" definition and the standard at CrossFit.

Elbows are good - but the head is NOT neutral. Judging by this stance,
he appears to be a little far forward  and above that 90-degree sweet spot

Virtually NO rack at all. What's worse is this gal is posing
for a model-type picture, presumably demonstrating the Clean

I think this may have been at CrossFit regionals or maybe even
the CrossFit Games. This, in my opinion is NO REP. The elbows
are down and the knees are WAY forward. Poor form if nothing else

Just. Freaking. Awesome.

A progression picture. The top is AFTER, the bottom
the BEFORE picture.


  1. I'll admit I've strayed away from the CF ways and have focused primarily in Olympic lifting. I think the triceps need to be parallel with the floor for the clean/power clean. Something that bugs me about the cf community is the squat clean. In olympic lifting there is no such thing. There is the clean which entails receiving the bar and usually the quads go below parallel (pending user flexibility) with the ground and the power clean in which quads don't go below parallel. It kills when people say they squat clean andthey are just cleaning and when they say they are cleaning when they are power cleaning.

    As for standards something else that I believe needs to be watched to count a rep is the heel relationahip to the ground. When receiving the bar after initiating the second pull and achieving full extension the heel should be in contact with the ground. Sometimes the bar travels forward and the weight shifts to the lifters toes and the heals are off the ground. This should be a no rep.

  2. You are absolutely correct. There is no "Squat Clean". That is a CrossFit invention to help the community at-large to identify the different positions they want to use. The clean is, as you said, arms (triceps) parallel to the deck, butt below 90-degrees.

    Here, for right or wrong, I'm want to explain CrossFit's standard for counting a rep. Is counting your reps this way going to increase your capacity? Nope.

    Hopefully (and that's a big HOPE) most CrossFit coaches train to the Oly lifting community's standard. Form is inevitably going to falter or fail during any competition in which the primary factor is time, as opposed to form.