THE LCCJ CORNERSTONE by: John Henrici
(Long Cycle Clean and Jerk)
I have formed the opinion that the Long Cycle Clean and Jerk (LCCJ) is the cornerstone of Kettlebell Lifting whether for Fitness or Sport. Although many view the Snatch is the “TZAR” of all KB lifts I will attempt to build a case for the LCCJ.
SWING – CLEAN – SNATCH
There is no argument that the swing is the basic building block of KB lifting. This motion is used for the Clean and the Snatch. The main difference between the Clean and the Snatch is the force of the hip thrust that carries the KB to the overhead lock out position (SNATCH) instead of the rack position (CLEAN). In each case the arch of the KB is the same. The KB passes just in front of the body. In the Clean it is stopped in the rack position; in the Snatch the KB is allowed to continue to the top lock out position. The “basic building block” is simply “stacked up” to whatever level is needed.
THE LCCJ FOUNDATION
The motion of cleaning, in the LCCJ, can be viewed as a “half Snatch”. Thus the Clean incorporates the movement of the Snatch in the LCCJ. So, even though one is not technically doing the Snatch, the Snatch sort of becomes a part of the “compete” movement in the LCCJ. The Clean with every rep places a burden on the core that is not normally enjoyed when only doing Jerks. Combining this “partial Snatch” with the Jerk essentially creates the “ultimate” movement for strength and conditioning.
A STEPPING STONE
Whether training for competition or just challenging oneself, moving up to the next higher weight can be taxing on the lower back and arms if only Jerks or Snatches are performed. If one will begin with the LCCJ at the next higher weight, one can do less RPMs while building core strength in the lower back and legs. The wider – all encompassing – range of motion in the LCCJ will minimize the focused strain on the lower back and arms since the motion alternates between forward and backward stress. At the same time, key conditioning in the core, and cardio ability is also increased.
Foundation of Strength
While you condition the joints and connective tissue at the next higher weight through LCCJ, you are striving for that goal at a much slower (and safer) RPM; usually 4-6 RPM for the LCCJ, instead of 8-10 RPM for the Jerk, and 12-15 RPM for the Snatch. The lower RPM rate will allow the muscles, joints, and connective tissue to strengthen at a safer rate of progression.
If you can go ten minutes, with two KBs, in the LCCJ, you can go ten minutes with the Jerk or Snatch. This general “guarantee” of course comes with some caveats. Pace is always an issue once the 10-minute mark is reached. The “assumption” is that if one can do 6 RPM in the LCCJ for ten minutes, s/he can eliminate the clean and do at least 6 RPM in the Jerk alone. Even though elimination of the clean will be felt in the arms (since they are not allowed to “rest” while cleaning); the body as a whole will be conditioned to handle this load. The cardio conditioning alone is worth the investment.
Hand conditioning is something that continually plagues all but the pros. Usually “doing too much too soon” causes hand problems. The fewer RPM at a heavier weight will more gradually build grip strength as well as callusing for the heavier weight. The “Index Lock” (locking the index finger with the thumb) is more easily facilitated coming out of the rack position instead of the Snatch. The wear and tear on the hands from doing Snatches is usually worse than from any other move. If one can do ten minutes of LCCJ at a given weight without having any blistering or tearing, the hands should be sufficiently prepared for the rigors of Snatching.
In the arsenal of KB movements, no other exercise embodies all aspects of KB lifting like the LCCJ. Kettebell lifting is ideal for overall health and fitness. It builds core strength. It toughens connective tissue. It hardens muscles. It increases cardio vascular capability. It develops strength throughout a full range of motion. It develops the hands. Anytime one picks up a KB, to some extent they are using all muscles from their neck to their toes. However, the LCCJ is at the top of the list for doing it all so well.
Direct example of what Long Cycle (kettlebell clean & jerk) is in action. This is me, Bob Garon, practicing with the 28kg (62lbs each) Kettlebells.