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

Enhance your body.

Learn how to build explosive upper body and arm power and strength with the Dumbbell Clean.

What is the Dumbbell Clean?

The Dumbbell Clean is a power building dumbbell exercise that uses strength, momentum and skill to propel the load from the floor to a fully standing front rack position.

Benefits of the Dumbbell Clean

The movement will yield many benefits for your body, performance and training.

The Exercise Works a Long Range of Motion

The movement forces the lifter to control and shift the load through a long and more complicated range of motion.

Build Muscle

The exercise can provide a great alternative stimulus because the body has to work for long periods of time on larger sets. This maximises time under tension.

Expose Weaknesses

Each hand holds a dumbbell. Unlike the traditional barbell Clean, the dumbbell variation will show you where you are weaker and which side struggles more to more the weight.

Once you know this you can work on your weaknesses and become a better athlete.

Activate the Stabilisers Muscles

The explosive movement forces the muscles to stabilise and control the weight at all times. This tests the core, lower back, shoulders and arms in new ways.

Improve Power Production

Power is an important part of every athlete’s arsenal. This exercise is a great way to train and improve that aspect of your fitness.

Augment Technical Ability and Motor Control

The movement is not a common exercise. Introducing it into your training gives you an opportunity to improve bodily coordination, motor skills and technical prowess with the dumbbells.

Which Muscles Do Dumbbell Cleans Activate?

The exercise works all of the following muscles:

  • Grip
  • Forearms
  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Calves
  • Biceps
  • Quadriceps
  • Triceps
  • Deltoids
  • Spinal erectors
  • Lower back
full body crossfit workouts dumbbell cleanSource: Stevie D Photography

How to Do the Dumbbell Clean

  • You will need two dumbbells of the same weight to complete this exercise.
  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your feet slightly narrower than shoulder width apart
  • Establish a straight spine and stable body position
  • Lower the weights to the floor using Deadlift technique. Allow both dumbbells to touch the floor
  • Use a pronated, overhand grip
  • Inhale and brace your core, glutes and grip
  • To generate power, push your feet hard into the ground and explode upwards and bring the weights up off the floor
  • When your shoulders reach the highest point, drop your body downwards into a deep Squat. Rotate your elbows forwards at the same time
  • Punch the elbows forwards. Catch the dumbbells in the front rack position
  • Raise your body to full extension and exhale
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps

Training Tips

Always make sure that the body returns to the standing position after each rep. Ensure that the hips are fully opened.

Practice with very light dumbbells if you are completely new to the movement.

Force production is important and great technique will significantly help with that.

Watch out for the decline of form as you become more fatigued. If you reach technical failure then stop and rest until you are able to continue with great form.

Dumbbell Clean Variations

If you enjoy the Dumbbell Clean and want to mix things up, try adding these variations into your training.

  • Kettlebell Clean
  • Kettlebell Hang Clean
  • Single Arm Dumbbell Clean
  • Single Arm Hang Dumbbell Clean
  • Barbell Clean
  • Barbell Hang power Clean
  • Dumbbell Hang Power Clean

Learn More

Want to take your training to the next level? Try the Wide Grip Pulldown or Reverse Curls.

Improve your body with the DB Lateral Raise, Incline DB Press and DB Pullover.

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