With the continued rise of CrossFit, lifts like the snatch and clean and jerk have hit the mainstream. There’s no denying the benefits these total body exercises provide – more speed, explosiveness and power, to name just three. They also require full capacity in various fundamental shapes, including the hang, squat, front rack and overhead archetype. If an athlete is missing range of motion in any one of these positions, the snatch and clean and jerk act as diagnostic checks that highlight where mobility work should be concentrated.
The trouble is that for all the benefits of the Olympic lifts, they’re highly technical and can take years to perfect – Olympic lifting is its own sport after all. With proper instruction and the reinforcement of correct motor patterns, the injury rate is very low but if novices just go and grab a bar and get going the chance of getting hurt is much higher (as is the case for any complex physical skill).
Below are two stripped down variations that provide most of the benefits of the full clean and jerk and snatch without the steep learning curve. Start with a lighter weight than you think you can handle, have a friend (or better yet, a qualified coach) check your form, and make sure you include a thorough warmup/cooldown. Consider incorporating the Burgener Warmup with a PVC pipe, broom handle or maybe even a SUP paddle.