MOVEMENT TIP: The Dumbbell Hang Power Clean
This week CrossFit Seminar Staff member Julie Foucher demonstrates the Dumbell Hang Power Clean for us. Just like with the barbell variation of this movement, you can make it simple by considering each of the individual words in this rather lengthy movement name!
1. Dumbell (not barbell)
2. Hang – starting from above the ground (usually just above the knee)
3. Power – don’t have to drop into a full squat position
4. Clean (differentiates it from the Snatch, the other Olympic Weightlifting movement)
Points Of Performance
- Stand on feet with hip-width apart
- Grip the center of the dumbbells
- Dumbbells start on the ground at the outer sides of both feet
- Shoulders over or slightly in front of the dumbbells at set-up
- Lumbar curve maintained
- Hips and shoulders rise at the same rate
- Hips extend rapidly
- Heels down until hips and legs extend
- Shoulders shrug, followed by a pull under with the arms
- Dumbbells are received in a partial squat position
- Complete at full hip and knee extension with the dumbells on the shoulders
dumbbell power clean is a free weights exercise that primarily targets the glutes and to a lesser degree also targets the groin, hamstrings, hip flexors, lower back, outer thighs and quads ...more
dumbbell power clean is a free weights exercise that primarily targets the glutes and to a lesser degree also targets the groin, hamstrings, hip flexors, lower back, outer thighs and quads.
The only dumbbell power clean equipment that you really need is the following: dumbbells. There are however many different dumbbell power clean variations that you can try out that may require different types of dumbbell power clean equipment or may even require no equipment at all.
Learning proper dumbbell power clean form is easy with the step by step dumbbell power clean instructions, dumbbell power clean tips, and the instructional dumbbell power clean technique video on this page. dumbbell power clean is a exercise for those with a intermediate level of physical fitness and exercise experience. Watch the dumbbell power clean video, learn how to do the dumbbell power clean, and then be sure and browse through the dumbbell power clean workouts on our workout plans page!
- Use the momentum from your legs to get the dumbbells up to your shoulders, don't curl the weight.
- Focus on form before choosing a heavy pair of dumbbells.
- Hang Clean
- Power Clean
- Force Type: N/A
- Mechanics Type: Compound
A pair of dumbbells gives you the opportunity to follow along to a whole host of effective strength and conditioning exercises and movements. It may be one of the simplest bits of exercise and personal training equipment, yet undoubtedly, it is still one of our favourites here at fitness drum.
One of these hundreds of exercises dumbbells allows you to do, that is incredibly effective for developing explosive power and strength, is the dumbbell power clean.
The dumbbell power clean is a variation of the barbell power clean exercise, performed using dumbbells. It is a full-body, compound exercise that primarily targets the legs, but also works the upper body too.
The hip and knee joints are flexed and extended as the weight is pulled from the floor and then returned to the floor.
The shoulders, upper back, traps, and arms are recruited to support the weight as it is lifted.
The dumbbell power clean is a versatile lift that can be performed for multiple sets and reps to target specific fitness goals.
In this article, we delve into how to perform the perfect dumbbell power clean, the muscles it works and the benefits (as well as some variations for you to practice).
How to Perform Dumbbell Power Cleans
To do dumbbell power cleans:
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Grab a dumbbell in each hand, with your palms facing inward.
- Squat down and bend your knees to lower yourself into a squat position until the dumbbells reach the floor.
- Drive forcefully from the floor to return to an upright position. Keep your back straight and head up. As you drive out of the squatting position, swing the dumbbells upwards and catch then on your shoulders.
- As you catch the dumbbells on your shoulders, dip your knees slightly to absorb the weight.
- Pause for a second in the upright position, holding the dumbbells on your shoulders.
- Lower the dumbbells to your waist and repeat the movement.
Tip – Avoid a big swinging movement that uses lots of momentum to bring the dumbbells up to your shoulders. It should be a controlled movement that engages the arms.
Benefits of Dumbbell Power Cleans
Dumbbell power cleans primarily strengthen and tone the quads, but will also help strengthen the glutes, hamstrings, calves and lower back. They also engage the core muscles, arms (particularly the biceps needed to lower the dumbbells to your waist), shoulders and lats. Dumbbell power cleans are also a free-weights movement, which brings lots of additional benefits, such as improved balance, stability and addressing muscular imbalance.
