How to Do the Clean for Explosive Power, Muscle Growth, and Much More

The primary time you ever noticed somebody doing a clear in all probability blew your thoughts. Most free-weight workouts are gradual and managed; take a bar (or pair of dumbbells) from right here to there with a pleasant, constant tempo. The clear, although? Over within the blink of a watch. 

And that’s with out even mentioning how weird the entrance rack place appears in case you’ve by no means seen it earlier than. The clear — by which an athlete lifts a barbell from the ground as much as their shoulders in a single swift movement — is an important talent within the sport of weightlifting (alongside its counterpart motion, the jerk).

Weightlifter Chen Lijun performs clean & jerk at 2022 World Weightlifting Championships
Credit score: William Johnson / @barbellstories

It’s additionally a rattling good technique to build explosive power, enhance and refine bodily coordination, and have a blast within the weight room, besides. Cleans could be deceptively difficult to be taught, particularly in case you’re educating your self, however a superb information can get you there. It is a good information — right here’s how one can do the clear. 

Do the Clear

Earlier than you dive in: The clear refers to a particular bodily movement of “flipping” an object as much as your shoulders. It, by default, begins on the ground and is carried out with a barbell and bumper plates. 

Nevertheless, the talent of cleansing itself is one thing you may apply to absolutely anything you’ll find in a weight room, together with dumbbells, kettlebells, specialty barbells, a sandbag, or perhaps a medication ball. This information will educate you how one can carry out the clear with a barbell from the ground.

You probably have them, a pair of weightlifting shoes will go a good distance towards mastering the clear from the get-go.

Step 1 — Discover Your Setup

Clean Step 1
Credit score: Lyashenko Egor / Shutterstock

The beginning place of the clear is analogous (however not equivalent) to the deadlift. Stand together with your ft below your hips, about an inch or two away from the barbell. Squat down till you may seize the bar with an in depth, double-overhand grip.

Permit your knees to come back ahead in entrance of the bar till your shins gently make contact with it. Your hips ought to be barely larger than your knees and your shoulders ought to be straight atop the bar or barely in entrance of it. That’s your beginning place.

Coach’s Tip: Distribute your weight evenly throughout your complete foot; don’t sit again in your heels for the clear.

Step 2 — Push, Laborious

Shirtless man pushes with legs while performing clean exercise
Credit score: baranq / Shutterstock

When you’ve established a strong beginning place, provoke the clear by pushing into the ground together with your legs — the identical means you’d interact your quads throughout a leg press. Your knees ought to lengthen and transfer out of the trail of the barbell because it comes off the ground and glides near your thighs. Your torso angle mustn’t change as you elevate the bar.

Coach’s Tip: Your shoulders ought to stay stacked on high (or in entrance of) the barbell as you push. Don’t sit again. 

Step 3 — Lengthen Up

Clean Step 3
Credit score: Riley Stefan

As soon as the bar reaches mid to high-thigh, interact triple extension by forcefully snapping your decrease physique; contract your glutes to increase your hips, your quads to increase your knees, and drive your toes into the bottom to increase your ankles.

Keep a relaxed grip and unfastened arms, permitting the barbell to freely elevate upward in house.

Coach’s Tip: Triple extension is a bounce with out leaping. Take into consideration aggressively making your self tall on the high to increase your legs. 

Step 4 — Flip and Rack

Clean Step 4
Credit score: David Pereiras / Shutterstock

After only a transient second on the high of your second pull (that’s when your legs are absolutely prolonged), drop your hips down whereas lifting and planting your ft wider than your beginning stance.

That is known as the third pull, or pull below, of the clear. Because the barbell strikes upward in house, transfer your personal physique down such that you simply meet it midair. Flip your elbows down and round to catch the bar in a front rack position after which sink down right into a entrance squat. If you hit the tip of your vary of movement, push together with your legs to return to a standing place with the barbell resting between your neck and your entrance delts.

