Olympic weightlifting consists of two moves: the snatch and the clean and jerk. Both are challenging and will build strength as few other exercises can. Forge Rx in Winder and Braselton offers a group fitness class called Lift-Rx that focuses on these two Olympic weightlifting moves. In this blog post, we’ll explain the clean and jerk. Visit us today!


The clean and jerk are two separate movements that are always performed together in competitive Olympic weightlifting. The clean begins with the barbell on the ground. In one swift movement, you’ll bring the barbell up to rest on your deltoids (known as the front rack position) in a standing position. Once you have the barbell on your deltoids, you’ll quickly dip and drive, which raises the barbell overhead, which is known as the jerk. To complete the move, your arms need to be locked and your feet together in a vertical line.


  • Squat clean. Similar to the squat snatch, you will lift the barbell up just high enough to drop underneath it into a squat. However, this time you will catch the bar on top of your deltoids in the front rack position and stand up with the weight.
  • Power clean. This clean is not typically seen in Olympic weightlifting because by the nature of the movement, you cannot lift as much with a power clean, and to win an Olympic weightlifting competition, you need to lift the heaviest amount of weight successfully. In the power clean, you will start with the barbell on the ground, raise the bar higher, and catch it above parallel in the front rack position.


  • Split jerk. This is the jerk you will most likely see in Olympic weightlifting as you can lift the most weight usually with this move. With the barbell in the clean position, you will explosively bend your knees and drive the barbell up off your shoulders into an overhead position, splitting your feet and keeping your arms locked. You must then bring your feet together underneath you to finish the movement.
  • Power jerk. With power jerks you usually cannot lift as heavy as a weight. From the clean position, you will still explosively bend your knees, but you won’t split your feet. Instead, both feet remain in a vertical line next to each other.
  • Squat jerk. Unusual in Olympic weightlifting, you can squat clean the bar and then jerk it overhead. This is called a squat jerk or a squat clean and jerk.

The clean and jerk is usually taught first in Olympic weightlifting classes because it is much easier to learn than the snatch. All of Olympic weightlifting utilizes the same explosive hip extension, which is key to lifting heavy weights and is easier to execute with the clean.

Forge Rx in Winder and Braselton is a family-owned gym and fitness facility that believes in combining fitness and nutrition counseling to improve your health, overall athletic performance, and make your strong for life’s adventures. Adventure with us, and join today!