The “Second Pull” of the clean is comprised of the bar position from the knees to hip extension. Beginners having trouble with the concept of the “hip hinge,” Olympic lifters who tend to let the bar drift away from their body, or CrossFitters who are having issues stringing together reps, this is for you.
With a properly initiated squat clean AND hang clean, there should be virtually no mechanical change in the angle of the back, with the shoulders remaining slightly over the bar and slightly higher than the hips. This arched back position creates a powerful lever that allows the bar to “whip” once the bar meets hips a.k.a. the launching position. If you notice in the first clip, as the bar launches from the hip position, the knees are bent, this action is known as the “double knee bend.” This whip is facilitated by a transfer of energy from the posterior chain to the quads, and actuates at the launch due to the double bending of the knee.
In the second clip, there is minimal to no double knee bend, which will cause decreased power and more often than not, a separation of the bar from the body. This can cause a faulty catching position, which at higher loads will result in a loss of thoracic extension, and the athlete will bail the bar forward.
The concept of neuromuscular re-education in the physical therapy world involves a slow eccentric movement, followed by an isometric hold, and finishing with an explosive concentric contraction. In the third clip, I perform a hang squat clean from below the knee, with a 2-3 count eccentric descent, a 2 second pause just below the knee, and explosive extension upward. The athlete should focus on sending the hips back, and maintaining the position of their back. This is a great tool to both reinforce proper mechanics and retrain faulty movement. This position can be further expounded upon by utilizing the bent over row (w/ the shoulder blades locked down and in), where removing the movements degrees of freedom allows for the athlete/coach to build brute strength.