Eric Cressey | High Performance Training and Education

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  1. Mitchell - Home Fitness Manual
    March 22, 2012 • 8:37 am

    Wil, there’s a ton of great info to take away from this article.

    Your three-step process is perfect for not just the beginner, but also the “seasoned” lifter who still needs to keep an eye on their technique.

    Also, I love the “Starfish” example…yes they are magnificent creatures.


  2. Tyler English
    March 22, 2012 • 9:21 am

    Great post Wil! Glad to see someone with years of training experience in Olympic Lifting sharing the knowledge. Thanks to EC for having you share the knowledge!

  3. Rufus
    March 22, 2012 • 10:20 am

    Very good article.

  4. Niel
    March 22, 2012 • 10:34 am

    Wil this is a great article. Most athletes will see a significant improvement in power cleans, or the classical lifts, by correcting or avoiding these mistakes.

  5. Wil
    March 22, 2012 • 11:17 am

    Mitchell- Thanks man! Sad to say but that starfish example is one of my athletes! We are still working on it.

    Tyler- Thanks Bro!

  6. Dave
    March 22, 2012 • 9:57 pm

    Great post. I see the Starfish all the time when I go to a high school weight room for the first time. Most coaches do not understant the importance of teaching technique. That if technique is taught correctly then the weight will go up faster and higher then doing it wrong. Thanks again for the great post.

  7. Rob
    March 23, 2012 • 7:15 am

    Excellent article Wil!

  8. Tim Peirce
    March 23, 2012 • 7:51 am

    Thanks Wil, I saw a guy “starfish” 275 just the other day.

  9. Conor
    March 23, 2012 • 8:44 am

    Wow!! Awesome info! Thanks for the great read.

  10. brian
    March 23, 2012 • 9:22 am

    Great article, I noticed in the first video, the clean from the blocks, that the student was jumping forward … Is that also a good example of not finishing the second pull…

  11. bks
    March 23, 2012 • 9:23 am

    Great article, I noticed in the first video, the clean from the blocks, that the student was jumping forward … Is that also a good example of not finishing the second pull??

  12. Garrett
    March 23, 2012 • 9:42 am

    Great article. The setup example was a good teaching tool.

  13. Luke Wilson
    March 23, 2012 • 9:54 am

    Thanks so much for this, I’ve been working on cleans and snatch myself, and sadly have been making a few of these mistakes myself. I was aware they needed improving but now have some direction as to HOW to do it, not just what to do.
    Thanks again.

  14. Nikki
    March 23, 2012 • 10:12 am

    Very helpful.

  15. Jakob Richloow
    March 23, 2012 • 10:22 am

    Aweseome post! I see novice lifters, aspiring crossfitters and hobbybuilders making all of these misstakes at once on a daily basis where i work. Might even do a similar post in swedish on my own blogg to raise the awereness. Sad thing is, most people that are doing these mistakes dont know they´re doing anything wrong. :-/

  16. Rob Jackson
    March 23, 2012 • 11:29 am


    Love the information and love the consistent approach…to many kids just get over the bar and go. I do have a question. You show a video between mistake #2 and #3 talking about the elevated starting position (love the idea), but I noticed in the video that the lifter does not include a front squat after the catch and just absorbs the weight with a slight knee bend. That is the typical position I have most of my athletes finish in, but got scolded the other day by a strength coach (high school football) that told me that the athlete must go into a full front squat after the catch. Is this true? are there variations, or is one method preferred over the other?

  17. Jared
    March 23, 2012 • 12:33 pm


    Great post! Love the clean but it can definitely be an ugly lift. Just went to a “lift-a-thon” for a local H.S. and saw a whole school of starfish, tough to watch. Happy to say my athletes weren’t part of that school! Thanks for the guest post.

  18. Kyle Kennedy
    March 23, 2012 • 12:34 pm

    Hi WIll,
    these are all great tips. One way to eliminate problems with #2 and #3 is by switching to a mid-thigh clean. If you’re just training athletes to be more explosive, then the type shouldn’t matter. A recent article in the JSCR showed that the mid-thigh clean had more vertical ground reaction force and rate of force develop of the clean start positions (mid thigh, knee, floor). Much easier to stay consistent with the starting position this way as well. Just my two cents!

  19. Chuck S
    March 23, 2012 • 6:33 pm

    I learned some good stuff here, but I didn’t understand some things, like what you meant about starfish. Also what RDL means. Maybe Romanian deadelift, but that’s a wild guess. No so good for this beginner.

  20. Wil
    March 24, 2012 • 6:15 am

    Wow! Awesome response here. I will try to address the issues brought up.

    @Niel- Thanks for your support, and thanks for the photo, you have great website!