This makes it a fantastic full-body compound exercise that helps develop functional power and strength.
The weight of the dumbbells and the speed/duration of the workout can influence if it becomes more a strength training exercise or a conditioning/cardio exercise. Selecting heavier dumbbells and opting for lower repetitions will focus more on power and strength. In contrast, selecting lighter dumbbells and doing the movement quicker or for longer, will focus more on conditioning, toning and cardio fitness.
Even if you prefer using a barbell for power cleans, using dumbbells once in a while can be a good test to illustrate muscular balance and ensure you don’t have one side that is over-compensating for the other. Barbells can often hide muscular imbalance which is could lead to injury.
Dumbbell Power Clean Progression and Variations
A power clean can be done using a barbell, which is the obvious variation you can do. There are lots of progressions of the clean movement that can also help increase difficulty.
The dumbbell clean is a fantastic leg strengthening exercise and a natural progression from the power clean.
The dumbbell clean involves a front squat once you’ve caught the dumbbells on your shoulders. This will really require you to push through and develop explosive power to extend back into the starting position. It will also help develop core strength to stabilize the dumbbells during the movement.
Dumbbell Power Clean and Press
The power clean position naturally lends itself to adding a press or jerk once you’ve swung the dumbbells onto your shoulders.
For the clean and press, once the dumbbells are on your shoulders, bend your knees slightly and push them straight up above your head, and then return.
You could also add a squat to this movement to create a truly full body exercise.
Dumbbell Power Clean and Jerk
The power clean and jerk is very similar to the clean and press, but with a jerk, as you push the dumbbells up, you are catching them in an upright position with your knees slightly bent, followed by straightening your knees to finish the position.
You may find the power clean and jerk is more suited to heavy weights.
Dumbbell Muscle Clean
A muscle clean is very similar to a power clean, but without a drop of the knees to accommodate catching the dumbbells on your shoulders.
Driving through the hips and shrugging the dumbbells up using your strength.
This more suitable for lighter weights.
Single Arm Dumbbell Power Clean
You can also do the movement each arm at a time. You may find this allows you to lift heavier weights. From here, you could also include some of the other variations, such as including a squat or press.
What muscles do dumbbell power cleans work?
Dumbbell power cleans work the quads, glutes, hamstrings, lower back, shoulders, arms, lats and core.
Can you do power clean with dumbbells?
Yes, absolutely. Power cleans can be done using both dumbells or barbells.
Does power clean make you bigger?
Power cleans are a very effective strength exercise that will help develop muscle mass.
What are the benefits of power cleans?
Power cleans will develop explosive power and help improve your functional strength. It is a compound movement that engages both your upper and lower body. The use of dumbbells instead of a barbell will also mean it develops more core stability and balance.
How many reps should I do for power cleans?
This depends on the workout you are following, but anywhere between 6-12 would be common.
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Dumbbell Clean and Press: The Exercise Your Body Needs
If you ever watch Olympic weightlifting competition, you’ll see absurdly strong men and women trying to lift the heaviest loads on two lifts: the clean and jerk and the snatch. But before the 1972 Olympics, there was a third lift that was contested—the clean and press. To perform it, the lifter must pull the barbell off the floor and heave it up to shoulder level (the clean), and from there, strictly press it overhead to lockout.
The clean and press was dropped from weightlifting competition because judges deemed it too difficult to assess valid technique (lifting a ton of weight causes you to bend backward, and it’s hard to tell to what degree the knees are bending, and therefore how much assistance you’re getting from them). Though it may have fallen out of fashion, the clean and press is still a worthwhile exercise, and an efficient choice for building muscle, strength, and explosiveness—even if you choose to perform it with dumbbells. In fact, the dumbbell clean and press is arguably a better choice for most people than its barbell predecessor (particularly those of us who aren’t trained Olympic lifters).
The dumbbell clean and press will allow you to access most of the same benefits gleaned from the barbell variation, but without the same steep learning curve or risk of injury. Here’s everything you need to know about the dumbbell clean and press.
What Muscles Does a Dumbbell Clean and Press Work?
The dumbbell clean and press works just about all of the major muscles along the posterior and anterior chains (i.e., the muscles that work together on the back and front of the body). In other words, it’s a total-body exercise.
