Something special happens when you successfully pull off your first power clean: Your muscles fire on all cylinders, and you get that bam-pow-dynamite feeling that comes from lifting a heavy barbell and thinking, Whoa, I’m strong. The explosive, full-body movement, common in HIIT classes and CrossFit workouts, brings a host of other cool payoffs too.
“If you want to jump higher and sprint faster, cleans will deliver,” says Judine St. Gerard, a trainer at Tone House in NYC (pictured here). Plus, just perfecting the fluid motion required for a clean offers one serious confidence boost. “Once you have the basics down, you can add plates and build strength pretty quickly,” says St. Gerard. “It’s empowering.” Sound like fun? (Thought so.)
Power cleans come with a ton of badass benefits.
The move uses tons of muscles to give you a true full-body workout. Power cleans work it all, majorly firing up your abs, hip flexors, glutes, and legs while simultaneously involving your shoulders and upper back, says St. Gerard. Plus, cleans are a dynamic lift, which means they’re surprisingly good at getting your heart rate up and burning fat as you build muscle.
Power cleans are also good for next-level coordination. Cleans require several separate muscle groups-—like your lower body and upper body, and your posterior and anterior chains—to work together in order to lift, flip, and “catch” the barbell in one continuous movement. (No biggie.) It’s an exercise that demands control and balance, so mastering it helps you improve both.
They can help you score stronger, healthier bones, stat. This advanced move loads the hips with weight, causing tiny fractures. Seems scary, but it’s actually a good thing. Seriously. When the body repairs those mini breaks after you’re done slinging weights, your bones become denser. On top of that, strength training can encourage new bone cell growth. Boom!
Once you master the power clean, you’ll notice your athletic skills improve, too. Your ability to move quickly, pivot with ease, jump, and swing kettlebells all comes down to the power of your hips, abs, and glutes, which are the main muscles in your core. Cleans target these areas and mimic the explosive motions (like hip hinging and thrusting) that you often perform in weight-lifting or Crossfit workout classes or sporting events.
Start With A Basic Power Clean
Once You’ve Nailed That, You Can Try A Squat Clean
You can lift heavier loads because you don’t need to get the bar to chest height before you flip it. Instead, lift it to waist level, then drop into a low squat to get under the bar, engaging your glutes.
The Clean And Jerk Is Another Advanced Variation
Want more of your upper body in on the action? After you clean the bar to your shoulders, lower elbows, tuck chin, and hinge slightly at the hips before thrusting them forward to push the bar straight overhead, biceps slightly behind ears.
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