Olympic weightlifting requires maximal mobility, neuromuscular control, and power production. Limitations in any of these aspects will result in missed lifts, stalled progress, and potential injury. As a lifter progresses in his or her training, specific limitations may present themselves. Any issues that these limitations highlight should be addressed on an individual basis.


In my experience both as a competitive athlete and weightlifting coach, many technical faults can be addressed with these seven warm-up exercises. To implement them in your training, simply pick and choose exercises or complete the sample warm up at the bottom, prior to your weightlifting sessions.


5 Snatch and Clean Exercises

1. Weightlifting Mobility Circuit With Barbell

Ankle mobility is an often overlooked culprit behind decreased squat depth in the catch. Tight calves and ankles increase stress on the knees and hips during the explosive phases of the lift and catch. Additionally, thoracic and hip mobility can impair technical progress with these lifts. Lifters must address mobility issues before they see longitudinal results, and this simple stretch tops my list of must-do exercises.


Perform 1 hold of 30-60 seconds per stretch.



2. Muscle Snatches and Cleans

Muscle snatch and muscle clean regressions are amazing exercises to hone your bar path and timing of the hip drive. Additionally, by omitting hip contact with the bar, you will learn to truly finish your pulls with a shrug and elbow elevation, followed by a violent and swift turnover of the barbell at the top.


Perform 2-3 sets of 3-5 reps at 25-50% of your 1RM.



3. Snatch and Clean High Pulls

Failure to finish a pull will leave the barbell too far out front in both the snatch and the clean. Furthermore, lifters tend to bounce the bar forward off the hips, creating detrimental horizontal displacement. Instead, perform snatch and clean high pulls to strengthen and increase your motor mechanics so you can pull the bar vertically, resulting in fewer missed lifts and smoother catches.


Perform 2-3 sets of 5-10 reps at 25-30% of your 1RM.



4. High Hang Snatches and Cleans

The high hang position used in these snatch and clean variations may single handedly save your next lift. By starting near full extension, you will learn to finish your pull through the hips. More importantly, by minimizing the stretch reflex and increased power production seen when starting from the floor, you will have less time to drop into the catch, resulting in greater speed under the bar. The faster you pull, the quicker you need to drop under the bar.


Perform 2-3 sets of 3-5 reps at 25-50% of your 1RM.



5. Snatch Push Jerk in Squat/Sotts Press

This exercise will maximally test your mobility and positional strength in the bottom of the snatch. It demands optimal ankle, knee, hip, thoracic, and shoulder mobility - all of which are needed to perform a snatch safely and effectively. Additionally, you will be forced to have a vertical bar path and position in the press, which will carry over to increased stability and confidence in the catch. Once you can perform the exercise for repetitions with an unloaded barbell, slowly build your strength.


Perform 2-3 sets of 3-5 reps at 25-50% of your 1RM.



Jerk Exercises

6. BTN Clean Grip Push Press

The behind-the-neck (BTN) push press will highlight any shoulder mobility and stability issues. If you don’t have proper motor mechanics and confidence while driving yourself under a load, you leave yourself open to injury and missed lifts. If you cannot perform the strict pressing and push press versions of this exercise, you need to develop greater shoulder and thoracic mobility before you proceed any further. If you don’t develop this mobility, you could be opening yourself up to labral tears, rotator cuff injuries, impingements, and more.


Perform 2-3 sets of 3-5 reps at 25-50% of your 1RM.



7. Jerk Footwork Drills

This is a great series of drills to develop better footwork and confidence in your split. By implementing these variations in your warm up, you will increase your speed, mechanics, and confidence under the bar. By engraining proper footwork, you will save more lifts and minimize injury.


Perform 2-3 sets of 2-3 reps per exercise on the series using an unload barbell or PVC pipe. Focus on speed and absorbing your forces as you land in the split.



The Ultimate Weightlifting Warm Up

Perform all exercises with minimal load, focusing on technique, bar paths, and speed.

  • 500 meter row
  • Foam Roll
  • Dynamic Warm Up
  • Weightlifting Mobility Circuit with Bar 1x30-60 seconds per stretch 
  • Jerk Footwork Drills 2x3-5/exercise
  • Muscle Snatch/Clean (choose exercise based on what lift you have that day) 2x3-5
  • Snatch/Clean High Pull 2x5-10
  • High Hang Snatch/Clean 2x3-5
  • BTN Clean Grip Push Press 2x3-5
  • BTN Snatch Grip Push Jerk in Squat 2x3-5


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