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15 Clean Workouts for Explosive Power and Better Weightlifting Skills in CrossFit

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.

CLEAN TECHNIQUE

  • 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.
  • 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.)

Read more: How to Perfect Your Squat Clean

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

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.

CLEAN WORKOUTS

Add these into your training. 

1 CLEAN BATTERY

For Load
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

For Time
37 Squat Cleans (185/135 lb)

3 ELIZABETH

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” (source)
– 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.

Intended Stimulus

“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.

Scaling Options

“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.

Intermediate
15-12-9 reps for time of:
Cleans (115/75 lb)
Ring Dips

Beginner
15-12-9 reps for time of:
Cleans (75/55 lb)
Push-Ups

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