Tall Clean: Technique Video and Benefits

In this article we will discuss the tall clean, an accessory/primer weightlifting exercise to increase speed, technique, and confidence getting under cleans. In the sections below we will discuss proper tall clean technique and the faults/issues the tall clean can address (benefits).

Tall Clean Technique Video

The below video is of the barbell tall clean, an accessory/primer movement that can be done to increase technique and speed in the pullover phase of the clean.

3 Benefits of the Tall Clean

The below section discusses three issues/concerns a coach might have regarding clean technique that can be addressed by performing tall cleans. Note, that the tall clean is not the only exercise to improve poor technique and/or faults in the clean, as the issues can be much more problematic than that. Implementing the tall clean with the understanding that it is one small component of the actual clean is best when looking to address optimal technique and programming. Additionally, the tall clean does not replace cleans within a training program.

Address Barbell Crashing on the Body

When a barbell crashes onto a lifter after the pulling phases and turnover, the lifter often loses positioning in squatted position (rounds forwards and elbows drop). While this issue can be caused by overpulling, improper pulling mechanics, poor front rack mobility, and/or strength limitations in the front squat; the tall clean can be used (in addition to addressing other faults) to help a lifter establish greater control, mechanics, and body positions in the turnover phases of the clean.

Greater Speed Under the Barbell

The tall clean can be used to increase speed under the barbell in the clean for lifters who may have poor timing or mechanics after the explosion phase in the clean. By having a lifter assume the tall position, he/she is unable to build any vertical barbell trajectory with the hips and legs prior to the turnover phase. In doing so, he/she must meet the barbell at a lower position, since the upper body can only bring the barbell higher a few inches. By forcing a lower catch position with slower barbell velocitie, the lifter is forced to gain speed assuming a front squat position under the barbell.

Confidence and Aggression in the Turnover Phase

Heavy cleans require confidence and aggression. While technique is imperative, the clean requires a great deal of strength and mental prowess to get under large quantities of kilos. The tall clean can simply be used to enhance a lifter’s confidence and aggression at the top of the pull of the clean so that he/she can decrease hesitation and thought to allow for maximal speed under the barbell. Strengthening this junction can help lifters address many of the faults that may lead them to lose confidence and commitment to heavier lifts.

How to Program Tall Cleans

The tall clean is an accessory/primer movement that doesn’t not require a high amount of load to be an effective exercise for weightlifting technique. When programming, 3-5 sets of 1-5 reps can be performed using light loads, generally around 20-40% of one’s clean and jerk max. The key is to keep loads light enough so that the lifter does not bend the knees or hips at the onset of the movement (see the tall clean technique video above). Coaches can program the tall clean at the end of training sessions as an accessory lift or as a primer movement before clean and jerk sessions.

Clean Article Archive

Take a look at the below articles to help increase strength, technique, and performance in the clean and jerk.

Featured Image: @theryks808 on Instagram

Mike Dewar

Mike Dewar

Mike holds a Master's in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Mike has been with BarBend since 2016, where he covers Olympic weightlifting, sports performance training, and functional fitness. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and is the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at New York University, in which he works primarily with baseball, softball, track and field, cross country. Mike is also the Founder of J2FIT, a strength and conditioning brand in New York City that offers personal training, online programs for sports performance, and has an established USAW Olympic Weightlifting club.

In his first two years writing with BarBend, Mike has published over 500+ articles related to strength and conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, strength development, and fitness. Mike’s passion for fitness, strength training, and athletics was inspired by his athletic career in both football and baseball, in which he developed a deep respect for the barbell, speed training, and the acquisition on muscle.

Mike has extensive education and real-world experience in the realms of strength development, advanced sports conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, and human movement. He has a deep passion for Olympic weightlifting as well as functional fitness, old-school bodybuilding, and strength sports.

Outside of the gym, Mike is an avid outdoorsman and traveller, who takes annual hunting and fishing trips to Canada and other parts of the Midwest, and has made it a personal goal of his to travel to one new country, every year (he has made it to 10 in the past 3 years). Lastly, Mike runs Rugged Self, which is dedicated to enjoying the finer things in life; like a nice glass of whiskey (and a medium to full-bodied cigar) after a hard day of squatting with great conversations with his close friends and family.

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