Starting at the bottom of the body, the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles in the calves work in tandem with the quads, hamstrings, and glutes to drive the weights up from the floor (or hang position; see below) and extend the hips. The abdominals (including the rectus abdominis, transversus abdominis, and internal and external obliques) and spinal erectors provide stability for the spine as you extend the hips and stand up tall.
The traps, lats, and rhomboids contract powerfully to shrug and pull the weights up to shoulder level. As your elbows come under the dumbbells, the muscles of the hands and forearms work hard to maintain grip, while the biceps come under tension, too. To finish the exercise with a press, the deltoids, upper pecs, and triceps fire as the core works to maintain stability.
What are the Benefits of Doing the Dumbbell Clean and Press?
“The dumbbell clean and press develops total body-strength and power, and stability in the shoulders,” says Sean Pangelinan, owner of The Fit Lab in San Diego. Like the barbell clean and press, the dumbbell version has you taking a weight from the floor (or at least knee level) and controlling its path all the way overhead. You can’t ask for a greater range of motion through which to work your whole body, and the result is a total-body workout. Working all those muscles burns a lot of calories for one exercise, so the clean and press is a good move to use when training for fat loss. Though you won’t be able to lift as much weight with dumbbells as you do a barbell, the exercise is still intended to be done heavy, so you’ll build strength and size.
While you sacrifice some loading using dumbbells, they offer a few big advantages over a barbell. For one thing, they make the exercise unilateral. You have to control two weights separately, but coordinate their movement together. That increases the challenge to your core and many stabilizer muscles, including the ones in the shoulders that you need to press safely in any exercise. The dumbbells also offer a slightly greater range of motion than you’d get with a barbell clean and press, and greater range means more muscle activation.
“The dumbbell clean and press is a great introduction to the Olympic lifts,” says Pangelinan, “and is more forgiving for most people who don’t have experience in this area. You get most of the benefits of cleaning and pressing with a barbell, minus the stress on the wrists and other joints. The clean and press is one of the most efficient movements you can do, as it’s a compound lift that engages multiple joints and major muscle groups.”
How To Stretch Before A Dumbbell Clean and Press
Use these two mobility drills, provided by Onnit Durability Coach Natalie Higby (@nat.trill.fit on Instagram), to increase range of motion and stability in your shoulders and upper back before you perform the clean and press.
How To Do A Dumbbell Clean
It’s easier to learn the dumbbell clean and press when you break it down and master its component parts individually. This means starting with the dumbbell clean. A proper clean is not a sloppy curl done with momentum. When done correctly, it’s a full-body movement that builds power. Here’s how to do the clean portion of the clean and press.
Step 1. Place two dumbbells on the floor. You may position them so that the handles are horizontal, right in front of your feet. However, if it feels like they’re too far away to reach, you can place them vertically at the outsides of your feet—or angled slightly inward. If the floor still seems too far away, and you know you won’t be able to pick up the dumbbells without rounding your lower back (don’t worry, this is common), simply start with the dumbbells hanging at your sides.
Step 2. Stand with your feet straight and hip-width apart. Hinge at your hips, bending them back and allowing your knees to bend until you can reach the dumbbells on the floor. You should end up in the same starting position as a deadlift. Grip the dumbbells with your arms straight. Your head, spine, and pelvis should all be aligned.
If you’re starting from a standing position, bend your hips back and allow your knees to bend as needed until the dumbbells hang just outsides your knees. This is called the hang position of a clean, and you can begin the exercise from here.
In either case, draw your shoulders back and downward (think “proud chest”), so that someone standing in front of you could read the front of your T-shirt.
Step 3. Push your feet hard into the floor and squeeze your abs and glutes. Extend your hips and knees to get the dumbbells moving upward.
Step 4. As the weights pass knee level, shrug your shoulders hard, squeeze your glutes again, and allow the momentum to carry the dumbbells up in front of you.
Step 5. Thrust your elbows forward so that they come under the dumbbells and you “catch” the weights at shoulder level, bending your knees to drop into a quarter squat to absorb the force. Your thumbs should be facing backward and your closed palms facing each other.
How To Do A Dumbbell Clean and Press
To perform the full clean and press, clean the weights up to shoulder level as described above. From there:
Step 1. Ensure that your tailbone is tucked under slightly so that your pelvis is parallel to the floor. Brace your core, pulling your ribs down.
