By: J.V. Askem

NOTE TO ALL STRENGTH COACHES & TRAINERS: Lifting with the best technique possible should be the "number one priority" for all trainees. Allowing a trainee to continually do lifting movements incorrectly is fool hardy and irresponsible.


What is "no man's land"? Well, in weightlifting circles, this term is sometimes used to explain the area of height of a pull (snatch or clean) where the bar is too high to do the squat version, but not high enough to do the power version. This is also sometimes referred to as a "semi-power" snatch or clean. However, for this piece I'm just going to illustrate the semi power clean and squat clean.

Now, if a squat version of a clean is performed, but the bar is pulled into no man's land, it's always advisable for the lifter to ride the bar down to a full squat position from the "no man's land" height position.

Also, it should be noted that some lifters, who usually don't have a lot of experience, will attempt to stop cold within the no man's land height position, and this is not a good idea, because executing cleans in this manner can be harmful to the knees!

The shear force on the knee joints, during an upright front squat, is most evident at the parallel or slightly above parallel position. Because this is where the knee joint is stretched the most. And this shear force will be even more prevalent if you stop cold! Also, to make matters even worse, if your heels are too high on your lifting shoes, your knee joints can actually separate slightly in this position. Thus, in such a situation, it's best to be within that no man's land area for only a split second while in the process of moving downward.

The only way to prevent this joint seperation would be to lean forward and pull your knees back to where your shins are vertical with the floor, and this is not possible when holding the barbell on the frontside. Thus always ride your cleans down without stopping, when the bar is received within the no man's land position, to alleviate undue stress on the knee joints.

Experienced Olympic lifters will always lift the safest way which is to squat clean the bar. And the most experienced men and women in Olympic lifting have learned to gauge their clean pulling height, which is to about belt or waist height, because that's all that is needed to successfully squat clean a barbell. Pulling higher than waist height into the no man's land area is a waste of energy, and as previously stated it's also dangerous if you receive the bar there and stop with it. Thus the power clean should mostly be used as a warm up. Don't increase the weight to where you're forced to do semi power cleans. If you want to overload your second pull do clean pulls.

All the best with your training and train safely.  JVA