Barbell Clean: How To Develop Power And Strength With One Exercise

Do you struggle with performing the barbell clean? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. This complex lift can be a challenge for many fitness enthusiasts, and it’s easy to get discouraged when you can’t seem to get it right. The truth is, the barbell clean is one of the most technical and demanding exercises out there, requiring a combination of strength, power, and precision. But fear not, my friend. In this blog post, we’ll break down the barbell clean step by step and provide you with tips and strategies to take your performance to the next level. So get ready to clean up your game and become a barbell clean pro!

Barbell Clean Summary

Graphic image of a fit man performing alternate cable triceps extensions.

Barbell Clean Instructions

  • To prepare, stand over your barbell with the balls of your feet positioned under the bar, hips-width apart and pointing forward.
  • Next, squat down and grip the bar with an overhand grip slightly wider than your shoulder width.
  • Position your shoulders over the bar with your back arched tightly.
  • Keep your arms are straight with your elbows pointed along the bar.
  • To execute, pull the bar up off the floor by extending your hips and knees.
  • As the barbell reaches knees, quickly raise your shoulders while keeping the barbell close to your thighs.
  • When the barbell passes your mid-thigh, allow it to contact thighs, then jump upward extending your body.
  • Shrug shoulders and pull barbell upward with arms, allowing elbows to flex out to sides, keeping the bar close to your body.
  • Aggressively pull your body under the bar, and rotate your elbows around under the bar.
  • Catch the bar on your shoulders before knees bend lower than 90°.
  • Stand up promptly so your thighs get no lower than parallel to floor.
  • To return the bar to the floor, bend your knees slightly and lower the barbell to the mid-thigh position.
  • Next, slowly lower the bar with tight lower back and your abdomen close to vertical.
  • If you have bumper plates and your gym allows it, you can drop the bar from finish position.
  • Dropping the weight will reduce stress and fatigue involved in lowering the bar.
  • Repeat your power cleans for your desired number of reps.

Video Tutorial

How to Power Clean [From Olympic Weightlifter Darren Barnes]

Barbell Clean Muscles

Target (Agonist)


Dynamic Stabilizers


Antagonist Stabilizers

Image of the skeletal muscular system with the muscles used in the barbell clean exercise highlighted in red and the rest in blue.

Benefits of Barbell Clean

The barbell clean is an excellent exercise to include in a strength training routine for targeting the gluteus maximus. This exercise engages the entire posterior chain, including the glutes, hamstrings, and erector spinae. The barbell clean helps to improve hip stability, power, and explosiveness. It also trains the muscles of the posterior chain to work together, resulting in improved functional movement patterns and enhanced performance in activities such as sprinting and jumping. Additionally, this exercise helps to improve posture and promote balanced muscular development.

Tips for Performing Barbell Clean

The barbell clean is an excellent exercise for overall body strength and conditioning. It is a great way to build muscle and tone your body. To get the most out of this exercise, here are some tips that will help you maximize your results and make sure you stay safe.

  • Workout Where You Will Be Able To Assess Your Form In A Mirror. You are looking to be able to have effective technique for each repetition, for you to do that you should have a way to watch and correct yourself.
  • decrease muscle soreness by conducting a few minutes of aerobic directed at your target muscle groups to conclude your program. This cardiovascular exercise is going to be removing much of the lactic acid. Thus you will undoubtedly be enhancing your healing.
  • Vary Your Training Sets Every Few Weeks With Varied Weight And Repetition Mixtures. Such as sets of 5 of 5 for a week or two, then 3 sets of 8-20 reps for a few weeks.
  • To Work On Power And Speed, Raise The Acceleration Of Your Exercise. Keep nice form or you can be more suboptimal to personal injury. You should drop the weight to 50 to 60 percent of your single rep max weight when weightlifting for quickness. However, you ought to now pause in between every repetition.

Benefits and Tips Video

You will HATE this... but it will IMPROVE YOUR CLEAN!

Frequent Mistakes To Avoid

It’s important to remember that although the Barbell Clean is a great exercise, it can be dangerous if done incorrectly. To ensure you maximize the benefits of this exercise and stay safe, take a look at the following mistakes to avoid when performing the Barbell Clean.

  • You Can’t Skip Out On Your Cooldown. You will minimize your healing period and help reduce soreness when you perform a proper cool-down.
  • Don’t Relax Your Stomach. Keeping your stomach tight to protect your spinal column by maintaining your internal pressure.
  • Stop Trying To Cut A Warm-Up. getting the blood flowing to your Muslces is the Best way to prevent injuries.

Find More Barbell Exercises Here

Variations and Complementary Exercises

For those who want to switch up their routine or try something similar, there are plenty of variations, complementary, or alternative exercises that can be used in place of the Barbell Clean. Below are a few examples of exercises that work the same muscles.

Dumbbell Clean

Graphic image of Dumbbell Clean.

The Dumbbell Clean is an excellent alternative or complementary exercise to the Barbell Clean. It is a great exercise for developing power and coordination in the lower body and core muscles, as well as increasing overall strength. Unlike the Barbell Clean, the Dumbbell Clean involves using two dumbbells instead of one barbell. This allows for an increased range of motion, which helps to build more muscle and burn more calories. It also requires more coordination, balance, and focus, making it a great exercise for building agility and explosive power.