Coach’s Tip: Foot motion is non-obligatory throughout this portion of the clear, however most athletes must squat with a wider stance than they use to drag. 

Clear Units and Reps

Regardless of being a part of the two-exercise biathlon that’s Olympic lifting, the clear itself is a reasonably versatile motion. Some individuals prepare for maximal power by cleansing in units of 1 to a few reps, whereas others string collectively many reps at a time to enhance their conditioning. Listed here are a few totally different programming choices for the clear: 

  • When You’re Learning: Attempt as many as 5 to eight units of three reps with the empty bar and as a lot relaxation as wanted.
  • For Total-Body Strength: Do 3 to five units of two to three reps with a heavy weight and loads of relaxation.
  • To Enhance Endurance: Attempt stringing collectively 8 to 10 reps for 3 to 4 units with a light-weight weight and restricted relaxation. 

Frequent Clear Errors

The clear has extra shifting elements to it than absolutely anything you’d do with a barbell. Which means loads of alternatives to fumble the approach or develop dangerous habits alongside the way in which. Be aware of those pitfalls and also you’ll climb larger, quicker, within the clear. 

Making an attempt to “Muscle It”

Understanding the function your arms and higher physique play within the sport of weightlifting is without doubt one of the most difficult points of the educational course of, particularly for newcomers. You do bodily place the bar onto your shoulders together with your arms while you clear, that a lot is true.

Nevertheless, the ability, pressure output, and momentum all come out of your decrease half. You possibly can’t carry out a reverse biceps curl with practically as a lot weight as you may correctly clear if you understand how to make use of your legs. Focus exhausting on letting go of the concept you pull together with your arms throughout the clear and the elevate will shortly turn out to be intuitive. 

Hips Rising Early

The clean is not a deadlift. It entails extra leg drive and fewer contribution out of your posterior chain. In case you aren’t used to performing a from-the-ground pull on this vogue, you’re prone to rely an excessive amount of in your decrease again, glutes, and hamstrings.

This tends to take the form of your hips popping up as quickly because the bar breaks the bottom as you shift right into a posture that resembles the way you’d do a traditional deadlift. Doing so reduces your capacity to make the most of your quads and might throw your mechanics off-balance as you method the highest of the clear. Be certain to maintain your butt down — your hips and shoulders ought to rise on the identical charge. 

Kicking the Bar

The snatch, clear & jerk, and all of their variations share one important technical precept: you want a decent, vertical bar path. “Kicking” the bar refers to a type of deviation from this objective by which you in some way pressure the bar ahead as a substitute of up.

Through the clear, this tends to occur as a result of the athlete slams their thighs or hips into the bar to generate momentum, somewhat than permitting the pressure produced by correct extension to maneuver the bar.

Kicking the bar out in entrance tends to create a series response of dangerous habits. You’ll have to leap ahead to catch it, the bar might not elevate excessive sufficient within the first place, and way more. Take care and assess your bar path from the facet. In case you catch the barbell together with your ft in entrance of the place they began, you might must readjust. 

Incomplete Entrance Rack

In case you’ve by no means held a barbell within the entrance rack place earlier than, you’ll doubtless discover it troublesome or uncomfortable in your shoulders, elbows, or wrists. As such, there’s a superb probability that you simply don’t carry your elbows up absolutely while you carry out the clear.

A correct entrance rack place stabilizes the barbell between your neck and shoulders. Your arms bear little or no weight; your thoracic backbone and core are the buildings that take the load. Nevertheless, in case you can’t get your elbows up excessive sufficient, the load of the barbell will fall in your wrists, forearms, and shoulder girdle as a substitute. 

Man holds barbell improperly for front rack of clean
Credit score: Mongkolchon Akesin / Shutterstock

If this is applicable to you, work on your mobility earlier than making an attempt to scrub something heavy. Stretch out your lats, triceps, and wrists specifically. 

