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Dumbbell Clean and Press: How To, Benefits, Muscles Worked, Workouts and More

Make the most of this effective exercise by learning how to do it properly and how you can benefit from it.

The Dumbbell Clean and Press is a two-part exercise generally performed with two dumbbells. It consists of a Dumbbell Clean and a Dumbbell Press and is excellent for building full-body strength and conditioning.

This compound exercise is generally included in high intensity training or CrossFit workouts but is not as common in bodybuilding routines.

It is a fantastic full-body exercise and while it is similar to the barbell clean and press, it also builds unilateral stability and addresses muscle imbalances.

Involving the movement patters of the deadlift, the squat, and the press, there are very little reasons not to add this exercise into your training.

How to do a Dumbbell Clean and Press

  1. Start with two dumbbells on the floor placed to your sides.
  2. Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, bend down to grab a dumbbell in each hand like you would two suitcases.
  3. To do so, bend your knees, send your hips back, and keep your back straight.
  4. Stand up explosively, rising your hips and shoulders at the same time, and use the power of your legs to lift up the dumbbells.
  5. Extend your hips and, as the dumbbells travel upwards, shrug your shoulders and duck to catch the dumbbells at the bottom of a squat. One head of the dumbbell should rest near your shoulders.
  6. Stand up, fully extending your hips and knees. This is the Dumbbell Clean.
  7. From here, to perform the Dumbbell Press, press both dumbbells overhead by maintaining a hip-width stance and moving the dumbbells directly upwards.
  8. Make sure your back is straight, core engaged, and torso and legs remain static.
  9. Complete a full arm extensions and then slowly bring the dumbbells back to rest on your shoulders.
  10. Lower the dumbbells back to the floor, that’s one Dumbbell Clean and Press rep.

Read more: How to Build Power, Strength and Muscle with the Dumbbell Clean


The Dumbbell Clean and Press builds strength, power, and endurance by targeting a great portion of your body’s major muscle groups.

It is generally easier to perform than the barbell variation and, while you won’t be able to lift as much weight, it will allow you to perform more reps. Additionally, “Whilst the stronger side of your body can compensate for any weakness with a barbell, both sides of your body are forced to work as hard as each other during the dumbbell clean and press,” writes Abbie Watkins from OriGym.

Performing the Dumbbell Clean and Press will:

  • Improve your pulling power
  • Increase your squatting power
  • Build up your pressing strength
  • Build leg, core, and arm strength
  • Enhance your conditioning when performed for many reps
  • Boost your speed and timing skills
  • Address muscle imbalances
  • Increase unilateral strength
  • Improve grip strength
dumbbell floor pressSource: Photo Courtesy of CrossFit Inc

Muscles worked

The Dumbbell Clean and Press is an excellent compound exercise, meaning it works many muscle groups at once. Primarily, the exercise works:

  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes
  • Calves
  • Quads
  • Biceps
  • Triceps
  • Traps
  • Deltoids
  • Abdominals


Single Arm Dumbbell Power Clean and Jerk

Barbell Hang Muscle Clean to Press

Single Arm Kettlebell Muscle Clean from Floor to Strict Press

Dumbbell Clean and Jerk


Add this exercise into your training routine. Use the following sets and reps depending on your goals:

  • Hypertrophy: 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Strength: 5 sets of 3-6 reps
  • Muscular endurance: 2-3 sets of 18-22 reps

Perform this once or twice per week.


Which is best dumbbell or barbell clean and press?

Both exercises have their unique benefits. If your aim is to build as much strength as possible, then the barbell variation is better, as it will allow you to pull more weight. If you want to build muscular endurance or address imbalances, then the dumbbell variation is the one to go for.

What is the dumbbell clean and press good for?

This exercise is great for training almost all major muscle groups in your body. Add it to your training to increase your pulling and pushing strength, as well as your lower body, core, and upper body strength.

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