You may have read Olympic Lifts Part I and spent some time revisiting and learning the previous movements and mobility drills to help you become better at the Olympic lifts.
Before we break the lifts down into progressions, this article is to help you improve your technique, reduce the chances of injury and enable you to move more efficiently. If you want to compete at the Olympic Games I suggest get a lifting coach, this article will not take you to that level, it is only to provide the basics.
If you are adding these to your current training plan consider what you are already doing and how the lifts fit in. The Olympic lifts give you the most “bang for your buck”, as they work the most motor units and require the most coordination to complete. For this reason, the Olympic lifts should be completed first in a session. Add in 3-5 sets, of 3-5 reps (do not forget to warm up) at the start of your session, 2-3 times a week. Avoid maximal loads (1RM) and firstly become competent at the technique, catching the bar, dropping beneath the bar and being explosive, rather than ‘muscling’ the bar up. Use weights about 40-60% of your 1RM for this.
From experience of teaching the lifts, I always start with the snatch before the clean. The reason for this is that compared to the clean, I find the snatch allows you to get better at the technical side of the lifts. This is because you start with lighter weights compared to the clean. Starting with the snatch means you get use to pulling the bar into the body, contacting the mid thigh to abdomen. The overhead squat position also helps with mobility. Avoid rushing the lifts, you will have read “lighter weight” and thought, “sod that I will jump to the clean and start with heavy weights”. Avoid the temptation. The technical points that you learn mastering the snatch will transfer to the clean. The part I am particularly referring to is the point of the bar making contact with the top of your thigh to the lower abdomen as you bring the bar in during the lift.