Step 2. Press the weights straight overhead to lockout while keeping your ribs down. Reverse the motion to bring the weights back to shoulder level, and then bend your hips back to lower them to the floor (or your knees) again.
How Many Reps Should I Do?
If your goal is power and strength, Pangelinan suggests doing the clean and press for sets of 3 to 6 reps. Three work sets (the challenging ones you do after your warmup sets) is enough. “This is the ideal amount of volume to get the full neuromuscular benefits of the exercise,” says Pangelinan, “without your form being compromised by fatigue.”
However, if you’re aiming to build your endurance and get more volume for the sake of muscle size gains, you could do 3 sets of 10 to 20 reps with a lighter weight. “Just make sure you stop if you begin to slow down or your technique deteriorates,” says Pangelinan. If you’re brand new to clean and presses, train with lower reps first to master the movement, and work on endurance after you’ve gotten the technique down.
Like the other Olympic lift variations, the dumbbell clean and press is a versatile movement that can be done in combination with other movements or with slight variations of technique. You can use the clean portion to get the weights into position for front squats or front-loaded lunges. Called the front rack position (weights held at shoulder level), you can also go into different pressing movements or overhead carries from there. If you want to train heavier or target even more power development, you can perform the press portion with leg drive, making it a push press exercise (shown in the video above). In other words, clean the weights up to your shoulders, and then quickly dip and extend your knees to help power the dumbbells overhead. Pressing the dumbbells strictly is better for shoulder strength and muscle gain, but getting assistance from your legs tweaks the exercise into more of a full-body power move.
At The Fit Lab, Pangelinan’s clients often combine the dumbbell clean and press into a circuit with reverse lunges and Romanian deadlifts. “I’ll also add in single-arm rows to improve scapular control, pushups as an antagonist to the vertical pull component of the clean and press, and single arm floor presses,” he says. Now you have a full-body circuit workout that’s great for fat loss.
Alternatives to the Dumbbell Clean and Press
If you’re not ready for the full dumbbell clean and press, you can regress the movement to something more manageable. If you want to make it even more challenging, there are progressions you can employ as well. See below for some alternatives you can use to customize your training.
If you’re not able to perform a dumbbell clean and press explosively, or you struggle with one or more stages of the exercise, no need to worry. Pangelinan recommends backing up and working on some foundational moves. “When someone’s struggling with the clean and press, we’ll work on the dumbbell deadlift, upright row, and press, separately, to groove the patterns of each phase of the movement,” he says. “I’ll also have them do quarter-jump squats [lowering your body just one-quarter of the way down], to work on the explosive component, and an overhead waiter carry to improve the integrity of their overhead position.” For the waiter carry, simply press dumbbells or kettlebells overhead and walk for distance or time. Keep your ribs down, core tight, and pelvis level with the floor.
Once you’ve got the two-handed dumbbell clean and press down, you could start doing single-arm clean and presses (shown in the video above), which add an even greater challenge to your stability and can help you correct any strength discrepancies between sides. “The kettlebell clean and press is another great alternative for someone who’s competent in the dumbbell variation,” says Pangelinan. Kettlebells require even more core stability and grip strength to control, so they’ll develop both areas.
Of course, you can also experiment with the barbell clean and press. “Start with a power clean from above the knees,” advises Pangelinan, “which gives you most of the advantages of the full clean, but with a shorter amount of bar movement, so it’s easier to control.” When that feels comfortable, you can start cleaning from below the knees, and eventually progress to full cleans from the floor.
If you want a more joint-friendly alternative to a classic barbell clean and press, try using a landmine unit (see above). The bar loads into a rotating sleeve that allows it to act as a long lever and move on an arc. The path of motion will be more controlled than doing a pure free-weight movement, but you’ll still have to stabilize it, and you won’t have to deadlift and catch the bar the same way as you do during a normal clean and press, which will take a lot of pressure off your lower back, wrists, and elbows. Still another option is using a Pentagon bar (see below). This barbell alternative offers swiveling handles, so you can get the feel of cleaning a barbell without the wrist and elbow stress, or having to time your clean perfectly to avoid a sloppy catch.
Dumbbell power clean
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