A perfectly performed clean and press makes a man feel powerful. Explosively tearing a barbell from terra firma and throwing it overhead shows the world we’re masters of explosiveness, solidifying our athleticism and strength. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of crushing the clean and press yourself, you know what we’re talking about. If not, you’re about to find out exactly what you’ve been missing.
- What is the Clean and Press?
- What are the benefits?
- How to do it properly
- Top tips for the Clean and Press
- Concluding the Clean and Press
What is the Clean and Press?
The clean and press is a powerful explosive movement with Olympic lifting roots. Traditionally performed with a barbell, the lifter pulls a load from the ground up their body before projecting it overhead.
The clean and press is considered a compound lift and a complete cycle nails more than eight major muscle groups. Every single rep works both the lower and upper body, including the hips, glutes, hamstrings, back, traps, shoulders and arms. All in all, there’s not much muscle fiber this beast doesn’t hit.
Every clean and press you eat up as a lifter can be broken down into two phases. First, you have the clean phase itself, which sees the bar transition from the deadlift position to a front rack. This is done by quickly pulling the bar through triple extension of the ankle, knee, and hip, before exploding into a shrug and moving under the bar to catch it.
Next is the push phase where the weightlifter throws the bar in the air and extends the arms fully. This is done by instilling a slight bend in the knees before powerfully pressing the barbell. It’s a whole-body affair that requires equal amounts of strength, power, and skill.
What are the benefits?
Hitting a well-executed clean and jerk has more benefits than making us feel like a beast. There are legitimate reasons to start smashing this explosive compound on the regular, and you need to know them bro.
Here are the main ones:
- Power development – As an explosive movement, the clean and jerk requires the two fundamental elements of power: strength + speed. By hitting this compound move at full velocity you can train your power to improve overall athleticism
- Optimized muscle building – Employing high amounts of force in a short space of time recruits greater amounts of muscle fibers than slow and steady lifts. Consequently, this means there are more muscle fibers forced to adapt and ultimately grow
- Burn fat – Generating power and performing high-velocity movements pushes the heart to anaerobic rates. In turn, this elevated heartrate instills a higher calorie burn to your workout
- Improved cardiovascular performance – High-intensity lifts like the clean and press take a lot of effort. Performing them over a short timeframe whilst pushing the pace seriously challenges the cardiovascular system, forcing it to adapt and grow more efficient
How to do it properly
Performing a perfect clean and press is a complex procedure. Your entire body must work together from the ground upwards to keep the barbell under complete control. So, it’s pretty important you learn how to do it right, bro.
Don’t sweat it though, SpotMeBro have got your back. Follow these steps to the ‘T’ and you’ll be ripping the bar like a pro in no time. Just remember to start out with lighter weights until you master your form, then step up the numbers.
Here’s how to do it…
- Set yourself up with your feet under the bar at shoulder width. You should be facing the barbell straight on, as you’re about to bend down to take a grip.
- Lower the arms and grab the bar using a double overhand grip a little wider than your shoulders. At this point, your knees should be sitting comfortably inside your arms, someplace near your elbows. Keep your arms fully extended from now on until the high-pull-phase of the lift.
- Now, the bar should be around an inch away from your shins. Unlike a deadlift, we don’t want to start the clean whilst touching the bar. Squat down by bending the knees and breaking at the hips but keep your hams and glutes just above parallel to the floor.
- Project your chest proudly, engage the core to align the spine, and sit back into your heels. This will be your starting position.
The pull, catch, and press
- At this point, you’ll be looking to hit triple extension. That’ll mean extending the ankles, knees, and hips all in one explosive movement. Firstly, start by extending the knees whilst pushing through the heels.
- As you push through your heels, bat the hips and push them forward whilst simultaneously raising the shoulders. Make sure to move everything at the same time and at identical speeds to keep the back in perfect alignment. The bar should now be moving straight upwards and extremely close to your shins.
- Once the bar ascends past knee height explosively extend the ankles, knees, and hips. It’s common to feel like you’re jumping during this motion – in fact, as you gain power your feet will most likely leave the ground.
- As the bar continues to rise, shrug your shoulders and raise your elbows to guide it up your body. Ideally, you want to pull the bar as high as possible so don’t hold back.
- Once the bar reaches its terminal height your feet will now be off the floor.
- Pull yourself under the bar by rolling the elbows underneath it until they’re pointing out in front. You should land in a racked front squat position, taking the weight of the bar across your chest and front deltoids. Continue descending into the squat to soak up the impact of the falling barbell. Always remember to keep the spine in alignment throughout this movement.
- Stand up straight out of the squat. The bar should still be racked across the front of your shoulder and chest.
- Make a small bend in the knees, adjust your grip by dropping your elbows slightly and explosively press the barbell overhead. Perform this movement just like a push press.
- Lower the bar in a controlled manner and reverse the movement back to the floor.
- End of rep.
Top tips for the Clean and Press
It’s one thing knowing how to do an exercise. Just by having it in our arsenal, we feel better equipped to build a lean and powerful body, even if we don’t know all the finer details.
But let’s not deny the fact that as iron house aficionados we’re always after an edge. Follow these trainer tips to accelerate your progress in the clean and press ASAP.
- It sounds obvious but concentrate on form above everything else. Really master your technique as it’ll not only keep you safer, but you’ll be able to lift heavy numbers in no time.
- Learn in small movement patterns. Focus on mastering each step in a build up to the full thing.
- Focus on whipping your body under the bar rather than pulling it above you. Whilst this may feel odd first time it’ll make you much more efficient, athletic and improve your stability.
- Get strong in the front squat position. As you’ll be relying on your strength and stability here it pays to put in the reps.
Concluding the Clean and Press
The clean and press is an explosive compound lift full of potential benefits. Not only is it great for building strength and power, but it’s fun and challenging all in the same rep.
Mastering the clean and press can be a tough process but it’s worth the effort. Being able to move the barbell all the way from the ground to above head height will help you build a powerful physique, stacked with unshakeable stability.
Focus on learning the clean and jerk one small detail at a time. With its roots set firmly in Olympic lifting, the compound movement is extremely intricate and complex. By breaking it down into small sections you can really craft your technique, meaning you’ll be able to lift heavier weights and stay safely under the bar.
Finally, be creative in your clean and press programming bro. Throw them into a MetCon circuit to unleash a conditioning beast or save a separate session exclusively for C+P strength training. When going for the big numbers hold back one day of the week purely for the lift, then follow up with accessory work.
See you under the bar, bro.
More muscle obsessed stuff from SpotMeBro: