How Sprinters Use Cleans and Olympic Lifts for Strength Training

Posted by Wil Fleming

Udpated April 18, 2024

How does the fastest woman on earth do cleans?

Cleans have been in the programs of track and field athletes for decades. Throwers, sprinters, and jumpers can all benefit from training in the weight room with cleans and snatches due to the high threshold motor unit recruitment that is unique to lifting with the Olympic style lifts.

Heck, even the world’s fastest woman is doing cleans in this youtube video.

She asked for viewers to not critique her at about :30 into the video, but with all apologies to Carmelita, I am going to critique her.


The video actually starts off well, despite Ms. Jeter’s protesting that she doesn’t know what she is doing, she gets in a great start position with her arms vertical to the bar and her shoulder directly above the bar. I think she might actually know what she is doing.


Uh-Oh. Carmelita makes a vertical pull on the bar from the floor allows the bar to stay away from her body. The bar should be moving in at this point to bring it closer to her center of mass.  Closing the distance to an athlete’s center of mass is the goal of the entire first pull (the slow pull from the ground to the knee)

Jeter Photo 1








Once the bar passes her knees it stays away from her body and her knees do not re-bend to create the most vertical power.  She ends up pulling from this position (it’s not good). She should still try to squeeze the bar in, and move her knees to create a vertical power spike.

Jeter photo 2








Ultimately she pulls with her arms even more and uses very little hip power. This photo shows how she is not maximizing her hip extension ability, and also how the bar is not aligned with her center of mass.

Jeter Photo 3








Jeter then doesn’t do a great job of absorbing the impact. She doesn’t jump her feet to move under the bar and receives it with her legs almost straight. One of the under estimated parts of Olympic lifts is that it provides the athletes with the ability to absorb force in the catch position. The lifts are not only about creating force, but absorbing it too.

Jeter photo 4








There are a couple other random thoughts about this video:

 Full Olympic Lifts Progressions with 2008 US Olympic Jumps Coach, Boo Schexnayder

  • Both Shawn Crawford and David Neville do a great job of cleaning in this video. They do an excellent job of creating force and absorbing force.


  • Coach John Smith is coaching all of the athletes in the video on some really good technical points.


While I will never fault a coach for including cleans in their programming, in the case of Carmelita Jeter she is leaving a lot on the platform. Creating more power with her legs and absorbing more power in her catch position would benefit her performance on the track.

Click here for more information on Olympic lifts! 


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