The clean is an extremely effective exercise for athletes, sportspeople and gym-goers who want to develop lower body explosive strength and power. Being the first portion of the clean and jerk Olympic lift, it is commonly performed by weightlifters for this specific discipline, but is also widely used by athletes within many different sports, such as football, wrestling, martial arts, and athletics.

The explosive pulling of the barbell from the ground and subsequence squat results in the major muscle groups of the lower body being targeted, specifically those which extend the ankles, knees and hips. This combined joint movement is known as the “triple extension”, and is seen in many sporting and athletic actions, making the clean a perfect sport specific weight training exercise.

Sport uses

The clean is perfect for sports training. The exercise allows the athlete to develop high levels of power in the muscles responsible for the extension of the ankles, knees and hips, which is highly desirable within many sporting activities.

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  1. Stand over a suitably weighted barbell, feet shoulder width apart and beneath the bar
  2. Squat down and grasp the barbell with a slightly wider than shoulder width, overhand grip
  3. Back should be arched, with chest up, butt sat back and arms straight


  1. Extend at your knees and hips to pull the weight off the floor, keeping back straight and chest up
  2. As the bar reaches knee level, raise at shoulders but keep the barbell close to your body at all times
  3. As the bar raises to thigh level, explosively jump upward to aid the ascent of the bar whilst pulling it up with arms
  4. Partially squat down to position your body under the bar, and then move into the squat position as the bar is positioned on your shoulders, rotating elbows so the arms are supporting the bar
  5. In the squat position, extend at your knees and hips to stand erect with the bar on your shoulders
  6. Lower the barbell to the ground safely
  7. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions