What are the Best “Jumps” Between Clean and Jerk Attempts? | I analyzed every international lift from 2005 to 2016 to find out!

Written by: Aaron Snoberger

Takeaway Message:

  1. I analyzed 45,000 Clean and Jerks (Cl+J) from international and national competitions to determine the optimal jumps between attempts
  2. The majority of male lifters choose 5kg jumps between Cl+J attempts, and (probably by blind luck) this increase optimal for most of the middle weightclasses.
  3. There seem to be 2 types of superheavyweights: Most have 6-7kg optimal increases while 25% of supers have optimum jumps of 10kg (from Cl+J #1-2).
  4. Experience level of lifter and the amount of weight on the bar did NOT seem to affect the optimal jumps between attempts.
  5. Bodyweight is the main factor that influenced the “optimal” jumps between Cl+J attempts

**If you don’t have time to read my full analysis, you can skip ahead to the last 2 tables in this article**

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In the sport of Weightlifting, competitors have 3 attempts in each competition lift [the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk (Cl+J)].  Therefore, it is critical for lifters and coaches to make smart decisions when planning openers and subsequent “jumps” between attempts. In part 1 of this series, I analyzed 45,000 Snatch attempts from International and National Weightlifting competitions and found most male lifters make poor decisions in their weight selections. In the current article I analyze 45,000 Cl+J attempts to determine the optimal jumps between attempts for Male lifters.

If you haven’t read part 1, it’s a good idea to do so here, since I lay the groundwork for this 2nd part.

Before I get started, it’s important to note the recommendations I make here are not necessarily optimal in every situation. For example, if you’ve secured a silver medal on your opener and need a huge weight jump for a gold— obviously go for it, you have nothing to lose! One prominent example that comes to mind is Nijat Rehimov (77kg- Kazakhstan) at the 2016 Olympics. He made a 12kg jump to set a 4kg world record and took home Olympic Gold!


With that said though, I do my best to show what strategies seem to work for the majority of lifters, and hopefully these guidelines can give people a starting point moving forward.

Okay, so now for the analysis…

Much like my analysis of snatch jumps in part 1 I found that the majority of lifters also choose 5kg jumps in the clean and jerk:

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So, are these 5kg jumps optimal? To answer this question, I first looked at overall makes and misses.  Here’s an example of the 77kg class:


As I did with the snatch analysis, I eliminated outliers and expressed these as % makes to make it easier to see the optimal increase:

Blog #2-3

This curve looks quite nice, and you can see from the distribution that the optimal jump to make is 4.5kg.

So, I carried out this same analysis on all weight classes to determine the optimal jumps between attempts:

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Much like the snatch, the Clean and Jerks had a linear correlation between bodyweight and optimal jumps:

Blog #2-4.png

Next I looked at the optimal increase from Cl+J #2-3. Interestingly, the optimal jumps seemed to top out at the higher bodyweight, so I used a logarithmic curve to fit these datapoints.

Blog #3-5

You may have noticed the blue datapoints in the first of these two graphs (increases from Cl+J #1-2).  This is because I found something really interesting when analyzing the superheavyweight data:

Blog #2-6Blog #2-8

Notice that the blue curve centers around 6.1kg for lighter superheavyweights, and 6.4kg for heavier supers (“super supers?”). This is what I plotted in the line fit above (hence the blue points). But, notice that there’s also a pretty decent success rate with lifters who choose 10kg increases.  It took me a while to figure out what to make of this, but then I thought back to my biochemistry roots.  When I see a “biphasic” curve like this in biochemistry, it typically indicates that there are 2 subpopulations.  So, with these data, I would argue that there are some people who do best with ~6-7 kg jumps, but there’s a subpopulation of individuals who do best with more conservative openers, followed by a 10kg jump.

It’s possible that this subpopulation requires more rest between attempts. It’s also possible that they are following themselves (making back-to-back attempts) so they need to start conservative and milk the clock a bit with their increases. I’m sure most of those reading this remember how detrimental lack of rest was in the 2016 olympic Superheavy division.  People can get.. err… “robbed” of gold medals. If you have any ideas for why there may be these 2 subpopulations, or would like me to do some further analysis on these subpopulations, be sure to let me know in the comments below.  

Blog #2-10

So, how do you know what subpopulation you’ll fall into?  I saw similar curves in elite level lifters (Sinclair >400) as well as beginner/intermediate level lifters (Sinclair <300), so the amount of weight on the bar doesn’t seem to matter here. So, you’ll probably need to figure out which group you fit into by trial and error. To give you a better idea of where you may fall, here’s the breakdown of the two subpopulations:

Blog @2-11Only about 25% of superheavyweights seem to fall in this optimal 10kg increase category, with the other 75% having optimal increases around 6-7kg. So, if you’re a superheavyweight, chances are you’ll fall into the 6-7kg group.

Finally, I wanted to know whether the lifter’s skill level determined the optimal jumps between attempts, so I plotted the optimal jumps versus bodyweight as I did before, but this time I separated out lifters based on their skill level:

Blog #2-12

As with the snatch, it seems that skill level of lifter (weight on bar) does not play a role in the optimal jumps between clean and jerks.

With all of this in mind, I’ll conclude with these final two graphs.  The first graph is the jumps that are most often chosen, while the bottom graph is my recommended increases based on the data I’ve analyzed.  Notice that, as with the snatch, the majority of male lifters choose 5kg jumps, but most of the middle weightclasses actually do have optimal increases around 5kg (probably mostly by blind luck).

Blog #2-14

blog2 redo

If you’d like to know more about Men’s optimal Snatch attempts, be sure to check out part 1 of this article here.

Keep an eye out for the rest of our analysis! Be sure to subscribe to our email list (in sidebar) and follow Lifting IQ on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to keep up to date with our blog.

Written by: Aaron Snoberger

Big thanks to Dr. Guy Hornsby, Dr. Mike Stone, and Dr. Jessica Snoberger for your input and helpful comments on this series of articles.

Copyright © 2017. All Rights Reserved.



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