If you want to develop the power and strength to play college sports, the Hang Clean is an important lift. I was slow to catch on to this during my coaching career. Back then, I shied away from Hang Cleans because teaching them safely takes time. There are a lot of moving parts—more specifically, a lot of limbs flailing about. At the time, I didn't see the payoff.
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But after trying it with a number of my athletes and seeing them get superior results on their speed and jump tests, I finally recognized the true potential of the Hang Clean. It teaches triple extension in a fast, powerful motion. If you are not fast and powerful while Cleaning, you won't be moving much weight.
"What is triple extension," you ask? It's simultaneous extension at the ankles, knees and hips. It is the same motion you use to jump, run, squat and deadlift. It's a motion you need to be explosive at if any of those activities are important to you.
Now that I have hyped up the Hang Clean, I want to share the three components for success in this lift.
1. Mobility Work
If you can't move well, you have a major problem that needs to be fixed first. To achieve a good Hang Clean, you need to comfortably squat deep and get your elbows to shoulder height.
The three mobility drills I use address ankle, hip and shoulder mobility. Over time, these drills will help your Hang Clean, and also your Squat and Deadlift.
3-Way Wall Ankle Mobility
- Cues: Keep front heel stuck to the ground, don't drive knee over toe, and work just outside your range.
- Sets/Reps: 2-3x5 each direction
Squat to Stands
- Cues: Sit between legs, keep heels on the ground, keep chest up
- Sets/Reps: 2-3x8
Prone Dowel T-Spine Mobility
- Cues: Keep back flat, brace your abdominals, make a double chin
- Sets/Reps: 2-3x8
2. Hang Clean to Front Squat
The hardest thing to get comfortable with doing Hang Cleans is getting under the bar. It's fine to never learn to get under the bar, but if that is the case, be prepared to have a less-than-stellar lift.
- Cues: Don't round lower back, keep elbows high, push through the middle of the foot.
- Sets/Reps: 4-5x2-4
3. Anterior Loaded Lifts
You also need to be able to engage your anterior core and front squat a good amount of weight. When you look at a Hang Clean, you will notice a large amount of force being placed on the shoulders. This can cause lower-back rounding if you have not prepared your body to brace for such a load.
- Front Squats, Anterior Loaded Barbell Step-Ups, Anterior Loaded Barbell or Kettlebell Bulgarian Split Squats
- Cues: Keep elbows up, Don't hyperextend lower back, Push through the midfoot.
- Sets/Reps: 4-5x4-6
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