Clean workouts are the perfect way to build explosive power and improve your skills.
In addition to strength and power, the clean requires speed, flexibility, coordination, accuracy, and balance.
Only the snatch rivals the clean when it comes to functional barbell movements.
- Set-Up: Start with your feet at a hip-width stance. Set your hands on the barbell so they are approximately one thumb’s distance from the hips. Grip the barbell with a hook grip. Brace your core.
- Execution: Your hips and shoulders should rise at the same rate on the pull.
- Extend the hips and knees rapidly and fully. Shrug your shoulders and pull yourself under the bar.
- Receive the bar in the front rack position, at the bottom of the squat.
- Finish: Stand tall to reach full hip and knee extension at the top of the movement.
- Keep the bar in the racked position until your hips/knees have fully extended.
If the WOD calls for a “power clean,” receive the barbell in a ¼ squat or ½ squat position. If the WOD calls for a “muscle clean,” receive the barbell in an upright position.
If the WOD calls for a “hang clean” or a “hang power clean,” begin the movement with the barbell anywhere above the knees.
Points of Performance: To get a “good rep,” ensure the following:
- The barbell starts on the floor (unless a “hang” position is required)
- Your hip crease drops below your knee crease at the bottom of the squat (unless a “power” or “muscle” clean is required)
- You reach full hip and knee extension at the top before bringing the bar back down to the ground
- In the front rack position, your elbows remain in front of the bar
Pro-Tip: The first pull of the clean (when you lift the bar from the ground to mid-thigh) should be a controlled, balanced pull. If you rip/yank the bar from the ground, you can shift your position and get off balance. The result will be a missed lift, especially if the weight is heavy.
CLEAN TRAINING TIPS
DEPTH IN THE POWER CLEAN
Mark Rippetoe is an American strength training coach and author. Watch his video to learn some useful Clean training tips when it comes to depth.
GET THE BEST RACK POSITION YOU CAN
A strong rack position improves your chances of standing up out of a heavy clean. It is common for beginners to struggle with the position as people often have incredibly tight lats and triceps. Rolling the lats, triceps and wrists and stretching them during your warm up will help get those elbows higher and the bar comfortably resting on the shoulders whilst gripping the bar.
Stretching out using the bar is also a fantastic way to improve it, place the barbell into the back squat position, and use the weight of the bar to rotate one elbow up at a time whilst keeping the hands on the bar and the body straight.
Tip: If you have to sacrifice gripping the bar in the rack position to have your elbows up, sacrifice the grip and open your hands.
GOOD POSTURE EQUALS A BETTER CLEAN
Having a tight mid-back from all those hours racked up at the desk can be a complete hindrance on a strong clean. Catching a clean with a rounded mid-back will force the elbows down and cause you to grind up the squat which can zap the energy from you and put unnecessary pressure onto the wrists – which is a one way ticket to injury.
PERFECT THAT FIRST PULL
Due to the heavier weight used in the clean versus the snatch, a bad first pull will cause serious problems. During the first pull the shoulders should stay over the bar AND the back angle should remain the same. Often people mistakenly let those hips rise as soon as the bar moves. Your knees only have to move fractionally to get out of the way of the bar as it passes the knees. Pushing your knees back switches off the legs and puts it all on the back.
The more pressure you can keep on the front of the foot, the more your legs will be primed to move into the extension.
Add these clean workouts into your training, develop explosive power and improve your weightlifting skills.
1. CLEAN BATTERY
- 1 rep max Squat Clean
Rest 10 minutes
Then, AMRAP in 8 minutes of:
- Cleans (90% of 1RM)
There are two tests that must be put together to complete Clean Battery. First, you must establish a one-rep maximum in the squat clean, then rest, then perform an 8-minute AMRAP (as many reps as possible) at 90% of your one-rep maximum.
2. JOHN GIORDANO
- 37 Squat Cleans (185/135 lb)
21-15-9 Reps For Time
- Cleans (135/95 lb)
- Ring Dips
With a running clock, as fast as possible perform 21 Cleans and 21 Ring Dips, then 15 Cleans and 15 Ring Dips, then 9 Cleans and 9 Ring Dips. “Elizabeth” can be performed with either Squat Cleans (typical Rx) or Power Cleans (sometimes called “Power Elizabeth”).
Score is the time on the clock when the final repetition (the 9th Ring Dip) is completed.
Good Times for “Elizabeth”
– Beginner: 10-14+ minutes
– Intermediate: 7-10 minutes
– Advanced: 4-7 minutes
– Elite: <4 minutes
Tips and Strategy
As needed, break the Ring Dips up into manageable sets from the beginning. If you go to failure on the Ring Dips, you’ll be stuck at the rings, performing singles, resting for several seconds between repetitions.
