Block Clean High-Pull
The block clean high-pull is simply a clean high-pull performed with the bar starting on blocks. Higher blocks will emphasize power and aggression more, and lower blocks can be used to train problem ranges like navigating the knees properly and maintaining posture.
Set the starting position tightly—it should be identical to the position you would be in at that point in a pull from the floor. Push with the legs through the whole foot and maintain approximately the same back angle until the bar is past the knees, then open the hips explosively while driving vertically with the legs even harder to accelerate maximally.
Extend the entire body approximately vertically. As the legs and hips finish extending continue immediately and fluidly into pulling the elbows up and out to the sides, keeping the bar against the body—never let the bar move away. Focus on lifting the elbows rather than the bar in order to ensure proper movement and proximity. Depending on the weight, the elbows may not actually reach maximal height, but that is always the goal to ensure proper motion and effort. The elbows will also rarely get as high as they do in a snatch high-pull for a given lifter.
Keep the entire body tight and continue pushing against the floor until the bar stops moving up, then follow it down by dropping to flat feet. Try to keep the trunk vertical at the top rather than allowing the pull of the arms to cause you to lean forward to the bar.
The block clean high-pull is an exercise for training strength, speed, power, posture and balance in the extension of the clean in the same way the clean pull does, but with the added training of the mechanics and strength of the arms that will be used in the third pull, and the timing of the transition between the effort of the lower and upper body. Because of the continued upward pull to maximal height, the clean high-pull also helps reinforce more aggressive, complete and vertically-oriented extension.
Lifting from the blocks will force the lifter to accelerate the bar more rapidly because of the limited distance available to accelerate, and because it’s beginning from a dead stop with no prior stretch or tensioning of the lifting muscles as would occur from a hang position. This means it can be a good choice for training speed and rate of force development. However, note that to maximize this effect, a static start needs to be used.
Additionally, lifting from the blocks rather than from the floor reduces the loading on the back and legs, meaning that it’s less taxing on the lifter, so it can also be used during periods of time when the loading on the back and legs needs to be reduced somewhat.
Generally the block clean high-pull should be done for 2-5 reps per set anywhere from 70%-90% of the lifter’s best clean. The same percentage of loading in a clean high-pull will typically not allow the lifter to elevate the elbows as much as they can in a snatch high-pull because of the limit on shoulder mobility, but the effort should be the same. High-pulls can still be prescribed with heavier weights as long as true maximal elbow height is not desired. As a strength exercise, it should be placed toward the end of a workout, but because it also involves some speed and technique, it’s generally best placed before more basic strength work like squats.