Clean Right With These Technique Tips

The Clean

The Clean is a fantastic full-body strength exercise

The Clean which is more accurately referred to as “Power Clean” is one of the best exercises you can include in your workout rotation.

It is a multi-joint, compound exercise that builds muscle, improves agility, power, speed, mobility, flexibility and balance.

It can also be used as part of an interval program or circuit designed to enhance your level of conditioning.

Performing the Clean regularly also provides these other benefits:

1. Burns Body Fat – Because of its explosive nature, large recruitment of muscle fibres and series of transitions, Cleans are metabolically taxing.

You don’t need to do a lot of reps to get your fat burning furnace stoked with Cleans.

2. Improves Your Other Lifts – Done properly, Cleans involve just about every muscle in the body. Cleans train your muscle fibers to react to stimuli faster and become more explosive.

This will carry over to the Big 4 exercises: Squat, Bench Press, Deadlift and Overhead Press.

3. Changes The Training Dynamic – While other exercises are performed with a progressive application of forces, Cleans have to be done explosively. Cleans add the power element in your workout.

And last but not the least, doing Cleans make you look cool! Anyone can curl a barbell or pull down a stack of plates but how many can do a Power Clean?

Unless you are training in a specific Powerlifting or Olympic lifting gym, it is highly unlikely that many members in your gym do Cleans.

And the ones that do are probably not doing them right.

For you to realise the benefits of the Clean, you must follow precise technique. This is a speed exercise; the faster you Clean the better the results.

And the key to getting a faster, more explosive Clean lies in proper form and technique.

The Clean can be broken down into 3 stages:

Stage 1: The First Pull

The starting position of the Clean is similar to the Deadlift. The only difference is that you do not aggressively pull the weight off the floor.

On the contrary, the first pull is just to get the bar moving toward your hips.

The crucial point in the first pull is that you should start to turn your elbows out as you approach the lower part of your knees.

Turning your elbows out keeps you from using your biceps to clean the weight.

Stage 2: The Second Pull

When the bar crosses your knees, drive your hips forward. This is where you put “Power” into the Clean. Thrusting your hips forward will force your body in an upright position.

As you straighten out your knees and hips, you should pull the bar so hard you will come up off your toes.

This is sometimes referred to as the “Vertical Jump” portion of the Clean.

As your lower body reaches full extension, explosively shrug the bar to add maximum upward velocity.

Stage 3: The Catch

Push your shoulders to as high as they can go then reverse direction and pull your body under the bar.

Clean Exercise

Protect your back by keeping it arched as you raise to stand

This is the transition to the Catch and involves 2 important movements:

  • Dip to a quarter or half squat position;
  • Bend and rotate your upper arms under the bar so that they are parallel to the floor and the bar will rest on your shoulders.

The transition to the Catch is done with equal force and ferocity.

If you watch fitness competitions, you will see the participants violently stomp their feet as they transition from the vertical jump to the catch.

Once the bar has firmly settled on your shoulders, bring your feet back to hip width position then straighten your legs.

If you have not done the Clean before, start out slowly.

Here’s a workout you can use to slowly and safely progress into the Clean:

Weeks 1-2:

1. Front Squat – 5 sets x 3 reps
2. Clean Shrug –  5 sets x 3 reps
3. Standing Calf Raise – 3 sets x 10 reps

Week 3-4:

1. Front Squat – 5 sets x 3 reps
2. Clean Shrug – 3 sets x 3 reps
3. Hang Clean – 5 sets x 3 reps
4. Standing Calf Raise – 3 sets x 10 reps

Week 5-6:

1. Power Clean– 5 sets x 3 reps
2. Front Squat – 5 sets x 3 reps
3. Kettlebell Swings – 3 sets x 10 reps
4. Standing Calf Raise – 3 sets x 10 reps

The Clean Shrug is a Barbell Shrug that is performed explosively and starts from above the knees.

The Hang Clean follows the same technique of the Clean except that it focuses on the transition from the Second Pull to the Catch.

The Clean will benefit your workouts regardless of your fitness goals. With consistency, it will improve every aspect of your training program.

Always remember to focus on perfecting form and technique before increasing the amount of weight you use.