2. BARBELL EXERCISES: THE CLEAN
The Clean is simply pulling a load from the ground to the shoulders where frequently the object is being readied for lifting overhead.
With the Clean our body moves from standing over an object and pulling it upwards, to supporting the weight from underneath. Compare this to the Muscle-Up where we take ourselves from under an object to supporting ourselves over it.
In its finest expression the Clean is a process by which the hips and legs launch a weight upward from the ground to about bellybutton height and then retreat under the weight with blinding speed to catch it before it has had the time to become a runaway train. The movement finishes with the hips and legs again working by squatting the weight up to full extension.
The speed and force with which the Clean (and, yes, the Snatch) drives loads give it developmental properties that other barbell exercises cannot match. Deadlifts, Squats, and Bench Presses will never approximate the speed and force, and consequently the power required for a Clean at larger loads. For this simple reason, while these are important movements, they are not peers of the Clean. Power is that important.
- Position your feet shoulder width apart. Grip the bar just past shoulder width. Keep your back straight.
- Align the bar over the balls of your feet. Drop your hips so your shoulders are directly above the barbell. Engage core. Pull your head up, look straight ahead and keep your arms straight.
- Start lifting the barbell. Push the feet against the floor. Keep your core engaged. As the barbell passes the knees, pull it back towards your legs. Stay connected to it, keep it close to the body. Keep your arms straight and midline tight.
- The lift starts slowly and accelerates (after it passes the knees) into a quick, explosive movement and full-body extension.
- When you lift the barbell to the mid/upper thigh, explosively extend your hips. Shrug your shoulders, elbows should be bend outward. Aim to keep the bar close to the body as much as possible. Your goal should be a full hip extension.
- Shrug your shoulders, pull your body underneath into the front squat position to receive the bar on your shoulders. Lift your elbows up, push your shoulder forwards and slightly up. Stand up.