Clear Variations

There’s a couple of technique to pores and skin a cat. In relation to the clear, there are lots of, many alternative methods to get the barbell the place it must be. Most clear variations contain adjusting your stance or posture ultimately. Listed here are a couple of common variations of the clear to attempt for your self:

Energy Clear

In weightlifting (or some other context by which you’d discover the Olympic lifts, resembling CrossFit), the “energy” moniker refers back to the peak at which you catch the barbell. Racking your cleans in a partial squat together with your hips larger than your knees counts as an influence.

Power cleans prohibit you from dropping right into a entrance squat. This limits the quantity of weight you need to use, but in addition makes the train simpler to be taught. You’ll typically see athletes carry out energy cleans as a substitute of cleans, as mastering the explosive pressure era from the pull is extra related to most sports activities than sinking right into a deep front squat

Cling Clear

The hang position refers to beginning any Olympic elevate — or any variation therein — from a standing place as a substitute of the ground. To do a cling clear, then, you’d arise with the barbell, hinge over, cease your descent at a particular level, after which clear.

The cling clear lets you work with heavy weights with out having to be taught the intricacies of pulling from the ground. It additionally provides some eccentric muscular pressure to the clear, which is an essential component of muscle growth

Muscle Clear

The muscle clean is extra of a technical drill than a official variation of the clear itself. Whereas good clear approach necessitates leaving your higher physique and arms on the door, muscle cleans flip the script and require you to drag together with your arms.

After you attain the highest of your extension throughout the muscle clear, you observe via by actively pulling the barbell into the entrance rack place together with your arms. Weightlifters depend on this drill to remind themselves how one can pull themselves all the way down to the bar throughout a max-effort elevate. It’s also possible to use muscle cleans as a technique to warm up your upper body in the beginning of your exercise. 

Clear Options

The clear has rather a lot to supply. You should utilize it to gain strength, develop your energy output potential, break a sweat, and way more. Nevertheless, the technical intricacy of the Olympic lifts could be extra hassle than it’s price generally. 

Clear Pull

Cleans are difficult; clean pulls are pretty easy. Olympic lifters carry out “pulls” to drill, properly, the pull portion of a given motion. You possibly can go for the clear pull if you wish to reap the power and power-related advantages of the clear however don’t have a use case for the second half of the train.

It is a nice workaround when you have severely restricted mobility in your wrists, shoulders, or hips. Clear pulls additionally let you lift much heavier; all it’s a must to do is break the bar off the ground, hit a handy guide a rough extension, after which let the bar go. No catching or squatting.

Leap Squat

Sure workouts are unbelievable for power development. The clear actually falls into that bucket, but it surely isn’t the one technique to get a bit extra juice out of your decrease physique. In case you don’t need to do the clear correct, you might need to give the bounce squat a go as a substitute.

The nuts and bolts are the identical; the execution of a bounce squat is absolutely fairly much like the way you’d lengthen throughout a clear. Permitting the bar to relaxation statically in your again, somewhat than in your fingers, removes a component of instability and allows you to focus on using your quads and glutes. 

Pendlay Row

Clear pulls aren’t a back-exclusive motion (although they’ll completely trash your upper back alongside the way in which). If you would like an explosive stimulus on your posterior chain with out having to bear the educational strategy of the clear, go for the Pendlay row as a substitute.

Named after famend Olympic lifting coach Glenn Pendlay, this train is much like the barbell row save for one particular distinction: You hinge down, row the bar off the ground as exhausting as potential, and let it free-fall again to the ground between reps.

The absence of a managed eccentric section lets you focus intently on bar speed and explosiveness above all. 

Muscle groups Labored by the Clear

The checklist of muscle tissues that aren’t affected by the clear is way shorter than the checklist of muscle tissues which can be. Getting a loaded bar from level “A” to level “B” is one factor; doing it explosively requires extra muscle tissues. Listed here are the main gamers that have an effect on your efficiency within the clear.


