Clean & Jerk

The clean and jerk (C&J) is one of the two weightlifting events tested at the Summer Olympics every four years. It begins with bringing the barbell off the ground and to the shoulders in a clean. It then is pressed from the shoulders to overhead in a jerk.

Like every sport, there are certain standards that must be met in order for an attempt to be considered “successful.” The technique in which you take the bar off the ground and put it over your head, however, can change drastically. The most common being the difference between a push jerk, squat jerk, and a split jerk.

But the purposes of this article today is to provide clarity in reading a workout that calls for clean and jerk.

Hang Clean and Jerk

The hang clean & jerk has one subtle difference–the “hang”.

As you can see in the image above, the difference is where the barbell starts. If a workout reads “clean & jerk”, you know that the load (barbell, dumbbell, medicine ball, etc.) must start on the ground. If it reads “hang clean & jerk”, the load must start above the knees.

To get in position, simply deadlift the load to your hips. Then lower it down to your knees in order to engage the hamstrings and initiate the mechanics of the clean.

Double Dumbbell Clean and Jerk (DB C&J)

The “double dumbbell clean and jerk” should start on the ground because it doesn’t say “hang”.

It also says “double dumbbell”, which means you should be holding dumbbells in each hand. If the workout called for just “dumbbell clean and jerks”, this would usually indicate one dumbbell that gets alternated between hands.


Every coach has a unique way of writing workouts. But the above information is pretty universal.

Of course there will be differences of when your coach would like to see squat cleans instead of power cleans. There will also be times when your coach wants to test your coordination with split jerks instead of push jerks.

When in doubt, ask your coach. Especially at first, trying to understand these movements with their shorthand can be like learning a new language.



AMRAP 15:00*
10 Double DB C&J
200-meter Run
10 H C&J (barbell)
200-m Run

*If you have questions about today’s workout, email me:

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