    @Brian/bks- In the video (its me) I just forward just slightly but if you look at the pull slowed down, the hips finish through the bar, so the actual problem was that my elbows didn’t stay above the bar, they got behind it, creating space between my body and the bar and to close the gap I had to jump forward. Nice pick up on the jumping forward, a different cause to the same symptom.

    @Jakob Richloow- Would love to see how the swedish post turns out! I will use Google translate to read it! Email me when you finish it.

    @Rob Jackson- Catching the bar with only a slight knee bend, is the true definition of a power clean. Catching the bar lower is the competition style clean of a “clean and Jerk”. For most athletic purposes I like a power clean better because it reinforces a good 2nd pull. With novice (athlete/football player) lifters a full squat clean will lead to “diving” to the bar.

    @Kyle Kennedy- Thanks for the post, if you know me at all I am the worlds biggest proponent of the hang clean (although I like an above knee start position, it turns it into a more hip dominant movement, which athletes need). For most athletes coming from the floor can create a ton of problems as the bar path is not very intuitive and they lack mobility to get into the start positions (#2 and #3). For the athletes that need to do a power clean from the floor, I try to make the corrections above. Glad to hear that other coaches share my opinions though!

    @Chuck S- You are correct RDL refers to a Romanian Deadlift. A starfish was just a creative way of saying that the athlete catches the bar in a really wide foot position at the completion of the lift. Imagine someone doing a snatch with wide arms and wide legs and you will be able to envision it clearly!

    @Everyone else, thank you for the support on the post.

    If anyone has any questions, please feel free to email me wtflemin at gmail dot com

  21. vitor
    March 24, 2012 • 8:44 am

    Great stuff as always.

  22. Matias Ratti
    March 24, 2012 • 9:31 am

    Excelente, Muchas gracias sigo aprendiento mucho con Eric, aunque mi English es muy pobre y me cuesta mucho, best regars

  23. Anna
    March 24, 2012 • 5:52 pm

    Great article. Everyone is always in a rush to slap more weight on the bar but with Olympic lifts, technique is king.

  24. Seymond Perry
    August 22, 2012 • 8:25 am

    I like the power clean because of the benefits it offers. I do struggle with the “star fish” issue. Do you have any suggestions to correct this issue?

  25. Eric Cressey
    August 22, 2012 • 4:26 pm


    Take down the weight, and focus on being faster!

  26. harry
    September 22, 2012 • 8:01 pm

    My gym does not have bumper plates and does not allow dropping weights too heavily. It is a typical city gym with all kinds of people and there is NO ONE doing Olympic lifts. I do not have a choice.

    Is there a substitute for Power Clean? I have hurt my back many times trying to catch the weight on its way down so that it does not hit the ground too hard.

  27. Eric Cressey
    September 24, 2012 • 5:24 am


    A few thoughts…

    1. Find a new gym!

    2. You could try cleaning from the hang, as it’ll reduce the load you can use. You could also just do snatches, which will also reduce the load needed to get a training effect.

    3. Jump squats would be an alternative. You could load with a barbell, dumbbells, or weight vest.

  28. JD
    May 20, 2013 • 11:57 pm

    Sick article

  29. Anthony G
    June 2, 2013 • 2:21 pm


    I’m not an expert, but I have been working on improving my power clean and recently managed to “cure” my starfish. For me, it was literally as simple as moving my hands out an inch or two on each side. It might sound silly, but my hands were in too narrow, resulting in me keeping my feet too narrow, similar to my normal deadlift position. Because they were so narrow, during the second pull they had a strong tendency to want to move to their “natural” position. Since this happens so fast, they would push out way beyond what would normally be natural.

    By simply moving my hands out, I created more space for my legs, resulting in a wider stance from the start. My stance is just slightly wider than shoulder width at this point, essentially wide enough to provide room for my arms and torso inside of my legs at the bottom, but nothing more. I think that starting out where your legs “want” to be makes it less likely that they will move from there (and overcompensate in the process). Just my (non-expert) experience.

  30. joshahj
    June 11, 2013 • 3:34 pm

    Great tips! I’m no olympic lifter – far from. I’ve been doing “beginner cleans” for probably 10yrs and I always do them off my thighs (only putting the bar down between sets). What’s your thoughts? Thanks!!!!

  31. Erick
    December 16, 2013 • 9:35 am


  32. Luis Baca
    December 31, 2013 • 2:30 pm

    I get a pain on my cervical part of my spine every time i do power cleans. Ever since i havent done power cleans. In a week or so i am required to do power cleans. How can i get rid of this pain and what did i do wrong in power cleans that caused this pain? Please respond back asap? Thanks

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