Clean and Jerk

clean and jerk

The clean and jerk is one of two olympic weightlifting events (the other being the snatch). It is a highly technical lift that is known as ‘the king of lifts’ because more weight can be lifted above one’s head as compared to any other known weightlifting technique. The clean portion of the lift refers to the lifter explosively pulling the weight from the floor to a racked position across deltoids and clavicles.

In early twentieth century weightlifting competitions, a variant movement called the ‘Continental’ (because it was practiced by Germans rather than the British) allowed the lifter to pull the barbell up to his belt, where it could rest. Then with several successive flips, the bar would be moved up the torso until it reached the position for the overhead jerk. The Continental gained a reputation as clumsy, slow, and nonathletic compared to the swift coordinated movement required to lift the bar ‘clean.’ Hence, the clean movement was adopted by the early weightlifting federations as the official movement.

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