My Experiment Performing Clean and Jerks With Straps What I Did and What I Learned

**”The scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry is commonly based on empirical or measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning.”

With that said, here is my scientific experiment performing clean and jerks with straps.

First, Yasha Kahn wrote a guest post about cleaning with straps that broke the Internet. Yasha has traveled the world learning and training with some of the best lifters in our sport and he’s been lifting and coaching for over a decade. I am open minded and his points in the article resonated in my head all night, so I convinced myself to try clean and jerks with straps before I agreed to publish guest post on our blog. Instead of standing behind a method that I was unfamiliar with, and blindly publishing it for our followers, I actually used myself as a test subject. My best clean and jerk is 142 kilograms (kgs) at 77 bodyweight (bw). Today I clean and jerked 135kgs (95% of my all time best) at the same bodyweight while wearing straps. DISCLAIMER: My phone fell over while recording the 135 kgs clean and jerk with straps, but I have a video of my 120 kgs and 130 kgs lifts.


As a coach one must balance intuitive judgement and scientific reasoning at the same time. Today I did just that. I felt like crap, but too bad because I told myself that I wanted to clean and jerk with straps. The experience was quite different and I will admit that I was afraid to try it, but I believe one quality to great coaching is to stand behind your words with your actions. Here are my experiences in a few quick bullet points with some empirical (video) evidence of me clean and jerking in straps for the first time.

One quality to great coaching is to stand behind your words with your actions.

What I Knew Before Performing Clean and Jerks With Straps:

  • My technique had to be spot on. I couldn’t afford to be sloppy and try to save an ugly lifts. Every rep had to look superb.
  • My pull would be easier. Cleaning with straps provides the same advantage to snatching with straps. Most lifters have higher numbers with straps than they do with bare hands (i.e. Pulls, Deadlifts). I knew that my pull would be stronger, but I also thought that the pull would need to be precise and caution.
  • My turnover was going to be fast because I’m strapped to the bar. The rack position (the catch at the bottom of the clean) of my cleans would need to be strong and rigid just like in the bottom of the snatch because this is where I thought the risk of injury would be most likely to occur.
  • My flexibility would be challenged. I knew that straps would push my range of motion and force triceps parallel to the ground. I assumed that if I wasn’t flexible enough for this maneuver, I would likely feel the pain in my wrist, forearms, elbows, and shoulders.

What Actually Happened:

  • No pain. No pain on the wrist, elbows or shoulders, but I did feel the weights pushing me under and I descended under the clean. I would say my forearms were working more than I was used to. Not complaint, just an observation.
  • Here are my warm up sets. Again, my best clean and jerk (without straps) is 142kgs and I start with the bar and then only 40kgs as my first weight. Here are my progressions: 2+2/40, 2+2/60, 2+2/70, 2+2/80, 2+2/90, 1+1/100, 1+1/110, 1+1/120, 1+1/130, 1+1/135 (all weights in kilograms).
  • The jerk was different. Obviously because I’m strapped to the bar I was not able to readjust my hands to a wider grip when standing, so I had to settle for a narrow jerk grip.
  • Once I took my straps off, my technique got a bit sloppy. I believe this was mostly because of my body being used to using the straps so I was pulling a bit too high with lower weights.

Final Comments:
Shorter straps work best for cleans: Photo credit –
  • Beginners, I suggest first, consulting with your coach. If your coach approves, start with the bar and practice with lots of light weights until your technique becomes consistent. I’ve been lifting since age 15, competitively since 2012, and in no way am I suggesting that I’m an elite lifter, but I do have better than average technique. I’ve also done more dangerous things without straps like snatching to maximum and trying to save ugly lifts.
  • Warm up really well. I did some extra shoulder stretching with bands before hand and several muscle cleans and presses. Take as many reps/sets as you need with the bar before you start.
  • Shorten your straps. If you use long straps like I do then you may need to double up your straps to shorten them like I did (see videos above). This gave me more confidence that I could easily dump the weight should something go wrong.

Experimentation is a part of coaching. One must find new ways, more efficient ways, or just perfect unfamiliar methods.

**Rules for the study of natural philosophy”, Newton transl 1999, pp. 794–6, after Book 3, The System of the World.
Anton Jefferson
Anton lifts weights, coaches, and publishes OLIFT Magazine.

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