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Clean Exercise – Kinesthetic Benchmark for Athleticism


Are you interested in learning more about the clean exercise? Variety is the spice of life, but not for exercise. It’s easy to get bored with your fitness routine if you’re constantly doing the same exercises. But what if I told you there was one exercise that could help improve your strength and flexibility? The clean exercise may be just what you need!

The Clean exercise is undoubtedly an accurate measure of core strength. It is a reliable indicator of flexibility. Two famous strongmen, i.e., Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (Icelandic strongman) and Eddie hall, have jabbed at each other by upping each other’s deadlift records.

Despite the many variations, a basic definition exists. It is a method of lifting weights to a certain height, as the lifter brings his body underneath the weight to “catch it.” The lifter may or may not press the weight above their shoulders. When pressing, the lifter can press it in a single fluid motion or, on the contrary, can stop and “jerk” it, making it a “clean and jerk exercise.” Hence, increasing strength and athleticism.

How to perform the clean exercise?

You can categorize the movements into three major sets:

  1. Hip and back extension
  2. High pull, undoubtedly the tricky one
  3. Quarter or full squat ( certain variations )

Essentially, a multi-joint exercise that torches fat in all major muscle groups. As revealed by sports science, clean exercises are essential for building and maintaining core strength.

Here is a step-by-step breakdown to help you perform the clean exercise:

  1. Add weights to the barbell; however, add according to your experience. Wear comfortable shoes with a flat sole to ensure proper weight distribution. Also, wear wristbands and a weightlifting belt. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. The weight should be about two inches away from your shins. Keep your spine flat while you thrust with your hips backward. Keep an overhand shoulder-width grip.
  2. Now squeeze and keep your core tight. Next, lift the bar, ensuring that you drive with force through your heels. Once the bar is higher than your knees, extend your hips and ankle in a fluid, powerful stroke. As a result, the bar will rise, your palms now underneath the bar. The bar should be at shoulder height.
  3. With the bar at shoulder height, rotate your elbows and form a “shelf” for the bar to rest on. Alternatively, you can press it above or repeat the last steps, depending on the variation. Next, lower the weight down in a slowed, controlled manner.

It is a relatively advanced exercise, and we highly recommend doing it under a trainer’s supervision. Muscle tears and sprains can take place because of improper form. To name a few, you can injure the deltoids, trapezius, lats, quads, and spinal erectors during this exercise.

Common mistakes

Using a narrower grip than your shoulder width–can cause injury when doing the exercise. Make sure you don’t use a narrower grip than the distance between your two shoulders. Doing so will give you no benefit and cause distress. Therefore, it is not a good idea to use a narrower grip.

Not wearing a belt:

Use a belt to add extra caution when you do the clean exercise. For example, wear a belt when you exercise to support your muscles. For example, a weightlifting belt can help to prevent strains and muscle pulls.

Ego lifting (stupid to do, of course):

You need to make sure you lift a weight you can control and perform proper form. Doing too much weight will only lead to more trouble, and you will risk injuring a muscle. Instead, lift a weight you can handle. For this, slowly increase the weight instead of going all the way.

Improper shoes:

Wearing the wrong shoes will land you in trouble. You cannot lift the weight firmly, and your body will not stay stable without the correct shoes. When this happens, you are at a greater risk of causing an injury to your muscles. Also, wear the correct shoe size, sole, and laces.

Doing without warm-up:

Warm-up is a crucial component of the clean exercise. If you don’t do warm-up, you can strain a muscle, leading to injury of your muscles. Also, do a cool down after you do your workout session.

Rounding your back:

Keep your back straight as you do the exercise. The round arch of your back will put your spine at a risk of damage which is not affordable. Make sure not to lean too forward and keep your ears on the same plane as your shoulders, so you don’t get a forward-leaning back of your body.

Moving torso forward:

While keeping a straight back is essential, keeping your torso in a steady position is also necessary. Moving it forward can put you at risk of injury, which is unsuitable for your fitness and training.

