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Master the Hang Clean in 4 Steps

September 20, 2012 | John M. Cissik

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The Hang Clean can be complicated if not taught correctly. However, that's not an excuse to avoid the exercise, as it is one of the best ways to increase power.

I recommend performing Cleans from the hang position for two reasons:  it's easier to learn and safer to perform; and research shows that it produces the most power—so you get more bang for your buck with each rep.

Below are the four steps I use to teach the Power Clean. I've used this approach successfully with athletes in both individual and group settings.

Step 1: Learn the Initial Position

  • Stand up holding barbell with shoulder-width grip
  • Stick chest out and pull shoulders back; maintain this position throughout movement
  • Push hips back, keeping bar against body
  • Slide bar down body until it reaches middle of thighs; shift weight onto heels and position shoulders just in front of bar
  • This is the starting position

Step 2: Jump and Shrug

  • Assume starting position
  • Jump off ground and shrug shoulders; keep arms straight and bar close to body
  • Repeat four or five times, resetting after each attempt
  • Perform the same jump and shrug without feet leaving ground
  • Repeat four or five times, resetting after each attempt

Step 3: Learn the Receiving Position

  • Assume starting position
  • Perform upright row; keep elbows high
  • When bar reaches chest height, rotate elbows in a circular motion from above to beneath bar, until bar is resting on front of shoulders; upper arms should be parallel to ground

Note: If the barbell is causing wrist pain, the elbows are not high enough. Remember, this is a circular motion for the elbows. Most people get into trouble by trying to curl the barbell to their shoulders.

Step 4: Put it Together

  • Assume starting position
  • Jump and shrug without leaving the ground to propel bar upward; keep bar close to body
  • Relax arms as bar moves upward
  • When bar reaches chest height, drop into quarter-squat stance and receive bar on front of shoulders
  • Stand up and repeat for desired reps
Learn more about the benefits of Olympic Lifts.

John Cissik
- John M. Cissik is the president of Human Performance Services, LLC, which helps athletes solve their strength and conditioning problems. He has worked with athletes...
John Cissik
- John M. Cissik is the president of Human Performance Services, LLC, which helps athletes solve their strength and conditioning problems. He has worked with athletes...
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