The clean and press is a compound workout that works on the whole body. It can improve the agility, quickness and explosiveness. It is a great exercise for all fitness level whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or advanced.
The clean and press strengthen several muscles group from upper to lower body such as shoulders, chest, back, arms core, hips, glutes, and hamstrings. It enhances stamina, strength and power as well as promote muscular gain.
Performing clean and press with proper form and technique is quite important for getting the best out of it. That’s why in this article, I’ve shared how to perform clean and press with a barbell, dumbbell, and kettlebell with step-by-step instructions.
- Clean and Press Variations
- Clean and Press Techniques
- How To Do Clean and Press
- Benefits of Clean and Press
Different Variations of Clean And Press
- Barbell Clean And Press
- Dumbbell or DB Clean and Press
- Kettlebell or KB Hang Clean and Press
- Single Arm Clean and Press
Clean and Press: Techniques and Form
To perform any exercise you should know the proper technique of it. Incorrect form not only decreases the effectiveness of exercise but also increase the risk of getting injured.
Here we take a look at some important points on how to perform clean and press with clean form.
1. How to Grip barbell, dumbbell or kettlebell
Grip position is an important part of proper technique. If you perform clean and press with a barbell, make sure to maintain your grip only two inches wider than your shoulder-width, neither too short nor too wide.
If you doing clean and press with dumbbells or kettlebell, hold them at your shoulder height. And maintain your grip just two inches wider than shoulder-width apart.
Holding with a wider grip can cause wrist pain while the shorter grip may put more pressure on your shoulder joints.
2. Back and Core
Keep your core tight throughout the movement and maintain a flat back.
Engaging the core during the movement improve your lifting, reduce the risk of muscles imbalance and injury, and allow you to perform the exercise properly.
Rounding your back means you’ll not only get the benefits you want, but it can also cause pain and injury. That’s why keeping back straight is very important. (see common exercise mistakes).
3. Breath In Breath Out
Breathing in breathing out during the exercise is as important as grip position. The improper pattern of breathing shifts your concentration from muscles to your breath and sometimes this may even cause strain and pain.
The right technique in clean and press is to breathe in before lifting the weight and breathe out when you completely lift the weight at the top. Because breathing in before lifting brings oxygen into the body and provide energy that helps you in weight training.
How To Do Different Variations of Clean and Press with step-by-step instructions
Barbell Clean And Press
- Pick a loaded barbell, and put it in front of you.
- Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart. Make sure your feet are under the bar.
- Slightly bend your knees and grip the bar with your hands two-inches wider than shoulder-width apart. Your palms should be facing your body. (Assume you’re gripping for the conventional deadlift).
- Brace your core, keep your back straight, face facing the floor and make sure your shoulders are just over the bars. This is your starting position.
- Take a deep breath, drive through your heels to pull the bar up toward the chest (Keep the bar as close as possible to your body throughout the movement).
- Once the bar reaches your knees extend your ankles off the floor and straighten your knees and hips in an explosive motion to power the bar in front of your shoulders. (shrug through your shoulders to pull the bar on the shoulder and drive your elbows under the bar).
- Again, slightly bend at your hips and drive through your heels to press the bar overhead toward the ceiling until your arms become fully straight.
- Exhale and then slowly return the bar to the starting position. That’s one repetition. Do as many reps as possible.
Dumbbell or DB Clean and Press
In case you don’t have a barbell, or you don’t have the gym access, then doing clean and press with dumbbells would be a good idea.
How to perform DB Clean And Press
- Place a pair of dumbbells on the mat in front of you and close to your feet.
- Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Slightly push your hips back and bend your knees to grab the dumbbells. (Assume a conventional dumbbell deadlift position)
- Inhale and drive through your heels to pull the dumbbells upward. (make sure to keep the dumbbells as close as possible to your body throughout the movement).
- Once the dumbbells reach your knee level, rise up onto your toes and straighten your knees and hips in an explosive motion to pull the dumbbells in front of your shoulders. (hold the dumbbells with a neutral grip and assume a dumbbell front squat position)
- Again, slightly bend at your hips and drive through your heels to press the weights overhead toward the ceiling until your arms become fully straight.
- Exhale and then slowly return the weight to the starting position. That’s one repetition. Do the desired number of repetitions.
Kettlebell or KB Hang Clean and Press
How to perform Hang Clean And Press with kettlebell
- Place two kettlebells on the floor in front of you close to your feet.
- Stand straight in the shoulder-width stance.
- Slightly push your hips back and bend your knees to reach down and grab the kettlebells with an overhand grip while maintaining a flat back. (Like you go to lift the bar in the deadlift).
- Brace your core, take a breath and drive through your heels to pull the weights up and forward.
- Once you reach your hips level; rise up onto your toes and push your hips forward in an explosive motion to pull the kettlebells at your shoulder height so that your hands come under the kettlebells. And your elbow should be tucked into your chest.
- Again, slightly bend at your hips and drive through your heels to press the weights overhead toward the ceiling until your arms are fully straight.
- Exhale and then slowly reverse the steps to return to the starting position. That’s one repetition. Do as many reps as you like.
- Keep the kettlebells as close as possible to your body during the movement.
Single Arm Clean and Jerk
You can perform one-arm clean and jerk with a dumbbell as well as the kettlebell. The kettlebell would be an ideal choice because of its grip. But you can also do it with a dumbbell because there aren’t any major differences between them.
Here are the steps to perform clean and jerk with a kettlebell
- Place a kettlebell on the floor between your feet. Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Push your hips back and bend at your hips to reach down and grab the bell with your right hand while keeping your left hand straight behind at your sides.
- Brace your core, maintain a flat back, and drive through your heels to pull the weight up and forward.
- Once you reach your hips level; rise up onto your toes and push your hips forward in an explosive motion to pull the kettlebells at your shoulder height so that your hand come under the kettlebells.
- Now push yourself down and slightly bend your knees and hips and again drive through your heels to pull the kettlebell straight overhead until your arm is straight. Then slowly return in the beginning position.
- Do as many as reps possible.
Some important benefits of Clean and Press
- It works on several muscles group at once such as shoulder, core, traps, triceps, middle and lower back, glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves.
- It improves all aspects of fitness like strength, stamina, power and explosiveness.
- The hang clean and press improves both cardiovascular endurance and muscular endurance.
- This improves your gripping strength and helps you in other exercises like deadlift and bench press.
- This is also good for calorie burning as it requires a great deal of stamina and explosiveness.
Some final words
“Clean and press” is a mixture of a couple of exercises like squats, overhead press etc. This one is the most underrated but the most effective fill body workout for strength, stamina and explosiveness. So try different variations of the clean and press and do what suits you the best for you. If you’re a beginner use lightweight to perform this exercise. This exercise work on several muscles at a time that makes it one of the most exercises.