The clear is, essentially, a back exercise, not less than by way of which a part of your physique receives probably the most general muscular engagement. Your again might not generate the ability wanted to maneuver the bar, however you may consider your again because the framework that permits you to channel muscular energy. 

Your decrease again, lats, traps, and rhomboids all contract isometrically to stabilize your backbone as you progress via the phases of the clear. If these muscle tissues don’t possess the requisite power to withstand the barbell, your approach will endure. 


Your trapezius muscle tissues are the one muscle tissues in your again that actively flex or lengthen throughout the clear. On the high of your second pull, when your physique is inflexible and prolonged, shrugging your shoulders might help give the bar a bit extra air time. 


Your quads are the only most vital muscle throughout the clear. Fast, forceful knee extension — one thing solely your quadriceps can present — will generate the vast majority of your vertical pressure manufacturing. 

Man stands up out of clean exercise using quads
Credit score: Mongkolchon Akesin / Shutterstock

This doesn’t essentially imply that the clear is an effective technique to grow your quadriceps, however weak quads will spell catastrophe for a heavy clear try. That is one thing you’ll discover if you end up pinned within the backside of the squat, as pulling the bar off the bottom is barely half the battle


Your gluteal muscle tissues are the most important and strongest muscle tissues in your decrease physique. Nevertheless, your hips lengthen horizontally in house. That is at odds with the vertical pressure output required for a superb clear.

That stated, violent hip extension offered by contracting your glutes nonetheless contributes to correct triple extension. You don’t need to thrust your hips ahead while you clear, however you must make an effort to contract your glutes. 


Like every compound barbell exercise, a superb clear requires sturdy abdominals and obliques. That is true throughout the pulling section when it’s a must to hold your backbone inflexible and is equally vital throughout the restoration section while you try to face up with the bar racked in entrance.

Through the restoration portion of the clear, a weak or underdeveloped core places you vulnerable to collapsing your torso, placing you in a no-win state of affairs: In case your core can’t hold your torso upright, the barbell will slide out of the rack place and also you’ll miss the elevate. 

Advantages of the Clear

The clear is sweet for lower-body energy improvement. It is advisable to know how one can clear if you want to practice the sport of weightlifting. Heavy cleans flip heads in most gyms. The checklist goes on (and on) — listed below are the main advantages of the clear. 

Decrease-Physique Energy

The Olympic lifts are valued in collegiate athletics coaching for his or her energy potential. Monitor athletes, soccer gamers, soccer gamers, swimmers, and extra all carry out variations of the 2 Olympic lifts regularly.

Weightlifting additionally has a mountain of scientific proof behind its efficiency for rising muscular energy, notably in contexts like maximal vertical jump peak. (1) Some information affords that actions just like the clear are simply as efficient as plyometrics for enhancing lower-body energy, (2) so you may choose whichever is extra enjoyable for you. 

Weightlifter Yenny Alvarez pulls on her barbell at 2022 World Weightlifting Championships
Credit score: William Johnson / @barbellstories

Regardless, the underside line is that the clear is an exceptional means of boosting each normal athleticism and energy output. 

Environment friendly Muscular Stimulation

In case you don’t have all day to toil away within the weight room, you want time-efficient actions that get the job executed. Area of interest workouts that develop or stimulate just one high quality (assume cable or machine isolation strikes) aren’t of a lot use to you in case you’re on the clock at the gym.

Conversely, cleans cowl plenty of totally different bases directly. They provide help to enhance your energy output, stimulate your complete posterior chain, and are an excellent conditioning device as properly. They do have a steep studying curve which may take up loads of time, however when you’re snug with the approach, it can save you plenty of time by placing cleans center-stage throughout your exercises. 

Important for Weightlifting

The clear is, actually, one-third of all the sport of weightlifting. Weightlifters carry out the clear & jerk in competition — in case you can’t get the bar racked in your shoulders within the first place, you may’t get it overhead.

