3 Reasons Why A Traditional Deadlift will NOT help your Clean

By Drew Dillon
Mar 18 2016

3 Reasons Why A Traditional Deadlift will NOT help your Clean

Have you ever thought, “Man, if I could deadlift 660lbs I could easily clean 400lbs?”

Marcus Mucheck of the Dirty Gym thought that and he found it sadly not to be true.

Marcus is a successful powerlifter turned weightlifter. Marcus has trained at Westside Barbell, and has been on the national stage with USA Weightlifting. He has joined me to drop knowledge bombs about deadlifts.

Check out this video to see how the traditional deadlift will not help your clean

What is your deadlift focus?

When it comes to the Snatch and Clean we can easy break deadlifting into two camps.

  1. A deadlift that supports the positions needed in weightlifting technique – An Olympic Focused Deadlift
  2. A deadlift that is utilized to pull the most weight from the floor – A Powerlifting Focused Deadlift

Not all deadlifts are created equal. Choosing the wrong deadlift for your goals will hurt your progress!

In this article we’ll discuss key positions, goals and how to execute a snatch or clean deadlift.

Key Positions – Olympic Focused Deadlift vs Powerlifting Deadlift Explained:

When our goal is to get better at the Snatch or Clean we need to understand the key positions needed during these two movements. Once we understand the key positions we can then strengthen those positions. These positions are not the same between Olympic weightlifting and Powerlifting.

Lets break the deadlifts into three positions:

The Start Position

Above the Knee Position

The Finish Position

An Olympic Focused Deadlift would have us in the following position at these points…

We would mimic the start of a snatch or clean. So our shin would be pushed forward and our body weight mid-foot. Our hand placement would be in our snatch or clean position. We’d only use an overhand (pronated) hookgrip.

Our upper body is over the bar as our shins are close to vertical. We have a full flat foot in this position, but we feel more weight toward our heel. Our toes are not coming up off the floor. Our lats are tight, keeping the bar with us.

We NEVER lock out! We always stop in the “power” position, or at the point that our legs would “fire” (drive into the floor initiating the explosive movement of the snatch or clean). We would never “fire” from a locked out straight leg in a snatch and clean.

A Powerlifting Focused Deadlift would have us in the following positions at these points…

The feet will be set at the individuals walking stance with hands directly below delts. Lifters aim to let their traps sag and shoulders sit as low in the socket as possible. The grip is often alternated (one hand pronated and one hand supinated).

The knee cannot flex forward as the lifter begins to open up. This would be considered “ramping” or “hitching” and in a competitive powerlifting situation would void the lift.

Traps and Lats lever the bar back into the athlete as the hip move horizontally toward the bar to lock out. Traps are sagging and the upper back may have a bit of rounding to shorten the distance to lock out.

When we look at these positions we quickly can see they’re very different. A traditional deadlift will not strengthen the positions you need to be successful in a snatch or clean.

The Goal of an Olympic Focused Deadlift vs Powerlifting Deadlift:

Goal – Olympic Focused Deadlift – Strength the technical motor pattern used for the Snatch and Clean.

Goal – Powerlifting Deadlift – Lift the most weight from floor to our hip.

The important take away here is – The best positions used to take the most weight from the floor to the hip are not the best positions to take the weight from the floor to overhead in the snatch or rack position in the clean!

So how do I perform a Snatch or Clean Deadlift?:

The positions used in the deadlift must be the same between your snatch and clean.

Step 1 – Get into a good start position 

Step 2 – Drive your legs into the floor while your hip and shoulders rise together.

This initial drive is to above the knee where step 3 comes into play. 

Step 3 – You must hinge on your hip to bring your body and the bar together at the “power position.”

At this point you would “fire” (drive into the floor initiating the explosive movement of the snatch or clean). We don’t want to lock out legs out as they never would be locked out in a snatch or clean!

You can see the complete breakdown at the end of this video

Time to Execute:

If you’re trying to get better at the snatch and clean then be strict with the movements you use. Make sure your strength exercises and your warm up is contributing to the overall movement of the snatch and clean!

Good luck to you!

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