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 the accurate measure of core strength. It is a reliable indicator of strength and flexibility. In fact, two famous strongmen, i.e. Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (Icelandic strongman) and Eddie hall, have jabbed at each other with 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 athletic coordination.
How to perform the clean exercise?
You can categorize the movements into three major sets:
- Hip and back extension
- High pull, undoubtedly the tricky one
- 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 one perform:
- Add weights to the barbell; however, add with caution and 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 at a distance of 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.
- 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.
- 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, depending on the variation you are trying. Next, lower the weight down in a slowed, controlled manner.
It is a relatively advanced exercise, and doing it under a trainer’s supervision is highly recommended. Muscle tears and sprains can take place because of improper form. To name a few, the deltoids, trapezius, lats, quads, and spinal erectors are worked on.
Using a narrower grip than your shoulder width–can make you at fault 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 will leave you only in more distress. Therefore, it is not a good idea to use a narrower grip.
Not wearing a belt:
It would be best if you weren’t careless when you do the clean exercise. For example, if you don’t wear a belt when you do the exercise, you will not support your muscles. It can cause strains, and your muscles might pull.
Ego lifting (stupid to do, of course):
You need to make sure you lift only that you can take. Doing so much of it will only lead to more trouble, and you will be at the risk of getting a muscle injury. It would be best if you could handle the total weight you are going to lift. For this, you need to start gradually instead of going all the way at first.
Wearing the wrong shoes will land you in trouble. You cannot lift the weight firmly, and your body does not stay stable. When this happens, you are at a greater risk of getting an injury in your muscles. Always check the size of the shoe, the sole, and the laces.
Doing without warm-up:
Warm-up is a crucial component of the exercise. If you don’t do warm-up, you can end up getting too much strain in your body that can lead to injury in 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 are 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 not suitable for your fitness and exercise 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.
Variations of the clean exercise
Although the power clean is a formidable exercise but falls prey to the monotony that haunts all weight training exercises. You can make your own variations or try the following to ensure a healthy, intense circuit and improve flexibility. Indeed, some are more taxing, so take care as you try these.
Clean the bar but catch it in a squatting position. Suitable for upper and lower body coordination.
Lift the bar but split open your legs one forward and one backward; you notice that the splitting motion will help clean the weight above your shoulders. Undoubtedly good for learning how muscle groups aid each other.
Jumping Power Clean
Clean movement paired with jumping with the bar onto a short box. Surely taxing on the ability to balance, but worth it.
KettleBell Power Clean
Same movements with a kettlebell can help to train for keg toss events
Dumb-Bell Power Clean
Instead of using a barbell to perform this exercise, use a pair of dumbbells. Dumbbells provide many benefits, including safety and balance.
Power Clean Like A Clock Work
Clean but rotate clockwise or counterclockwise. Apart from the fact that this will test your flexibility, but will also test your neuromuscular control and coordination.
You bring the weight to your knees only and repeat, an advanced version is known as the sumo lift, but it makes one more prone to injury.
Hellraiser High Pull
Clean the weight till shoulders, bring it behind your neck and jerk it
Skills improved from performing clean exercises
First, you will notice less backache in day-to-day chores. For example, a significant portion of people feel that their back will give out while doing the dishes; the reason?
Little to none back development. Clean exercises in all their variants engage the back muscles. Therefore, the back strengthens and can 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 fatigue 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. You would not admit it, but you are always afraid your arms will give out when you are on top. Clean exercises will help you achieve the core that will make you perform better in the gym and bed.
However, for athletic progression and development, the following benefits can be observed:
- 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.
Last word regarding clean exercises
As beneficial and effective 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 do 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”, and “car carries”, etc. The world of powerlifting and Olympic weight lifting 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, less likelihood of injury in sports or at work because of stronger muscles and joints. Along with these physical skills constructed by performing clean exercise routines over time, comes an increase in mental health as well through the release of endorphins during a workout session. What has been your experience with this? Let us know in the comments!