Barbell Deadlift

Graphic image of Barbell Deadlift.

The Barbell Deadlift is an excellent complementary or alternative exercise to the Barbell Clean. This compound movement works the entire body, utilizing the legs and back muscles to lift the barbell off of the ground and up to the hips. This exercise also engages the core muscles and helps to build strength and power in the lower body. The Barbell Deadlift helps to improve overall muscular strength and coordination, and can be used to target specific areas of the body for greater results. As a complementary exercise to the Barbell Clean, this movement can help improve overall form and technique, as well as increase muscle size and strength.

Trap Bar Deadlift

Graphic image of Trap Bar Deadlift.

The Trap Bar Deadlift is a great exercise for athletes looking for an alternative or complementary movement to the Barbell Clean. It is performed by loading a barbell-shaped trap bar with weight and standing in the center of the bar, gripping the handles. Unlike the Barbell Clean, the Trap Bar Deadlift requires the lifter to keep their feet flat on the ground while they drive through their legs and back to lift the weight. This exercise is great for athletes who are looking to improve their strength in their posterior chain, as well as those who have limited mobility in their wrists and shoulders. The Trap Bar Deadlift can be a great addition to any workout program, and can help athletes reach their fitness goals.

Check Out These Top Barbell Exercises

Barbell Dimmel Deadlift

Graphic image of Barbell Dimmel Deadlift.

The Barbell Dimmel Deadlift is a great complement to the Barbell Clean. It is a more advanced version of the traditional deadlift that works the entire posterior chain and core muscles. The extra range of motion used in this lift allows you to challenge your body even further and build greater strength and stability. It also helps to improve your explosive power, which is useful when performing the Barbell Clean. This exercise can also be used as an alternative to the Barbell Clean when you need a break from the same movements or want to focus on different muscles.

Barbell Snatch Deadlift

Graphic image of Barbell Snatch Deadlift.

The Barbell Snatch Deadlift is a great complementary or alternative exercise to the Barbell Clean. This exercise is performed by gripping the barbell with a pronated (overhand) grip and pulling the barbell up in a fast, explosive movement. The main focus of this exercise is on the posterior chain, specifically the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back muscles. This exercise will help to strengthen and build these muscles which are essential for proper form and stability during the Barbell Clean. Additionally, this exercise will also improve overall power and explosiveness which is beneficial for any weightlifting program.

Barbell Clean and Press

Graphic image of Barbell Clean and Press.

The Barbell Clean and Press is an excellent exercise for building strength and power. It is a complex lift that involves the use of multiple muscle groups, and requires great balance and coordination. This exercise can be used as a complementary or alternative exercise to the Barbell Clean. The Barbell Clean and Press is a great way to increase the intensity of your workout and target different muscles groups than just those used in the Barbell Clean. Furthermore, the Barbell Clean and Press can be used to increase the amount of weight lifted, making it a great choice for adding variety to your routine.

Find More Glutes Exercises Here

Opposing Complementary Exercises

When performing the Barbell Clean exercise, it is important to also incorporate exercises that work the opposing muscle groups. This will help balance out your muscles, while helping you achieve optimal results. Below are a few exercises that work the opposite muscles as the Barbell Clean.

Barbell Low Bar Squat

Graphic image of Barbell Low Bar Squat.

The Barbell Low Bar Squat is a great complementary exercise to the Barbell Clean, as it works the opposing muscle groups. This exercise involves placing the barbell on the back of the shoulders, slightly lower than a regular squat, and then descending into a squat position. The primary muscles worked are the glutes, hamstrings, and quads. This exercise helps to build strength in the lower body and adds balance to the upper body strength gained from the Barbell Clean. It also helps improve core stability and posture, which are essential for performing any type of weightlifting exercise safely and effectively.

Barbell Narrow Squat

Graphic image of Barbell Narrow Squat.

The Barbell Narrow Squat is a great complementary exercise to the Barbell Clean, as it targets the opposing muscle group. This squat variation focuses on the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings while the Barbell Clean targets the back and core muscles. The two exercises work together to help strengthen the entire body, while also providing a good balance between pushing and pulling movements. The Barbell Narrow Squat also helps to improve balance and stability, which is key in any strength training routine.

Barbell Olympic Squat

Graphic image of Barbell Olympic Squat.

The Barbell Olympic Squat is an important complementary exercise to the Barbell Clean. This exercise works the opposite muscle groups of the Barbell Clean, primarily targeting the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. It is important to perform both exercises to ensure a balanced muscular development. The Barbell Olympic Squat helps to build strength in the lower body and core, while the Barbell Clean works more on explosive power and speed. Both exercises are essential components of a well-rounded strength training program.

Get Your Clean On: The Ultimate Guide to Barbell Cleans

The barbell clean is a must-do exercise for anyone looking to build strength and power. But, just like any other exercise, doing it right makes all the difference. That’s where this guide comes in. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about barbell cleans, from the benefits to the right form and technique. Whether you’re a newcomer to the exercise or a seasoned pro, this guide is the ultimate resource for getting your clean on and taking your fitness to the next level.

References: Wikipedia | | | Comprehensive List of Glutes Barbell Exercises

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