Not using wrist guards:

When you are lifting weights, you are putting pressure on your wrists. Not doing exercise with proper equipment such as wrist guards can put you at risk of getting an injury or sprain.

5x5 Workout deload period

Variations of the clean exercise

Although the power clean is a formidable exercise, it falls prey to the monotony of all weight training exercises. Nevertheless, you can do variations or try the following to ensure a healthy, intense circuit and improve your flexibility. Indeed, some are more taxing, so take care as you try these.

Squat Clean

Clean the bar but catch it in a squatting position. This exercise is suitable for upper and lower body coordination.

Split Clean

Lift the bar but split open your legs, one forward and one backward; the splitting motion will help clean the weight above your shoulders. Undoubtedly good for learning how muscle groups aid each other.

Jumping Power Clean

The jumping power clean is a clean movement paired with jumping with the bar onto a short box. Indeed, taxing on your ability to stay balanced, but it is worth it.

KettleBell Power Clean

The kettlebell power clean is the same as the power clean, but with a kettlebell. Thus, this exercise can help you train for keg toss events.

Dumbbell Power Clean

Instead of using a barbell to perform this exercise, use a pair of dumbbells. Dumbbells provide many benefits, including safety and balance.

Clock Work Power Clean 

Clean but rotate clockwise or counterclockwise. Thus, this exercise will test your flexibility, neuromuscular control, and coordination.

Deadlift Clean

You only bring the weight to your knees and repeat. The advanced version of the deadlift clean is the sumo lift, but it makes one more prone to injury.

Hellraiser High Pull

Clean the weight to your shoulders, bring it to your neck and jerk it.

Back Row

Skills improved from performing clean exercises.

First, you will notice less backache in your day-to-day chores. For example, many people feel that their back will give out while lifting boxes; why?

Little to no back development. Clean exercises in all their variants engage the back muscles. Therefore, your back strengthens, and you will bear a more constant load over more time.

The same concept applies to shoulders. So not only will you have powerful, well-looking shoulders, but also you will feel less tired in them.

Thus, clean exercises are the gateway to eliminating joint pain and soreness. The best part is that the core muscles will also help you with sex. Most men will not admit it, but they are afraid their arms will give out when they are on top. Clean exercises will help you achieve the core that will make you perform better in the gym and in bed.

However, for athletic progression and development, we can observe the following benefits:

  • With improved leg press, you will notice a significant difference in your pressing capacity
  • An increase in quad size
  • Development of hamstrings
  • Better balance and increased turnover strength
  • Enhanced neuromuscular control
  • Sped up fat loss
  • Aids in muscle bulk
  • It will help achieve “Christmas tree back.”
  • Improved deltoid capacity
  • Increase in bone density and mass
  • Better recovery of muscles and fascia
  • Improved vertical jumping skills
  • A solid and healthy posture

Also, progressively increase weight and track your growth. Be cautious of adding too much weight without warming up or only in a few days of practice. Focus on form and technique rather than increasing the number of reps.

Woman completing a deadlift

Last word regarding clean exercises

As beneficial as they seem, clean exercises are not the go-to exercises for the weekend warrior. Also, not for someone who has just started weight training because it is a compound exercise that needs precision, explosive strength, and proper form. If not done right can cause muscle injuries, spinal disk injuries, and dislocation of joints. Thus, proceed with caution and under the supervision of a certified trainer.

Indeed, it acts as an essential part of a strongman training regimen. Since it helps in events like “atlas stones,” “farmer’s walk,” “car carries,” etc. The world of powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting is also no stranger. Clean exercises are the most respected and known form.

It is no surprise that clean exercises are some of the most beneficial workouts. The many benefits can include improved flexibility, increased balance, better core strength, more functional movement patterns for everyday tasks, and less likelihood of injury in sports or at work because of stronger muscles and joints.

Because of the physical skills constructed by performing clean exercise routines over time, your mental health will also increase by releasing endorphins during a workout session. What has been your experience with the clean exercise? Let us know in the comments so others can benefit from your experience!

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