This technicality locations much more significance on the clear. You possibly can have all the strength and coordination in the world to jerk world-class weights overhead, but it surely gained’t imply something at a weightlifting meet in case you can’t clear properly. 

A Helpful Fitness center Trick

Say you’re performing a barbell-only workout in the squat rack. You’ve simply wrapped up a set of upright rows and need to do the barbell overhead press proper after. You possibly can work with about the identical weight in each workouts.

It’s tedious to unload your barbell, clumsily hoist it as much as the hooks of the squat rack, after which load the plates once more. If you understand how to scrub, you may swiftly and safely transfer the bar from the security bars (or flooring) as much as shoulder peak. This turns out to be useful extra typically than you’d assume and might prevent a little bit of time within the weight room

Who Ought to Do the Clear

You don’t should be a weightlifter to make the clear a mainstay motion in your coaching. Athletes and normal gymgoers alike stand to realize fairly a bit by cleansing regularly. 

Olympic Lifters

There’s no argument available right here. If you wish to prepare for the game of weightlifting, you need to know how to clean. That stated, you don’t should carry out full cleans; you may energy clear in a weightlifting competitors with out being flagged by the judges. This may restrict how a lot weight you may in the end elevate, however you may get by.


CrossFit programming attracts closely on weightlifting in any respect ranges, from entry-level exercises all the way in which as much as the Games. Proficiency within the clear pays dividends regularly in case you’re into CrossFit, even in case you aren’t requested to carry out the clear itself in a given session.

Athlete uses hook grip on loaded barbell while wearing lifting shoes
Credit score: Microgen / Shutterstock

You probably have a power reserve within the clear, your energy or cling cleans ought to be that a lot simpler. The motor sample can be related for sandbag or medicine ball work


Monitor, area, or courtroom sports activities all require lots of the qualities the clear develops. That stated, studying to scrub properly sufficient to obtain these advantages within the first place constitutes a considerable time funding. 

In case you play a non-barbell sport and need to enhance your energy within the weight room, positively give the clear a go — when you have the time to be taught it correctly. If not, you’ll have extra success with a less-intense variation, resembling energy cleans or cling cleans. 

Clear Up Your Recreation

Cleans are cool. If that’s not sufficient of a cause to choose up a barbell and begin studying them, possibly you want extra muscular energy. Or a stronger again. Or need to break a sweat without touching a treadmill.

Clear up your clear approach and these advantages (together with many extra) are yours for the taking. 


It’s completely regular to really feel a bit spun out by the Olympic lifts. In case you’re nonetheless scratching your head over some facet of the clear, look no additional.

Why is it known as a clear?

Weightlifting has undergone a number of adjustments to its guidelines and format. Initially, athletes had been required to elevate a barbell from the ground as much as their shoulders with out it touching their our bodies at any level. They needed to elevate it cleanly, therefore the identify. This stipulation is not related within the sport, however the motion has retained its authentic namesake regardless.

Is the clear dangerous for my wrists?

The entrance rack place might look visually harmful, however in apply and with correct mobility, isn’t dangerous to any joint in your arms or shoulders. That’s as a result of there’s no precise load positioned upon your wrists while you catch a clear. The bar rests comfortably in your torso, whereas your fingers gently clutch it.


  1. Tricoli, V., Lamas, L., Carnevale, R., & Ugrinowitsch, C. (2005). Brief-term results on lower-body useful energy improvement: weightlifting vs. vertical bounce coaching packages. Journal of power and conditioning analysis, 19(2), 433–437. 
  2. Teo, S. Y., Newton, M. J., Newton, R. U., Dempsey, A. R., & Fairchild, T. J. (2016). Evaluating the Effectiveness of a Brief-Time period Vertical Leap vs. Weightlifting Program on Athletic Energy Growth. Journal of power and conditioning analysis, 30(10), 2741–2748. 

Featured Picture: Jules43 / Shutterstock

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