Exercise of the Week: Hang Clean

August 9, 2011

This next exercise for our Exercise of the Week is one for the athletes. I’m not sure I’d recommend this movement for the casual exerciser, but if you’re an athlete you had better be doing this lift! I consider this to be probably the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT exercise an athlete can do. Yep, I said it: THE MOST IMPORTANT exercise an athlete can do. If you only have time for one, you had better do this one!

The hang clean is a full-body movement that requires excellent coordination and power. You must be able to explode using multiple joints all in sequence to execute this lift correctly. Don’t worry so much about the weight for this one; focus on doing it FAST!

I teach this exercise in multiple steps. The first thing one of my athletes is going to use is a PVC pipe to learn the proper technique LONG before they see the Olympic bar and bumper plates.

Sequence to Learn the Clean

  • Jump phase. Using the PVC pipe, we have our bar at our thigh which is our starting position. Knees and toes aligned, feet about shoulder-width apart. We are going to jump straight up keep our arms straight. We’re working on jumping UP!
  • Pull phase. Now when we jump, we are going to pull the pipe to our chin. Elbows are high above the pipe and we jump and pull. We land with the pipe still at the chin.
  • Catch phase. Now we’ll jump and pull, but then we’ll catch. At the very top of the jump, we’ll snap our wrists underneath and land in the catch position.

Here’s a video that shows the whole movement courtesey of the University of the Pacific


Any questions? Let me know! This has long been a favorite of mine!


2 Responses to “Exercise of the Week: Hang Clean”

  1. TNT Man Says:

    What do you do if you can not position your arms in the classic front squat hold? I can only do a front squat with my arms crossed and a palms down hold.

  2. That’s an issue a lot of people have. Many of us simply do not have the flexibility in the forearms to get into the catch position with the elbows high. Part of that could be that this is something many of us don’t attempt to do that often so our bodies don’t adjust to do it.

    I think the big key is to get your elbows as high as you can in the catch position. The one thing I wouldn’t want to see is for the lifter to just bounce the weight. There are plenty of videos out there and I’ve seen it plenty myself, where the lifter won’t actually catch the weight–he’ll get it up to the chin and then drop it with no control.

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