If you perform Squat Cleans, break the reps into smaller sets, as Squat Cleans are more muscularly fatiguing than Power Cleans are. Try one of these rep schemes, and rest a few seconds between sets:
Round of 21: 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 or 6, 5, 5, 5
Round of 15: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 or 5, 5, 5
Round of 9: 4, 3, 2 or 5, 4
If you perform Power Cleans, aim for big sets during the rounds of 21 and 15, and go unbroken on the round of 9.
“Elizabeth” should make you feel both physically exhausted (your triceps should be on fire and your quads–if you performed Squat Cleans–should be burning) and mentally fatigued. “Elizabeth” is highly mental, especially for athletes that don’t know their limits when it comes to Dips. You’ll constantly be walking the line between intensity (good) and burnout (bad), and that’s a tough place to be. Scale “Elizabeth” so you can get it done in around 10 minutes; but don’t scale it to where you walk away completely unscathed–it should still hurt.
“Elizabeth” is a classic benchmark that should be completed relatively quickly. It can be performed with either Squat Cleans or Power Cleans. Decide which version/technique you’ll use before you start, then stick with it. Go lighter on the Cleans and modify the Ring Dips so you can complete the work in fewer than 10 minutes.
15-12-9 reps for time of:
Cleans (115/75 lb)
15-12-9 reps for time of:
Cleans (75/55 lb)
- 1 Squat Clean (185/135 lb)
- 10 Parallette Handstand Push-Ups
- 2 Squat Cleans (185/135 lb)
- 9 Parallette Handstand Push-Ups
- 3 Squat Cleans (185/135 lb)
- 8 Parallette Handstand Push-Ups
- 4 Squat Cleans (185/135 lb)
- 7 Parallette Handstand Push-Ups
- 5 Squat Cleans (185/135 lb)
- 6 Parallette Handstand Push-Ups
- 6 Squat Cleans (185/135 lb)
- 5 Parallette Handstand Push-Ups
- 7 Squat Cleans (185/135 lb)
- 4 Parallette Handstand Push-Ups
- 8 Squat Cleans (185/135 lb)
- 3 Parallette Handstand Push-Ups
- 9 Squat Cleans (185/135 lb)
- 2 Parallette Handstand Push-Ups
- 10 Squat Cleans (185/135 lb)
- 1 Parallette Handstand Push-Up
For the parallette handstand push-ups, only the top of the head must pass below the top of the parallettes.
This ascending squat clean and descending parallete handstand push-up workout is relatively unusual as it gets easier and harder at the same time. Make sure you keep your core engaged throughout the workout and perform a specific arms and shoulders warm up beforehand.
5 Rounds For Time
- 15 Dumbbell Split Cleans (40/30 lb)
- 21 Pull-Ups
Reduce the weight and reps on the split clean. Modify the pull-up so that each round can be completed in 3 or 4 sets. Compared to other Hero WODs, this workout is quick and should not be drawn out into a long slog.
5 rounds for time of:
12 dumbbell split cleans
Men: 35-lb. dumbbells
Women: 20-lb. dumbbells
4 rounds for time of:
10 dumbbell split cleans
12 ring rows
Men: 20-lb. dumbbells
Women: 15-lb. dumbbells
- 30 Clean-and-Jerks (135/95 lb)
Complete 30 clean and jerks for time. Power cleans or full cleans are acceptable. You may re-set after the clean, or catch the bar in the rack position for the clean and push straight into the jerk without pausing. Push jerks or split jerks are acceptable. Snatches are not allowed.
Score is the time it takes you to complete all 30 reps.
Good Times for “Grace” (source)
– Beginner: 6-7 minutes
– Intermediate: 4-5 minutes
– Advanced: 3-4 minutes
– Elite: <2 minutes
Tips and Strategy
Elite athletes complete “Grace” in one big set of 30 reps. If that’s not possible for you yet, decide before the workout starts how you’ll break up the reps. For example, 6 sets of 5, a cascading/descending rep scheme like 12-8-6-4, or even 30 singles with little or no rest between each. Stick to the game plan–even when it starts to hurt.
“Grace” should feel light. You should be able to move through the reps quickly without taking long rests. This WOD should leave you breathless and sweating–like you just ran a really fast mile.
“Grace” is one of the fastest CrossFit benchmark workouts. Reduce the load so you can perform multiple reps unbroken and complete all the reps in less than 5 minutes. Athletes less familiar with Olympic lifting should take time to drill the mechanics of each movement and reduce the load drastically.
30 Clean-and-Jerks for Time (115/75 lb)
30 Clean-and-Jerks for Time (75/55 lb)
- Clean: Dave Lisson on Unsplash
- crossfit group classes or personal training: Stevie D Photography
- CrossFit Athlete Clean exercise: Stevie D Photography
- clean-technique-crossfit: Courtesy of CrossFit Inc.