Low Tech… Highly Effective

Recently, during a Thursday evening Twitter #ironchat session, the first question out of the gate was:

Q1) What’s your favorite Olympic lift for triple extension? What’s the common fault you see in it & the cue you use to correct? #ironchat

Coach David Taylor’s (@coachrdt) response was:

A1) Hang clean is our top triple extension exercise, and the biggest issue we see is landing with our feet too wide ‪#ironchat

This was a sentiment echoed by many participating in the chat… clean was the favorite Olympic lift for triple extension, with incorrect foot placement (too wide) on the landing or catch phase of the lift a common problem.

Coach Taylor then finished his response with his idea for a “fix”

A1) cont… Crazy idea, make your athletes clean inside a small hoop, forcing them to concentrate on landing with feet in athletic stance within the hoop #ironchat

I take video pretty much daily in my Strength and Conditioning classes… and recently have recorded hours of our athletes doing explosive lifts… clean, push press, and snatch. The video has a number of uses for me… sharing with other coaches, posting on twitter or my blog, archiving for future reference, but mainly for checking my teaching.

It is very easy to see what the athletes are doing well, and equally easy to see what they need to work on. If there are any common threads regarding technique flaws with a number of my athletes, then typically that is something that I have not done a very good job of teaching, coaching or explaining.

In looking at recent video, two things were apparent to me:

  • Our athletes… pretty much across the board…. are doing a very good job during the explosive (triple extension) phase of their lifts, and…
  • Many of our athletes are exhibiting the same flaw as was mentioned in the #ironchat by Coach Taylor (and echoed by many others)… their feet were “flying out” during the catch phase of their lifts (clean, push press, and snatch)

Last Friday I dedicated the class in an attempt to correct this technique error… and the method I incorporated into the class was the “Hula Hoop” indicator.

OK, granted, it was a pretty “low tech” attempt at correcting this flaw…. low tech but highly effective.

I gathered up 6 Hula Hoops that had the diameter that I was looking for, and as a bonus they all were constructed with fairly thin tubing. I put each hoop inside the rack and had the athletes begin their clean with their feet situated in the hoop on what would be the diameter.

The athletes did 3 sets of 8 reps using the weight from their workout card on the first set of their light day workout… which is about 62% of their 1RM.   This weight was light enough where they could concentrate on foot placement, and heavy enough where they still needed to use good technique during the explosive phase of the lift.   Here is what I found out:

  • There was immediate tactile feedback whenever the lifters feet varied much from the norm… including width, stagger, or movement forward or backwards
  • The lifter did not need to look down (which would effect their technique) to benefit from the hoop
  • The feedback was not so much as to disrupt the rep or endanger the lifter, but enough for the athlete to know foot placement was incorrect.
  • As they progressed through their 3 sets of 8 reps, nearly everyone who was experiencing “foot flyout” saw their technique improve

As you can see in this video (which was not uncommon) this athlete’s feet struck the hoop on their first rep, and their base narrowed incrementally after each reap.

Here is another, similar video.

These are a fairly typical sampling of the video that I recorded that day.

Here is a bit longer movie showing several athletes doing their “hula hoop cleans“, followed by video without the hoop, shot the following Monday on their “heavy” hang clean day, (sets of 8 reps with 75-80% of their 1RM).

Although their foot placement is not perfect, it is considerably better than previous to using the “hula hoop technique” to emphasize foot placement.

Thanks again to Coach Gardner (@CODY_GARDNER ) the host of #ironchat, (Thursday nights at 8:00-9:00 pm CST) and Coach Taylor (@coachrdt ) for this training idea.

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Remember – You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It! 

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

The Core Lifts – Hang Clean

core lifts cleanThe Hang Clean is the cornerstone of our Strength and Conditioning program.  We tell our student-athletes that it is the single best lift for improving athletic performance.  If they want to run faster, jump higher, be more explosive, than this is the lift to do.  We tell our non-athletes that it is the single best lift for improving overall body fitness.  It is an explosive lift (as opposed to a power lift) that works most of the major muscle groups in body; quads, hams, glutes, gastrocnemius, traps, biceps, and lats.

Just as discussed in the Squat, and Push Press breakdown, the athlete will begin with a good athletic posture; good base with feet about shoulder width apart and toes pointed straight forward; stand tall with shoulders back and head forward. The hands should be just outside the shoulders, with the bar hanging from straight arms.

To begin the lift, the bar should slide down your thighs as you bend at ankles, knees and hips and (slightly) at the waist. Chest should be tall with shoulders back. Descent of bar should stop at the top of the knees.  Shoulders should be directly over the hands at the bottom of the descent.

We break down the lift into three parts:

  • The Jump/Explosion
  • The Shrug/ Pull
  • The Drop/Catch


As soon as the bar gets to the bottom of the descent (top of knees) the athlete will explode, extending the ankles, knees, and hips. These three joints are linked, as they all will fire at the same time to produce a force great enough to move the load explosively towards the chin.  We tell the athletes to try to jump, drive their hips to the bar and explode the feet off the ground.


After the explosion or jump phase, the athlete will enter the pull phase, shrugging with the traps, and pulling the bar with your biceps and lats.  Lifters need to understand that the bar needs to lose gravity (weightless) in order to complete a heavy load. The creation of power from the triple extension grouped with the activation of the traps, lats and biceps will accomplish this.  The bar should remain close to the body during the shrug/ pull phase.  A common mistake is to swing the bar out in an arc away from the body.


When the bar reaches the top of the ascent (and becomes weightless) the lifter will enter the Catch phase.  At the top part of the ascent the elbows are above the wrist. As the bar reaches its high point, the elbows “pop” forward, rotating under and forward from the bar. At the same time the feet will re-set flat (placing emphasis on the mid foot and heel). Athletes should quietly stomp their feet to the floor.  The hands and fingers should relax while the elbows rotate under the bar as mentioned above.  The body from chest down should drop into a stable front squat position as you balance and receive the load.  The athlete stands tall and reverses the movement back to the hips.

Below is a telestrated video breaking down six of our lifters executing the Hang Clean.  The comments in green are what the athlete is doing well, the red are things they need to work on

Our big coaching point is Legs First – Then Arms.  A common mistake is trying to pull the bar initially, then execute the jump/ explosion.  The lifter will lose much of the energy generated by the lower body with the arms acting like “shock absorbers”.


It is difficult on the clean for the spotter to assist the lifter through reps as we do in the other lifts.  Positioned behind the lifter, the spotter’s main function is to keep them forward, insuring that if the lifter misses, the weight goes forward onto the catch bars and not back onto the lifter.

As was discussed in a previous post (Throwing a Change Up) we also will do variations of the Hang Clean such as Power Clean (from the floor) and Hang Clean to Front Squat.

As always, please comment or email with any questions you might have.

Remember – You Can Do More…. your brain is lying to you… Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com