Your clean and jerk WODs are about more than looking cool with a barbell (although that’s a big part of it). There are also countless benefits of clean and jerks that translate to just about everything else you do at the gym. From mobility and strength to endurance and stability, this Olympic lift has a lot to offer. Let’s talk about some of the clean and jerk benefits and what they mean for you.
7 Clean and Jerk Benefits and How They Affect You
So, how exactly is the clean and jerk benefitting you so much?
1. Clean and Jerks are a Full-Body Strength-Builder
Let’s start with one of the biggies. When you rehearse your clean and jerks, you are working your body from head to toe, including your:
There isn’t a single muscle group ignored in this lift. And you can bet that this is going to make other exercises easier for you. Because the clean and jerk demands upper body strength, your presses and push-ups are going to be stronger. Because your lower body is getting a good workout, squats and box jumps will come more easily to you.
Even if your goal isn’t to improve your clean and jerk numbers, training the lift will still benefit you in countless other ways.
2. They’re a Cardiovascular Challenge, Too
Lifting weights isn’t all about building strength. It’s going to tax your heart and lungs, too. Think about it. You begin at a dead stop and have to quickly lift a heavy load. You have to squat underneath it and then throw it over your head. And somehow, you still finish the clean and jerk in a matter of seconds.
You’re doing a tremendous amount of work in a very brief period of time. That’s why the clean and jerk is going to get your heart pumping. You can expect this to translate to other sprint-type exercises as well as anything explosive.
And speaking of explosive…
3. Clean and Jerks Improve Your Power Output, Speed, and Explosiveness
Another one of the clean and jerk benefits is that because it demands a ton of explosiveness and speed, it’s going to improve other sprint-type workouts. Picture how your body feels during this lift. You’re not “muscling” the weight up. You’re deadlifting it before exploding into that third pull, dropping underneath it, and standing back up out of the squat. Then, you load your quads by dipping into a semi-squat before exploding into full extension and launching the barbell overhead.
It’s hard to execute this lift if you’re slow or heavy on your feet.
4. Your Mobility is Going to Improve
But guess what else this is going to apply to? Hip mobility is important for squatting, in general, plus lunges and box jumps. You need shoulder mobility for all overhead movements and exercises, including presses, pull-ups, and handstands.
Make no mistake about it: This lift packs a big punch. Improved mobility is just one of many benefits of clean and jerks.
5. Clean and Jerks Encourage Stability
It’s not all about mobility, either. Catching a barbell on your shoulders and riding it down into the bottom of your squat requires hip and core stability. Pressing the barbell overhead requires overhead and shoulder stability.
And as we highlighted in the previous point, this will extend to other things you do in the gym. If you can lock out a barbell with 200 pounds loaded overhead, you can probably flip upside-down and support your own bodyweight.
6. Your Motor Skills Will Be Tested
When we talk about motor skills, we’re referring to exercises that require your brain, body, and nervous system to all work together in harmony. Motor skills help you hone your technique and move safely and efficiently.
The clean and jerk is a highly technical movement — more technical than most athletes realize since the snatch is seen as the more complicated of the two lifts. But just think about the timing and coordination it demands. From head to toe, your body must perform in a very specific way in order to successfully complete the lift, making this another one of the clean and jerk benefits athletes will enjoy.
7. It Can be Easily Modified to Make Sense for YOU!
Of course, you can adjust the weight that you lift. But that’s not all. Does your hip mobility need more work before you can safely get down into a full squat clean? Then opt for the power clean instead. Is your split jerk footwork a work in progress? Swap it out for a push jerk or push press if you’re not quite ready yet. Is your third pull looking a little funky? Practice cleans from the hang position — perhaps around the knees.
You will never run out of ways to clean and jerk a barbell.
These clean and jerk benefits mean that even if Olympic weightlifting isn’t totally your jam, it’s worth spending some time on the platform to improve your overall functional fitness skills.
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