The primary purpose of block lifts is forcing a more aggressive and complete finish of the pull and a quicker turnover. Most commonly the lift is done with the bar starting at knee height, but it can be positioned at any level to address whatever technical or performance needs desired. 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.
Start in the same position you would be in during a clean with the bar at that height, and even balance over the whole foot. Pressurize and brace the trunk, then initiate the lift by pushing with the legs through the floor, keeping approximately the same back angle until above the knees. Continue aggressively pushing against the floor with the legs and extend the hips violently, keeping the bar as close to the body as possible and ensuring full contact with the upper thigh.
Once you’ve extended the body completely to maximally accelerate the bar with the lower body, pull the elbows up and out to begin moving your body down, and lift and move your feet into your receiving stance as you squat under the bar. Spin the elbows around the bar to establish a secure rack position.
Drive back up from the bottom of the squat immediately and aggressively. Once you’ve stood completely with the bar in control in the rack, return it to the blocks.
The block clean 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.
It can also be used during periods of time when the loading on the back and legs needs to be reduced somewhat. 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.
The block clean is appropriate for lighter training days as a secondary exercise, or it can be a primary clean exercise if performed heavy, in which case programming would be identical to regular cleans in the same circumstances. Some lifters will be able to clean more from certain block heights than they can from the floor—this is not necessarily a problem, although it can be an indicator of technical or strength issues in the pull from the floor.
The block clean may be used as a way for a lifter who has a problem lifting from the floor to train the clean heavy while this problem is being addressed; it can also be a way to train the clean heavy but with somewhat reduced loading on the back and legs to reduce the overall fatigue of the training. Use 1-3 reps per set from 70-100% of clean.
Clean Rack Position
Block vs Hang