“Know Your Lifts” is an illustrated guide series that shows how to perform basic weightlifting exercises. Check out our previous guides on the High-Bar Back Squat, Deadlift, and Shoulder Press. You can also by this illustration as a poster in our store!
On the docket today is an Olympic style lift that’s become popular among football players and Crossfitters: the Clean (or Power Clean). The clean is a full-body exercise that’s great for building the explosive power needed to suplex a grizzly bear. It’s a complex movement that requires plenty of practice in order to perform safely and effectively. With our illustrated guide above, we attempted to break down this lift into its component parts to help beginners learn it. Take it slow, start with light weight, and you’ll soon be cleaning with the best of them.
Thanks to Barry Schroeder and Jim Schoenberg of CrossFit Sandstorm for consulting on this post.
– Bar over balls of feet
– Head up, elbows facing out
– Arms vertical
– Back arched tightly
– Weight balanced over the foot
1. Start by pushing feet against the floor, pulling knees back so bar can travel straight up or slightly back, staying close to body. Lift starts off slowly and then culminates into explosive, full-body extension.
2. As bar rises above knees, keep weight in the heels as long as possible and begin to extend hips forward. Keep arms straight and bar as close to body as possible.
3. When the bar reaches about mid-thigh, quickly and powerfully extend hips, knees and ankles as if trying to jump straight off floor. As bar gains upward momentum, shrug shoulders as fully and quickly as possible. Bend and raise elbows outward, keeping bar close to body as it rises up. The bar should contact the body at the upper thigh or the hips as full hip extension is achieved.
4. As soon as hip extension is achieved, quickly pull body underneath bar, landing solidly in front squat position with gaze forward and torso upright. As you do so rotate elbows forward and under bar, allowing grip on the bar, allowing grip on the bar to loosen as your wrists turn upward. Catch bar on fronts of shoulders — bar between peak of deltoids and throat.
Variation: power clean
– Catch the bar in a quarter-to half-squat position. This variation requires bar to be pulled higher than full clean.
Once the bar feels steady, slowly stand upright. For heavy loads it might be easier “bounce” out of squat position without pausing at the bottom.
Lower or drop weight safely.
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Illustration by Ted Slampyak