Your Expert: Christmas Abbott, Fitness & Nutrition Expert, Author of The Badass Body Diet, Owner of CrossFit Invoke
For years, many women have shied away from attempting the barbell clean because of its assumed complexity and association with elite athletes. But today, the clean is becoming increasingly popular among weightlifters, including the female fitness community.
The clean is incredibly powerful, as it targets the entire body while demanding strict mental concentration. At its most simplistic definition, the clean is a complex movement that activates muscles in the core, glutes, hamstrings, quads, upper and lower back, shoulders, and arms. Yep, this one movement recruits all of these sought-after sculpting muscles, and builds epic strength.
1. The Setup. Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Grab the bar with an overhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart, and shoulder socket directly over the bar. Lock in your core by pulling your ribcage down and keeping tension through your entire body. You will be in a similar position as a deadlift, with a slightly lowered hip angle.
Trainer Tip: New to this move? Practice with an unloaded barbell or even a sandbag.
2. The Pull. Keep tension through your entire body, and chest lifted. With straight arms, push through the floor with your feet and extend your knees, aggressively pulling the bar upwards. Keep it as close to your body as possible. After the bar passes the knee, extend your hips and pull your torso completely upright.
3. The Pull Under. After you reach full extension, you have to pull yourself under the weight. To do that, continue pulling the bar upwards, leaning back slightly, then drop your body and rotate your elbows and hands under the bar.
4. The Catch. As you are pulling yourself under the bar, be sure to keep the tension in your body to “catch” the weight safely. As you receive the bar, you should be in a front squat position with your elbows forward and parallel to the ground, palms facing the ceiling.
Trainer Tip: The heavier the weight, the deeper your squat will be!
5- The Stand. This is the hardest part! Keeping your core tight, drive through your feet and push your elbows up towards the ceiling to rise up to standing. Squeeze your body tight at the finish.