Every lifter has experienced the bar crashing onto their shoulders at least a few times when catching the clean, but if it’s happening regularly then it’s a problem you’re going to want to address, because it’s limiting your potential.

This article will explain why bar crashing is a problem in weightlifting, what causes bar crashing, and some simple drills and exercises that you can use to fix bar crashing in your cleans once and for all.

Let’s get started…

person getting Bar crash

Why Bar Crashing Is a Problem in Weightlifting

1) Bar crashing tends to lead to a collapse in the upper back, and a rounding of your posture forwards. This makes it far harder to support the bar, and makes you far more likely to miss the lift by dropping it forwards.

2) Standing up with the bar becomes much harder. Even if you do manage to catch the bar and not drop it forwards, being in a suboptimal position makes standing the clean up significantly harder.

What Causes Bar Crashing In The Clean

Put simply, bar crashing is a failure to bring (and keep) the bar in connection with your shoulders throughout the lift.

The most common reason for this is that lifters try to get under the bar and down into a squat position too fast, without enough regard for where the bar is actually at.

To fix bar crash, we need to meet the bar at the height that it is pulled too, and maintain that connection throughout the catch and recovery.

Which is all good in theory, but how do we put that into practice?

Drills and Exercises to Fix Bar Crashing

There are two main things that we need to address in order to fix bar crashing; smoothness/connection in the turnover, and over-reliance on the pull under (weak 2nd pull) Your problems may be coming from one or both of these things, so it makes sense to tackle them together.

1) High Hang Muscle Cleans

If your bar turnover sucks then bar crashing is almost inevitable. The high hang muscle clean allows you to practice meeting the bar with your shoulders as smoothly as possible. Use this as part of your warm up.

2) Tall Cleans

This variation removes a lot of the complication of the 1st pull and double-knee bend, and allows you to focus on the timing of meeting the barbell and pulling under the bar. This makes a great second exercise after you’ve warmed up with a few muscle cleans to get the feel of the turnover.

3) Cleans from High Blocks

Very similar to the purpose of the tall cleans, the goal of this drill is to focus on the timing of meeting the barbell whilst pulling under the bar. The only difference is that you’ve got a bit more of an aggressive 2nd pull and extension to deal with. You’ll also be able to use more weight, which helps to actually transfer your technical improvements over to your heavier lifting.

4) Power Clean + Clean

Last but not least, this complex allows you to practice meeting the bar with your shoulders whilst it’s high in the power clean, and then carry over this movement into the full clean. Moreover, if you’re over-reliant on speed under the bar to complete the lift, this complex will help build some explosiveness into your second pull.

Putting it All Together – An Example Session to Fix Bar Crash in The Clean

High Hang Muscle Cleans – 3×5 with a very lightly loaded bar
Tall Clean – 3×3 with a lightly loaded bar
Cleans From High Blocks – 3×3 with a moderate weight
Power Clean + Clean – 3 sets with a moderate to heavy weight


And that’s it for today. Try this sequence of exercises at least once per week (ideally twice) for the next few weeks and I’m fairly damn confident that you’ll have minimised your bar crash.

And as always, if you’re looking for coaching, programming or advice from a coach you can trust, feel free to book a call with me right here.

‘Til Next Time


strength coach

MSc Strength & Conditioning
British Weightlifting Tutor/Educator